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How to Find an Exceptional Project Manager: A Few Interview Questions

Exceptional project managers organize chaos, manage priorities, help teams meet deadlines and achieve their goals.
However, just because you realize the significance of an experienced project manager does not imply you know exactly which characteristics to look for throughout the interview process. Even if you do, it can be difficult to develop project manager interview questions that properly test for such characteristics.
We’ve created a set of questions to assist you in identifying individuals who are efficient, collaborative, and process-driven. These questions will enable you to delve deeply into your candidate’s experience, talents, and temperament, allowing you to make an informed hiring decision.

  • You’re leading a project with a development team in Minsk, a design team in London, and a client in Japan. How do you manage communication?

This question allows the candidate to exhibit their understanding of effective communication in the face of numerous teams and time zones. It is critical to hire a project manager with a track record of good communication.
It allows the candidate to express their thoughts about working with a remote team. Project managers must learn how to work around challenges like limited crossover time and distant cooperation. A candidate who knows that different cultures communicate in different ways is culturally sensitive and will be an excellent project manager on a global team.

  • The client has strong opinions but little relevant knowledge. How do you prevent scope creep?

Scope creep is a prevalent issue in project management, and dealing with it is one of the most common challenges project managers confront. This inquiry elicits a project management candidate’s previous experience working with clients who have ambiguous goals. 

A candidate who has previously encountered and avoided scope creep is more likely to solve the problem in the future. A client’s lack of clarity about their aims can often jeopardize a project and a relationship. The finest project management candidate will be able to assist a client in clarifying and articulating their ideas using active listening techniques such as mirroring and labeling, as well as apply negotiating tactics to achieve a point of compromise.

  • Describe a situation where you threw out an old process and created a new one.

This question will reveal a lot about the candidate’s character strengths in terms of critical thinking and deviating from conventional thought. Project managers must be process-driven, but they must also understand which procedures should be kept and which should be replaced.

Take note of how the candidate expresses the need for change. Change is difficult. Take notice of how your applicant demonstrates why the process change is necessary while successfully changing an older process.

  • During the budgeting process, what are some of the mistakes that a project manager can make?

Being aware of potential errors is essential for avoiding them. This question allows you to determine your project scoping and budgeting experience. A promising candidate will be aware of potential problem areas such as the cost of quality and the risk of gold plating.

If the candidate admits to making a budgeting error in the past, pay attention. A candidate who admits to a previous mistake is not dumb; on the contrary, admitting to a previous mistake can signify a more qualified applicant. Accepting responsibility for mistakes demonstrates integrity and signals that your candidate is trustworthy.

  • Your client requests an unrealistic deadline revision as a response to a sudden global market event. How do you navigate the situation?

Every project manager will face a moment in their career where a scope modification generates an impossible timeline. This question demonstrates how they manage difficult-to-satisfy demands. 

The answer to this question reveals a candidate’s capacity to manage expectations. Failure to set the correct expectations with clients at the start of a project can lead to scope creep, resourcing challenges since projects may take longer than anticipated, and poor client relationships. It can also strain relationships inside a project manager’s team. This question also demonstrates your candidate’s dedication to excellence. Unrealistic deadlines frequently jeopardize quality.

  • How important is a sense of cohesion and team spirit to your team?

Project managers must not only be collaborative themselves, but they must also foster collaboration among their team members. Your candidate’s response to this question will provide you with insight into their pastoral abilities. Is your prospect a results machine, or do they care about their team enough to understand that a happy, cohesive team in a great work culture is more productive? The question also allows you to assess your candidate’s ability to manage disagreement.

  • You are given a project to work on with an international team and well-defined goals. List some of the things that can go wrong with the project.

This scenario-based question allows you to assess your candidate’s risk management abilities. Project managers that understand risk and take proactive efforts to reduce it are worth the money.

The question also allows you to assess your candidate’s ability to think figuratively. You’ve provided enough variables to build the picture for your prospective new hire, but they’ll have to rely on their imagination to discover hazards without further urging. When it comes to developing better procedures and anticipating risks, imagination is a significant asset. 

Take notice of the questions the candidate asks to learn more about the situation. A candidate who is proactive in gathering knowledge and understands the correct questions to ask in each scenario is more likely to be good at detecting dangers, settling disputes, and conducting research.

  • Describe a foolproof way to increase the performance of an under-skilled teammate.

This question evaluates your candidate’s willingness and aptitude to train. Professional development has recently received more attention, and project managers are in an ideal position to train their colleagues.

Your project manager must strike a balance between training efforts and project expectations. This question also assesses their capacity to balance these two agendas, which is essential for a project manager.

Pay attention to the candidate’s mention of the necessity of patience in dealing with this difficult issue. Impatience can cause issues, distort one’s perspective, and foster unpleasant emotions—neither of which traits you want in a project manager.

The list of attributes of a good project manager is lengthy because a project manager isn’t only expected to draw the most out of themselves—in order to succeed, they must also bring out the best in everyone they work with. The above project manager interview questions  cover the most significant project management abilities and competencies that the applicant will not only be tested on during the interview but will also be required to be successful as a project manager.