If you’ve ever applied for a Project Manager job, you know that there are a lot of steps involved in the job search. And while writing your resume and researching roles to apply to are important steps in the process, the interview is one of the most important — and potentially most challenging — steps you’ll need to complete to land your next role.
Since the goal is to get a job offer, one of the best ways to meet that goal is to practice answering Project Manager interview questions before your real interview. You can practice on your own or ask someone to do a mock interview with you so you can practice answering questions out loud.
Tip: If you know you’ll be interviewing over Zoom, have that person interview you over Zoom too. By setting up the mock interview similarly to how you’ll be interviewed during the real thing, you’re giving yourself an added layer of practice that’ll help you feel comfortable when it comes time to actually interview.
When you’re interviewing for a Project Manager position, it’s important to keep in mind that interview questions are more open-ended for these roles compared to technical roles where your expertise or hard skills are tested. There’s rarely an objectively correct response to a question. Instead, hiring managers want to understand how you’ve approached situations in the past and use your answers to determine whether you’d be a good fit for their team.
So what kinds of Project Manager interview questions can you expect? We’ve put together the top 25 Project Manager interview questions to get you started in your interview prep, along with some brief tips on how to approach each question.
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1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Even though this question isn’t specific to project management, hiring managers like to open an interview with an icebreaker question like this one. This question can set the tone and direction for the rest of your interview, and if you’re feeling nervous at all, hopefully it helps you relax a bit.
Consider preparing a 2-minute summary of your professional background, most significant accomplishments, and why you’re excited about the position you’re interviewing for. When you’re thinking through what to include in your summary, take a look back at the job description and try to match some of your past experience and achievements with details from the description. This helps make sure you’re covering skills and experience that are relevant to the role.
2. What was your last project like? How did it end?
This is a common follow-up question to the first question. The hiring manager wants you to dive into more detail with your answer here versus your answer to the question above. This is your opportunity to highlight any successes, outcomes, and lessons learned from your last project.
Try to bring up details and accomplishments that directly relate to what’s listed in the job description. The more you can tie your background and skills to what the hiring manager needs in this new role, the better.
3. What’s your experience working with remote teams?
If you’ll be working remotely or in the office and working with remote or hybrid teams, you’ll likely be asked about your experience working remotely. The interviewer might want to hear about the communication tools, project management tools, and collaboration tools you’ve used in the past, and which ones you like. You can also talk about how you’ve adapted your management and leadership style to best support remote teams.
4. What’s your strategy for prioritizing project tasks?
As a Project Manager, you might be managing a number of different projects and teams at the same time. And you might encounter situations where it’s simply impossible to accomplish everything you need to do at any given time, especially when you’re working in a fast-paced environment with multiple deadlines. So hiring managers want to understand how you can distinguish between what’s critical and what can wait.
Talk through your prioritization approach, and don’t hesitate to use concrete details from a past position if that helps you explain your strategy. You can also tailor your answer to what the company values in its products, showing that you researched the company and their products before your interview.
5. What is your communication style with the project team and stakeholders?
Hiring managers want a Project Manager who can communicate clearly and understands that different team members need different communication styles. You could mention how the technical team requires specifics and details to build products. And this can mean your communication requires more attention to detail. On the other hand, stakeholders often want a big-picture overview, so you can focus on eye-catching details with this group. Effective Project Managers know how to adapt their communication style depending on the audience.
6. What were some communication issues on your last project? How did you overcome them?
Communication challenges happen all the time, but what the hiring manager wants to see is that you’re able to overcome these challenges and still deliver the project on time. For this question, you can talk through how you solved any issues and what you learned from the experience. If your learnings helped you on a future project, you could also mention this. Hiring managers like hearing how you’ve grown in your role and developed new skills to help lead your team.
7. How do you motivate your team?
For this question, it’s a good idea to have a few concrete examples to talk about from past projects. Specifically, if you have an example that you can discuss that involves the concept of servant leadership, the practice of leading through service to the team, this is a quality hiring managers look for in candidates. Hiring managers want to see how you empower your team and use positive, motivational techniques to drive performance.
