Top 30 Program Manager Interview Questions & Answers in 2021


program manager interview questions and answers

The thumb rule for a strategized organization depends upon its Mission, Vision, and Goal statements. A program manager’s responsibility is to strive for attaining the final mission and goals of the organization. He has to oversee customer satisfaction, safety, quality by his team members. He would be the guiding factor for strategizing every move of the Organization, towards the achievement of the final objectives of the firm. His presence should be amicable, his instructions clear and straight forward, knowledge bearing, collaborative and accepted by his followers. He serves as a key person to develop plans to strategically drive an organization.

1. Why Does A Project Fail? Narrate The Reasons

Answer: The prime reason for failure in project delivery happens due to a lack of vision. All members in the project team, executive management, project manager and team members should be accessing real-time data and information at the right time. The second reason can be stated as unclear project objectives. Companies try to over devote to opportunities rather than doing their homework as to how much overwork it would add to the team members, the psychological impact it may have down the line in business matrix. The third reason may be the communication gap that can result from untimely information dissemination between the tiers of business management i.e. the Project Manager, executive managers, team members respectively. Every means of proper management needs to be on the same platform while trying to achieve organizational goals. Failure of any project becomes a stain in future endeavors by the company.

2. Points To Be Considered In Monitoring Project Process?

Answer: Every project, be it large or small must be set with priorities to accomplish the finishing target. A program manager with his team must be taking care of prioritizing efforts. No wonder how effectively a project is planned, last moment changes or unforeseen surprises may crop up to shake up the whole plan. None of the project management software available in the market satisfactorily cushions the gap only if not a program manager’s wit and experience are incorporated. To match the deadline, every participant must be aware of the latest schedule. It is a hard task and strict monitoring needs to be done. 6 major steps can be mentioned which effectively prioritizes namely, collecting the task list, Identity urgent versus important, compare assess value, set orders based on efforts estimated, maintain flexibility and adaptability, identify when to cut.

3. How Do You Plan To Deliver The Outcome For A Program With Six Month’s Deadline?

Answer: For any project initiation, scheduling forms a major step to project management. Any inconvenience caused in a project process will end up failing or can result in mistakes that can be very costly. Hence it becomes necessary that a project needs to be started with a well-established schedule. Features of a project schedule include layout the tasks in hand, methods of execution, dependencies of each task with those succeeding or preceding, few others that might be essential for the project. Schedules reflect the effective sequencing of activities to achieve project goals. Here we have six months deadline, so it is needed to have a planned approach for execution within the time range. Performers of the project, resources required and specific time frame, is covered under the schedule. The schedules enable the management to trace whether the project is running as planned or deviated in the course. The effectiveness of any performance requires scheduling which isn’t that easy because of its large inclusion of predictions and estimations along the way. If practical and sound planning methodology is used, schedule preparing can be made easy.

 The path forward to schedule making can include these salient points
• Project Tasks
• Covering Milestones
• Based on 6 months Project Timeframes
• Provision for cushioning
• Preparing a Gantt Chart as per details
• Complete Project Scope needs to be included
• Work distribution to Team Members
• Monitoring Project Schedule deviations.

4. The Company’s Business Strategies And Objectives Change Midway Of Program Completion? How Do You Tackle Such A Situation?

Answer: If a company changes its business strategy or objective midway completion of a project, the manager along with his team members should consider where they started i.e. what previous company policies were prevailing. The agreement was done based on the earlier strategy and objective any company may be having. Any deviation to these new strategies and objectives can be unconsidered at present till completion. From the next project onwards the new policies would be entertained and meticulously followed. Here we find internal deviations on organizations part not on the client or consumer’s part. Any change requests sent by the client would be taken care and others can wait till the task is completed.

5. What Is The Difference Between A Program And A Project Manager?

Answer: While the program managers and project managers perform the same type of responsibilities, A program refers to interlinking between the set of projects that are sequentially executed to produce effective benefits. A project is a form of temporary activity that has a certain set of goals to produce a unique product or service.

The program manager’s responsibility lies with,
a) Program Managers while controlling activities being executed in a various group of projects be it individual or multiple, project managers are more interested in the finished output i.e. deliverable or service generated vide these projects be it individualistic or multiple in nature.
b) While the program managers concentrate on the long term mission of an organization, project managers are involved with short term goals. Mostly the end products i.e. in the form of deliverables or service happens to be the prime concern.
c) Program managers play a role of strategic nature while a project manager’s role is more tactical in essence.
d) It can be inferred that when a program manager focuses on contesting the project managers focus on content.
e) Where the program manager strives for benefits, project managers strive for achieving the goals


It is to be noted that the program managers are more concerned about that of the project managers. While the program managers are involved with coordinating multiple projects or programs, the project manager would be concerned about how his team can achieve the results.

