When interviewing for a project manager position, you want to do everything you can to let the interviewer see your team-building and leadership skills. While you should always be prepared for common job interview questions, there are manager-specific questions that you’ll want to make sure you have practiced before hand.
What is one skill a project manager needs to succeed?
Interviewers love asking this because it forces you to choose one among many necessary skills for project managers to possess. This is no one right answer. However, this answer should reflect your greatest strength and how it would benefit the role of project manager.
"Project managers must have a diverse range of abilities, but I would say most importantly they need to be flexible. This can mean being able to quickly adjust to taking on a new direction to better execute a project or to meet a new deadline. Or it could mean being adaptable to work with an array of personality types. In this role, sometimes you will need to react quickly and strategically so being able to adapt to new circumstances is necessary."
How do you approach a newly assigned project?
This allows the interviewer to see your approach to project management and to gauge your organizational skills.
"First, I would specify the objective of the project and the end result we are hoping for. Second, research is conducted to better understand how to reach that end result. Next, a list is made to lay out the steps required among the team. Lastly, based on that list I will delegate out tasks dependent upon the skill set of each team member. In order to achieve maximum results and bring the project to completion, it requires using the strengths of your team to your advantage."
When a project didn't go well, what happened?
This may sound like a trick question, but be honest with your answer. However, be sure to avoid bad mouthing others or admitting to something that is a fundamental basic of project management. Also, focus more on how you fixed the situation versus what went wrong.
"In my previous role, I managed a team with a new employee. My team and I made the mistake of assuming the new employee would know how to seamlessly work around our existing process. After some time, I realized he was slightly confused. I called the team together in order to explain how we work and his specific role on this project. Also, I described how I envisioned each aspect coming together to form a cohesive and successful outcome."
How do you ensure your team stays on track to meet project deadlines?
The interviewer wants to know that you can manage your team effectively. Also, they want to make sure you not only get projects completed, but in a timely manner.
"I think it all comes down to communication and accountability. The team should have some sort of idea what the others are working on. This way each person knows they have to hold their weight and have others relying on them. Setting expectations and creating tentative schedules of when tasks will be completed helps to instill this among the team. We are responsible for separate aspects, however as a whole we must work together to finish a project within the designated deadline. Also, I'm adamant about check-ins to make sure everyone is making progress and to offer assistance, if necessary. I truly follow the philosophy that the team is only as strong as its weakest member."
You are the project manager and want to do option A. Everyone else on your team wants to do option B. What do you do?
Tension within a team is usually created due to differences in opinion. Explain to the interviewer how you would handle such a situation, while keeping the best interest of the project in mind.
"I always believe in my team and clearly there was a reason they all preferred option B. I would ask their reasoning behind the preference. Given their explanation if I felt as if the project would be more successful using option B, I would definitely be on board. I don't take those types of things personally. At the end of the day, it's about what will create the best possible results for the given project."