Project Manager Interview Questions

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Project Manager Interview Questions

PMs (project managers) are the individuals responsible for planning, organizing, and completing projects across a wide variety of industries. They often lead teams of developers and engineers through the creation of software applications, apps, and webpages. PMs are also the ones companies hold accountable for formulating a project plan and staying within budget.

One of my closest friends is a product owner who's currently recruiting project managers to join their team. This is the first time he'll be responsible for interviewing candidates and deciding who to hire, so he googled, "entry-level project manager interview questions" and was shocked to find lists of generic questions that had little to do with the actual experience the candidates he'd be interviewing would need to successfully manage a project.

Questions like;

"Tell me about yourself."

"Have you worked on a project before?

"Tell me about your past projects."

"Describe your management style."

The problem with these questions is that they don't really give us the data that we need to define if this PM candidate will be a great hire or not. Luckily, there are many great project manager interview questions out there that will help you assess a candidate's skills to decide if they're the right person for the job.

Before we get into the actual questions, let's start with the types of questions you'll be asking. Project manager interview questions and answers fall into five primary categories:

  1. Technical Questions
  2. Behavioral Questions
  3. Past Performance Questions
  4. Scenario-based Questions
  5. Culture Fit Questions

Technical questions are designed to assess the candidate's knowledge of project management, software development, client deliverables, and coding. Behavioral questions allow you to gain insight into how the candidate has managed projects in the past. But they will also show you how they handle client interactions, and stress, and how they solve problems and make decisions. Past performance questions are more general and focus on how the candidate has succeeded with similar projects in the past. Be sure to ask for verifiable metrics and data on these projects so that you can reference them when you check with previous employers.

Scenario-based questions are particularly useful for project managers because they give you a window into how a candidate would handle a difficult situation. And finally, culture fit questions offer insight into how well the candidate will mesh with your team.

If you currently use our interview intelligence tool, you have access to more than 1000 interview questions in your dashboard. You can search for questions by title and queue them to use as prompts for interviewers to ask during the interview.

Project Manager Interview Questions with Answers 

If we start at the end of the process and reverse engineer our goal, it'll be far easier to define if our PM candidate is a good fit or not. If, for example, our end goal is to hire a PM who uses Scrum methodology and agile sprints to deliver software to our clients on schedule and under budget, we need to know that they have not only the ability to do that but also a record of past performance proving that they can perform in that capacity.

Project manager interview questions with answers give us the ability to see if the candidate has the experience and background necessary to do this. Here is a list of questions that can help you find out if your prospective PM is right for the job:

  1. "Tell me about the last project you worked on. What methodology did you use, and why did you choose it?"

These questions will help you determine if the candidate has experience with a project methodology that is compatible with your company's expectations.

  1. "Describe how you handle difficult stakeholders and clients. Explain how you ensure that they are satisfied while balancing their needs and company expectations?"

This question will help you see how the candidate manages client relationships, people's expectations, and conflict. If you can turn this into a scenario and ask it in several different ways to get a more in-depth answer, even better. This is a project manager's behavioral interview question I would include in every hiring process.

  1. "What techniques do you use to manage resources and personnel on complex projects?

This question helps you understand how the candidate manages their team and resources. It also shows whether they have experience in managing teams or if they are better at individual tasks.

  1. Have you ever worked for a project manager before? How would you describe their leadership style and what could they have improved upon?

In my mind, one of the greatest metrics of a person's success or failure in a company is how they handle relationships with others, especially their subordinates.

This question will also help you define how the candidate you're speaking with likes to be led. You can use this information to make sure they fit into the organizational leadership style you've built in your company.

  1. "Describe a project that didn't meet expectations. What went wrong and how did you handle it?"

This question is extremely useful to assess a candidate's ability to handle a situation that goes off the rails, how they react under pressure, how they make decisions, and how they create a solution.

Ultimately, these questions will help you decide if the candidate is right for your company. Another helpful tool when deciding if a candidate is a good fit is a video interview platform that's powered by Ai. Platforms like Pillar can see the micro-expressions and tonal changes that the human eye miss - this insight alone can help you hire better and dramatically lower employee turnover.

Technical Project Manager Interview Questions And Answers

There are several different types of project managers. The technical PM is responsible for ensuring that the technology behind a project works as expected. This means they need to be intimately familiar with software or app development and coding.

Technical project manager interview questions and answers will look slightly different than those of a traditional PM. Here are a few examples:

  1. "Describe the coding language you're most familiar with and how you've used it to develop a solution in the past?"

This question helps you understand how the candidate approached their development projects. It also gives you an idea of the type of coding or software solutions they may have used in the past and any challenges they faced during implementation.

  1. "What processes do you use to stay up to date with the latest technologies? How do you track and implement them once you've identified them as a fit?"

This question helps you understand how organized and informed the candidate is when it comes to innovative technologies. It also gives you an idea of their problem-solving skills, ability to plan ahead, and creative thinking.

Are they invested and excited about the industry or just there for a job?

By adding project manager scenario-based interview questions and answers to your company's cloud, you'll be able to make them available for interviewers and panels within your company and assess candidates to have a better idea of who best fits the role.

Most PMs use a form of agile methodology to produce shorter development cycles. If your company uses this methodology, you may want an additional list of agile project manager interview questions and answers to ask during interviews. The same could be said for project management scenario examples and questions.

No matter what type of project manager you're looking for, make sure to ask questions that dig a bit deeper and uncover the candidate's true abilities. That way, you can be sure they'll have the skills to handle your projects with integrity, enthusiasm, and efficiency.

Senior Project Manager Interview Questions

Senior PMs are the managers responsible for overseeing the completion of projects. They need to be highly organized, possess strong leadership and communication skills, as well as remain cool under pressure. Hiring senior PMs with poor leadership and communication skills is one of the fastest ways to kill the energy of a great team. Micromanaging, poor decision-making, and a lack of communication skills easily derail a project and destroy the project's progress.

Senior project manager interview questions should focus on the candidate's experience and leadership abilities. You'll want to identify how the candidate handles the challenges and responsibilities that come with leading a team through the entire product development process.

How to interview a senior project manager:

  1. "Tell me about your experience leading teams through the entire product development cycle."
  2. "How would you handle conflict and disagreements between teammates as project specs changed?"
  3. "Describe a time you identified potential risks before they became significant issues and derailed a project."
  4. "What strategies do you use to keep your team motivated and create a positive work environment throughout the course of the project?"
  5. "How do you handle tight deadlines, shifting priorities, and multiple projects at once?"

Senior technical project manager interview questions and answers will look slightly different as this person will be more in the weeds, but the same principles apply.

Interviewing project managers isn't easy, but having a great hiring process, powerful tools, and semi-structured interview questions make it much easier. If you're currently assessing your hiring process and have realized that it no longer fits your needs, schedule a demo with someone on our team. We'd love to show you how Pillar can help you make better hires!