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6. How Does Technology Support Program Management?

Answer: The main motive of using technology in program management is to establish a suitable communication system between managers, team members, and other stakeholders. As expressed by most project manager key of success to any project is possible by fruitful communication. Not only communication, project management tools are advanced many folds by IoT (Internet of things), cloud project/program management is undoubtedly a cheaper technology to adsorb, its task tracking system in real-time promotes ease to every participant of the projects. By the blessing of advances made in telecom and project management systems, remote contributor’s to the project can be communicated simultaneously. Traditional methods like emails, notes, telex, and fax, are no more used, with the advent of cloud collaboration, details can be shared in real-time, fast and easily.



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7. Define the Metrics Frequently Used

Answer: The percentage of time spent in realistic production work, involving proposal writing, business development by an employee is expressed in metric measures. The most frequently used metrics are:
Cost Variance (CV):
CV = EV –AC
Here, EV (earned value)
AC (actual cost)


It can be deduced from the formula that cost variance is subjected to comparing the actuals to the estimated value or earned value, generally gives a negative result if there is creep in the budget.


Scheduled Variance (SV):
SV = (Earned Value) – (Planned Value)
It serves as an indicator of schedule. If the value of SV is negative, it means the tasks are lagging concerning schedule, while a positive result proves being ahead of schedule while the value of zero specifies the tasks are on schedule.

SV= (Earned Value)/ (Planned Value)
This formula again is a schedule variance oriented output in a percentage. Positive or negative results help to decide what percentage of the task is ahead or lagging to schedule.

8. Explain Your Experience Regarding Program Charters?

Answer: It is an agreement that needs to be recognized by both parties before the start of a project. It serves as a high-level project starting a draft. Without a charter no project can be started, it is a documented evidence of a project initiator about various commitments he proposes for acquiring the responsibilities. Without the charter the project won’t be having any directives, the scope of work won’t be properly defined. In absence of charter, the project can be canceled any time, subject to audit as an unauthorized project. The Program Charter describes the scope, goal, and stakeholders assigned to the project. A Program Charter betters a project manager’s understanding of the sponsor’s benchmark, describes vital pre-requisites of the project and ensures every contributor’s awareness about their portion of responsibility.

9. How Do You Think Change Management Is Important For This Role?

Answer: To achieve goals the employees must abreast to changes when needed. A proper change management system in place guides and supports its performers with tools to respond to the changes, promote key objectives and goals of an organization. A project manager has to make these changes flexible enough to adhere and lead to project success. Any changes are not welcomed on every occasion, the reason behind still unknown. Changes impact learning at times, enrichment of skill and training programs form a part, new ways of performing activities need additional efforts may be prime causes of discomfort among employees when any change occurs.

We can enlist the seven most effective change management practices:
• Identify an active and prominent sponsor, include him in a group.
• Dedicated resources to respond to changes
• Change management in a structured format
• Encouraging employees to respond to the changes open-mindedly
• Open forum or platform for discussion
• Bonding with project management people to extract as much information
• Involving the middle managers.

10. What Should We Do To Avoid Scope Creep?

Answer: A scope creep originates when the project’s scope of work is not enlisted properly. Communication problems may be another reason that may be a cause of such fallacy. Poor change management process can render this kind of problem as well. This is most unwanted as project budget shoots up that are not acceptable for an organization. It can lead to project failure even if not observed properly. It is a phenomenon that results in poor scoping, disengaged sponsors, irrelevant requirements, mismanagement, etc.

With scope creep, not only team members working for the project delivery shows inconvenience with anticipation of extra-work, but the stakeholders also get unhappy for that reason. Any scope creep can be counteracted by incorporating a measurable scope of deliverables, this in turn positive without annoying the stakeholders. To avoid proper scope definition due to harsh commands, an ample amount of time needs to be deployed to defining the measurable terms of scope. It needs your effective convincing skills to persuade the stakeholders to maintain cooperating as usual. A stakeholder out of the lull of profit tries spending minimum for these changes but actually, the changes can impact, project cost, schedule, quality, risk, resources, etc. In spite of informing them the changes cannot be done better do homework on the impact and provide a suitable answer to the changes in consultation with the project sponsor.

