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Good Interview Questions for Project Management Jobs

by Linda Ray

Every worthwhile business endeavor relies on someone who can coordinate all the creators, manage a budget and deliver the project successfully and on time. Those individuals are called project managers. They work in every industry, from construction to technical and health care development. Good interview questions for potential project managers help recruiters determine leadership abilities, organizational skills, technical prowess and communication proficiencies.

Providing Examples of Success

Interviews that require applicants to tell stories about successful past projects reveal a project manager's ability to communicate the skills and talents needed in an effective administrator. Ask the interviewee directly for examples of past successes with a question such as “Tell me about a successful project you ran.” Look for succinct answers that include a challenge, the steps taken to solve the problem and the result. The way a project manager communicates his past experience is as important as the content of the examples because it clearly indicates his ability to get across his message in a clear, understandable manner.

Showing Specific Project Details

The devil is definitely in the details for project managers, so questions that probe the manager’s attention to the fine points are vital. Ask project managers for specific details about their drafting and technical skills or what kind of software they used to reach a successful result. “What budget analysis tools do you rely on?” can give you a glimpse into the financial expertise the manager brings to the job. Ask the applicant if he brought any supporting documentation to the interview. Prepared project managers may bring a portfolio of work that best shows their strengths in drafting, technical understanding of complex ideas and creative abilities. Supporting documentation in a portfolio also may include reference letters, awards and media coverage of previous ventures.

Handling Stress

Project managers typically are outgoing and confident with the ability to motivate people to collaborate and work hard to complete a project on time and within a certain budget. Those who claim to be professionals should shine in a panel interview. The panel can split up the questions to keep the candidate off guard to see how he handles himself in stressful situations. Ask questions such as “How do you relieve stress?” and “How do your maintain your professionalism when deadlines loom and your team isn’t prepared?” Additional questions that vary from those asking about educational background to more personal questions about hobbies illustrate to recruiters how much flexibility the candidate possesses and how he relates to variety of personalities and perspectives.

Working With Others

Project managers need to bring a keen sense of how to motivate team members and keep them on track. Ask candidates about the types of teams they’ve managed and how many people they are accustomed to leading at one time. “How many people were involved in your last few projects?” or “How do you decide who to delegate various duties to?” shows you the applicant’s experience and thinking processes. Ask about details about the teams to get a deeper understanding of the breadth of experience the candidate brings. The answer to “What types of reporting requirements do you demand of your team members?” provides insight into his management techniques.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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