written by: Jean Scheid
• edited by: Michele McDonough
• updated: 5/25/2011
You have your project manager resume ready, you've dressed in your best attire and you're ready to make a great impression. Before you step out that door, do you know how to prepare for a project manager interview? Jean Scheid looks at interviewing with a list of potential questions and answers.
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Resume and Preparation
When you begin to apply for project manager positions, you'll need to have a great resume that stands out. If you're stumped on resume writing, read Tips for Writing a Project Management Resume first. Once you have polished that resume so it shines, you're ready to take on the project manager interview. Learning how to prepare for a project manager interview, including potential questions and answers, will be key in landing the job.
Preparing For the Interview
Position - Know exactly what position you are applying for within the company so you'll be prepared for questions.
Research - Do some research on the company, what projects they are known for, and network with colleagues who may work at the company for an Insider's look.
Is It Right For You? - Learn about things like parking or public transportation that is close and if they offer career development.
Perspective - What is the general perspective of the company? Are they well-liked or have you heard bad things about the company through the grapevine. This doesn't mean it won't be a good fit for you, but it's good to get a feel of the company's reputation.
Dress Appropriately - This is no time for a hem that needs to be repaired or an old suit that doesn't fit. Invest in yourself by buying some good interviewing clothes. Be conscious of things like tattoos, face jewelry, and your hairstyle, especially if you know upfront that the company is conservative in their approach – and keep the gum at home.
Be Punctual - Be on time for the interview and make sure you know how to pronounce the interviewer's name. Call ahead if need be and ask for the correct pronunciation.
Attitudes / First Impression - Be assertive in your gestures, be friendly, and smile! Remember that the interviewer's first impression is important so how much you know about the company will impress them.
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A Great Interview
Some interviewees will exit an interview feeling like that had a great one. This is not always the case so keep these tips in mind during your project manager interview:
Take Control - Let the interviewer tell you as much about the job as possible and don't interrupt! The more you know, the easier it will be to answer their questions.
Be Decisive - Never answer questions with just a yes or no. Don't go overboard but put some detail and explanation into your answers.
Former Employers - Never make a bad statement about former employers, especially if they are in the same industry. Like company managers and owners do talk.
Be Determined - Act as if the job is already yours.
Ask Questions - The interviewer will ask you questions so feel free to pose some questions of your own. Don't just sit there and nod.
Stay Positive - Even if you feel a certain project manager job is not for you, stay positive. Never close doors on an opportunity.
Be Patient - Never ask first about salary and benefits. The interviewer, if they like you, will get to those things.
Closing and Post Interview - Thank the interviewer for their time with a good handshake. Send a professional follow-up note thanking them for the interview.
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Sample Project Manager Interview Q&A
Along with the sample project manager interview questions provided in our Media Gallery, prepare yourself for questions like these:
Where else have your worked and what were you duties? - Answer these clearly, but brief. It's good to point out top project manager positions you've held but don't mislead.
What projects have you worked on? - If you have a portfolio of your projects, give a brief history and allow them to keep a copy of your portfolio that outlines your projects in detail.
How do you handle disagreements or confrontation? - Don't say you've never experienced confrontation, everyone does. Explain truly how you handle disagreements and confrontation, including your style.
What are your achievements? - Briefly list your highest achievements and why they were important to you. Include any project management certifications you've obtained.
What are your disappointments? - Every interviewer is going to ask this question so be prepared. Be honest about things that didn't work out the way you expected and include any processes you implemented to fix your disappointments.
Project Manager Questions
Management Software - You may be asked what project management software you are familiar with. Explain which ones you are best at and where and how you've used them.
Management Tools - Interviewers want to know you style of managing. Know ahead of time how to explain your management style.
Budgets and Scheduling - When you are asked about budgets and scheduling, make sure you include how you have implemented these items in the past in a successful way. Focus on past projects that were under budget and delivered on time.
Project Management Methodologies - When asked what you have experience in project management methodologies, speak of only the ones you've used in the past. If risk management and change management are your strengths, say so. If your prefer the Agile methodology, talk about how it works for you.
Stakeholders and Clients - Be positive about how you handle stakeholders and clients.
It can often be overwhelming when you are considering how to prepare for a project manager interview, but by following these tips, having a great resume, and being prepared, you'll have a better chance of getting the job.