Easily delegating responsibility is an essential quality of any project manager. Be sure to discuss a relevant example that assures the interviewer that delegating responsibility comes naturally to you.
After the members are collected as a project team there is a turmoil before everything settles down. This is known as the forming-storming-norming-performing process. The team people go through a storming of relationships when before settling to the role assignment. Over time they then get used to the structure of the relationship, that is the norming phase. It is only after everybody has settled into their new roles that the team starts performing.
Triple constraint triangle or project management triangle is a constraint model where scope, schedule and cost are constraints forming the sides of a triangle, with quality as the central theme.
RAID in project management stands for Risk, Assumptions, Issue, and Dependencies. These are very important items that a project manager must have knowledge about.
- Risks are the potential problems that can have either a positive or negative impact on the project resulting in a deviation of the final result from the original plan.
- Actions are the task that you perform throughout the project.
- Issues are the hurdles that you might face in the course of the project which must be successfully resolved or it might derail the project or cause the project to fail.
- Decisions are your choice of actions/tasks in the project.
This is another classic question that directly stems from asking about managing projects and leadership. A project manager is nothing if not an effective communicator. They need to be able to speak to team members, stakeholders, vendors, etc. Each group will need a slightly different approach. Stakeholders want the broad strokes, while teams will need more detail. If a project manager can’t clearly communicate, the project is doomed before it has begun.
Regardless of its size and scope, prioritization is a critical concept that determines the success of the project and the timely completion of it. If your interviewer asks questions on prioritization, your answer should include how you distinguish between urgency and importance. You can say how you determine what is crucial and leave behind what is unnecessary. This project management interview question is also to test how flexible and adaptable you are while managing a project. Your answer should describe that you know when to say no during the project.
As a project manager, it’s important to routinely stay on top of your team members’ tasks and responsibilities. Discuss how you do this with specific examples—whether it’s by scheduling brief meetings, using project management software, and so on.
Being focused on goals is essential for project managers. You need a clear focus to succeed. It is important for candidates to demonstrate the ability to align resources to achieve key objectives, to plan and identify ways to improve and achieve greater efficiency and to monitor and fine-tune execution with agility, hard work, perseverance, and good judgment. Key questions asked in this area are:
Most important skills that a Project manager must possess are:
- Team Management
- Negotiation Power
- Personal Organization
- Risk Management
Pareto Analysis is a statistical technique in decision-making. It is basically used for the selection of a limited number of tasks which can bring a significant overall effect. This principle follows the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) and states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the actions. It helps in prioritizing the work especially in large projects with a number of small tasks
To detect whether your project is on track or falling behind the agreed timeline, you must check the below pointers:
- Budget is under control or not
- Is it consuming too much time
- Does the project scope keeps changing
- Original goals are still present or not
If the answers to these pointers are true then, your project is definitely off the track and you must take immediate action to bring it back on track. Few steps that you might take are:
- Discover the root cause
- Put in more time and efforts to catch up
- Try to follow the original goal or vision
- Re-adjust resource management (resource, finance, human etc.)
- Keep open communication with client and stakeholders
RAID stand for risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies. These are vital items that a PM should always be aware of. There are always risks about actions and a PM must take least risk actions. Unless assumptions about any estimates or actions are clear, these can go wrong. Issues and dependencies also limit the choices of actions often.
Be honest about any short-term project goals you have currently, as this shows the interviewer that you are enthusiastic about your projects and that you’re goal-oriented. When it comes to discussing your career goals, be sure to include the company you’re interviewing with as part of your goals. If you’re interviewing with a recruiter for job placement, you may not have a specific company in mind, and that’s okay—just be sure to be clear about what type of role you see yourself working in.
It’s important to show that you have leadership skills when you answer this question. Be thorough about your daily tasks when it comes to managing your team’s performance—for example, perhaps you hold weekly strategy discussions and meetings. You’ll also want to provide specific examples of how your management style has resulted in positive team performance.
It is a mutually agreed arrangement, where a contractor is paid on the basis of factors like –
• Actual cost of direct labor at hourly rates
• Actual cost of equipment and material usage
• A fixed add-on to include profits and overheads
When you start your job a project manager first few things that you need to take care of are:
- Listen, observe and learn
- Understand your client’s needs and wants
- Know your team and their personalities
- Take the opportunity to learn some new skills
- Help out around the workplace
- Try to master the tools your company possesses
To keep monitoring and ensure that all open procurement contracts are progressing as expected.
Of course, you have to say ‘yes’. Go on to describe why it is so. Any company wants an employee who shares the values and principles of the company. If you are in a responsible position such as a project manager, you are expected to show the way for others to follow. Earning the respect of your team members and the trust of your bosses can only happen when you are ethically upright.
This is a kind of question for which you need to have the answer ready. PMBOK guide describes 10 knowledge areas. Read about them in detail and try to paraphrase in your own words.
It starts with a project charter development. Project management plan development is another important activity. Direct and manage project execution and monitor and control are plans that are to be followed all through the project. Closing of the project (or the current phase) is the final set of activities for integration management. Since changes are often unavoidable an integrated change management plan must be developed to guide all changes systematically.
It’s important to get a snapshot of the applicant to bring their project manager resume into sharper focus. Knowing a bit about their life story can inform how they might respond to issues at work, and whether they will fit into the corporate culture. The same goes for their professional history. Staying at a single job for a long time can be either bad or good, but you won’t know until you put their choice into context.
No project goes without a hitch, and people expect that. What your interviewer wants to see is how you handle anything that can result in a potential setback. An effective project manager should always have a few tricks up his or her sleeve.
It’s crucial as a leader to not only ensure your team stays on the right track but also gets motivated about the projects they’re working on. Maybe you give praise for a job well done as a form of motivation. As long as you can demonstrate past examples of how you’ve motivated team members, there’s not a right or wrong answer here.
