how to become a project manager (2024 Guide)

Project Manager Interview Questions

BrainStation’s Project Management career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in project management. Read on for an overview of common Project Manager interview questions, as well as strategies on how to answer them to help you land a project management job.

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Employers may ask you a range of questions at your Project Manager interview. The questions will vary depending on the role and job description, but they will likely be a mix of technical and behavioral interview questions.

The questions will assess your project management knowledge and expertise. Equally as important, the employers will be seeing how well you would fit in with the company.

Employers are eager to find Project Managers who can lead and work well with a team. During the interview, candidates should emphasize their skills and strengths, backed with facts and figures. Employers may also ask a Project Manager candidate interview questions regarding past challenges or failures.

If you’re asked to elaborate on unsuccessful projects, focus on what you learned and how you adapted. Employers want to test your problem-solving skills and make sure you’ll be the right fit for their team.

Project Manager Interview Tips

  • Emphasize skills and strengths, backed by facts and figures
  • Focus on how you learned from past challenges and failures
  • Showcase problem-solving skills

The best way to prepare for your Project Manager interview is to practice. Ask a friend or colleague to do a mock interview with you, or record and listen back to your responses. Prepare a variety of real-life examples that support your project management experience. To help you with your interview preparation, we have compiled a list of frequently asked PM interview questions and answers.

Common Skills-Based Project Manager Interview Questions

Project management-related questions will assess your understanding of the role and your knowledge about processes and practices. Employers will also want to learn more about your past project management experience. They will want to know more about the last project you worked on and get insight into your project management career so far.

A few examples of these types of skills-based Project Manager interview questions include:

Question: Tell us about a project you’re particularly proud of.

Answer: As you’re looking to not only toot your horn about your past career success and why your work throughout the project was key in bringing it to its completion, you’ll want to answer this question in such a way as to show the methodical way you evaluate the success or failure of your projects.

To answer project management interview questions like this one, use the STAR method:

  • Situation (be positive)
  • Task (explain your role and goals)
  • Action (what you did to resolve the issue or help complete the project)
  • Result (explain the solution to the issue, how you addressed the situation, and what you learned)

The STAR method is something you should always use in a job interview to clearly explain a real-world situation and how you handled it.

Question: How do you combat scope creep?

Answer: Budget management and time management skills are crucial elements of a project manager’s job. Scope creep refers to any factors that might cause you to miss deadlines or exceed budgets.

From your answer, interviewers should gain a sense of how you carefully manage staff, resources, and other factors to ensure your projects stay on track. Provide a real example in your answer of a major project you steered that had both large scope and some challenges that you couldn’t possibly have anticipated.

You don’t want your example to include issues that you should have expected but somehow overlooked, so make sure whatever problems arose were truly out-of-the-blue.

Go into detail about how you divided the project up into smaller parts that you could complete in advance and how you responded on the fly to client feedback that threatened to take the project over budget.

Projects do need to change and adapt constantly due to client needs, market conditions, and other factors, so this example should prove your ability to use time management and superior communication to adapt to these issues and present finished projects in the agreed-upon amount of time.

Additional Skills-Based Interview Questions for a Project Manager

Can you describe some of the projects that you handled in your previous job?
What are the most important Project Manager responsibilities?
How do you know a project is at risk of going off-track?
If the project is not following a schedule, what do you do?
What’s your approach for prioritizing tasks on a project?
Please tell us all the steps you follow from the time of project initiation to project launch and project completion.
What qualities and characteristics do you think are required to be an effective Project Manager?
How do you approach your relationships with a project sponsor?
What are stakeholder analysis and Power-Interest Grid used for?
During project initiation, what kind of documents do you need?
What are the techniques do you use to collect project requirements?
What is the importance of maintaining a requirement traceability matrix?
Which details should a project plan always include? Why?
How do you approach risk planning?
Please explain the difference between QA and QC.
What makes a successful project?
What conflict management techniques do you employ to manage conflicts between stakeholders and team members?
What do you do during the closing of a project?
Please explain the differences between risk and issues?

Common Technical Project Manager Interview Questions

Your project management skills and expertise will be put to the test in the interview. A good Project Manager must have a range of technical skills, so expect interview questions for a project management position to cover a spectrum of project management knowledge.

For a project manager interview question targeting technical skills, you could expect to be asked:

Question: What sort of project management software and tools do you use?

Answer: Unless the information is included in the job posting – and it’s certainly worth looking – you won’t know exactly which project management tools are used at different companies. So you should aim in your answer to illustrate a breadth of different tools and programs that you have experience using.

You would like to include industry-standard communication and PM tools like Microsoft Project, Trello, or Basecamp since there’s a good chance their organization will at least use one of them. This will also show your overall technical skills and proficiency.

Top Project Management Tools and Skills

  • Trello
  • Basecamp
  • Microsoft Project
  • Jira
  • Asana

Additional Technical Project Manager Interview Questions

What project management software do you typically use?
What’s your project management methodology of choice?
What budget management experience do you have?
Do you have experience managing remote team members or outsourced resources?
Tell us about the different kinds of project management tools you have worked with.
Describe your strategy for prioritizing tasks.
Tell us about your experience with process development.
What’s your proficiency level with [project management software/tool]?
How do you approach assessing the risks of a project? How do you manage them over the project’s lifetime?
Please tell us how you schedule projects and establish timelines.
What is the very first thing you do when assigned a new project?

