In general, interviews are difficult and with the level of competition associated with the project manager profile, you need to be at your best. Confidence is an important aspect of all candidates who are successful in interviews. Confidence comes with knowledge and practice.
Here are some of the common or frequently asked Project Manager interview questions along with answers, that you can prepare for your project management interview:
Q1. How do you handle any changes to the project?
Ans. A project manager’s strength lies in his/her ability to display a high level of adaptability. Nobody wants changes in a project and are not entirely unavoidable. You must approach this question with great wit and convince the interviewer that you are capable, having handled such situations before.
Q2. Define Planned Value, Actual Cost and Earned Value?
Ans. Planned Value is the value of the project that has been estimated and approved before the project starts. Actual Cost is the total cost or the amount of money spent during the project. Earned Value is the value earned in the completion of the project. These three elements together form Earned Value Management (EVM).
Q3. What is a Fishbone diagram and when to use it?
Ans. Fishbone Diagram or Ishikawa Diagram is a visualisation tool to understand the potential causes of a problem to identify its root causes. It is used usually in brainstorming sessions so that the team’s conversation is focussed on the actual problem and not stray away towards only the symptoms.
Q4. What values do you think a project manager should have?
Ans. Everybody has their own idea of values. However, it should focus on the job profile and associated with project management.
Q5. Tell me about your career path and what brought you to project management?
Ans. This question is easy; you just need to provide a brief description of your previous work experiences and tell how you ended up being a project manager. However, you should understand that project management is the main focus here and most of it should converge towards proving that it was through the right skills and experience that you are here now.
Q6. What performance metrics do you use to determine if a project is going as expected?
Ans. The ability to understand if a project is going in the right direction is a core skill of a project manager and performance metrics will help in that matter. Some of the useful performance metrics are Cost Variance, Resource Utilisation, Quality, Customer Satisfaction and Gross Margin.
Q7. What strategy do you follow to mitigate the risks involved in a project?
Ans. There will always be risks involved in a project; sometimes even before you start it. You must be able to give the interviewer enough points on different areas where you can work so that there are effects of risks.
Q8. Did you ever face any challenges while managing projects? How did you handle those challenges?
Ans. With the responsibilities of a project manager, comes a lot of challenges. So pick out one which you have been successful in handling. Give the various ways how you have handled and the strategy you came up with.
Q9. Which of the methodologies have you used in your projects? Why do you prefer it over others?
Ans. There are various methodologies — Agile, Waterfall, etc. — which are used in project management. Be well-prepared about the various pros and cons of each methodology that you have used. Never mention the ones that you haven’t used.
Also Read>>PMP vs. Scrum
Q10. What do you know about the critical path of a project? What steps will you take if you find that one of your tasks is going to take more time than expected?
Ans. To put simply, the critical path of a project is all the key tasks that are required to complete a project. There are ways to shorten task time. E.g. adding an extra person to the project on the contract or from a different team to complete the particular tasks.
Q11. Name the ten key knowledge areas as mentioned in the PMBOK Guide?
Ans. Integration Management, Scope Management, Time Management, Cost Management, Quality Management, Human Resource Management, Communications Management, Risk Management, Procurement Management, and Stakeholder Management.
Q12. What is RAID in project management and why is it necessary to create a RAID log?
Ans. RAID is an acronym for Risk, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies. A RAID log is important for a project manager to track anything that would impact a project now or in the future.
Q13. What is a Decision Support System (DSS)? How many types of DSS are there?
Ans. DSS is a software system that helps in the decision making process in project management. There are two types of DSS: structured and unstructured.
Q14. What do you understand by the Pareto (also known as 80/20 rule) principle/analysis?
Ans. It is a decision-making technique through which by doing 20% of the work you produce 80% of the desired result.
Q15. How do you estimate using three-point estimating methods?
