7 questions you should ask in a project manager interview

Project managers have a unique role with many nuances most people aren’t even aware of. In reality, it is a broad field with many different types of roles.

One thing remains constant, however: the project manager is responsible for the success or failure of a project.

So what are a project manager’s responsibilities? Here are just a few:

● Defining the project and its scope, building out a work plan to achieve it, and making sure the project stays within budget
● Managing teams who will work on the project i.e. making sure productivity levels stay high, motivating team members, and removing obstacles to the project’s success
● Managing relationships and communicating with stakeholders

How is a project manager interview different from others?

Project management is unique in that projects are temporary in nature. Project manager candidates may face behavioral interview questions just like the rest of us, but project management tasks tend to be less repetitive and require a different type of skillset consisting of both technical skills and management strategies.

Statistics show the use of formal project management increases the chances of a project’s success. In fact, one in six projects saw a budget overrun of 200 percent, according to Harvard Business Review. Even more alarmingly, 55% of project managers cited budget overrun as a reason for their project failure, IT-Cortex revealed.

Organizations that completed 80% or more of their projects on time and on budget throw away significantly less money due to poor project performance and project management initiatives save companies 28 times more money because of more reliable output.

We think these statistics put you, the project management job seeker, in a pretty good spot, especially since the project-oriented labor force in seven project-oriented sectors is expected to grow by 33% aka by nearly 22 million new jobs, according to this report by The Project Management Institute.

Moreover, a project manager position is notoriously difficult to fill because it requires a wide range of unrelated skills, giving you a unique leg up.

What skills are the most important in a project manager?

Project management experts claim “soft skills” like organization, communication, creativity, leadership, entrepreneurship, and a natural sense of motivation are extremely important in a project manager. Technical skills like agile software, financial modeling, and scrum management are equally as important.

Make sure to speak to both in your interview.

So what are the best questions to ask in my project manager interview?

While there’s no best formula (you don’t want to come off sounding too robotic, anyway), there are some surefire ways to differentiate yourself from the competition.

We suggest a combination of top-notch general interviewing skills coupled with an understanding of what the job interviewer may be looking for in this specific position:

1. How does your company approach managing projects? Do you use a specific process or tool?

2. Ask big questions like “What kind of stakeholder support do you have on this project?” This question will show you don’t only have “soft skills” like communication and organization but can also help tackle the “big picture.”

3. How does this project tie into the company’s bigger vision? What kind of changes are you hoping it will bring about? See the reasoning above.

4. Bring up your interviewer’s pain points by doing thorough research (find their gaps!) and asking questions like “What is your company’s biggest challenges?” This will show
that you not only care but also give you the opportunity to showcase your ideas.

5. Ask the “Why?” question. Why are you looking to hire me as your project manager? What is it that you’re hoping I can do for you? This is a great question to ask because it shows you don’t just “need a job” but actually want to invest yourself and know you can make a difference.

6. What metrics do you use to measure and track success? Strategic questions like this one will reveal your ability to think at a higher, strategic level rather than just showing how good you
are at managing tasks.

7. How do you view productivity? Is there an end goal to be met, moving parts, one approach, or many? Project managers are important contributors to productivity, with project management talent shortages potentially creating risks of nearly $208 billion in GDP over the 10-year period in the 11 countries the PMI report examined.

And there you have it, folks; the seven questions that will make you look and feel as capable as you already know yourself to be.

Check out Ladders project manager jobs here.