What are Common Project Manager Interview Questions?

Mandi R. Hall

There are a handful of specific project manager (PM) interview questions that are routinely asked by employers. These queries generally concern project manager responsibilities and attitudes. Although most interviewers ask many questions, the applicant should rehearse some project manager interview answers ahead of time. Apart from the typical queries related to individual strengths and weaknesses, a future PM might also benefit from knowing how to explain his experience, leadership capabilities, business savvy, and overall motivation.

Project manager interview questions generally concern responsibilities and attitude.
Project manager interview questions generally concern responsibilities and attitude.

A good chunk of project manager interview questions are based on leadership capabilities and overall direction. A project manager’s job is to plan entire projects from inception to completion. Common project manager interview questions regarding leadership and direction might include “How do you maintain motivation for yourself and fellow team members when the project is especially tedious?” or “Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a team member or client. How did you resolve it?” An interviewer might also ask “How do you handle stressful deadlines?”

An interviewer might first invite a job candidate to describe himself or herself.
An interviewer might first invite a job candidate to describe himself or herself.

An interviewer might first invite a job candidate to describe himself. Though this request seems open-ended, the candidate shouldn’t simply spew out biographical details from the last several years of his life. The interviewer is asking for a basic description of the candidate’s experience and personality, and how it relates to the position. If the interview has a relaxing and comfortable feel to it, a candidate may include a few vague personal details. More likely, though, the interviewer wants to know how the candidate fits the mold for this specific career path.

It is important to note that although a candidate’s motive during an interview is to essentially brag about himself, honesty is expected and appreciated. When asked “What is your biggest weakness?” a candidate shouldn’t lie. It is not necessary, however, to tout a perceived strength as a weakness. It’s best for a potential employee to state an actual weakness, and discuss how he’s been conquering it successfully. The interviewer will appreciate the honesty while the interviewee won’t have to worry about lying.

Another of those open-ended project manager interview questions might be "Describe a typical work day you've experienced as a project manager." Here, the interviewer does not expect the candidate to outline all eight hours of his work day. He's likely looking for a range of duties, from delegating tasks to managing timelines and employees. Though it's best to research potential project manager interview questions, an experienced project manager should be able to answer questions like this with ease.

Second round interviews for a project manager position may include questions from several senior staff members.
Second round interviews for a project manager position may include questions from several senior staff members.

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