Risks refer to an uncertain event or situation in the future that would bring a negative or positive impact on the project goals. Issues apply to any event or situation that currently impacts the project objectives. In other words, risk focuses on future events while issues are more of present occurrences. Issues are often considered negative, say a team member suddenly resigns from the organization. Risks would be either positive or negative. You can include a couple of examples to show the difference between issues and risks.
A project for a product will result in a complete product or part of a product. An example would be the creation of the Microsoft Surprise tablet that used a liquid magnesium deposition process to create the enclosure. The process developed in the project will be used for subsequent production of the tablet. Examples could include development of a new product or process (as in the example), constructing a road or a bridge (infrastructure in general), developing a computer/information system, etc.
Before you decide on your ideal project, you must consider the following questions. These questions will help you in narrowing down your choices while making sure that your productivity maximizes.
- What type of work do you enjoy the most?
- How much you want to and are allowed to show your creativity?
- Under what type of deadlines do you work best?
- How comfortable are you with trying new things on a project?
- Do you prefer to always receive full credit for your work?
- Are you okay with working as part of a team, or do you prefer to work alone?
Proactive Managers have higher chances of finding out the risks and implementing solutions in order to minimize them. Being proactive, lets them have more control over their project tasks and resources. They can keep a better track of all tasks and issues to work towards implementing small changes and improvements for higher productivity and efficiency. Organizes frequent meetings for developers to talk about their problems, brainstorm solutions, share best practices etc. Compares the actual costs and time spent on tasks on a weekly basis with the planned numbers.
Keeping customers happy is important for the companies. Hence, your answer should showcase that you value customers as well. You can start by explaining that during the course of the project you regularly interact with the customers so that they are on the same page as the project team. Despite this, if the customers are unhappy with the result, say that you will try to clearly understand what modifications they want and try to incorporate them. In case the changes cannot be made, you will try to convince and explain to the customer that the project fits in with the agreed scope.
This is your chance to show your knowledge on some of the many different technologies that project managers use these days. Be sure to name any software programs, online tools, and other things that you’ve used to complete your daily tasks. Be sure also to explain that you are always open and eager to learn new tools or programs.
One of the key success factors for a project manager is effective delegation. How effectively can you get work done through others? The delegation must happen through empowerment without interference or loss of control. The following questions will determine if you are good at delegating:
Knowledge Areas are the core technical subject matter that are vital for effective project management. All the 49 processes are primarily part of these knowledge areas where they are grouped based on their commonalities. Below I have listed down the 10 knowledge areas of project management framework:
- Project Integration Management
- Project Scope Management
- Project Schedule Management
- Project Cost Management
- Project Quality Management
- Project Resource Management
- Project Communications Management
- Project Risk Management
- Project Procurement Management
- Project Stakeholder Management
To bring the best out of your team members, you must:
- Try to avoid any type of emotional confrontation with the team and stakeholders
- Encourage them to think and act in their own ways
- Help your team members in developing their decision-making abilities
- Develop their performance tolerance threshold
- Strengthen the potential of weak employees by surrounding them with those even stronger
- Understand what motivates your employees
- Show your employees where they fit in the company mission and vision
- Arrange a proper follow-up process
- Reward and appreciate their improvement to encourage them more
- Be ready to let them go if there is no scope of improvement
This question is different from the one in which you are asked to name only one skill. Apart from technical skills, mention leadership skills, time management skills, decision-making skills, prioritization skills, risk management skills etc. The follow-up question can be about how a certain skill helps. So, do prepare a justification for each of the skills you talked about.
There are 2 formulas to calculate 3 point estimation.
1) Triangular Distribution E = (P+M+O)/3 ;
2) Beta or PERT Distribution E = (P+4M+O)/6 ;
where P stands for pessimist, O for Optimist and M = most likely and
PERT = Program Evaluation and Review Techniques
This is a question that is designed to ask about leadership skills. Explain what has been best for you and use examples of how your delegation style has worked well in the past. Even if you’ve never technically led a team before, it’s important to find an example of how you might’ve delegated in the past.
You must always show your enthusiasm to the interviewer, but also be honest. If you feel that you can handle more projects than one, then say that you prefer multiple projects.
Since stakeholders hold a high authority and are an integral part of a project having their consent is very important. But sometimes they can be little difficult to handle, in such cases should:
- Accept their authority without fighting
- Remove all the negative emotions
- Understand their issue
- Ask for advice and listen to them
- Be tactful and honest with your decisions
- Praise them and try to establish the connection
- Improve your communication
Talking about managing a project will inevitably lead to a discussion of leadership style. There are many ways to lead, and all have their pluses and minuses. Depending on the project, a project manager might have to pick and choose how they lead, ranging from a top-down approach to servant leadership. See how well-versed they are on leadership techniques.
There are various methodologies — Agile, Waterfall, etc. — which are used in project management. Be well-prepared about the various pros and cons of each methodology that you have used. Never mention the ones that you haven’t used.
As you know, RAID is a critical tool for any project manager. It stands for Risks, Actions, Issues, and Decisions. To define it, RAID is a tool used by project managers to track risks, actions, issues, and decisions in an organized way. While answering the project management interview question, you should include the definitions of these four concepts as well.
Prioritization is important. There’s going to be more work in a day than can be accomplished, so any good project manager is going to have to determine what is crucial and what could be left undone if necessary. It will prove interesting and informative to see how the candidate makes these decisions.
From meetings to project management programs and everything in between, there’s an endless list of tools and processes that project managers use to stay organized. Be sure to list as many tools as you can think of that you’re familiar with to demonstrate your knowledge of project management software and other tools.
Proactive Decision Making
A project manager needs to be able to identify and prevent issues from impacting the project adversely. It is important that the candidate demonstrates the ability to take proactive steps, avoid procrastination, and not shy away from making tough decisions. Thus, candidates are often asked to share examples and real-life scenarios from their projects and life where they made proactive decisions. Here are a few such questions:
These are the final version of all plans before the initiation of a project. It includes time schedule, quality plan, communication plan, and everything else. This acts as the reference to measure the project performance.
