Tag Archives: interview questions

Interview Questions; what to expect – PM Career Tips

Interview questions will vary from company to company and manager to manager but essentially the interviewer wants to verify some key areas such as: whether your skills and experience are right for the job, if you actually want the job and are you the right fit for the business. Answering questions with strong examples from your professional past will really help you win over the interviewer as theoretical answers really don’t add value.

One of the first questions you are likely to be asked is “what do you know about us?” This is where you need to have done your homework and know what it is the business does/produces, who its main competitors are and any challenges they may currently be facing (publicised or not).

You will also probably be asked to talk about yourself; this is something you can rehearse and you should look to produce a short (3 or 4 minutes long) monologue which focuses on relevant pieces of experience, any areas of progression and achievements. Keep it professional, don’t talk about children and family and avoid any jobs which aren’t going to be of interest to the interviewer.

Shake on it

It is also possible you will be asked to talk through key strengths and weaknesses – think about examples which are more relevant to the job/business and don’t fall into the trap of stating you have no weaknesses, we all do and it is how we identify and address them which makes us better/stronger candidates and more employable.

Why do you want this job? Another great question and often overlooked by candidates when preparing for interview – simply stating you need the money to pay the rent/mortgage isn’t good enough. Again this is where your research comes in, knowing more about what they do as a business and the direction they are taking in the market can be a great area to talk about and also think about the challenge of a new team, different projects, developing your skill set etc.

You will ideally be asked to talk about difficult situations and proud achievements – this can be a great platform to demonstrate your management style and to tell the interviewer about something which isn’t covered on the CV, talking about how you have added value and overcome major blockers can really sell you.

You’ll no doubt be asked about your career goals, be realistic but don’t sell yourself short. Think about your 5-10 year career plan beforehand and tell the interviewer your plans but be pragmatic, you could talk yourself out of a job if you intend to be climbing the career ladder at the rate of knots. Taking on more responsibility and new challenges doesn’t necessarily mean jumping from PM to Programme manager or Coordinator to Manager.

Project Manager Interview questions – stakeholders

I always receive a mixed response from candidates regarding interview expectations, most are confident that once they are interviewed they will be offered the job – great to have such confidence and I hope the theme continues that way. However there are a number of candidates who find interviews terrifying, understandable if you haven’t had much experience of interviews or it has been a long time since your last one. The element of not knowing what to expect is where the fear kicks in for most, in this article I want to address Stakeholders.

Now, whether you are a Senior Programme Manager or a Project Admin, stakeholders are arguably the most important element of project success. Whenever I have seen a project not reach success, it has often come back to a failing communication element.

stakeholdersHere are some questions based purely on the stakeholder aspect which you should look to consider and compare with your own experiences, so you can create a number of responses to use in your forthcoming interviews. Remember to take a holistic approach to your responses, giving detail about the project/situation, your actions and finally the results achieved.

  • How do you identify the key stakeholders on your project?
    • Realistically this can be as simple as a meeting with all involved and/or;
    • Rating their level of interest and involvement in the project.
  • Once identified, what do you do next?
    • Think about stakeholder mapping, communication plans etc.
  • Give me an example of a strained stakeholder relationship, what did you do to resolve the issue?
    • A great question, which answered correctly, can really draw out your relationship building skills. Soft skills as more important than process in PM.
  • When working with external stakeholders, how do you ensure a balanced communication process is maintained?
    • This is an interesting question; it could be a trick to see what information you are willing to share with outsiders to the company. Always difficult to gauge how organisations work, some are transparent whereas others like to keep all issues in-house. Of course the core part of the question is really asking how you keep in touch with the external parties, always check questions which might generate a leading response.

Once you have some good examples to talk through – practice, give the questions to your partner/friend/colleague and run through them, ask them back what you just told them to see if you are communicating clearly. Practice makes perfect and it is all too easy to get embroiled in internal terminology (from your current/previous company), and you need to be able to engage all at the interview including HR and other non-PM people.

Questions you should ask the interviewer

Interviews can be stressful for some and even enjoyable to others – it just depends on your perception of what you hope to achieve from them. Clearly you are hoping to be offered a job but that is not always the case; the interview should be a two way setting and often the candidate loses sight of this. I have been in interviews where I have known quite quickly that it is not the role for me, and walked away from interviews wondering if I actually would welcome an offer – therefore it is important to make sure you know if this is the one for you.


