Here is a list of the 9 most common project manager interview questions on project management with tips and sample answers:
1. What Do You Think Are Your Greatest Strengths?
This may seem like it’s an easy enough question to answer, but it can get pretty tricky for some people –particularly those who struggle with remaining modest about themselves or those who are generally anxious.
The main reason interviewers ask this is so that they can figure out if you know yourself just enough to put in your best, and if your best aligns with what the company needs as well as what the job requires.
Tip #1: Discuss what distinguishes you from other candidates when you are talking about your strengths –you don’t just want to look good, you want to stand out.
Tip #2: The five big strengths that all employers look for include critical thinking, communication, dependability, flexibility, and teamwork. Align these qualities with the job posting, your experience and skill set, and you’re good to go.
Tip #3: Don’t be humble!
“I have exceptional project management skills. I have been working at [ABC] for 6 years, and in those years I have molded my management style to fit all kinds of audiences. I also have great communication abilities, which help me lead a team and keep things on track, even when handling large-scale projects.
I pride myself over my communication skills, and over the past decade that I have been working in this industry, I have practically mastered it. I’ve managed to exceed my personal and the company’s goals in every quarter and have consistently earned bonuses annually. Add to that my organizational skills, where I can break down the project into small and more manageable chunks that helps me do the job quickly and efficiently.”
2. What Are Your Weaknesses?
The interviewer wants to know how much self-awareness you have about your weaknesses. Much like the question before, you have to stand out.
Interviewers want to find out if your weaknesses will be a hindrance to them, or if it is something they can work with –and then they will align it with what the company needs as well as what the job requires.
Tip #1: Remember to acknowledge your mistakes, realize that you are self-aware and that you are able to come out of them.
Tip #2: Pick a weakness that may be turned into a strength like being too picky and detail oriented.
“I have always been a very detail-oriented person, and while it can be a good thing generally, it usually takes up a lot of time. For example, in my academic life, I would do excellent work, but would always hand it in late because I spent so much time on getting it to be that excellent. [Self-awareness] I have realized that this is counterproductive many of the times, especially when meeting deadlines because not everything requires precision. [Coming Out of The Problem] I have learned to prioritize my time better, starting off with the tougher projects first and fixing a time for every assignment. I have learned that by keeping multiple deadlines in front of me, I get the job done quicker and cover up for this weakness.”
3. What Are The Three Words That Describe You Best?
This is an alternative way to ask the “What is your greatest strength?” and the purpose behind this is to understand how your personality aligns with the goals of the company and the requirement of the post.
For many people, talking about themselves is a tricky domain for two reasons; either that they are arrogant, or that they are too modest. Either they will talk too much, or they won’t be self-aware enough to know their strengths. This question, in that manner, can also be a great assessment of these qualities.
Tip #1: You need to pick three words that reflect your actual strengths.
Tip #2: Offering a generic answer will not help you to stand out in the crowd.
“The three words that best describe me are ‘methodical’, ‘innovative’, and ‘go-getter’. As a project manager, I pay attention to detail and emphasize a method-led approach rather than a person-led approach. Hence, any changes to the personnel on my team don’t affect the overall workflow and I manage to complete the work on time.
Also, I am always open to new ideas. Initially, in my career, I preferred a trial and error process for figuring out the best way to complete a project. Therefore, the approach changed from project to project. Eventually, I tried different methodologies, like PMBOK and agile, and now I stick to Agile for the most part.
Why I feel I am a go-getter is that despite believing staunchly in delegation, I am hands-on with my work. I also like to get my hands dirty and never miss an opportunity to train and educate.”
4. How Would Those You Have Worked With Previously Describe You?
Interviewers ask this question to get an idea of your self-perception, compare it with your references, and try to understand where you fit into their company culture.
Like all the personality-assessment questions, these may come across as tough and tricky for many people for two reasons; that they are shy, or that they are arrogant.
Tip #1: Think back to incidents where your colleagues had appreciated anything that you did for them or pointed out a quality that they appreciated in you.
Tip #2: Read the reference letters that your managers wrote for you, your LinkedIn endorsements, and performance reviews –and try to match your answers with those.
Tip #3: If you are on good terms with your colleagues, ask them how they would describe your personality.
Tip #4: Don’t ramble on, keep it short and crisp. In fact, make a bullet list and stick to it, highlighting one point at a time.
Tip #5: Focus on the trait that is relevant to the job.
“I’ve been told many times by different colleagues that they think I am good as good of a leader as I am a team player. For instance, we handled a project for a particularly demanding client. The client was adamant regarding the date of delivery. I had to delegate a number of tasks to some inexperienced members. Eventually, I had to help them execute their tasks, in addition to completing my responsibilities. Finally, we managed to complete the project on time. My coworker was impressed enough to write a letter of reference, you’ll find it in the documents attached.
My co-worker once said that he admires how organized I am and that my effective time-management really helps the entire team take control of the projects more effectively.”
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5. What Motivates You To Do Your Best On The Job?
Employers want to know about your motivations because it helps them understand how goal-oriented and driven towards success you are.
