The first step to any successful project is hiring the perfect project manager and this can be done by asking the right project manager interview questions during the interview and hiring process.
A project manager’s role is crucial and finding a person with the right skills, knowledge, experience, and managerial qualities can be difficult.
Hiring the right project manager directly affects the success of your upcoming projects. However, it can seem difficult to judge whether a person is competent for the project manager job in the short time you have during interviews.
Therefore, in conjunction with the critical screening of resumes and getting in touch with references for potential candidates, you must use your interview time to get to know the person and whether they will be a good fit for you.
One way to make sure the project manager you hire will be a good fit is to formulate project manager interview questions to determine, in light of the responses they give, whether the candidate will be the best fit for your company.
Before we highlight the perfect project manager interview questions to ask, let’s first look at what qualities you should be looking for in your project manager.
Qualities to Look For, Prior to Conducting Project Manager Interview Questions
To become an effective project manager, certain attributes and qualities are critical.
Let’s look into some of these qualities so you know what to look out for when hiring a project manager for your team.
Knowing the qualities that make for a perfect project manager will also aid you in coming up with the right project manager interview questions to streamline the whole process and make hiring a breeze.
So, here are 7 qualities every project manager should possess:
#1 Leadership Skills
Project management is not a person’s task. More often than not to complete a successful project you need to lead a team.
Efficient project management requires having strong leadership skills. This means being able to encourage your team and getting them to perform at their most productive level.
#2 Organizational Skills
Being organized helps project managers stay on top of projects they are completing. The organization helps project managers be proactive and productive by giving priority to that which it is due, as well as being on top of the tasks at hand to allow them to see issues when they arise.
There are multiple ways a project manager can achieve being organized. Why not check out our blog post on organizational apps to boost productivity.
#3 Team-building Skills
Project managers need to know that they cannot complete tasks themselves, and thus should be good team-builders.
A project manager should motivate their team towards reaching a common goal. This means being able to delegate but also inspire and work together to reach shared milestones.
A project manager should be able to define each team member’s responsibilities and help and inspire them to reach them.
#4 Communication Skills
Following on from team-building skills, a project manager should have good communication skills.
Whether this entails being able to use communication software or speak to team members one on one, good communication is vital in any workplace, and especially in project management.
Project managers need to be able to communicate with their team members, stakeholders, clients as well as upper management. To do so project managers need great communication skills.
Project managers need to be able to communicate with their teams to ensure that team members are clear about their goals, responsibilities, performance, and expectations related to a project.
Moreover, communication allows for issues to be addressed as they appear and for solutions to be discussed and implemented. This communication avoids major setbacks such as project delays.
#5 Ability to Problem Solve
This means, solving problems as they arise, whether that be with the help of team members, or taking it upon themselves.
Moreover, project managers not only need to be able to solve problems, but they also need to be aware and stay on top of the project to be able to realize when an issue arises.
Furthermore, a project manager is a leader, this means that team members should be able to rely on the project manager for advice on how to solve problems, both concerning the project at hand but also perhaps personal issues they face, that are hindering their performance.
#6 Know How to Delegate
As mentioned, project management is a team effort. A project manager needs to know how to delegate tasks.
Task delegation is not just dictating what other people need to do but is a skill that needs to be mastered.
A lot of insight needs to be had to be able to properly delegate tasks. Project managers need to know which tasks should be given to which team members. Moreover, project managers need to trust their team members in order to be able to delegate tasks to them.
It should go without saying, but a project manager should be competent at being a project manager.
As a project manager, you need to know how to do, what you do. Which should be the case for any job you do.
In light of this very obvious quality. Let’s look into the questions you should ask prospective project managers to determine whether they are competent enough for the job.
20+ Project Manager Interview Questions That You Need to Know!
Keeping the project manager qualities in mind, let’s look at the type of questions, and then more specifically, what questions you could ask prospective project managers to gauge whether they will be a good fit for your company.
1. Which types of leadership styles do you think work and which do you adopt?
Being a project manager is more or less being a leader. You need to know the type of leader you are potentially going to be hiring into your company, and whether, in light of the culture in your company, they will fit in.
You need to ensure they will motivate and inspire the teams they lead and not clash with your company policies or objectives.
2. Which soft skills do you think are essential for project managers?
It is easy to determine whether a prospective candidate has the required technical or “hard” skills looking at their resumes. Do not waste the little time allotted for interviews reiterating what is already written in front of you.
Soft skills are just as important as technical skills, especially for project managers. They need to have the qualities mentioned above to be great assets for your company. The attributes a candidate identifies will help you identify what type of project manager they will be.
3. When can you know a project is not on track?
Identifying an issue at the right time, before it is too pronounced and too late to solve, can be the difference between a successful project and a failed project. Project managers need to be vigilant and track the progress of their project at all times.
4. Which project management software are you familiar with if/any?
Project management software is important for any project manager. Research shows that project management software is prevalent in every industry. A good candidate will be able to highlight which software they are comfortable with, and perhaps even describe how it relates to the software your company uses.
Look out for the experience a candidate has with project management software. This will highlight how easily they will be able to adapt over to your system or whether, and how much training will be necessary. If you as a company are unable to give that level of training, this may be a defining point in your decision to hire such a candidate.