Activity scheduling network diagram is the most common form of representation for the project time schedule. This is often accompanied by milestone chart, and bar charts.
Knowing that a project is not keeping to its schedule is only as important as being able to get the project back on track. Once a project manager is aware of the discrepancy between the actual progress and the planned progress, what steps do they take to get the project back on time without jeopardizing the enterprise? Any project manager worth hiring will be able to answer this with practical specifics. On these types of questions, it’s best to answer with the STAR method.
Companies want their employees to be fully invested in the jobs that they are applying for. There are many software tools coming up and many processes being invented regularly in the project management landscape. Hence, project managers need to continually upgrade their skills to be relevant. Basically, tell your interviewer about what you are doing to grow in your field. It could be certification courses you are taking or workshops/courses you are attending. Also, you can talk about your interactions with project managers and people in the field to stay up-to-date with the latest.
Not a single methodology can be applied to all types of projects. The selection of project management methodology must be based on the following criteria:
- Strategic goals and core values of your organization
- Key business drivers of your project
- Constraints (if any) in the project
- Stakeholders involved in the project
- Risks that might occur
- Level of complexity of the project
- Estimated size and cost of the project
This is a document where it all begins. Project authorization is done on this document and a project would be initiated with the top level requirements listed in this document. Initial requirements as seen by stakeholders and the outcomes of the project also are listed in it.
These could be categorized as technical, external, internal/organizational, etc. Depending on the type of projects other categories may have to be considered.
A good project manager is optimistic. The way you handle failure reflects the true leader in you. If your team worked on a project and it ultimately failed, they are bound to be unhappy. But as a manager, it is your duty to ensure that failures don’t affect the morale of the team. You can tell the interviewer that instead of blaming a particular person or a group, you make it a collective responsibility. Also, mention that you communicate to the team members to learn from the mistakes they made in this project and not repeat them in the future.
‘I didn’t have the right team’. ‘I don’t deal well with changes’. ‘My boss wasn’t very supportive’. These would be bad answers to give your future employer. As a project manager, you are expected to manage people and handle risks. So, don’t tell your interviewer that you fall short in those two areas. Give an example of a situation in which the challenge was due to the external factors. It can be about when the project was abruptly shelved or when the funding for it has been stopped. Don’t forget to mention how you handled the situation and what you learned from it.
To put simply, the critical path of a project is all the key tasks that are required to complete a project. There are ways to shorten task time. E.g. adding an extra person to the project on the contract or from a different team to complete the particular tasks.
You need to go prepared for this interview question. If their working style suits yours, you can discuss it. If the job you are applying for is the next logical step for your current job, tell them that. Or, even something like you being attracted to their work culture or vision, can be a good response. Better yet, you can say how the job and the company align with your personal growth. This shows that you are looking for a long-term collaboration with the company.
With this question, the interview panel is trying to understand your knowledge in the concerned domain. You can explain these various concepts involved in defining the scope of the project that include – Product Breakdown, Requirement Analysis, Systems Engineering, Systems Analysis, Value Engineering, Value Analysis and Alternatives Analysis.
There are almost as many ways to manage a project as there are projects. From traditional methods like waterfall to hybrid methodologies, you want a project manager who understands the many ways to work. And more importantly, can they use the project management methodology that best suits the work at hand?
It’s always important to take the initiative as a project manager, and your interviewer wants to see just how you do that. Think of specific project examples that included a lot of proactive decision-making, but don’t also be afraid to include examples that don’t include the workplace.
Tell them about some important and commonly used tools like –
• Gantt Chart
• Work Breakdown Structure
• Product Breakdown Structure
• PERT Chart
• Logic Network
When activity scheduling is done there will be activities whose start time and/or end times are not critical. It may be possible, due to dependencies, to start a task later than the date on the schedule, similarly an activity could be completed later as there are no other activity waiting for its completion. These time pads are called floats. There is always a path from start to finish, which does not have any floats. Not only all the activities in the path must be carried out in planned time, but also there cannot be any delays. Any delays will directly reflect on project completion time. This chain of activities or the path from start to finish is known as the critical path.
The ideal project is the one that you’re hiring for of course! But seriously, try to get them to answer honestly. It will let you know what sort of projects they prefer to work on. In doing so you’ll get a better feel for what kind of work excites them and maybe even what they excel at. This can help you place the project manager with the right project, or help them adapt to the project you’re hiring them to manage.
Majorly used tools in the industry:
- Comparing and Baselining a Process
- Value-Stream Mapping
- Cause and Effect Analysis
- Hypothesis Testing
Baselines are the final version of all plans before the project execution starts. Project baselines are the starting versions of all related plans of a project, be it the time schedule, the quality plan, the communication plan or whatever. This acts as the reference against which project performance is measured.
This is a register/document that contains all the identified risks of a project. List of actions of potential actions are also included.
The risk identification process may be able to come up with some opportunities too.
The one word that you need to focus on for this pm interview question is ‘relevance’. Do your research about the company and the role you are applying for. Your answer for this should be about the kind of projects that the company can offer.
Integration Management, Scope Management, Time Management, Cost Management, Quality Management, Human Resource Management, Communications Management, Risk Management, Procurement Management, and Stakeholder Management.
You might or you might not have faced issues with your former colleagues. But, if you mention that you did, don’t be too negative. You can discuss the problem. However, put your emphasis on what you did to resolve the problem. Give it a happy ending. You can also talk about what has been the learning and how you would handle similar kind of people in the future. It shows your leadership skills.
A project manager should possess knowledge about the various stages that a team goes through during the project; hence, this is one of the common questions asked in interviews and exams on project management. Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning comprises the five development stages in team formation. While you answer this project management interview question, you should describe each of these steps with clarity of thought.
