8 Project Manager Interview Questions & Answers on Leadership 2021


interview questions on leadership

Here is a list of the 8 most common job interview questions on project management leadership with tips and example answers:

1.    How Do You Motivate A Team?

Interviewers who ask this question want to assess your social skills, and how responsive you are with your coworkers. They want to know how you will work with the entire team to get a job done collectively, and what tactics you have in place for when they feel demotivated.

This also offers a glance at your leadership skills, communication and management styles.

Tip #1: Because every team in every industry is different, there is no right or wrong way to answer this; a real-life example would be the best way to go about it.

Tip #2: Narrate an incident, explain the situation, what you did, and the positive outcome

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Sample Answer

“At my previous job, there was a time when a couple of people were laid off mid-project, and it really demotivated the rest of the team. Plus, there was an extra burden of work until new people were hired and trained.

I had a one-to-one meeting with each member of the team to fix the issue. This was not just so that they could let their frustrations out in a safe space, but also so I could pick their brain on what could be the best way to manage things.

Afterward, we had a collective meeting, and I put all the things I learned from them individually all in front of them. Together, the whole team brainstormed some solutions, made a time-effective game-plan.

Although the project got delayed more than the original plan, it went by very effectively. The team worked together in a healthier setting than they would have, and I felt that they were very enthusiastic after they had that brainstorming session together.”



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2.    Have You Ever Encountered Team Members Who Struggled To Complete Their Tasks? Explain How You Handled That Situation.

This is a fairly common issue in teams; there are times that one member won’t pull their weight or collaborate. What you do in such a situation says a lot about your communication and collaboration skills, and the interview would want to gauge how passive and confrontational you are.

Tip #1: Narrate an incident where you were able to handle the situation proactively, and it resulted in a positive outcome.

Tip #2: Don’t play the blame game, or speak ill about a people involved; rather your own skills that helped resolve the situation.

Tip #3: Talk about taking the responsibility to fix the issue yourself, rather than leaving it to a manager or other people.

Sample Answer

“There was this one time that a co-worker was not meeting deadlines consistently, and it was really halting the progress of the project. Plus, other people were being given their extra work, and I thought that was unfair.

While I did not guilt them with the consequences of not meeting deadlines, I did have a private chat with them to ask if they were having an issue with the tasks. Turns out, it was a problem of not being trained enough in the relevant software, and that was what had been slowing down the entire project.

I’m sure no one deliberately wants to delay things, and we often have to help them fix the issues that are arising. With this person, we ended up arranging for a training and additional support program so that they could work more efficiently.”

3.    How Do You Handle Insubordination, Team Infighting, And/or Poor Team Communication?

If you’re applying for a supervisory position, the interviewer may ask this question in order to assess how you handle problem employees. Your personal skills matter, but so does your ability to bring out the best in others.

Depending on the hierarchal structure of the company, your interviewer could be looking for different traits but usually, they want a supervisor/project manager who is patient, tactful and has the perseverance to deal with all kinds of inevitable office drama.

Tip #1: When it comes to answering questions about teamwork, it’s always better to be as specific as possible –being too vague sounds like you have no idea what you are talking about, and for employers that is an immediate red flag.

Tip #2: Make sure you talk about your communication skills, and that you highlighted and discussed improvement plans with the employees or team.

Sample Answer

“From the outset, my aim is to avoid a clash of egos. To ensure this, I delegate tasks according to the capability of each team member. In my experience, a majority of conflicts arise when an employee feels he or she is given a task that is beneath their position or designation.

During my first time managing a project, the team reached an impasse of sorts. Two members working on a task together complained about each other, stating that each of them was stepping beyond their role.

I discussed the matter with each member and eventually moved one member to another task. Eventually, we were able to complete the project successfully.”

4.    How Would You Describe Your Communication And Leadership Style?

Depending on the job posting, the interviewer could be looking for a particular kind of leader. In traditional, hierarchal companies, a strong no-nonsense leader would work far more efficiently than any other kind of passive, guidance-based leaders.

Tip #1: Review the job description and figure out the kind of leadership style will work for the company the best, and assess if you have what it takes.

Tip #2: You want to highlight your ability to lead and motivate people, provide measurable and timely goals, organize resources and assign and delegate control, reward and recognize everyone’s contributions, and discipline unsatisfactory employees.

Sample Answer

 “I like leading by example. I believe in taking decisive action, assuming full responsibility for the project. I make sure that my team members escape direct censure and only receive feedback through me. In my previous job, I handled a number of projects where I was the direct point of contact between the management and my team. I feel this method of communication is most effective, as my team members can continue working without interruption while I relay feedback and messages to and from the management.