Scope management process to prevent creep:

• Vigilance since the start of the project,
• Understanding the vision and mission of the client,
• Decide process of regulating the changes,
• Guard against extraordinary spending,
• Profound use of in-house project management software,
• Deny with confidence, to refrain any further changes.

11. Methods To Match Recent Industry Trends?

Answer: To highlight its credentials in the market and decide upon futuristic strategies, keeping knowledge updated for the latest trends is mandatory. The latest news appearing in social media, magazines, leaflets, newspapers should be visited regularly to keep up with the latest business trends. Moreover to stay ahead of the competitor’s activity in the same field must be cross-checked. Studying a customer’s feedback on a certain product in social media may provide information in customer’s shoes, what they expect and what better features can be offered. It would be advisable to attend training programs and workshops to remain updated on the latest technological advancements.

12. Narrate Your Most Recent Contribution To Program Management?

The main focus of the candidate would be to explain the past project experiences that were successfully performed. The person should explain the success-driven methodologies adopted to achieve that success. He can provide steps to be followed like:
• Supporting project managers in their activities, from their office where several other tasks could be moving on simultaneously
• Maintaining strict program management processes to control individual projects being undertaken. Adhering to individual project steering meeting schedules and gaining knowledge about how things are moving.
• Establishing a PMO system to convey the prerequisites of the program
• Develop a useful WBS (work breakdown structure) for each project underway, side by side maintain a master project for self.
• Ensure communication is timely and real-time among various tiers of the organization to adhere to milestones set meticulously.
• Cost-cutting is another aspect of concern which needs to be emphasized to promote profit margin at the end of the program.
• Device an effective PM management tool to keep himself abreast of process happening in the shop floor
• Benefit from automating the synchronization between allotted dates and the project plan.
• To monitor, the program manager with Milestone Trend Analysis should remain updated on the program plan schedules

13. Describe The Challenges Faced In Dealing With A Team Of Project Managers.

Answer: The major problem with the project managers when a gap arises between training and skill development to survive with corporate modes of up-gradation. Inadequate skills and training may deter the outcome of the project. Lack of accountability can cause the failure of the project. Stringent measures must be taken to promote techniques to regulate team members and drive a common interest in the organization’s success goals. The biggest challenge faced while managing a team of project managers might be a lack of effective communication between the Project managers and his subordinates. Clear and open communications are the major treasure for project managers to possess. Collaboration software like a proof hub may respond to the requirement, a lack of skill that enforces the requirements of training. Secondly, the lack of accountability and blame game might deter performance. Many a time contradicting views held by managers might aggravate in house clashes, so an interactive session might be organized, providing a common forum for all managers to express their views and settle upon a common goal and mission based on righteous options.

14. State The Latest Metrics Used To Measure The Success Of Deliverables? What Was The Best Metrics Selected?

Answer: The main components of the earned value (EV) management system are Planned Value (PV) and Actual Cost (AC). These provide an updated forecast of project status. It narrates the project output against the scheduled. Earned value and Actual costs represent the value of work and amount spent as on date. These values if made available, the planned progress can be envisaged. Based on the earlier steps percentage of variances can be estimated. With the utilization of schedule and cost variances provides concluding if the project is above or below schedule. This has a cost implication, these values provide an answer to cost implications, whether the price proposed is higher but the schedule is ahead, similarly costs are lower with effect to the schedule being lagging. Thus, it can be inferred that EVM provides good support to derive conclusions related to cost in a project process.

15. Explain The Process To Develop A Budget And Resource Allocation For The Past Program.

Answer: For successful completion of any project is a joint effort of project managers, team members, and stakeholders. To start with estimation is done for bid evaluation, scope study, man-hour estimation, distribution of work, bill of materials, costing, procurement, etc. Hence all work expected to be accomplished needs a budget allocation.

While developing the Project Management plans, it is equally important to work on Project Cost Management too. Over every project, management effort cost controlling needs to be emphasized. Project cost management can be streamlined into four subparts, namely cost management planning, the cost implication of monetary resources, authentic budget plans and cost management at source. Budget estimation of a Project starts with all the costs incurred due to actions conducted under work packages. Once the estimates are ready it gets added up to the budget involved for the project. In order to present the budget with the utmost clarity, the procedure may be a) cost aggregation: it is a structure for costing established by aggregating all activities streamlined under work break down layers of a project, b) financing: It may be required to target sponsors from outside world to keep up to the capabilities of the organization by self, c) Funding limit reconciliation: This is the technique involved in controlling the fund wasted due to activities in the house.