Domain Knowledge and Skills
A good project manager should have 2 features—experience, as well as an in-depth understanding of project management theories. While one without the other hinders performance, to be the ideal project manager, you must have a solid foundation in project management principles. The following question is often asked by interviewers to test the candidate’s domain knowledge and skills:
Where there are people, there are conflicts, and even the best projects have people problems. Good teams collaborate and trust one another. If there’s a problem between two or more team members, it must be resolved quickly. But this can also apply to stakeholders, vendors, etc. A project manager is a bit of a psychologist who must know how to resolve conflicts quickly.
Most project management job interviews start with this question. ‘Be relevant’ is the mantra to do well in this question. Give a brief introduction of your background and educational qualifications. If you are an experienced manager, emphasise on the projects that you have done that are relevant to the job you applied for. If you are a fresh graduate, you can tell them about any college projects that you have done. Treat this question as an opportunity for self-promotion to show the employer why you are fit for the job.
Effort Variance = (Actual effort – Estimated Effort) / Estimated Effort.
It is the difference between the estimated effort and the effort required.
Crashing and fast tracking are two methods of accelerating a project time schedule. Crashing method tries to optimize the schedule making use of the time floats available while keeping costs under control. Fast tracking is to make selected activities faster by applying additional resources if necessary. It may mean paying team members overtime, paying for the time of a consultant, etc.
It helps to drill down into specific experience. Naturally, if the candidate has specific skills they’ll be briefly sketched in the resume, but here’s your opportunity to get a deeper sense of where they stand in terms of budget management. Project managers are known as planners. They schedule and lead teams to success. But there’s often money involved, so they better know how to handle a budget.
Trust and agreement is a key factor that facilitates proper communication and coordination in a team. that brings ou the best outcome. To gain agreement from your team members you must:
- Keep your expectations clear from the very beginning
- Build achievable milestones so that they don’t feel pressured
- Collaborate and maintain team trust throughout the project
- Agree on the terms with the team & ask for their opinions as well
- Schedule frequent accountability meetings
- Establish outcome results and consequences
- Clear out any conflicts among the team members as soon as it arises
Besides being a good professional manager, the PM needs to have additional personal skills for being effective. It is not only essential for him to have project management skills but be proficient in them. Attitude, core personality characteristics and leadership qualities are needed. Team management and leadership skills that help the team reach common objectives and goals are required.
A process is a defined way of doing things. Not only does the process define the actions to be taken but also in what sequence they are to be carried out. Process groups are a set of processes that are applicable to various stages of a project. For example, initiating process group, planning process group, etc. Each of the processes has a defined set of inputs and produce defined outputs by applying a set of tools and techniques on the input.
When assessing risks the project team also tries to determine the probability of the risk actually happening and the impact it will have on the project when it does.
When the interviewer asks this question, it is to know whether you can use Lean, Kanban, Agile etc. If the company uses particular project management software, read up on it. Further, do mention how your knowledge of a specific project management tool can help their company.
RAID is an acronym for Risk, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies. A RAID log is important for a project manager to track anything that would impact a project now or in the future.
It is the difference in estimated effort and the effort actually needed. Work performance is monitored periodically to find if there is any variance in efforts so that corrective actions could be taken.
Most of the applicants will say ‘no’ to this answer. But, by asking questions you can stand out from the crowd. It also shows your interest in the company. Your questions can indicate that you want to know a little more about the job you applied for. Or, you can ask them some questions about the organization itself.
A project management interview need not be dreaded. The above sample project management interview questions and answers should help you face the interviewer confidently. However, there can’t be a single right answer for any of the questions. Use the answers as guiding tools but make sure you take into consideration your own experiences, background, strengths, and weaknesses while answering the PM interview questions. Good luck with your job hunt.
This question will test your knowledge about the project management industry. Not only should you describe three relevant challenges, but possible solutions as well. Good examples can include challenges you’ve had personal experience with, along with effective solutions that you’ve used.
Think about the top challenges of the industry in which the organization operates. Your response will reveal your understanding of the industry, the market, current challenges, and possible solutions. This knowledge is critical to the success of any project manager, as you will be tackling these challenges inside the organization if you get hired.
One of the essential skills for project managers is communication. Without this, everything else fails. Communication is the life and blood of any project. It is claimed at PMI® Research Conference that about 90 percent of a project manager’s time is spent communicating. In today’s siloed organizations, communication happens between various groups and levels, including internal as well as external groups of stakeholders. Here are two communication-related questions asked to candidates:
This question, being one of the most important project management interview questions, intends to know the type of projects you would like to take up. By answering this question honestly, you open up an opportunity to manage projects that excite you or those in which you can excel. Your answer should include multiple points such as whether you like to work as part of a team or alone, the kind of deadlines you prefer, whether you are interested in innovative and creative projects or not, and more.
Well, if you are a project manager you might already be thinking that there can’t be one skill that is enough to be successful. And, you are right. Your answer could be leadership skills, communication skills, or time management skills. What the interviewer is looking for is the justification for the answer. So, before you blurt out anything, have your reasons ready.
As the name implies, Risk Probability is the chance of a risk to happen, while Risk Impact is the cost when the risk occurs.
Not all projects are executed under one roof. With more dynamic project management tools and a global workforce to choose from, many project managers might never meet the members of their team, at least in the real world. Then there are the necessary resources that will be outsourced, which involves a different management technique than when working with employees. Knowing how they would manage people and resources can be a crucial point in your decision to hire or not to hire.
Developmental stages of the team generally consist of:
- Forming: In this stage, the entire group unites for the first time where the focus is to build relationships within the team and clarify the mission or vision of the project.
- Storming: In this stage, team members get more comfortable in sharing their opinions with the team and with a possibility of internal conflict within the group.
- Norming: In this stage, the project team receives the clarity and support on the tasks to proceed with the project.
- Performing: By this stage, the team members learn to trust and accept each other. Each of the team members become competent, autonomous and is able to handle the decision-making process without anyone’s supervision.
- Adjourning: This is the final stage of the team forming process, which takes place after project completion. In this stage, the team is broken up and resources are released.
