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The 5 Questions Project Managers Are Asked At Interview

Some people excel at job interviews, while others find them nerve-wracking and overwhelming. An interview may be your first and only chance to make a good impression on a potential employer, so it is worth ensuring that you are fully prepared.

Knowing what questions, you may be asked is one part of the equation while communicating your answers with confidence is another, which I will cover in an additional post.

In this article, I want to cover five of the most frequently asked questions you can prepare for now.

And remember - using the STAR approach to answer these common questions could be the difference between a good and very good interview!

1. How Do You Go About Planning A Schedule For A Project?

schedule InspireP

Most hiring managers will learn everything they need to know about your education and experience from your CV. However, that simple document will not reveal how you operate within a project management role on a day to day basis.

By describing a specific project and the process, you use when planning a project will allow employers to understand how you think and approach managing project planning. It will give them detailed insight areas such as:

  • The project management methodology you use.
  • What software you are familiar with and how you use it to support you.
  • How you both collaborate and communicate with stakeholders.

2. What Project Management Methodologies Do You Use?

There are an array of project management methods available, such as;

  • Waterfall.
  • Critical Path Method (CPM)
  • Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
  • Agile.
  • Scrum.
  • Kanban.
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Adaptive Project Framework (APF)
  • Rapid Applications Development
  • Six Sigma

Therefore, companies while having a favoured methodology will be keen to explore what different approaches you might use and why.

When you are answering this kind of question, remember that how you respond will give the interviewer insight into your strengths and weaknesses. Be clear on your reasons for using the methods you are describing and explain why you may have changed methods during a project or have decided to use several at the same time.

It can only benefit you to show how flexible you can be and your ability to work with a range of approaches.

3. Describe An Example Of A Project That Went Wrong And How You Handled This?

project management InspireP

At some point in anyone’s career, it is not uncommon for a project to go wrong, after all, most technical teams face new challenges every day.

Most hiring managers understand this and will be eager to understand what contributed to the project going wrong, how you handled this and for the lessons you took away from the project and whole experience.

Managers are looking for signs that you can take responsibility for your contribution to the project going wrong and that you do not pass off problems as someone else’s fault.

At the same time, your potential new employer will want to know that you can look at the bigger picture, rather than just the immediate issue.

To ensure that you are not caught off guard when this question comes up, reflect on the occasions when things have gone wrong and when you and your team have been pushed to the limit. Demonstrate how you responded to the challenge with calm and initiative. Important: Be sure to share the results you achieved by rising to the occasion.

4. How Have You Approached Gaining Buy-In From Stakeholders?

In many project management roles, it is likely that you will be dealing with supportive stakeholders as well as those less supportive of the project, possibly even a project ‘blocker’.

One of the most crucial roles of a project manager is to manage stakeholders and their project team while keeping everyone engaged and motivated. Unfortunately, this is a common area where project managers let themselves down.

This specific question allows hiring managers to assess your process for gaining stakeholder buy-in as well as the different influencing strategies you use.

  • The interviewer will be looking for:
  • Your approach to mapping stakeholders?
  • What kind of stakeholder analysis do you undertake when mapping stakeholders?
  • What influencing strategies do you use to handle ‘blockers’ of your project?
  • How you leverage and work with supportive stakeholders?
  • How you identify stakeholder priorities such as time, cost or scope?
  • How do you find out what will motivate a stakeholder to say yes?

When planning your answer, recall a recent project where you had to handle a mixture of these scenarios and describe the step by step plan you adopted to achieve your outcome.

5. What Do You Do When You Cannot Access The Resources You Need For A Project?

interview InspireP

In an interview, an employer is ultimately looking to ensure that the role you are being interviewed for is a good fit for both you and their organisation.

One way that an interviewer will gain insight into this is to explore how you approach and overcome the challenges that you are likely to encounter.

Every company has budgets, and as we all know, priorities and budgets change. You may have started a project having been allocated a variety of resources. However, what happens and how do you approach situations where a resource is, pulled, reduced in size or, you are no longer able to access the financial resources initially promised?

The interviewer is looking to explore how you handle the situation as well as how you handle your potential frustration. Approach your answer by sharing how you have dealt with previous situations. Demonstrate how you used your knowledge of the business and which skills you had to employ to achieve the project goals with the available resources and, if appropriate how you were able to access any additional resource if you were able to do so.

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