16. How Did You Mitigate Issues Resulting From Communication While Managing A Program?

Answer: This is a very frequent issue a program/project manager is subjected to. This problem arises due to the improper dissipation of information. This may lead to a faulty way to execute the project. Sometimes, variance in viewpoints results in internal clashes and uneasiness. It can result in the working group and managers at almost every level. Maybe the information required is not provided when required. To avoid these problems we need to formulate a proper Communication Management Plan.

17. Methods To Handle Difficulty In Negotiation With A Sponsor/Stakeholder.

Answer: A stakeholder plays an important role in business activities. He stands as the governing person in decision making. Stakeholders are representatives to decision maker’s group in the backdrop. It becomes difficult to negotiate with difficult stakeholders at times. A project manager must be having a convincing attitude to sublime the difficulties. Points that need to be kept in mind, they a holding an authorities position so don’t intend to fight, Negative emotions should be kept on bay, request remedies and accept as required, tactfully handle the situation keeping oneself honest in all endeavors, create an amicable atmosphere where negotiations can be done on a lighter note, While communicating there me confidence in way communication is held, etc.


No matter how the needs are registered, stakeholders are bound to accept terms of negotiation with the program manager if he is satisfied with honesty, take ownership, predictable and reliable, accountability and confident about his decisions.
Prepare a stakeholder’s management plan. The key point of the plan should be communication.

18. From Experience How Was It Possible To Improve Or Streamline A Process?

Answer: The effective way to streamline a business, lies with simplifying the process. Streamlining the process depends upon, how to analyze the present process. Identifying the most crucial points a manager’s intention lies in breaking down the process in subunits that would be easier to execute. Documenting every step so that any past details can be recapitulated. Present-day software tools are available to streamline process, it forms a part of automation strategy a project manager can follow. Monitoring needs to be done effectively to test how the new process is working.

19. Qualities Expected To Turn You Into An Effective Leader?

Answer: A good leader is considered a good coach in the workplace. If leaders become bosses, then there are chances subordinates might not accept your dictatorship. A leader’s quality encompasses, honesty. Any task performed by a leader must reflect his honest efforts. His focus on the project deadline and convincing other team members to follow his footsteps are general trends of a leader. His work and dedication should be convincing to supervisors and bottom level employees likewise. He should be having excellent persuasion skills. His activities are expected to inherit confidence. As far as communication is concerned, there must be clarity in his instructions. He should be a team player and supportive person, responding to a team member’s shortcomings, training them to eradicate the loopholes.

20. Describe Your Problem Solving Techniques?

Answer: Arguments do not provide a solution to any problem but resolving the gap amicably can provide much more opportunity to arrive with a solution. The first and foremost requirement of any problem in listening. The basic problem-solving technique is to identify the root cause of the problem. It may be machines, human, managerial, vendors, types may be any small or big. The first step is to understand the content of the problem. Determine the causes that created the problem. Generate mitigation ideas to eradicate the problem. Selecting the best idea followed by action can be made. Post action consequences need to be monitored.

21. Suggest How To Deal With Ethical Dilemmas?

Answer: Business ethics are a prime concern for any organization. It revolves around the acceptance of gifts and attending lunch and dinner offers done in lieu of drawing biased decisions. But it is strictly against any business norm. Dilemmas may be felt in certain instances where a “no” would work even if the stakeholder is a close associate. Thus for dealing with ethical dilemmas, the commitment and honesty towards the organization are to be recapitulated. Ethical Dilemmas has the only solution to say “no” with confidence.

22. Define How You Contributed To The Management Process In The Present Firm?

Answer: The major contribution towards the management process at the current firm depends upon how the process is improved. Then explain what benefits from this.

23. Advantages Of Grouping Singular Projects Under A Composite Program?

Answer: Clubbing the projects under a single program, may allow the organization to achieve the overall strategic goals of a business. Senior managers to set up a stricter methodology of monitoring establishes a WBS i.e. breaking the business plan into small sectors. This enables the techniques that ensure the control mechanisms like risk mitigation, cost-cutting and change management. By monitoring individual activities, the final output generation can be identified. Specific monitoring tools promote effective methods of controlling each activity. Program management tools like designing a formal program to capture business changes and how they are adopted, ensure eligible candidates are allocated work responsibility, adopting a structured project management tactic, effectively establish clear channels for communication, ensure that the programs are following the business case.