There are two ways in which you can calculate the three-point estimation:
- Triangular Distribution E = (P+M+O)/3
- Beta or PERT Distribution
E = (P+4M+O)/6
where P = pessimist, O = Optimist, M = most likely.
Scope management, time and cost management knowledge areas are quite obvious. Same goes for quality management too. To complete a project in all its aspects one needs to be aware of the project integration knowledge area. Communications is an essential issue so is the communication management knowledge. Procurement and risk management are two vital support areas. Since people get things done Human resources management is also an equally important area.
This is a graphical method of determining cause and effect relationships leading to a specific risk. One could then determine mitigation actions for that risk.
In the present world, project managers often choose their teams from a global workforce and are expected to manage teams remotely. You should be equipped with the knowledge and skills to work with team members virtually. It calls for a different management technique. Your answer to this project management interview question should clearly describe the project management methodology you may choose to manage people and resources in a remote environment.
This is a potential trap. ‘I get along with everyone’. Say this and you will open a floodgate of questions. Focus on why you are being asked this question. They want to check your people management skills. You can talk about how you are strictly professional and do not let your emotions get the better of you while working with people. Bring out your maturity, emotional quotient while answering this question.
DSS is a software system that helps in the decision making process in project management. There are two types of DSS: structured and unstructured.
At every monitoring point the planned value (PV), earned value (EV) and actual cost (AC) are monitored. PMB, performance measurement baseline is the aggregation of all planned values. Variances from baselines are determined and Schedule variance (SV) and cost variance (CV) are calculated. If earned value is equal to the planned value then the project is achieving what it is supposed to. If there is schedule or cost variance is significant, appropriate action needs to be taken to correct the slips. Estimate at completion (EAC) is estimated and compared with budget at completion. In case there is a slip, the cost consequences will be known.
A project manager’s strength lies in his/her ability to display a high level of adaptability. Nobody wants changes in a project and are not entirely unavoidable. You must approach this question with great wit and convince the interviewer that you are capable, having handled such situations before.
As a project manager, you’ll need to communicate with your team for all projects effectively. Communication challenges will arise; nobody expects that this won’t happen. What the interviewer wants to see, however, is how you’ve handled these challenges in the past. It needs to be evident that even with communication issues, you were still able to work with your team effectively. For example, perhaps instead of being able to have face-to-face meetings when necessary, you were able to put together webchat meetings. Think of a time when something like this happened and how you dealt with the communication challenges efficiently to ensure that the project outcome was still a good one.
Through this question, the interviewer is essentially trying to check your clarity of thought. He/she wants you to describe the important first steps you need to take to ensure the success of a project. A good manager would try to understand ‘what’ of the project before ‘how’. What it means is you first try to understand what is the objective or purpose of the project before diving into how to achieve the goals of the project. Hence, anything on the above lines would get you some brownie points.
It is a set of processes to ensure that a project’s scope is accurately defined and mapped. The process involves a number of steps, which include –
• Planning scope management
• Collecting requirements
• Defining scope
• Creating Work Breakdown Structure
• Validating Scope
• Controlling Scope
Sometimes, no matter how much due diligence you put into assembling a skilled and experienced team for the project, someone underperforms or creates conflicts. While the project is rolling, you don’t have time to stop and tweak your team. Rather, the project manager must deal with the problem and resolve it. This comes up with even the best team, so any capable project manager would know how to nip underperformance in the bud.
It’s easy to forget that project managers are people, too. They are hired to perform and lead a project to success, but they can suffer the same setbacks as anyone on the team. The difference between a good and great project manager is the ability to monitor oneself and respond proactively to any drop offs in performance.
Work breakdown structure defines the work activities that are required for the project completion and the sub-activities of each of those work requirement. It has a hierarchical structure in which concrete/ main activities are segregated into logical sub-activities. There are two approaches:
- Top-down approach
- Bottom-up approach
SOW or the statement of work is a detailed description of the outcomes of the project in terms of what products, services or results are expected from the project. Most detailed SOW are usually given by the customer if he is the one requesting the project.
This is a statistical analysis method that helps decide priorities between several actions to be taken. The basis is that there are about 20% action which when executed gets you 80% of the results. In QA this is used to identify the 20% of causes that create 80% of the problems.
If you say you are fine with any project, it might imply that you do not know yourself enough to answer this question. Instead, it is better to be honest and communicate your preferences. But, if you are applying for a software project manager position and say you hate software development, slight chance you will get the job. So, be a little smart.
It is a decision-making technique through which by doing 20% of the work you produce 80% of the desired result.
According to a dictionary, “A is a way of systematic monitoring and evaluation of aspects of a project, service or facility to ensure that standards of quality are met”. Thus, whatever ensures products meet customer expectations are part of A efforts. Ensuring quality of everything that goes into making a product and that no mistakes are made while making it ensures quality.
Planned Value is the value of the project that has been estimated and approved before the project starts. Actual Cost is the total cost or the amount of money spent during the project. Earned Value is the value earned in the completion of the project. These three elements together form Earned Value Management (EVM).
If your interviewer asks this, you’ll want to assure him or her that you are an effective communicator who motivates others on your team. Not only should good project managers be encouraging when delegating to their team, but they should also be clear in their expectations. Make sure you point out that you understand the significance of being an effective communicator as a project manager.
While the first question helps the interviewer assess how effectively you can handle communication in challenging situations, the second question helps understand how you engage with others, whether you demonstrate good sense and judgment, and are able to use language effectively.
Consistency and Integrity
Honesty and trustworthiness are of utmost importance in the world of business. Project managers manage critical responsibilities and resources such as material, money, and human resources. They also represent the organization to employees, customers, and vendors. They are role models for their team members. Any lack of consistency and integrity can cost the organization a lot more than money. Therefore, the key questions asked to the candidate will be:
This is a top project manager interview question. The answer shows whether you have realistic expectations from the job you are applying for. It helps the interviewer check if your personal goals align with that of the company.