5. How would you prioritize tasks on a project?
In project management, you need to realize which tasks are crucial and prioritize them as such. Project management is not a linear project and to keep a project on track and progress according to any plan, prioritization is key.
6. Do you have any experience in budget management?
Due to the short time you have in interviews, it can be beneficial to get into specifics with your candidate.
Project management includes planning, and often this includes money. Knowing the structure of your team and company, you will know whether such criteria are necessary for your project manager to possess.
Such traits serve as an added bonus.
7. What are some tools or resources you’ve used in the past to develop your team?
This is an easy question to get to know whether your candidate is aware and comfortable with the different technologies project managers use. Look out for software programs and other online tools that their experience could bring benefit to your company.
8. Have you ever dealt with outsourcing resources or remote teams?
With teams often being dispersed in different locations, it is always a plus if your project manager knows how to deal with the different things that arise in such circumstances.
Remote teams are becoming more and more common. Knowing the situation in your company you would be aware of whether this is something you would want your project manager to deal with in the future.
9. How do you get team members to collaborate effectively?
Successful teams need to be able to collaborate and work well with one another with trust. A good project manager needs to have these team-building skills to resolve conflicts quickly and effectively.
Whether these members who butt heads are within the project management team or are stakeholders or vendors, it is up to the project manager to be able to get everyone to collaborate effectively.
10. Can you relate one of the best experiences you’ve had as a team?
This can serve as a great opening question for an interview as it allows a candidate to relay their experiences freely. It also will allow you to establish the candidate’s philosophy and identify what they value in a team.
If examples they relay are similar to ones you can expect in your own company this can be a favorable sign for this candidate. Try to look out for things such as good team environments, hearing that they met objectives, or relaying that they were proud of their end product.
11. Have you ever had to deal with in-team conflict? How did you manage?
Mediating conflict is a big part of a project manager’s job. Candidates need to set out they are up to the task.
Make sure that candidates can identify situations and that in those situations the conflict was addressed immediately and that both parties had a win-win outcome, no party should have been left displeased with the situation.
12. What communication style do you adopt?
Project managers need to be able to communicate effectively with team members, upper management, stakeholders, clients, vendors, and so forth.
Effective communication keeps everyone on the same page and allows the project to stay on track. Progress in a project can be greatly affected by a lack of communication or poor communication.
13. Have you faced project failure? How did you communicate this to your client?
Certain projects are just doomed to fail, whether that be because of delays, scope creep, or budgeting issues. Candidates need to have a growth mindset and learn from mistakes. Look out for how the candidate positively responded to adversity and failure.
Did they come away from the situation learning something? It is in these difficult situations that a candidate’s communication skills will also be highlighted. It’s always easy to relay good news, the bad news is where true talent comes in.
14. What were the challenges you faced in communication in your last project?
Effective communication is important for all projects. Look out for how candidates handled communication challenges, challenges that are bound to occur, and are inevitable.
Prospective project managers need to be able to establish that they were able to still work well with their teams even though they faced these challenges.
15. How would you control changes to your project?
Changes to projects are often part of the parcel. Scope creep alone is a common occurrence. A candidate needs to show how they can keep their project on track in light of such changes but also be flexible enough to accommodate the client’s preferences and changes in situational circumstances.
16. How have you managed to avoid project delay?
Knowing that a project is behind schedule is part of the solution to getting it back on track. A good project manager will be able to identify which steps they would take to get the project back on track and aligned with the plan.
17. Random question
Toss in a completely random question into the mix. This could be “how tall is the Eiffel Tower?” or “how many parks are in Manchester?”
You need to judge how a candidate takes on a challenge and throwing a random question into the interview is a great way to do that. You are not looking for an accurate answer, although one will be quite impressive.
Try and see how your candidate deals critically and seriously with a challenge. Any project will have unexpected challenges that they will have to face.
18. What are some creative ways you solved problems in the past?
A solution, a project manager comes up with to a problem, should add value to the project. These project managers will be great assets to your company. Creative thinking is a valuable soft skill in project managers and one you should be looking out for.
Ideas that are run of the mill should not be impressive, but ideas that you have not considered yourself should bump candidates up to be considered more seriously.
19. Which are some of the most challenging projects you had to manage? How did you navigate those challenges?
This question will allow you to identify both, what your candidate finds challenging but also how they deal with adversity. Good candidates will prove they can rise to a challenge and learn from difficult times.
20. How do you deal when you are overwhelmed?
Candidates should be able to realize when they are unable to manage and sort it out effectively.
Whether this is delegating or taking the help of other resources, you need to know your project manager will not go in over his head, leading to less productivity and detriment to their well-being.
21. Do you seek help from those outside the project team?
Project managers who know when they need help are more resourceful. But this is a tricky question to ask.
As many candidates may assume you would want someone who is wholly independent, thus they will answer according to how they best think will please you. Try to get your candidate, to be honest, and frank when they answer, to allow you to see the proper picture of them as a project manager.
22. Do you delegate?
You not only want to know whether the project manager delegates but also how they delegate. Micromanagers are not productive for project management.
When hiring a project manager, you need to feel confident in your decision, and this can be hard when basing it on a short interview.
A project manager is a difficult role to fill, especially because of their leadership role.
Try these project manager interview questions, in your next hiring process and we guarantee you will feel more comfortable with your decision.