In project management interviews, successful candidates stand out by effectively showcasing their project management skills and track record of efficient results delivery. To speak confidently about your skills during interviews, preparation is key.
This guide offers a compilation of sample interview questions and provides tips on crafting your responses to commonly asked interview questions about project management.
Interview questions by category
We have categorized the interview questions into three sections. Feel free to read straight through or jump to the sections that interest you most.
Tell me about yourself.
This is the most common and one of the most dreaded interview questions because it is so broad. Here is a useful formula for developing an answer to this question:
- Present — Talk a little bit about your current role or educational program, the scope of it, and perhaps a recent accomplishment.
- Past — Tell the interviewer about your background experience and education. Be sure to mention previous experience that’s relevant to the job and company you’re applying to.
- Future — Segue into what you’re looking to do next. Tell the interviewer why you’re interested in this role and why you’re a great value-add.
Your snapshot should show the interviewer how your experiences equip you with the skills to succeed at their company and why you are interested in the specific role.
Your answer to “Tell me about yourself” could determine the direction of the interview. Typically, what the interviewer asks next will be a follow-up question based on your answer. It’s almost like you get to control where the interview goes! It is highly recommended that you prepare your answer to this question before each interview. Practice delivering your answer to ensure it is relevant and leads to follow-up questions that allow you to shine.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a project manager?
Describing your strengths gives you an opportunity to brag about what makes you awesome and why you’re a great value-add to the company. Discuss 1–3 specific qualities that are relevant to this position and illustrate them with examples. Stories are always more memorable than generalizations.
When an interviewer asks you about your weaknesses, they’re trying to get a gauge on your self-awareness and honesty. Strike a balance by thinking of something that you struggle with but that you’re currently working to improve. For example, maybe you’ve never been strong at public speaking, but you’ve recently volunteered to run meetings to help you get more comfortable when addressing a crowd.
Why do you want to work at this company?
Demonstrate that you’ve researched the company and talk about the unique aspects of the company that made you want to apply for a role. You can point out the organization’s growth or innovation while honing in on your own opportunities for future career growth and how the company can contribute to it. Keep your reply high-level and not overly personal. Be specific and enthusiastic in explaining why you want to work for the company.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
If asked this question, be honest and specific about your future goals. The hiring manager wants to know: a) if you’ve set realistic expectations for your career, b) if you have ambition, and c) if the position aligns with your goals and growth. Think realistically about where this position could take you and answer along those lines. If the position isn’t necessarily a one-way ticket to your aspirations, it’s okay to say that you’re not quite sure what the future holds, but that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you make that decision.
What are your salary expectations?
The number one rule of answering this question is to prepare thoroughly ahead of time. Do your research on what similar roles pay by using websites like Payscale.com or Salary.com and reach out to your network. Be sure to take your experience, education, skills, and personal needs into account. From there, choose from one of three strategies to answer the question:
- Give a salary range — Keep the bottom of your stated range toward the mid-to-high point of what you’re actually hoping to get.
- Flip the question — You can say something like: “That’s a great question. Can you share the range you have in mind for this role?”
- Delay answering — Tell your interviewer that you’d like to learn more about the role or the rest of the compensation package before discussing pay.
Can you describe your approach to project planning and how you ensure all project requirements are met within the given constraints?
Employers highly value the ability of their project managers to consistently meet project deadlines and operate within defined limitations. When they ask this question, employers aim to gain insights into your competence in guiding projects towards successful outcomes. Your response should outline the specific methods you employ in your project management, such as Scrum, Kanban, or Extreme Programming. Then, explain how you integrate factors like time and budget constraints into your strategy. If relevant, tell a story about a project management scenario where you effectively delivered results within the prescribed limitations.
How do you handle team conflicts and promote collaboration?
Conflict in the workplace is a natural occurrence and can actually signify a robust team dynamic. Employers value your ability to handle differing viewpoints. When addressing this question, explain how you promote and enable collaboration and how you address and resolve detrimental conflicts.
Employers value individuals who learn from their past experiences. When sharing stories, even those with negative aspects like workplace conflicts, pause to reflect and convey what insights you gained from that situation and how you applied those lessons to proactively avoid future conflicts. This demonstrates your thought process and your ability for self-reflection.
Give an example of a project where scope changes were requested. How did you manage these changes while ensuring the project remained on track?
Scope changes can be stressful. Employers ask this question in order to understand more about how you handle pressure. When responding to this question we recommend using the STAR Method (Learn more about the STAR Method in our Behavioral interview prep guide.) It is especially important to highlight the actions you took to pivot, adjust, or restart in response to changes in scope.
How do you communicate project updates to stakeholders?
Provide a comprehensive answer by discussing your communication strategies and practices. Start by explaining the various methods you use to communicate project updates, such as meetings, reports, emails, or project management software. Then emphasize the importance of tailoring your communication to the needs of different stakeholders. To show evidence of your communication skills, consider telling a story about a time that you effectively communicated with a group of stakeholders.
What was your most successful project?
Employers ask this question in order to understand your definition of success. Choose a project that clearly met or exceeded expectations. If possible, use data to demonstrate the measure of your success. For example, “The project resulted in a 5% increase in product utility and a 12% increase in user satisfaction.”
“Gamify the interview prep process by creating rewards for hitting milestones. Consider treating yourself for each successful practice round or challenging yourself to answer questions in a certain time frame using a specific keyword in your response.”
– Irene T., career expert at edX
Can you describe your leadership style and how it positively impacts your project teams and their outcomes?
Start by briefly defining your leadership style (e.g., collaborative, transformational, or servant leadership) and its core principles. Then, provide specific examples of how this style has positively influenced your teams and outcomes in the past. You may also consider emphasizing your adaptability and willingness to adjust your style as needed to suit different situations and team dynamics.
Discuss your experience in mentoring and developing junior project managers.
Employers ask this question in order to gain a better understanding of how you will contribute to the learning and growth of their employees. In your response be sure to include how your methods align with the key values and mission of the employer. Additionally, consider telling a story about your experience with leading a former mentee to success.
Describe a situation where you had to handle a team member’s underperformance. What steps did you take, and what was the outcome?
When you are asked to describe a situation or tell a story about an experience, we recommend using the STAR Method. (Learn more about the STAR Method in our Behavioral interview prep guide.) In response to this question, your answer should follow the structure listed here:
- Situation — Describe the situation, the team member, and their role.
- Task — Clearly state the underperformance issue and your responsibility to address it.
- Action — Share the steps that you took, such as, setting clear expectations, offering support, or providing feedback.
- Result — Highlight how your actions improved the team member’s performance and any other lessons learned.
How do you stay updated with the latest trends and best practices in project management?
When addressing this question, mention specific industry-related news sources, journals, websites, podcasts, or professional organizations that you actively follow or are a part of. By doing so, you demonstrate your commitment to staying updated on the latest industry developments. This not only underscores your passion for staying current but also shows how you integrate this knowledge into your work, whether through informed decision making, improved problem solving, or driving innovation.
Describe a project where you had to influence and gain buy-in from senior executives or stakeholders.
This is another question for which we recommend using the STAR Method to structure your response. In response to this question, your answer should following the structure listed here:
- Situation — Briefly describe the project for which you needed to gain buy-in. Then highlight why buy-in from senior executives or stakeholders was crucial.
- Task — Clearly state your role and the roles of other stakeholders in the scenario.
- Action — Describe your approach. Include details on how you communicated the project’s value, benefits, and risks in order to gain support.
- Result — Explain how your efforts led to successful buy-in and a positive impact on the project.