If you are applying for an entry-level position, it might be too ambitious to say ‘I want to be the CEO of this company’. It helps to research on the employee growth in the company and estimate where you could reach with your best performance in the next 5 years. On the other hand, if you are applying for a senior position, you can talk about how you wish to take the company forward and what your contribution towards that would be.
It stands for Capability Maturity Model and has five levels, including –
Initial – Start point of a new process.
Repeatable– It suggests the repeated use of any process.
Defined – It includes documentation of the standard guidelines and procedures.
Managed – It involves measurement and management of a process.
Optimizing – It is the highest level of process maturity in CMM and includes optimization and improvement of a process.
If you are experienced in project management, you might probably know that there is no single skill that is enough for a successful career in the field. To be a successful project manager, you should possess multiple skillsets like leadership skills, communication skills, negotiation skills, and time management skills, to name a few. To answer this question promptly, you should be able to justify why you have chosen a particular skill. You can include a couple of examples to substantiate your answer.
Here, the interview panel wants to know how you respond to critical challenges and deal with conflicting situations in a project. It would be best if you did not refer to examples where you had to manage tough team members or lack of support from management. As a project manager, you should be smart enough to handle such occurrences. Instead, focus on external factors like a situation where the project was unexpectedly called off, or funding was reduced in the middle of an extensive project. Also, you should explain how you tackled the challenges and managed the team during tough situations.
Even project managers have to answer to someone. Responding to executives and stakeholders requires a different approach than the one they would use with teams and vendors. Part of their duties includes managing stakeholders who hold a position of authority over the project manager. That takes a subtle touch.
Type of communication you use in your project will completely depend on the type of project you are working on and the type of team you have. Types of communication styles that a project manager uses:
Typically this process involves collecting requirements, defining scope, creating WBS, verifying scope and controlling the scope. The project scope statement, WBS and WBS dictionary defines the scope baseline. Controlling the scope process must minimize scope creep.
The seller must supply the contracted items at a fixed price determined at the time of contract.
The seller must supply the contracted items at a fixed price determined at the time of contract.
One of the important roles of a leader is to keep the morale of the team members high. Show the interviewer that you are team player and work collaboratively. Tell the interviewer that you would like your team members to look up to you for advice. Also, they should feel free to share their ideas and suggestions with you. Instead of imposing decisions, you allow the team members to contribute and make it a collective effort.
It is the best technique to develop estimates for your project. There are three steps:
- Identify the positive and negative risks involved in the project
- Then make three estimates — Best Guess (BG), Pessimistic (P), and Optimistic (O) estimates
- The final step is to calculate the mean and standard deviation using the formulas: (O+4BG+p)/6 and P – O/6 respectively.
QC procedures include inspections to ensure quality requirements are being met
Fishbone Diagram or Ishikawa Diagram is a visualisation tool to understand the potential causes of a problem to identify its root causes. It is used usually in brainstorming sessions so that the team’s conversation is focussed on the actual problem and not stray away towards only the symptoms.
It’s likely you’ve had to deliver bad news in the past as a project manager, and your interviewer wants to see how, exactly, you go about doing so. They want to see that you’re considerate and upfront with everyone, that you have all of the facts first, and that you’ve thought about how this news will impact all of your team members—not just the person you’re delivering the bad news to directly.
By very nature, projects are unpredictable. Hence, it is essential that a manager anticipates problems that can occur and plans ahead. Your answer then has to reflect the importance you attach to proactive project management. Show the interviewer that you can handle risks and rise to the challenges that can occur during the course of the project.
Being a project manager, one should have the quality to handle both successes and failures. While informing about the failure of a project, one should always ensure that it doesn’t impact the morale of the team and work pace.
Once you realize a project is not going as per the pre-planned time, budget, scope or goals, the next top priority is to get it back on the track. The project manager should be efficient enough to take the necessary steps to resolve the discrepancy between actual progress and planned progress. Your answer for this project management interview question may include re-adjusting resource management, finding the real cause of off-tracking, putting in extra effort, and more.
Talk about not being prepared. Who is going into a job interview with this information in their head? You don’t really want an accurate answer to this question, but you do want to see how the project manager deals critically and seriously with the question. Because, during the project they will be sidelined with unexpected challenges and questions.
It is a type of contract that is a hybrid contractual arrangement containing aspects of both cost-reimbursable and fixed-price contracts. Time and material contracts resemble the cost-reimbursable type arrangements where they have no definitive end. This contract is generally used in projects whose accurate project size can’t be estimated or when it is expected that the project requirements would most likely change.
WBD is the process of decomposition of a project into deliverable-oriented components. This helps the project manager to oversee the project more effectively.
Through the integrated change control process. Requested changes will have to be reviewed by a change control board. Only the approved changes shall be included in the document changes guiding project execution.
In this type of contracts the contractor gets paid for time used on the project and expenses for material used and other agreed upon expenses.
This is an extension of the question on how you ensure that your team members meet deadlines. Talk about clearly defining the responsibilities, arranging regular meetings, empowering the team members to approach if there is any concern and constant updates on the progress of the work.
A cornerstone of A is that processes are continuously improved. Process improvements help mistakes in processes and thus help improve quality.
They don’t want the entire list. Pick some examples based on the following criteria:
How recently have you worked on it? (Don’t talk about a project that happened years ago)
Has it been successful? (Don’t talk about the one in which failed. For obvious reasons, it doesn’t help)
Is it relevant to the job you are applying for?
The whole point of this question is to test your approach and your work ethic. So, make sure that answer reflects those. Most people get carried away by this question and rattle off a lot of details. Please be concise and give only relevant details.
Everybody has their own idea of values. However, it should focus on the job profile and associated with project management.
The interviewer wants to see that you’re a critical thinker and an effective problem solver. Even if you don’t have a specific example to talk about, explain that you always care about your team members and would want to uncover the root of the problem, and find out why, exactly, they’re unhappy. While it may not be possible to please every disgruntled employee, the interviewer just wants to see that you would make an effort to rectify the situation and be professional about everything.