Common Personal Project Manager Interview Questions

Employers want to know that you will fit in with team members. Personal questions help employers better understand your personality, work habits, interests, and passions.

Project Managers come from a variety of different career and educational backgrounds, and it’s rare that any two PMs have the same story. This is your chance to tell your story and show how you differ from other candidates.

You can also explain why this specific organization and job role are so appealing, as well as hinting at your overall career goals.

That’s important because both sides should be mutually exploring whether there’s a fit here.

Some personal interview questions you may be asked include:

Question: What do you think is an important skill for a Project Manager to have in order to succeed?

Answer: This is, in fact, a personal question, so your answer will differ based on your job experience. Think back to your own career and past projects and reflect on why your best projects were so successful.

Once you do dial in on a skill – let’s say, communication – be sure as you answer this question to not only explain why it’s an important quality for any PM to have, but also illustrate why it’s an area you excel.

Even if an interview doesn’t include this specific question, it’s a wise exercise for any job candidate to think about his or her top skills and how they bring value to companies.

Additional Personal Project Manager Interview Questions

What’s your ideal project?
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
What do you think are the most important Project Manager skills?
What kinds of projects interest you the most and why?
Do you have a favorite part of the project management process?
Why do you want to work our company?
Why should we hire you?
Where do you see your project management career in five years?

Common Situational Project Manager Interview Questions

A good Project Manager needs to know how to interact with colleagues and stakeholders, as well as make sure they can motivate and lead team members.

PMs are often at the helm of a project team that includes all kinds of people with different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Setting realistic deadlines, assigning project tasks and keeping teams focused and on track all require that PMs have top-notch leadership, management, and communication skills.

Question: How do you resolve conflicts within your team?

Answer: The interpersonal aspect of a project manager’s job cannot be understated. Managing team members and their various styles of work, areas of specialty, and personalities is a massive part of a PM’s job.

When you answer this question, emphasize that you prefer to encourage your teams to resolve conflicts on their own first, as it bolsters overall communication and team cohesiveness.

But then be prepared to offer a concrete example of when you had to intervene, how you mediated the conflict, and what the ultimate resolution was.

Additional Situational Project Manager Interview Questions

How would you describe your management style?
How would you describe your communication style?
If team members aren’t working to their full potential, what do you do?
What’s your approach for working with customers, sponsors and stakeholders?
How do you gain agreement with different teams in an organization?
A project has failed. How does an effective Project Manager communicate this to the team, manager, or customer?

Common Behavioral Project Manager Interview Questions

For behavioral questions, a Hiring Manager is looking for concrete examples of how you handled issues in the past. This will help them determine how you might handle future situations.

Make sure to answer these Project Manager interview questions with specific examples. Include the situation, the action you took, and the results in your response.

The STAR method will be useful in answering these interview questions as well.

Some common project management job interview questions with behavioral themes include:

Question: Please tell us about a project you managed that did not meet the deadline or budget.

Answer: No one is perfect, and as long as you have a good explanation for why a past project wasn’t delivered on time or on budget – and you can illustrate how you learned from your mistake – this answer should show that a candidate has the ability to grow as a PM.

One way to answer this question without necessarily admitting a mistake of your own would be to think back to a situation when a client might have wanted to add a new feature sometime over the life of the project that would increase the cost or time to complete the project.

Additional Behavioral Project Manager Interview Questions

What was a particularly difficult project you have worked on and how did you manage it?
What’s the biggest mistake you have ever made on a project? What did you learn?
Has a colleague, manager, or other stakeholder ever questioned your strategy? How did you respond?
Please try to recall a time when a customer or stakeholder was not satisfied with a project. How did you resolve the situation?
In your opinion, what was your most successful project?
Tell us about the most recent project that you worked on.
Can you recall a project that did not meet the deadline or budget?
Please recall a time when your stakeholders disagreed on a project. How did handle it?
Please provide an example of when you had to influence someone to achieve a goal.
Tell us about one of the biggest mistakes you have made in any of your past projects. Did it change how you work as a Project Manager?

Advanced Project Manager Interview Questions

To give you an idea of what some of the top tech companies are looking for in Project Managers, here are a few interview questions from Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

Other questions for a Project Manager Job Interview

Have you ever dealt with a team member who wouldn’t contribute? How did you handle it?
How does Scrum help you improve project success?
Give us an example of a situation in which you went above and beyond solve a problem for a stakeholder or team member?
Provide an example of a project you managed that exceeded expectations.
How would you resolve a conflict between two team members?
Can you think of a time you managed a project that was in trouble? How did you handle it and what was the outcome?
Provide an example of when you demonstrated leadership skills on the job.
Have you ever had to go outside normal procedures to complete a project?
You can tell a project is on track to miss a deadline. What do you do?
How do you define “team”?
How has your past project management experience prepared you to thrive in this job?
What is the most difficult part of a Project Manager role?
Can you think of project that forced you to think outside the box?
What is the most complex project you’ve ever managed?
What’s your approach for managing and prioritizing competing projects?
Describe the last time you managed a challenging project.
Describe project management principles.
As a Project Manager, what do you try to do to make a project more profitable?
What is the largest (budget and staff) projects have you managed?
Think back to hard decisions you’ve had to make in your role as a team leader. Which decisions were the toughest?

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