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Michelle Palasek has 20 years in the staffing industry working in sales and marketing operations. She currently serves as a Sr. Marketing Communications Specialist at SGA.

10 Interview Questions for Project Managers (PMs)

Interview Questions for Project Managers

Are you looking for ways to prepare for your project manager interview? Whether you are a project manager in banking or applying for a technology project manager role, understanding what sort of questions to expect is vital.

If you find yourself on the flip side of the interview table, it’s critical that you ask the right questions so you can evaluate the candidate’s project management skills. With that in mind, here are 10 of the best project manager interview questions.

Essential Project Management Skills

Before we get into the best project manager interview questions, let’s recap what sort of skills PMs need to thrive. Working as a project manager, you’ll need a wide range of both soft and technical skills. Some soft skills you’ll need include:

  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Emotional intelligence

On the technical side, you’ll need:

  • A strong working knowledge of project management tools
  • Project planning skills
  • An understanding of popular project management methodologies (i.e., the star method)

Additionally, you’ll need to be prepared to answer questions about your personal management process and style. While all PMs need a similar set of skills, employers also want to know what makes you unique and how you can add value to the team.

How to Showcase Your Skills When Answering Interview Questions for Project Managers

While you can’t quantify your abilities by answering questions, you can convey or showcase project management skills during an interview. The best way to do that is to provide real-world examples of your skills in action.

For instance, you can discuss the kinds of projects you’ve worked on to demonstrate your versatility or mention the diversity of your project team to illustrate the universal nature of your communication style.

Also, make sure to talk about the last project you worked on. Mention the project management software you used and how you prioritize tasks on a project. Giving relevant examples is one of the most effective ways of conveying your skills and abilities during an interview.

Questions to Ask a Project Manager

Now, let’s get into the questions to ask a project manager candidate. We’ve broken them down into general and technical project manager interview questions.

5 General Project Manager Interview Questions

Start your PM interviews by asking some generalized questions, such as:

1. Can You Describe Your Project Management Style?

Great candidates should be able to summarize their project management style. It’s important to consider how their stated style aligns with the needs of the team and the demands of the company. However, the answer should also reflect flexibility and adaptability, as project needs can vary.

2. How Do You Prioritize Tasks in a Project?

Banking and tech projects often involve competing priorities. You need to know if candidates can effectively assess task urgency and importance. Candidates should outline how they balance stakeholder needs, project deadlines, and resource availability to keep projects on track.

3. Describe a Challenging Project You Managed — How Did You Handle It?

This question tests the candidate’s problem-solving and crisis-management skills. You want a project manager who can identify and put out fires before they derail a project or crush your budget. Look for real-world examples here, as they illustrate how a PM attacked a dynamic problem and overcame it to deliver positive results.

4. How Do You Manage Team Dynamics?

Managing the big personalities in a team can be tough. Make sure project manager candidates are up to the task by inquiring about their strategies for fostering collaboration, resolving conflicts, and maintaining high team morale.

5. Which Tools Do You Use for Project Management?

Familiarity with project management tools is essential. It’s best to keep this question open-ended and simply ask the project manager candidate to describe the tools they are most proficient in, whether it’s JIRA, Asana, or Microsoft Project.

If you ask them if they are familiar with the specific platform your company uses, most candidates are going to say “yes,” even if they have limited proficiency.

5 Technical Project Manager Interview Questions

You’ll also need to include some technical project manager questions, like:

1. How Do You Ensure Your Projects Align With Corporate Strategy and Goals?

Aligning projects with the broader corporate strategy is vital, especially in the banking and technology fields. The applicant should be able to outline how they integrate business objectives into project planning and execution.

2. Describe Your Experience With Budget Management.

Managing budgets effectively is a key part of project management in any industry. The candidate should share examples of how they’ve optimized resources, reduced costs, or managed budget overruns in past projects.

3. What’s Your Approach to Risk Management in Projects?

Every project carries risk. Ask the candidate how they identify, assess, and mitigate risks. They should include examples of when they have successfully navigated potential project pitfalls.

4. How Do You Stay Updated With Industry Trends and Technologies?

Staying up to speed on the latest software and solutions is crucial in fast-evolving fields like tech and banking. Find out how the candidate keeps their knowledge and skill set current.

5. Can You Describe Your Experience With Agile/Scrum Methodologies?

If your company uses Agile and/or Scrum methodologies, ensure the candidate is familiar with these frameworks. If you use a different methodology, simply adjust this question accordingly. The goal is to verify that the candidate’s skills and experience align with your needs.

Perfecting Your Project Manager Interview Questions

If you are the interviewee, remember that practice makes perfect. While the hiring team is sure to throw a few curveballs your way, the questions above (or some variation of them) are almost certain to be part of the interview.

If you are the hiring manager, it’s important to continuously evaluate and optimize your project manager interview questions. The better your questions, the more complete insights you’ll obtain about each candidate. That said, interview questions don’t tell the whole picture.

To optimize your PM hiring strategies, consider leveraging talent acquisition services. Making the switch to direct placement or staff augmentation services can save you money, reduce the risk of mis-hires, and help you source the best PM talent out there.