Getting invited to a job interview is a major achievement for any project manager.

It shows, you’ve got over the first hurdle and must now pass the main test, a face to face meeting. The best way to do this is though preparation and practice.

That’s what this page is all about. It’s to help you be prepared for any questions by having readymade answers that will impress the interviewer. Here, we’ll explore the most common interview questions and the best way to frame your responses to them.

Remember, you only get once chance at this, so you’ve got to get it right first time.

By: Iejaz Uddin – 3 July 2024


14 Common project manager interview questions

Below is a list of typical questions asked at interviews, along with suitable answers that you can adapt to your own personal circumstances. They can help to get you successfully through an interview and selected.


Tell us about your most successful project.

The hiring manager wants to understand what your definition of success is. Use this as an opportunity to show you know what success means in their industry and can deliver it.


It’s a good idea to use the STAR method in answering this question. Give an example of a project that’s relevant to the job you are applying or in their industry. Outline the goals that had to be achieved, the steps you took to achieve them and the obstacles you have to overcome. Finish off by stressing the critical factors that led to the success of the project and the final outcome.


Tell me about yourself.

A very common question that is asked at virtually all interviews. Interviewers see it as a great way to start a conversation or keep one going. It can help a candidate settle in and create a relaxed informal atmosphere. It’s also a way for them to learn about who you are as a person and get an ideal of your personality.


A common way to approach this is to describe your current situation, then delve into your past work experience, and finish by outlining your future aspirations. As always try to keep what you say relevant to the vacancy and show that your personality, goals and ambitions align with the company’s values.


How do you prioritise tasks in a project?

Being able to prioritize tasks is crucial to effective project management. The interviewer wants to see how you decide what to do first and the rationale behind your decision making skills.


Give them a hypothetical situation or a real one from the past where you made a list of key objectives and went through them in order of importance. Then give logical reasons why you did this.


Tell us about the last project you worked on?

They want to find out wat sort of projects you’ve worked on, to get an idea of their size and complexity as well as your experience and ability.


Give an example of one you completed. Explain how you set its objectives and then created a detailed project plan outlining timelines, milestones, and deliverables. Tell them about the number of people on your team and the approaches you used to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. Focus on those things you improved and what you learnt from the project. Back all of your claims with stats, figures and percentages.


How would you define an ideal project?

A question aimed at finding out what type of project you would like to take up.


Tailor your reply around the sector the recruiter operates in and their business model. Do this by researching the company vacancy to find out what they want from a candidate. For example, if they want a project manager to work as part of a team, then mention how you like to be part of a group. Follow this up by stating that a project must be well-planned, effectively executed, and achieve its intended outcomes to stakeholder satisfaction.


What is a project plan?

A simple but loaded questions that is asked to see if your idea of a project plan matches theirs.


A project plan is a formal document that serves as a roadmap for the project team, and outlines how a project will be implemented, monitored, and controlled. Give them an example of a project and then break this down into smaller chunks, as well as a blueprint of its goals, objectives, and the tasks your team needs to accomplish it.


What’s your leadership style?

A common question that you will almost certainly be asked. Potential employers want to see how you describe yourself, if you display arrogance and if your managerial style will fit in with their company culture.


Stress that you concentrate on creating and communicating a compelling vision that inspires and motivates a project team.

Emphasise the positive aspects of how you would lead. Tell them you like to build consensus through collaboration and getting people on board. Articulate how you would guide and motivate your team to perform at their best. Review you past projects where you played a leadership role to identify key actions that you took, and which had a positive impact on the project’s outcome.


What is the most important thing a project manager does?

A trick question that can have many different answers. Its aim is to determine what you prioritise the most in project management.


Before answering this, it’s best to do some research into the company to try to identify what’s important to them as a company and then base your reply accordingly. This information can usually be found in the job description. For instance, if it’s a company that values good interdepartmental relationships, then you can say;

‘I believe that having good working relationships with my colleagues, superiors, stakeholders and clients is the most important thing a project manager does.’


How would you deal with a difficult stakeholder?

They want to see what communication, negotiating and relationship building skills you have.


The two key points to get across in your answer are your negotiating and communication skills. State that you would try to understand the stakeholders concerns and expectations by actively and empathetically listening to them. You would then break these down to try to find common ground and come to a mutually beneficial solution. You would then put in place procedures to nip future problems in the bud.


How do you handle team conflicts?

Managing conflicts and disputes between team members is a common aspect of project management. An interviewer wants to know how you will deal with this.


State that you understand that this is a crucial part of maintaining a productive and harmonious work environment. Say you will avoid taking sides and will start by gathering information from all parties involved so as to understand the root cause of the conflict. You will give an opportunity for all parties to have their say and then identify common goals to help shift the focus from individual differences to team goals. Finally, you’ll put together a resolution plan that is mutually acceptable to all parties and develop a protocol for addressing future problems early.


How do you keep your team motivated?

Productivity will fall and teams will struggle to complete tasks if their motivation levels are poor. The recruiter wants to know how you’ll address this issue.


Say you’ll maintain productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction by setting clear goals and expectations for both the team and individuals in it. You’ll provide a sense of purpose and direction for the project by ensuring everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

Finally, you will recognise, reward, acknowledge and celebrate individual and team accomplishments. This will be done through employee of the month awards, bonuses, public praise and even promotions.


How do you handle changes to a project?

It’s rare for a project to go smoothly, instead there are always changes that take place, in the beginning, middle or end of it. The hiring manager wants to know how you will deal with change management.


Stress that you are flexible nature and able to quickly deal with changes to a projects team, management structure, goals, processes, technologies and culture. You will do this in a way that fosters staff buy-in and reduce resistance.


Why are you leaving your current job?

They’re curious to know your reasons for quitting your present position and wanting to join them. Specifically, they want to see if you’ll criticize your current employers and see how loyal you are to them.


Focus mostly on the new opportunities of the role you are applying for and how you can gain extra key skills. Talk about what excites you about their role, for instance relocating to a different city, working in another  field or taking on more responsibilities. Show excitement and enthusiasm when discussing them. On the flipside, do not talk badly about your old or current employer, it won’t reflect well on your personality.


How would you inspire underperforming team members?

Project managers have to be able to motivate and get the most out of their team. The recruiter wants to see how you’ll do this and if you have the required empathy for your staff as well as a commitment to developing their potential.


Start by mentioning your ability to see the strengths and weaknesses of each individual staff member. Perhaps give an example from the past, for instance where an underperforming staff member who had insufficient training for their role. Then explain what you did to address the issue i.e. you sent them on a course, set them achievable goals and gave them duties that better aligned with their strengths. Finish off by highlighting the positive outcome of your actions i.e. improved morale and performance.

More: Interview questions and answers


Project manager interview tips

Sitting in front of an interview can be nerve wracking, especially if you really want the job and are afraid of making a mistake and blowing your chances. Follow the interview tips below to be more prepared and confident on the big day.


Do not repeat what’s in your CV

Do not repeat word for word what you’ve already written in your project manager CV, as the interviewer already has it in front of them and wants something more. Give them something new that will back up your claims and impress them with your communication skills, relevant certifications, personality and social graces.


Emphasize relevant experience

Tell them about your most relevant project management accomplishments and your specific contributions to them, as well as the challenges you faced, and how you overcame them.


Display your leadership skills

Talk about how you manage teams and motivate individual members as well as handle conflicts, delegate work and ensure accountability.


Look good feel good

At this stage of the recruitment process, image is everything, meaning what you wear and how you present yourself really matters. It’s important to dress appropriately for the occasion by wearing the correct attire and having a high standard of personal hygiene.

Related: What to wear at an interview