Ans. It is the best technique to develop estimates for your project. There are three steps:
- Identify the positive and negative risks involved in the project
- Then make three estimates — Best Guess (BG), Pessimistic (P), and Optimistic (O) estimates
- The final step is to calculate the mean and standard deviation using the formulas: (O+4BG+p)/6 and P – O/6 respectively.
Also Read>>What is PMP?
Q16. Do you prefer working on a single project or multiple projects at the same time?
Ans. You must always show your enthusiasm to the interviewer, but also be honest. If you feel that you can handle more projects than one, then say that you prefer multiple projects.
Q17. Define the Triple Constraint Triangle in project management?
Ans. Triple constraint triangle or project management triangle is a constraint model where scope, schedule and cost are constraints forming the sides of a triangle, with quality as the central theme.
Also Read>>PMP Certification Benefits
Q18. What is Work Breakdown Structure (WBD) and how does it affect the work estimates of tasks/activities?
Ans. WBD is the process of decomposition of a project into deliverable-oriented components. This helps the project manager to oversee the project more effectively.
Q19. What are some techniques used for defining scope?
Ans. Product breakdown, requirements analysis, systems engineering, systems analysis, value engineering, value analysis and alternatives analysis.
Also Read>>Top Online Project Management Courses
Q20. What are the techniques for doing “activity time” estimates?
Ans. The techniques are parametric estimates, three-point estimates and analogous estimates.
These are some of the popular questions that are asked in project management interviews. Always be prepared to answer all types of questions — technical skills, interpersonal, leadership or methodology. If you are someone who has recently started your career in project management, you can always get certified to understand the industry-related terminology, skills and methodologies.
Q21. Explain a project’s life cycle.
Ans. Every project has to go through a series of phases from initiation to closure and this is what we call as a project life cycle. As per PMBOK, projects need to go through 5 phases –
• Monitoring & Control
Q22. What is a project charter?
Ans. It is mainly a document officially starts a project and includes every detail of the project. From start to end, the document also includes project authorization. This document lists all the top-level requirements as per the stakeholders and the outcomes of the project.
Q23. What is the plan baseline?
Ans. These are the final version of all plans before the initiation of a project. It includes time schedule, quality plan, communication plan, and everything else. This acts as the reference to measure the project performance.
Q24. Which project management tools have you used before?
Ans. Tell them about some important and commonly used tools like –
• Gantt Chart
• Work Breakdown Structure
• Product Breakdown Structure
• PERT Chart
• Logic Network
Q25. What is time & material contract?
Ans. It is a mutually agreed arrangement, where a contractor is paid on the basis of factors like –
• Actual cost of direct labor at hourly rates
• Actual cost of equipment and material usage
• A fixed add-on to include profits and overheads
Q26. What is effort variance?
Ans. Effort Variance = (Actual effort – Estimated Effort) / Estimated Effort.
It is the difference between the estimated effort and the effort required.
Q27. Explain the difference between Risk Impact and Risk Probability.
Ans. As the name implies, Risk Probability is the chance of a risk to happen, while Risk Impact is the cost when the risk occurs.
Q28. What is Project Scope Management?
Ans. It is a set of processes to ensure that a project’s scope is accurately defined and mapped. The process involves a number of steps, which include –
• Planning scope management
• Collecting requirements
• Defining scope
• Creating Work Breakdown Structure
• Validating Scope
• Controlling Scope
Q29. What is CMM?
Ans. It stands for Capability Maturity Model and has five levels, including –
Initial – Start point of a new process.
Repeatable– It suggests the repeated use of any process.
Defined – It includes documentation of the standard guidelines and procedures.
Managed – It involves measurement and management of a process.
Optimizing – It is the highest level of process maturity in CMM and includes optimization and improvement of a process.
Q30. How will you handle the failure of a project?
Ans. Being a project manager, one should have the quality to handle both successes and failures. While informing about the failure of a project, one should always ensure that it doesn’t impact the morale of the team and work pace.