8. Could you talk about times when you made proactive decisions on projects?
The ability to think two, three, or four steps ahead is a good skill for a Project Manager to have, and this question is a great opportunity to showcase that skill. You could consider discussing your analytical skills in answering this question and how those skills have helped you make decisions to prevent problems from happening later. You can also reiterate a time you learned from a previous experience and how that lesson has stuck with you throughout your career.
9. How do you delegate and monitor responsibilities?
Project Managers have to delegate tasks and responsibilities. This not only means assigning tasks but also following up on them to ensure they’re completed. You can talk about your strategy for delegating tasks and how you like to monitor progress, whether it’s through a project management tool or daily/weekly check-ins with your team.
10. Tell us about your most successful project. What made it such a success?
This is another good question where you can highlight details from a successful project that match those listed in the job description. And remember to acknowledge other people’s roles in the project’s success as well as your own. This shows you’re a team player who lifts up your team members.
11. How do you ensure that you and the team deliver on (or exceed) client expectations?
At the end of the day, project management is all about delivering what you promise to the client. And the hiring manager needs to know that you have a track record of meeting deadlines, budgets, and other project requirements.
Consider preparing a couple examples to answer this question. That way, depending on what you’ve already covered in previous questions, you can pick the story that fits best with the direction of your interview.
12. Tell us about a time when you had a project that didn’t meet the deadline or budget.
Your gut response to this question might be to say that you’ve never missed a deadline or gone over budget on a project. But that’s just not realistic. Projects go over budget all the time, and deadlines are often shifted due to factors you don’t have any control over.
So the hiring manager isn’t necessarily looking for the “I always meet deadlines and budgets” answer. What they’re looking for is how you handled the setbacks and how you helped your team through a stressful situation. Explain a past situation, what you did to resolve the issue, and how your actions positively impacted the project. If you can, you should also discuss how you now build in contingencies to similar projects to avoid these issues, which shows how you learned from mistakes.
13. What’s the biggest mistake you made on a project? What did you learn?
This is another question where your gut reaction is to avoid talking about your mistake. But, just like the question above, hiring managers know that mistakes happen. What they want to hear about is how you dealt with your mistake, took responsibility for your actions, and incorporated what you learned into future projects.
14. How would you handle a situation when the client or stakeholder isn’t happy with the project outcomes?
Some Project Managers have client-facing responsibilities, and sometimes there are situations where the client isn’t happy with the project outcome. A hiring manager wants to hear how you work through this with the client. Consider talking about your communication skills and how you try to maintain a delicate balance of accepting the authority of the client without being critical or giving in to demands beyond the contracted project scope.
15. What kinds of project management tools do you use?
This is one of the few skills-based questions you might be asked during your interview. Beyond providing a simple list of your technical skills, talk briefly about why you prefer each tool. You can refer back to the job description to see what tools are listed as requirements for the role, and be sure to talk about your experience with those tools specifically.
Remember that collaboration tools like Asana, Jira, and Monday all have similar functionality, so this is an opportunity to explain how you specifically use those tools in your role as a Project Manager. Your answer should expand on how the tools help you and your team meet goals.
16. How do you define the scope of a project?
Consider answering this question by talking about the different components that go into a document that details the scope of a project and how the scope gives a project a framework for success. The objectives, schedules, tasks, and deliverables of a project are all good details to mention. You could also discuss the scope’s role in aligning stakeholders with expectations. This is also an opportunity to show off how you work collaboratively, and how you may have brought in other stakeholders or more experienced project managers to best understand the scope of a project.
17. How do you handle scope creep?
Scope creep involves any project changes and requests that could make you miss the project deadline or budget. Hiring managers want to understand how you manage your team and project resources to navigate obstacles and achieve the project goals — on time and on budget. Consider picking an example from a past role where you dealt with scope creep and talk through how you managed the situation.
18. Can you describe a time when there was a high level of risk on one of your projects? How did you approach that risk?
As a Project Manager, you’ll likely be responsible for overseeing the risk management process throughout the lifecycle of a project. This involves identifying, evaluating, and either preventing or mitigating risk associated with the project. Some examples of risk include relying on a third-party client, starting the project without being fully staffed, and not having clear markers for success from the client.