Your self-motivation means that you have priorities of a job that extend themselves past the monetary value that a company can offer because it helps them understand what would fulfill you the most.
Tip #1: Think long and hard about the best days that you had at your previous job, or the times that you came back from the office excited to narrate a new story?
Tip #2: This might take a lot of self-reflection so buckle up.
“I love a good challenge, and I often find myself trying new things and taking up projects that are different than anything I have done before. I find the learning experience to be exciting, and I often try to beat the goal I had set for myself previously.
I love interacting with people, and I find it to be the best part of my job. My goal is always to help customers, understand their needs, and solve their problems.
Another thing that motivates me is when I manage to complete a project within schedule and meeting my client’s requirements. On some of the projects, the end result, whether it is a product or a service, will benefit my client tremendously. It gives me satisfaction knowing that I have contributed to the outcome.”
6. Tell Us Something About Your Hobbies
They want to ask what you do in your free time that may contribute towards what is required of the job. Plus, your hobbies say a lot about your personality and that counts for a lot in the workplace.
With this question, the interviewer wants to know what you are passionate about, if you are a well-rounded person or not, your health concerns, your work-life balancing abilities, and the energies with which you will interact with co-workers and clients.
Tip #1: Make a list of things you do when you leave the office, or during the weekends.
Tip #2: It’s especially helpful to mention if you have hobbies related to health and exercise, volunteering and community participation, professional and educational development.
Tip #3: Don’t mention useless stuff like how you have no hobbies, that you love to watch TV or sleep; it just comes across as impassionate.
Tip #4: Try to relate the hobby to the job posting or the company, and explain why you love it.
“I love reading, and I do it practically every day. It helps me relax and makes me think more creatively. I’m currently reading (insert name of the book) on my friend’s recommendation. I heard that your office has an informal book club, and I love that!
One of my hobbies is soccer, I’ve been playing it since I was in middle school. I’m also on the local soccer ball team. What I love about this activity is that it allows meto work with others in a healthy, competitive environment –and I also get to meet new people, which is always fun!”
7. What Do You Spend The Most Time Doing Each Day?
With this question, the interviewer wants to assess if you have the qualities that a company would want in an employee, his or her ability to micro-manage and communicate, and his or her passion. They also want to know how you generally handle the tasks that fall under your responsibility.
Tip #1: Keep in mind the position that you are applying for, the job listing, and the company; focus on the tasks in particular.
Tip #2: Keep it specific, and state real-life examples.
Tip #3: Don’t talk about stuff that is not related to your work like lunch breaks, taking personal calls, leaving work early, or catching up with co-workers during working hours.
“During a typical day, one of my biggest tasks is to catch up on the progress of the various projects. During the first fifteen minutes, I map out my entire day based on what needs to go first, what’s urgent, and what isn’t.
During the middle of the day, I check in with the staff and ask them if they are having any problems with a project and if I can resolve them. If the issue is particularly serious, I take some time out during the last quarter of the day to hold a meeting and all of us brainstorm on how to fix the problem. Then we start implementing that strategy the day afterward.”
8. What Challenges Are You Looking For In This Position?
Your employer wants to know how receptive you are to the idea of taking up new challenges, and how steadfast you remain when going through them.
Tip #1: Always have examples ready to be narrated, and make sure that their subject remains the things that you are passionate about.
Tip #2: Express your motivation, your drive, and your goals. Talk about your organization, and time-management skills and how you get to do your job.
Tip #3: Use real-life examples, instead of being vague and talk about the time that you actually did respond well to a challenging situation.
“I recently finished my degree in Information Management and I plan on applying everything that I have learned in this job. Plus, I’ve been practicing my presentation skills, and I look forward to making some compelling ones for this department at your company.
I know that your company wants people who can micromanage large teams, and I’ve been told that I’m great with not just leading teams but also working along-side them. That’s something that I really want to test out, and I see that this position is the perfect fit for me to do that.”
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9. For How Long Do You Expect To Stay With Our Organization
Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen in the coming years, but that’s not the point of the question. The interviewer wants to ask about your plans, if you have them, for the upcoming years and how you want to meet them.
This further helps them align your long-term goals with the company’s goals, and to predict for how many years they can keep you around.
Tip #1: Be as honest as you can, but also remain positive and express that you are passionate about the job.
Tip #2: Let the interviewer know very clearly how and why working with them appeals to you. If there are specific parts of the job that you see yourself doing for a long time, bring them up.
Tip #3: Try not to sugarcoat, or misrepresent the duration of your tenure. Everyone knows that people and plans change and as long as you are honest about it, it’s all good.
“Currently, I’m looking for a stable job where I can be a part of the team for a long time. What I love about this posting is that I will be taking up the responsibility of project risk management and that is something that I absolutely love doing, and feel really strongly about. As long as I get to do that, I can pretty much stay for a long while.”
I’ll stay for as long as I can grow.
If possible, I’d prefer to stay long-term. I like that your company offers a flexible worktime and it goes really well with my other responsibilities like studies or children.”