The purpose of a project manager interview is to determine whether your style is a good fit for the prospective company. Your answers should present you in the best possible light, highlighting your management style and suggesting how that would fit in with the company ethos.
The following article will take a look at some of the questions you may be expected to answer and how you would go about constructing the perfect response that will impress the hiring manager and hopefully land you the project management job in question.
"In your opinion, what would you say is the most important thing a project manager does in their role?"
This question presents the perfect opportunity to show off your knowledge about the project manager role. Consider how you spend your time as a project manager and some of the key responsibilities a project team leader has. Go through each one in your answer and give plenty of examples to illustrate any of the points you make.
"In your time working as a project manager, have you ever had a project that failed to meet a deadline or budget?"
Deadlines and budgets are incredibly important to project managers. This question may sound like a trap, but if you have had a failure in one of these areas, you can explain the situation and how you dealt with that setback as a project team manager. If you have had an instance where this has happened, own it, and be truthful.
Lying in an interview is a bad idea and it will reflect very badly on you if you're caught. Manager interview questions are designed to see how you do overall, not necessarily whether you have ever failed a task as a project team leader. All project managers are human, so it's okay to answer project management interview questions honestly.
"Can you describe to me your most successful project and what made it so successful?"
This question gives you the chance to outline the steps you took in project management to be successful that you can repeat once again. Come prepared with an idea of the most successful task you completed as a project manager before the interview so that you're not left umming and ahhing when it comes to answering.
Give plenty of details about the project management and make sure to explain your integral role as a project manager to its success. The best project manager candidate will come ready to answer this.
"Tell me about the sort of project management tools you like to use."
Each company has their own preferences when it comes to management of resources. This is your chance to discuss the experience you have with project management software and tools.
Pick out as many different things as you can and show how versatile you are with project management resources. Really take this chance to show that you're a pro when it comes to using management resources and that you can adapt to what their other project managers use if necessary.
"What is your preferred escalation path and have you ever had to employ it?"
An escalation path is the method you use to deal with issues during a project should they occur.
An escalation path is how you handle a project issue when it arises. Your answer should demonstrate your critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
You can answer with a specific time you encountered a problem while working on a project and how you handled it. This is one of the project manager interview questions that you can certainly expect at any project management interview.
"What are the methods you use for project management?"
Everyone has their own project management style and this is your chance to explain yours. At your job interview, they'll know that a good project manager has their own unique communication style when working on a project. It's the most important project manager interview question that they want to know the answer to if they are looking for a unique approach.
Make sure you explain how your style fits in with the company and talk about how it has been successful in the past. You can even mention how it has adapted to what it is today.
"Do you know what 'scope creep' is and how do you deal with it?"
One very important part of project management is keeping the budget and duration in mind. Sometimes things change during a project that can affect these two facets. Your answer should address how you employ your contingency plan to make sure that change doesn't affect your ability to keep a project within the budget and deadline.
Use previous examples from your career to illustrate any point you make and show the interviewer that you can back up what you are saying. Mentioning the use of project management tools and software would be an asset here, but don't forget to discuss your face to face communication style with team members in order to fully address the interview question.
"Can you explain how you handle team conflict?"
This project manager interview question address a key part of your project management role. For any project management position, handling conflict is an essential part of the package.
When disagreements arise between a team member and someone else, the onus is on you to handle it and get the team working towards their goal one again. As always, make sure to use specific examples to answer this question and show the hiring manager that you would be capable to solve conflict during a challenging project if it arises in your new project manager position.
"What was your last project like? Do you believe it was successful?"
This last question sort of brings everything you have previously spoken about together. This is a great opportunity to showcase all that you have learned in project management and how you employed that knowledge to lead a (hopefully) successful project.
If it wasn't successful, explain why that was and how you would have changed things to make sure it would be successful if it were repeated again today. This might include how you resolve conflicts while managing a project, leadership skills, how to manage people on a specific project, communication skills, budget management experience, and any other project team management experience you have.
To land this job opportunity, open communication with your interviewer is key. Questions at job interviews, especially project management interview questions, are designed to dig deep into what type of project managers they have to choose from for their open position. Use the project management interview questions as an opportunity to impress your interviewer with well-thought answers that demonstrate how you keep your team on track to ensure a good project each and every time.