The hiring manager wants to hear how you approached the risk management process to understand how you’d perform in this new role. Pick an example that highlights your involvement in managing risk and how your efforts positively impacted the project outcome.
19. How do you handle unexpected changes during a project?
Adaptability is an important characteristic of any Project Manager, and hiring managers want to learn about how you handle unexpected changes on a project. Have a story ready about a surprise change that came up and how you quickly adapted and handled it.
20. How do you manage underperforming team members?
There will be times in your career when you have team members who are underperforming or simply aren’t the right match for the project and/or team. These types of issues can impact team morale and derail a project if they’re not addressed.
As the Project Manager, it might be your responsibility to step in and help guide your team through a difficult situation like this. When you’re explaining your approach to this issue, make sure to discuss how you’d use your communication skills, leadership, and other soft skills to handle underperformance issues before they affect the rest of the project.
21. How do you manage team conflict?
Team conflicts can be as fatal to a project as poor planning. When you’re answering this question, try to talk about a specific team conflict that you were vital in resolving. Explain how you prioritized helping your team members resolve the conflict, and if you came up with a plan to help resolve the conflict, talk about this in detail too. Also, be sure to go over any lessons you learned and implemented in your daily routine to help avoid team conflicts moving forward.
22. How do you cope when you’re underperforming or overwhelmed at work?
Project Managers are people too. It’s important to highlight how you can monitor your own performance and respond proactively to setbacks and potential burn-out. This is your opportunity to talk a little bit about what you need in order to be the best Project Manager you can be.
Your employer wants you to succeed, and to help you do that, they need to know how to set you up for success. Maybe this looks like finding a mentor within the company, or maybe you’re interested in some continuing education opportunities to help you build on your current skills. Whatever it is that helps you succeed in your role, don’t shy away from discussing those important needs.
23. Tell us about a time when you made a decision that backfired. What happened?
This question isn’t intended to uncover ways you’re bad at your job. Hiring managers are trying to get a sense of how you handle setbacks and how you learn from them to become a better Project Manager. A lot can be revealed about your character when you’re explaining a mistake that you made, and hiring managers want to see how honest you are about this and how you moved forward. Be sure to talk about the lessons you learned and how those lessons helped you grow as a professional.
24. What do you see as a key challenge in the industry today, and how can it be addressed?
Hiring managers want to see that you keep up with current events and news within your industry. This is one reason why it’s a good idea to subscribe to industry-specific publications or newsletters and read them regularly. You can also find industry experts on social media and follow them as a way to stay in the loop. Also, industry conferences are another great way to learn more about your industry and meet like-minded professionals.
25. What questions do you have for us?
Like the first question on this list, this one isn’t necessarily specific to project management. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready for it. Your questions can show that you’re thinking seriously about what it’d be like to work at the company.
Some questions you can ask the hiring team are:
- How do you approach disseminating information to project stakeholders?
- Does this company utilize Agile, Waterfall, or a combination of the two?
- How will you measure success for this role?
- What do you hope the person in this role accomplishes in their first six months? First year?
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If you’re looking for more interview prep or job-hunting advice, check out our Career Center for resume and portfolio support and more interview tips.
Want to give yourself an edge as a Project Manager candidate? You could sharpen your Excel skills with our beginner-friendly course Analyze Data with Microsoft Excel. In this course, you’ll learn how to import data, develop visualizations (like pie charts, bar charts, and line charts), and use complex tools like macros and PivotTables. These skills are definitely brag-worthy in an interview!
If you’re a Project Manager in the tech world, another thing you can do to support your team better is to learn about the work your colleagues are doing on a daily basis. Whether it’s blockchain and crypto, machine learning, mobile development, or data science, you can find online introductory courses that can give you a foundation in the topic. Not only does this help you and your team, but it also makes you a more attractive candidate when you’re applying for jobs. And remember: Even if you don’t think of yourself as a technical person, you can still dip your toes in these concepts.