A project is a set of task/activities undertaken to create a product, services or results. These are temporary, in the sense that they are not routine work like production activity but most often one time set of activities undertaken.
Projects are undertaken for a specific or a set of related purposes. A program is a set of projects managed in a coordinated manner to achieve different parts of an overall goal. For example the NASA lunar landing program had the development of the command module and the lunar landing modules as separate projects. A portfolio is a collection of projects, programs and even other portfolios that help an organization achieve some common high level business purpose.
To err is human, they say. It is how you deal with the errors that define your skills. By asking this project management interview question, the interviewer intends to check your honesty and whether you take the responsibility of mistakes you have made in your past projects. Rather than giving a ‘no’ for the answer, you can mention a couple of mistakes. Make sure you show that you take responsibility for the mistake as it is a way to reveal your maturity level. Also, you can explain how you had resolved it.
This is an telling project manager interview question. Some project managers are going to think you want a person who is wholly independent and pulls from an inner-reservoir. Fair enough. But more resourceful is the project manager who knows when they’re over their head and asks for help from a mentor or a network of professionals.
Product breakdown, requirements analysis, systems engineering, systems analysis, value engineering, value analysis and alternatives analysis.
Work breakdown structure defines the work activities required for the project and the sub activities of each of the work requirement. The breakdown goes down to levels where all the work required is clearly understood. Work need not be broken down further than that. Work breakdown dictionary includes additional details that help define the tasks. Time and effort estimates can be accurate when everything about the work and dependencies are known.
To determine what exactly is to be procured, ensure they are procured at the best price and is made available to the project team at the right time.
The answer varies from person to person. But responses can be ‘I like to be out of my comfort zone and hence love challenging projects’. ‘Projects which help me learn and evolve, pushing my potential’. ‘I am attracted to success and achievement. The thought of reaching the project goals within the stipulated time motivates me’. Think about the answer that you want beforehand so as to justify your statements with real-life examples.
GM, or the goals, questions and metrics is the method used. Goals are set, questions are asked about what improvements can be made and metrics (measurements that tell us something about the process) are carried out
The best answer for this question would be scenario-based. Sometimes, the interviewers themselves give a hypothetical project and ask you how you would handle it.
For each stage phase the project follows, briefly mention the following:
The main objective of that phase
The key people involved
Your role in each of those phases
This question is easy; you just need to provide a brief description of your previous work experiences and tell how you ended up being a project manager. However, you should understand that project management is the main focus here and most of it should converge towards proving that it was through the right skills and experience that you are here now.
To handle an unhappy customer, you must:
- Show the customers that you value them
- Understand why they are not happy
- Figure out what modifications they want
- Try to incorporate the modifications if possible
- If not possible try to convince and explain to the customer that the project fits in with the agreed scope
In a nutshell, the interviewer wants to see how, in detail, you’re able to succeed as a project manager. After all, meeting (or exceeding) customer expectations when it comes to project delivery is your ultimate goal. It’s important not to be vague and give a generalized answer; you’ll want to give precise examples and details about your process.
Any person, organization or an entity whose interest is affected, positively or negatively, because of the project. The influence of stakeholders is an important issue to take into account in any planning and subsequently during execution of it as well.
Success and failure are part of your career as a project manager. It is not wise to answer ‘no’ to this question as well. Instead, you can think of an event or phase in your previous projects where you have experienced failure. This project management interview question aims to check your experience in managing risk too. You need to include how you have handled the issue.
They better! The last thing you want is a project manager who carries everything on their shoulders. That’s nuts. But this is a bit of a trick question, or at least one that has an implicit question embedded in it. What you really want to know is not whether they delegate, but how they delegate. This is a great way to weed out the micromanagers.
The techniques are parametric estimates, three-point estimates and analogous estimates.
These are some of the popular questions that are asked in project management interviews. Always be prepared to answer all types of questions — technical skills, interpersonal, leadership or methodology. If you are someone who has recently started your career in project management, you can always get certified to understand the industry-related terminology, skills and methodologies.
Milestone is a point in project schedule when some objective, a part of a result or a part of the planned services planned are achieved.
A PM needs to be able to see any signs of a deviation in time and/or cost to project progress as early as possible. This gives the team as much reaction time as possible to correct the situation or to minimize the impact.
Changes and modifications are a part and parcel of most projects. An employer wants a project manager who is flexible and adaptable to changes. The best answer can be about how you actually put in place a change management process even before the changes occur. At the same time, showcase that you are not a person shy to say ‘no’ when you feel that a certain change is not suitable for the project.
Acquiring the team, forming the team, assigning roles & responsibilities, appraisal policies, rewards & recognition are the areas where clear cut policies should exist and be well known to team members.
Did your colleagues or your manager ever challenge your decisions?Did your colleagues or your manager ever challenge your decisions?Many people think that it’s better to say ‘no’ to this question and move on to the next. But, disagreements in projects are quite common. So, it is extremely unlikely nobody disagreed with your decisions (Especially, if you are a senior project manager). So, it’s better to say yes and go on to describe how you handled the situation. Show that you are a person who can take feedback constructively and can take everybody along with you in a collaborative manner.
The ability to understand if a project is going in the right direction is a core skill of a project manager and performance metrics will help in that matter. Some of the useful performance metrics are Cost Variance, Resource Utilisation, Quality, Customer Satisfaction and Gross Margin.
Majorly encountered risks in a project are:
- Cost Risk
- Schedule Risk
- Performance Risk
- Resource Risk
- Technology Risk
- Market Risk
- Legal Risk
- Strategic Risk
- Governance Risk
- Operational Risk
- External Risk
Current clients make the best repeat customers, and it’s important to maintain excellent relationships, beyond just delivering them what they paid for. The person interviewing you wants to know you feel this way also, so as you explain the ways you’ve maintained excellent customer relationships, be sure to stress the importance of always having a very happy customer.