24. Define How to Group Projects Under A Program.

Answer: Every Project is entitled to have its project managers assisting process activities in accordance to project schedule. He should be performing as a focal point to transfer projects to the program based on interdependencies. A program manager provides managerial support to this group of managers also develops a program-level plan to streamline program handling level activities.
The program level authentication and control is set up using:

• Master Schedule –calls for managing the dependencies within the projects assigned
• Program Risk Management – Assess the level of risk
• Communication Plan – The flow of information among various tiers of the program

The program manager is not entitled to perform tasks of a project manager, he aids the effectiveness of any project. He oversees whether all aspects of project management are successfully being met. The grouping and allocation of interdependent projects are the sole responsibility of a project manager. The program manager is liable for monitoring profit margins. He aids in the transition process though those are linked to project assignment under his wing, he has a motive to verify whether these allocations abide business strategy.

25. Methods To Evaluate The Complexity Of A Program?

Answer: Complexity of a program depends on the availability of information. We can state complexity types namely, the complexity of faith that relates to uncertainty in project results, the complexity of fact i.e. availability of interdependent and concurrent information, the complexity of interaction that arises concerning interfaces between the systems, people and place. To summarize, several variables are associated with the execution of a project, the number of instructions encountered more is the chances of the project being complex. While evaluating the interdependencies, the project turns out to be complex with multiple variables.

26. What Way Does Small And Large Programs Vary From Each Other?

Answer: Processes are similar for small or large scale programs. The schedule and scope may vary with a larger and smaller project, but in both cases, the baseline is achieving the business goals successfully.

27. Describe your techniques to manage your Sponsors

Answer: Managing sponsors is a tedious task that can be achieved with utmost dedication, display of positivity and streamlined process planning. Findings need to be assembled to plan to attract a sponsor, who can get motivated to sponsor your endeavor. Before a sponsor decides to opt for the services he would be concerned to learn about the extent of business uplift he can expect investing in the program. How demographically and location wise it satisfies the outlook to get increased exposure to the market. On the program manager’s side, he should be carefully strategizing his budgets, be clear about program objectives, documenting the strategies, etc. that enables a sponsor to understand whether his objective is satisfied, what can he expect in return.

28. State About Program Governance?

Answer: It refers to a framework and processes to provide oversight and control on any management strategy. It becomes mandatory for any good organization to provide creative monitoring techniques to measure actions happening in a program. The term governance defines the overall direction, management, effectiveness, supervision, and accountability of the organization.

29. Methods To Reduce Dependencies Between Projects?

Team members are key members to identify a detailed dependency of activities. Dependency aspects are vital for producing the project plan. The end to start duration is marked with succession and preceding activities. One activity is dependent on the other to finish before starting. To minimize these stretch of each activity needs to be done by effective management
Protocols. Managing dependencies can be affected by the following points below:
• Activities
• Critical Path
• Gantt Chart
By working on network diagrams as on ‘Gantt Chart’ the critical path and activities can be streamlined.

30. How To Tackle A Situation Of Business Strategy Changes?

Answer: A change in business strategy is envisaged when marketing scenario i.e. the reason to remain updated with the latest competition in the market. These changes in strategies are price-related or product-related depending upon the recent market trend. Thus, if the business strategy changes, the process must adhere to the new set of directives and all tiers of business i.e. managers, team members, and stakeholders must abide by the new set of rules without any grievance. It should be remembered that the organization’s goal is the ultimate benchmark that every individual must be striving to achieve. Any changes in strategy should be welcomed to sustain the race of competition and adapt as quickly as possible to enrich functioning.
It should be always kept in mind to tackle the situation of business strategy changes:
I) Should keep in mind the logical reason behind the new strategy
II) Determine the effect of a new strategy and who are affected with that
III) Performance improvement
IV) Know the Metrics
V) Training and skill improvement

Conclusion

These are the generic most asked questions that may appear during an interview session. As discussed, various metric systems are prevalent that measure the performance of any organization. By utilizing the proper allocation of resources and work break down structures, the effective performance of a project is possible. Communication is an important factor that bridges information dissipation amongst the key performers allotted to the project. The instructions are expected to be real-time and easily available. The task of communication can be effective with the help of project/program managers. Any disputes for changes or work-related confusion must be resolved across the discussion table. The ultimate objective of any business lies in profit margin it generates at the end of the process. Hence a program/project manager’s responsibility lies in coordinating with in-house skilled resource allocation. They are also responsible for arranging training programs as needed to enrich the skills of the existing members. In case a shortage of skill is noticed, external recruitment can be done to increase credibility. To brief, Organization develops its unique Mission, Vision and Goal statements that act as a baseline for all Managers, team members and stakeholders to abide by and generate a fruitful outcome at the end of any endeavor.

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