5 Common Project Manager Interview Questions & Answers

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You’ve made it to the next round – congratulations! All of that effort to make your resume and cover letter stand out have paid off, and you have been invited to an interview. You’re no doubt starting to think about what to wear and how to ensure you arrive on time, along with learning as much about the company as possible. If you’ve been interviewed before, you may have mastered your responses to classic questions like, “what’s your greatest weakness?” and, “how do you handle conflict?” but are you prepared to answer project manager interview questions?

Chances are that if you’ve been invited to talk by the hiring manager, you have a good shot at the position. The interview offers you the chance to let your potential team see your shining personality. If you’re well-prepared, day one of your dream gig may be just around the corner. The following project manager interview questions and sample responses should help you to prepare your own impressive, personalized answers.

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5 Project Manager Interview Questions & Answers

1. What, in your opinion, are the keys for meeting project deadlines?

Keeping detailed schedules and testing each time calculation are great places to start. Certain tasks contain a measure of uncertainty, so for these I typically add a factor of safety. Sometimes explaining the reasoning behind the order and schedule of tasks helps employees to do their part to finish their assignment on time and correctly. I also try to make my contact information clear to all in case they have questions along the way. When it’s a really large or complex project, I like to use an assistant.

2. You’re partway through an important project. Teams have been working away, and all of the sudden the client tells you to stop. What do you do?

Before asking my teams to stop, I’d call for an immediate meeting with the client. I’d ask for the reasons behind the request to stop, and if it’s because they are unhappy with our work up to this point, I’d do my best to convince the individual that we are indeed capable and committed to her or his satisfaction. Transparency is important to me, so if there’s an opportunity to shed more light on our workflows, I’d let the client in on that information. If it’s because the client is out of money or has changed her or his mind, I would remind the individual of the contract and how we’ve allocated the resources to do the work.

3. You’re 80 percent done with a project, and budget is already exhausted. What’s your next step?

As soon as I could see that the budget isn’t working, I’d look at the cost breakdown and make sure there aren’t any mistakes. If it’s a simple mistake, I’d correct it then let others know they shouldn’t worry. If the issue is real, I’d meet with my manager right away. I’d prepare a summary of all of the facts, and together evaluate the outcomes of various action plans. I’d ensure this information stays confidential until if/when we need to let others in on it. If the budgeting mistake was my error, I’d keep this in mind for future times to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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4. A new project comes your way in an area in which you have zero expertise. Will you take the project? Why or why not?

It depends, but in most cases I’d say yes. If it involves something new or unfamiliar to me, I’d accept the challenge, only making sure I have the right resources to plan and execute it successfully. None of us have control over market demands, and I need to be ready to handle whatever our customers need. The only time I’d stay out of a project is if another PM is clearly better qualified to satisfy the client. In a case like this, letting a different PM be in charge might mean the difference between winning and losing future business.

5. An important internal manager says that your upcoming project plan is unrealistic. Losing his support means you’ll lose key resources for completing the project. How will you proceed?

First, I’d ask what he or she recommends to make the plan more realistic. I’d thank him or her for the suggestion, rework the plan, and have it reviewed once again. I’d continue to work closely with the manager until we can agree on a schedule so as not to lose support.

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