Project Manager interview questions

Kristina Oreshkovska Kristina Oreshkovska
January 10, 2019

Think outside of the box or prepare yourself first

I really like the story of a CEO who asked his potential employee in her interview ”what kind of spirit animal are you?”. Surprisingly her answer was a duck: a bird that is calm on the surface but their webbed feet don’t stop hustling underneath the water.

And yes, she got the job.

Certainly, you will read a dozen different articles on this topic and never be prepared to give the best possible answer. Sometimes it is really difficult to think outside of the box in such a stressful situation but if you know your strengths then you can easily use them in the right situation. Don’t forget that for the interviewer, it is more relevant that you know ‘why’ you are answering in a way, versus ‘what’ your answer is.



Have you read your CV recently?

A few years ago, a friend of mine went on his first interview, trying to get his first job as a project manager. He felt that he was giving his best impression until the interviewer came to the part of the CV where he stated: Non-smoker.

”I am a smoker! Do you think that the smokers are less productive for the company? Do you think I take too many coffee breaks during a day?” they asked him.

”No, I didn’t mean that” he replied. 

”Do you think that someone should hire a non-smoker over me?” they continued.

Well, I guess you know the outcome, this friend of mine did not manage to get the job. Obviously, his biggest mistake was writing that irrelevant information in his CV. 

I always double check my CV before I send it, especially if I have not done that for a long time. It’s really important you don’t write any pointless information that might be a trap for wrong conclusions and uncomfortable interview questions, especially if you are a beginner.


Have an ace up your sleeve. Always.

But it’s not just my friends who have made mistakes in their interviews, I have done so too.

When I think of my very first interviews, I remember my endless sentences and explanations. I used to share a lot of facts about me on the first question. And then once the second question came, I used to repeat myself – I was telling the same thing twice.

At that time I realized that you need to have some hidden advantage and impress the company representative again during the interview. Do not tell everything in the beginning, have an ace up your sleeve!



My 5 project manager interview questions

During my professional career, I’ve discovered that these are some of the most common project management interview questions that you would probably come across on your job interview. There are only five questions, but they summarize everything a client might be interested in.

Try to think about your answer before you read my tip.

So, let’s start.

1. Tell us something about yourself and your background.

Although this question is often under-estimated, there is no second chance for a first impression. Take this introduction part really seriously and make a good entry. Use this question as a good self-promotion, focus on your education, job history and experience. 

2. What is the most difficult situation that you’ve dealt with?

No matter whether you have working experience or not, focus on some problem that you managed to overcome. Don’t tell the interviewer about some situation where you failed. It does not matter if that happened at a college or your previous job, it’s important that you feel that you did it right at the end. 

3. Can you please explain how would you communicate failure to your team? 
Don’t be too negative when you answer this. Put a little bit of hope, positivity and mix it up with transparency and honesty.  

4. What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt so far?
You can always point to some situation you explained previously and describe what you have learnt. I told you that you have to keep an ace up your sleeve!

5. What is the most important skill that makes you a perfect match for this position?
The most important of all skills is the ability to understand the job description. Although the job descriptions always seem to be high demanding, try to focus on those requirements that match your skills. If you know the company goals and job expectations, then you will easily match your best skills with their demands. 


Some quick tips

Ok, I know that you’ve read hundreds of articles and you already know all possible project management interview questions but have you searched for some other tips that can improve your personal presentation?

Here is my list:

1. Smile. I understand that you will probably feel stressed, but don’t forget to show your smile. 
2. Body language. Use natural hand gestures, speak slowly and nod with your head while listening. 
3. A pen. If you are stressed out too much, hold a pen in your hand. You won’t notice, but it is going to absorb your insecurity a bit.
4. Be yourself. Preparing for an interview, for some people, can often feel like getting ready for a wedding. Just be yourself, friendly – yet professional. 
5. Take a breath before you enter the room. It is very likely that you will feel overwhelmed but don’t forget that the interviewers got the job same as you – through an interview. 

Well, that’s it! I hope you find this article really helpful.

Good luck with your interview!