Every organization has a certain way of doing things, collective wisdom about how things can best be done, etc. and these influences the planning and execution processes. These influences need to be taken into account when estimating, planning for activities related to projects. These are often mentioned as organizational environmental factors.
Does the candidate have experience in your industry? If they don’t, it’s not a game-closer. Much of project management is the same from industry to industry. Perhaps they have strong skills that relate to your industry, even if they don’t have direct experience. However, if they do have experience in your field, that’s a plus, so ask how those relevant projects panned out. Note how confidently they answer. You want an authentic person who is comfortable in the position.
As a project manager, you will be answerable when the customers are unhappy about the project outcomes. While you answer this project management interview question, you should be able to reveal how much you value the customers and that you would accept their authority without being critical. You can say that you will try to make the necessary modifications that the customer is looking for. You can explain the steps you have taken to ensure regular interaction with the customer throughout the project. Also, you can say that you will communicate effectively to make the customer understand that the outcomes are within the scope of the project.
Everyone makes mistakes; character is defined by how you deal with them. This question will allow you to first gauge the candidate’s honesty. If they say that they’ve never made a mistake, you can rest assured that they’re not being truthful and their resume can go into the circular file. However, when they tell you about the mistake they’ve made, note if they take responsibility for it (that will reveal their level of maturity) and, of course, how they resolved it.
Some level of change is inevitable, but as a project manager, it’s important to adapt to those changes quickly. Explain to your interviewer how you continue to keep your team on track whenever any project changes pop up.
Prioritizing and Time Management
A project manager must tackle multiple tasks and issues. To be a successful project manager, you have to choose your battles wisely. Since resources are always limited, they need to be prioritized. Time is a valuable resource for the project because once lost; it cannot be recovered easily. As a result, Project time management is one of the key skills for any project manager. The following questions are asked to assess whether you are capable of taking up the responsibility for creating efficient ways to execute tasks:
Every project has to go through a series of phases from initiation to closure and this is what we call as a project life cycle. As per PMBOK, projects need to go through 5 phases –
• Monitoring & Control
Product breakdown, requirements analysis, systems engineering, systems analysis, value engineering, value analysis and alternatives analysis. Alternatives analysis can be helped by brain storming, lateral thinking and pair-wise comparisons, etc.
Project managers need to have good communication skills. So, don’t be too honest and say that communication skills are your weakest area. The answer has to either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. But, don’t sound overconfident while saying so. If they ask for examples, be ready with two or three examples in different settings to justify your point.
It is the team that executes the project. Thus ensuring you has right people is essential. Developing the team is important as whatever gaps are there need to be bridged. Improving self and the team knowledge is equivalent to the continuous improvement of A process and should impact the quality of the project outcome.
People like to be recognized for their contributions. The project management team needs to recognize talent and reward and recognize the performers. The assessment should not only be fair but seen to be fair.
A sample answer can be ‘I clearly communicate what the expectations are before the team starts to work on the task. I regularly take updates on the progress and if there is a lag anywhere I make myself approachable for the team members to discuss their problems. Also, I appreciate and give feedback once the project is completed to keep them motivated’
There will always be risks involved in a project; sometimes even before you start it. You must be able to give the interviewer enough points on different areas where you can work so that there are effects of risks.
With the responsibilities of a project manager, comes a lot of challenges. So pick out one which you have been successful in handling. Give the various ways how you have handled and the strategy you came up with.
A project has distinct phases when the range of activities required to carry out the project work differ. There is a distinct “start” phase, followed by an organizing and preparing phase. “Carrying out” is the actual execution part of the project. “Closing” phase makes sure the temporary activities related to the project are closed systematically. The points in time when the phase changes happen are named variously as phase gate, exits, milestones or kill points. If a project is to be closed, it is decided at these stages based on the performance or if the need of the project has disappeared.
This takes the conversation from the theoretical to the practical. You can see how the person responded to real-life problems, which helps you determine how they would manage projects at your organization. This question also provides a sense of the person, such as how they lead teams and deal with conflicts. By asking about a challenging project, you can see how they act when pushed to their limits and beyond.
This project management interview question aims to understand your domain knowledge. In a project management framework, processes refer to the defined way of doing tasks for completing the project successfully. On the other hand, process groups are a collection of processes that are carried out at various stages during the project. Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Control, and Closing are the five process groups.
This question is about discovering any lessons they learned from that project. Everything is a learning experience, and each project offers lessons from which a good project manager grows.
Your interviewer wants to understand your work process and see that you’re detail-oriented. Explain how you check in with your team throughout a project. For example, you may want to point out that you believe effective and regular communication is key to ensuring that a project stays on track.
It is mainly a document officially starts a project and includes every detail of the project. From start to end, the document also includes project authorization. This document lists all the top-level requirements as per the stakeholders and the outcomes of the project.
Parametric estimates, three point estimates and analogous estimates are the techniques used for estimating activity time estimates.
It is another question to check if you fit in with the company’s culture. It also indicates whether you are self-aware to communicate your work style. Though it sounds vague, this question provides an opportunity to show how you can be an asset to the company. You could talk about your emphasis on speed and efficiency, how you like to work collaboratively, your way of communication etc. Further, you can mention about how you organize your day and how many hours you work.
PM is charged with managing all aspects of the project. Unless he is a professional and has integrity there are many things that can go wrong. Not so truthful progress reporting will easily boomerang on the PM but the organization will have a delayed or a failed project.
The communication needs of stakeholders depend on their position in the power/influence grid, power/interest grid as also impact/influence grid. Salience modeling is another technique to determine who is the most effective for the interest of the project. This is a qualitative assessment and will determine the kind and details of communications they need on the project.
This is again a knowledge-based question. The Pareto principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the actions. This is a statistical analysis that is used by project managers to prioritize work. If you have enough experience as a project manager, most likely you have used this principle or at least a variation of it. Apart from explaining what it is, talk about how you used it in your previous job (if you did)