Interview questions for Project Manager

You are a professional and applied to a project management position recently. The employer invited you to the project manager interview. However, you did not attend a job interview recently or you are nervous about the project manager interview you will attend. You are looking for common project manager interview questions and answers.

1.How will you define a project?

A project is a set of task/activities undertaken to create a product, services or results. These are temporary, in the sense that they are not routine work like production activity but most often one time set of activities undertaken.

2. What was the biggest or most challenging project you managed?

You have to be prepared for this type of project manager interview questions. Because your answer to this question will show your limits about your experience. Note that, this question might come with additional questions asking about how many people there were in the team, who you were reporting to, and how many projects in total you were managing at the same time.

3. Provide some examples.

A project for a product will result in a complete product or part of a product. An example would be the creation of the Microsoft Surprise tablet that used a liquid magnesium deposition process to create the enclosure. The process developed in the project will be used for subsequent production of the tablet. Examples could include development of a new product or process (as in the example), constructing a road or a bridge (infrastructure in general), developing a computer/information system, etc.

4. Do you have budget management experience?

Budget management is a crucial aspect of project management. Therefore, this question is very important in a project manager interview, if the candidate will be managing a budget if he is selected for the position. Depending on the roles and responsibilities of the project manager in a company, budget management might not be required by the project manager.
I have managed the project budgets in my projects as well. I managed up to 35 million dollar project budget. I was in charge of approving expenses and procurements in my projects. I was contacting directly with the vendors during procurement and managing the communication with finance department of the company. In case any additional funding needed, I was organizing meeting with the project sponsor to express the reasons of additional funding.

5. What is your view of Project Management?

Project management involves applying the knowledge & skills of the project team members including the project manager, application of tools and techniques available to ensure the defined tasks are completed properly. Proper completion means implies achievement of end results within given cost and time constraints. It usually means balancing of the constraints of scope, budget, schedule, quality, risks and resources.

6. How do you monitor projects whether it is going on track?

This project manager interview question will assess your monitoring and controlling skills and your familiarity with project management tools. The primary responsibility of the project manager is completing a project scope on time and on budget in the agreed quality levels.
After I completed the initial project planning, I take a baseline. I use this baseline to compare the progress of the project and actual values against the baseline. Each week or in every two weeks, I forecast the duration and cost of remaining project activities with my team to determine whether the negotiated deadline and budget will be met. I use Microsoft Excel to keep track of issue log. I assign an open issue to a project resource or any external resource in project issue log. I set a deadline for the issue and I follow the issue until it is resolved.

7. What do you think is the difference between projects, programs and a portfolio?

Projects are undertaken for a specific or a set of related purposes. A program is a set of projects managed in a coordinated manner to achieve different parts of an overall goal. For example the NASA lunar landing program had the development of the command module and the lunar landing modules as separate projects. A portfolio is a collection of projects, programs and even other portfolios that help an organization achieve some common high level business purpose.
Do you have out source personnel or supplier management experience?
Managing out source personnel or supplier is a different project management skill. If you are applying to a company that works with outsourcing personnel or suppliers, this project manager interview question will be an elective one.
I was working for a billing system project for a telecom operator. One of the products we had to install was Ericsson’s SDP product. Our company was not having a SDP product expert. Therefore, we had to outsource two SDP product experts for three months to work in our project. I managed the communication with Ericsson to outsource these two consultants and planned their start and end dates in the project.

8. Who is a stakeholder?

Any person, organization or an entity whose interest is affected, positively or negatively, because of the project. The influence of stakeholders is an important issue to take into account in any planning and subsequently during execution of it as well.

9. What are organizational influences?

Every organization has a certain way of doing things, collective wisdom about how things can best be done, etc. and these influences the planning and execution processes. These influences need to be taken into account when estimating, planning for activities related to projects. These are often mentioned as organizational environmental factors.

10. Can you explain project life cycle?

A project has distinct phases when the range of activities required to carry out the project work differ. There is a distinct “start” phase, followed by an organizing and preparing phase. “Carrying out” is the actual execution part of the project. “Closing” phase makes sure the temporary activities related to the project are closed systematically. The points in time when the phase changes happen are named variously as phase gate, exits, milestones or kill points. If a project is to be closed, it is decided at these stages based on the performance or if the need of the project has disappeared.

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