I also like taking a hands-on approach to projects. I love helping young employees out with their activities, as I feel providing guidance and direction is a key part of being a project manager. Through this approach, I am able to get the team to move in the same direction”

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5.    Describe Your Management Style

This is an alternative way to ask the question stated previously, what is your leadership and communication style. Depending on the job posting, the interviewer could be looking for a particular kind of manager. In traditional, hierarchal companies, a strong no-nonsense manager would work far more efficiently than any other kind of passive, guidance-based managers.

Tip #1: Review the job description and figure out the kind of management style will work for the company the best, and assess if you have what it takes.

Tip #2: You want to highlight your ability to lead and motivate people, provide measurable and timely goals, organize resources and assign and delegate control, reward and recognize everyone’s contributions, and discipline unsatisfactory employees.

Sample Answer

 “I adjust my management style according to the people I am managing. I’m not a psychologist or counselor (unless you are), but I understand that different tactics work for different people and I’m willing to adjust to them.

At my previous job, after I had given a presentation on a solution for project issue, the manager put me in charge of handling a team to get the job done. There were six people in that team, and we had to develop and implement a training method.

I worked with the team, communicated to them what needed to be done, assigned everyone their roles according to what I thought would be best for their working styles, and everything turned out great. The job got done on time, and we got really good feedback; I truly believe it was because of how effectively I managed to lead the team.”

6.    Explain How You Would Achieve Consensus While Keeping the Project On Track

The interviewer is testing your conflict resolution skills and multi-tasking skills with this question. Inevitably, every project has a diverse number of people with different mindsets and end-goals; getting them on one page to achieve the same results can be a challenge.

Tip #1: There are three strategies to achieve consensus; problem defining, mediating or facilitating, deciding on alternative solutions. You need to showcase your expertise in all of them.

Tip #2: Narrate a real-life incident where you were handling or involved in a project with diverse people, and what you did to get them to see eye to eye.

Sample Answer

 “The need for achieving consensus arises primarily when there is a conflict between team members. Needless to say, even a slight disagreement can derail the project. My approach is to address the issue as soon as it comes to the fore. The process involves identifying the issue on which a consensus has to be reached.

I also engage the team members so that they can share their ideas regarding the matter at hand and even propose a solution, if required. Using their input not only helps me make an effective decision, but also makes them realize that consensus is important to move forward.

However, in my experience, there are cases where this approach doesn’t yield the desired result. In that case, I repeat the process and try a different method, such as reassigning team members”

7.    Describe How You Recently Managed A Diverse Project Team Towards A Common Goal

The interviewer wants to assess your ability to lead a diverse team where not all members might be on the same page. It’s a true test of leadership where you have to engage members and get them moving in one direction, towards a common goal.

Tip #1: Define your style of leadership. The interviewer will appreciate the fact that you demonstrate a leadership style that is flexible.

Tip #2: Explain the ways in which you provide feedback and encouragement to different members of your team.

Sample Answer

 “In my previous job, we handled numerous projects where the team assigned to me comprised of members who didn’t see eye to eye. In some instances, senior employees felt their subordinates were handling the same roles as them.

My role, as the team manager, was to pacify them and reassure them that their skill set is not being ignored. Most of the time, the process was as simple as informing them of the responsibilities they had to fulfill and how they were contributing to the end goal.

Personally, I feel that directing a diverse team towards a common goal becomes easier if each member knows what he or she is contributing to the project”

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8.    When Was The Last Time You Didn’t Delegate?

The interviewer is testing your honesty by asking you this question. Generally, when delegation goes wrong, project managers don’t like talking about it. Hence, answering this question is important for the overall success of your interview.

Tip #1: Narrate an incident where you refrained from delegating. Explain the reasons why you didn’t delegate.

Tip #2: The question is straightforward, i.e. you have to tell the interviewer about the ‘last time’. You don’t have to go into details of all the projects where you didn’t delegate.

Sample Answer

 “As a rule of thumb, I believe in delegation. I feel that assigning roles and responsibilities to a team is a more effective way of completing a project than micromanaging or having too much on your plate. In my early days as a project manager, I used to handle most of the legwork myself.

During a project, a team member made a major error, which affected the quality of the final output. The error required considerable reworking. Rather than delegate the revision to that member or any other member of the team, I chose to work on it myself. I got the work done but had to sacrifice my weekend, which I could have spent relaxing.

Since then, I always delegate, even on projects where the workload is small. My approach is to delegate effectively to complete the work as quickly as possible.”

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