Most formal interviews will consist of an introduction from the interviewer followed by a series of questions presented to the candidate to understand how you work and react in situations, towards the end of the interview you will be presented with the opportunity to ask questions back. This is where some good planning comes into play; you need to think outside the box as the interviewer should answer a lot of questions in their introduction. A trap, a lot of candidates fall into is to respond with “I think you have answered everything I was going to ask” – this can come across as a lack of real interest in the business / role and can put interviewers off you.

Here are a few questions you may find useful to note down for future interviews:

  • What does the actual day to day work involve? (bearing in mind Project Management makes for constant change, there will still be core duties required of you)
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • What are the main challenges the team / projects face at the moment?
  • Have you identified any weaknesses in the team; are these something you would like me to address from the start?
  • What do you think it might take to be really successful in this role?
  • Could you talk me through the management style here?
  • Do you have any specific projects in mind that the successful candidate will be working on?
  • Is it likely I will be working as part of a team and are the staff involved in different projects at any one time?
  • Does the business encourage employees to study and gain professional qualifications? What kind of support is in place?
  • What kind of backgrounds personally and professionally do the existing team have?

And to round up:

  • When can I expect to hear from you with a decision and do you usually call or write to let candidates know the outcome?
  • Would it be possible to gain some feedback from you regardless of the outcome?
  • Have I answered everything thoroughly enough for you or is there anything else you would like to ask me?

I recommend writing a list of questions to ask – always write down more than you need in case some are already covered by the interviewer (some interviewers are more thorough than others). Avoid any questions about pay, holidays, benefits, sick leave, hours of work etc as this can give a bad impression – these questions will be answered at the offer stage (if you get that far). Once you have a list of questions, place them in a folder and when you are asked for questions do remember your manners and ask if it is OK to refer to the list you prepared prior to the interview.

Interview questions you should be asking for a Project Management job

OK so we’ve worked hard to secure a job interview – most of us actually feel that we can clinch the job if we can just meet with the hiring manager and talk through how good we are. Up until this point the emphasis has been on you, your CV, your application, your flexibility to meet on a set day…. Now you get to meet the hiring manager and it’s all about you performing… Yes and no, yes – you do need to articulate yourself and respond to questions confidently whilst allowing your lovely personality to shine through. But this is also where the tables turn, it is the time when you meet your potential boss in your potential office building and make a decision as to whether you can work with these people or whether it is just not for you. Often we forget that the interview is a two way process, placing all emphasis on ourselves alongside a great deal of pressure. Take a deep breath – it’s a meeting, you are testing them as much as they are testing you.

Be prepared – practice scenarios to talk through which are relevant to the role and do your research on the business. 9 times out of 10 you will be asked if you know who they are and what they do. Now here’s the bit that people forget – your questions to the employer.

You will almost certainly be offered the opportunity to ask questions as the interview draws to a close, here are some things to consider:

  • Are there any issues the team are currently facing which you would like me to address?
  • How well is change received in the organisation and what is your policy on implementing it?
  • In the bigger picture, how does this role fit organisationally within the business structure?
  • What in your opinion are the most enjoyable aspects of the role?


And finally…


  • Is there anything else you would like to ask me – anything I haven’t covered or have been unclear on?

Avoid questions such around areas such as money, holidays and sick leave – this will be clarified should you be offered the role and you should have a fair idea having researched before the interview. Do not be afraid to take a neatly written (ideally typed) list of questions to the interview in a folder and ask permission to refer to them when prompted to ask questions. By not asking questions, you are not demonstrating a keen interest in the role. Keep the balance right, do not bombard the interviewer with lots of questions keep them to a concise list which is structured to ensure you are told everything you need to know about the role.

Another tip: when you are researching, find something out about the business which is in the public domain such as new product / initiative / partnering etc and mention this in one of your questions. For example; “I was interested to read that you are currently integrating a new web system within the organisation – will it have any direct effect on this department?” A sneaky way to demonstrate that you have indeed been doing your homework and are very interested in the business. I once had a client call me after interviewing one of my candidates laughing because my candidate knew more about a new initiative within the business than he did. He promised to find out the response to her question for next time they met. She got the job!