Updated: Aug 12
Organizations and job search vendors move very quickly to hire project managers nowadays. This means that Project Managers can prepare early and not wait until called into the interview as organizations typically move quickly to fill urgent openings.
Since things move quickly during the interview process the prospective project manager will need to "work smarter and not harder." This means that there are core interview questions that the project manager needs to have answers to. It's not a good idea for the project manager to try and prepare for every possible question and study answers to those questions. There may not be too much time for this and the project manager may be searching for the memorized answer during the interview.
Instead, project managers will need to understand the job role and how their experience ties to that role. Having answers to the below core interview questions will certainly help the project manager during this process.
What are your Strengths and Weaknesses?
Normally, job descriptions are split into job requirements and qualifications. This question focuses more on the qualifications aspect of the job description. The project manager should take a look at the qualifications for this job and make a list of their strengths in the context of these qualifications. The information gathered from this exercise also can help answer the question: "Why should we hire you over other project managers?"
In regard to weaknesses, do not mention a weakness that's related to the job description or the qualifications. If you do, the interviewer may consider another candidate that has a strength that counters your weakness. It's better to share something about your personality. An example here would be: "I can be timid when it comes to providing constructive feedback to teammates out of fear of hurting feelings. However, I worked with my management in my last role to provide honest feedback and a plan for improvement. This helped me to realize that I can be empathetic as well as ensure that my teammates' performance remains at a high level."
Why Do You Want to Work for Our Company?
When looking at the company, make a list of the following points and relate them to the interviewer:
Look at the financial highlights of the organization. Are their sales trending higher each year? Are their profits increasing for the past few years? Is there a major deal in the works at the organization?
What excites you personally about working for this organization? Have they won any awards? What are the products they sell that you like? Is there a future product or project that they'll release that excites you?
Tell me about a project you managed.
Talk about a previous project in the context of the job requirements. Here, the project manager should mention why the project was important to the organization. Next, the project manager should give an overview of the major milestones for the project and if they were achieved on time. Finally, the project manager should indicate if the project was successful and what was the meaning of a "successful project."
What are the obstacles you faced on projects?
Talk about the challenges that were experienced on the projects that were managed. How were these issues resolved? Discuss the risk mitigation plan that was developed and associated action plans. Again, keep this feedback in the context of the job requirements or qualifications.
How do you handle scope creep?
Managing scope creep is one of the most critical things a project manager can do on a project. If there is scope creep, this is the difference between a project schedule finishing on time or being late.
How did you manage the business trying to add requirements to the project? Were these requirements deferred to a future release? If they were integrated into the current release, what other scope came out of the project? If the business wanted the new scope with the original scope did they understand that the project schedule would be extended? Finally, how did you set expectations for the business to follow the scope management guidelines?
The above questions represent a core set of questions that would be asked during the job interview. Of course, there may be other questions asked so to this I would recommend understanding what is on your resume and being able to explain the content. Also, understand the job description and how your experience matches up. Best of luck on your next job interview!!