Tips for Preparing for a Project Manager Interview

Tips for Preparing for a Project Manager Interview

Are you trying to land a new position as a project manager? Surely you're wondering which questions you will be asked. A project manager's shoes are challenging to fill. In most cases, to meet the employers' demands, you must be a master in communication, familiar with different methodologies, and ready to present the right set of skills.

Project manager interview questions are tricky because you have to show understanding of project management and demonstrate practical leadership skills. We put together a short guide with the most frequent questions you may encounter in the interview and explain what an interviewer wants to hear from you.

The questions

Usually, people decide whether they like you or not the second they meet you, and there is nothing you can do about that. However, you can prepare for the interview and leave a better impression.

  • Tell us something about your background, personal and professional.
  • Have you worked in project management before?
  • Can you name one challenging project, and how did you manage it?
  • Explain your leadership style.
  • Tell us something more about your communication style.
  • How do you know when the project is off-track?
  • How do you get the project back on track if it's not adhering to schedule?
  • What do you consider an ideal project?
  • Do you have any experience in budget management?
  • Have you ever managed remote teams and outsourced resources?
  • How do you handle team members that aren't performing well?
  • How do you deal when you are under pressure or underperforming?
  • Explain how you work with stakeholders, sponsors, or customers.
  • Do you ask for help outside your team?
  • Do you delegate?
  • Tell us about the biggest mistake you have ever made.
  • How did you complete your last project?
  • How do you prioritize your tasks?
  • Do you use project management software, and which one do you prefer?
  • What is your ideal project management methodology?

Preparing for a project manager interview

The best way to prepare for this type of interview is to pay specific attention to all the questions mentioned above. It's important to note that project managers work across various industries, and interviews may vary. So, make sure to take a closer look at the job description's specific requirements and responsibilities. Also, interviewers tend to focus on the following project manager qualities:

  • Organization and strategy
  • Collaboration and leadership
  • Empathy
  • Communication

Answering the interview questions

To help you better understand this portion, we will provide you with an example of how you should respond to senior project manager interview questions.

Let's say one of the questions looks like this: How do you manage team members that aren't performing well?

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If your team is struggling, it's your responsibility to help. This might be an excellent opportunity to show your leadership and management skills. You can say you are committed to the success of your team. The suitable answer, in this case, would be something like this: "During one of my projects, my integration developer had issues extracting data from a client's website. I tried to provide him with enough time to come up with a solution, but eventually, we were at risk of missing a deadline. I scheduled a meeting so we could discuss the potential problem. Considering I wasn't skilled in this particular field, I asked one of my senior developers to attend the meeting. It took three of us 30 minutes to come up with a solution, and we eventually went with the business analyst's solution since it would take the least amount of time and money."

Key skills a project manager needs to succeed

Communication

Without communication, project management can't be successfully implemented. A project manager who can offer clear instructions and expectations for his team can boost efficiency and productivity.

Time management

Successful project managers need to be able to manage time and prioritize tasks. Team members will respond better to managers who follow a schedule, keep a project on track, and finish work on time. The PM must be skilled enough to maximize productivity and avoid distractions.

Organization

In project management, there are several organizational structure types, and they all significantly affect management style. Awareness of how an organization is structured and how teams are formed is crucial for project managers. They need to have a clear sense of the current chain of command and whether senior executives or project managers will bear final deliverables.

Solving problems

In project management, you're expected to have a particular problem-solving framework. Project managers have some basic problem-solving skills, and they're proactive and seek potential problems rather than waiting to see if anything goes wrong. Project managers will define and analyze the issue to identify the root of the problem.

Leadership

Even though this sounds obvious, leadership is one of the crucial skills any project manager should have. Usually, leadership is a mix of strong communication skills and a calm, positive, can-do approach.

Knowledge areas of project management

It's everything you need to know about successful project management. Below you will find ten knowledge areas of PM along with processes linked to them. Being familiar with the PM knowledge areas can be useful, especially if you're answering entry-level project manager interview questions.

  • Integration management
  • Scope management
  • Time management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Resource management
  • Communication management
  • Risk management
  • Procurement management
  • Stakeholder management

What makes a good project manager

This is probably one of the most common questions you will be asked when answering junior project manager interview questions. To be a great project leader, you have to communicate your vision and present project goals so your team members can quickly grasp the message. Let's also see what personal treats are nice to have.

Honor

Project managers set standards for the rest of the team, and employees only follow the best leader and a person they can trust. Your team members will respect you more when they see you are 100% committed to the project.

Passion

A negative and pessimistic manager can put the whole team down. On the other hand, a passionate and enthusiastic manager will motivate team members, making them focus on a mutual goal.

Being cool and collected

Project managers must be able to cope with the stress that comes with the job. Over time, they will have to overcome pressure and stress when dealing with numerous obstacles they are likely to face within this role.

Delegating

This means you have to know your team to the point you fully recognize their abilities and strengths to understand what they do best. With this knowledge, you can delegate the right tasks to the right individuals and accomplish the best results.

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