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Interview Guide: Project Management Professionals

A list of interview questions to ask when hiring project management professionals.

Published on

February 18, 2020


When interviewing a Project Manager, it’s important to start with an open dialogue. Talk about the project involved and how you plan to measure/monitor performance. Be open and honest about key performance indicators. Explain the work environment and deliverables for the project. Describe any special conditions that might be unique to the project. Mention details such as travel requirements, unique risks, whether it’s a high-pressure job, etc.

This guide will assist with the Q&A portion of the interview. The questions below are designed to help you understand the candidate’s skills and experience as a Project Manager. Pick and choose the questions that will help you assess the right candidate based on your requirements.

Interview Questions

Initial Questions

  1. What type of projects have you managed? Were they product- or service-based projects?
  2. What are your thoughts, including pros and cons, about managing projects virtually vs. in person?
  3. Are there any differences in the project's critical success factors or risk mitigation that you feel are different in a virtual project management environment?
  4. Describe the nature, scope, duration, and budget of the largest project you managed.
  5. Have you managed a product-based project and a service-based project? What were the distinct challenges and complexities in each context?
  6. Highlight one of the projects you are most proud of.
  7. What is the best or most useful feedback or advice you have received in your career?
  8. What was the last course taken or certification acquired pertaining to project management?

Organizational Influences

  1. What types of project organization have you worked on (functional, weak, matrix, balanced matrix, strong matrix, project-based, etc.)?
  2. What were the challenges and how did you overcome those challenges?
  3. What was the structure of the organization you worked for? How many departments and/or management team members were involved in the project you managed?
  4. What impact did corporate culture have on the projects you managed?
  5. As more workplaces switch to hybrid and remote work models, what impact does a virtual environment have on individuals working on a team? ( i.e. team morale, overall wellbeing, performance, etc.)? Please explain. 
  6. Describe how accurate the following statement is, “People don’t like to be managed they like to be lead.”


  1. What is your familiarity with governance?
  2. How did you align your last project with the business strategy?
  3. Do you have experience developing a project governance framework on any of your projects?
  4. Have you used a Gating Methodology? Please explain the process and how many gates were used.
  5. How did you manage projects where the governance role is shared by multiple stakeholders?
  6. Have you had a situation wherein stakeholders were trying to bypass governance to meet deadlines? If so, what did you do to handle that situation?


  1. A project manager should manage the influences of the various stakeholders in relation to the project requirements to ensure a successful outcome. How do you manage stakeholder expectations?
  2. How have you handled competing expectations?
  3. Stakeholder identification is critical to the success of the project. How have you successfully identified these stakeholders without having late recognition that can lead to project issues?
  4. Tell me about a time when a stakeholder would not approve a deliverable. How did you handle the situation and see that the issue was resolved?

Project Approval Documentation Development

  1. Have you been part of the project approval process prior to the kick-off of a project?
  2. How would you manage a stakeholder approval meeting and ensure the desired outcomes are met at the end of that meeting? Would this change if the meeting was virtual or in person?
  3. Have you developed a full project charter? If not, were you part of the development?
  4. What elements do you typically include within the project charter?
  5. What are some of the success metrics you have detailed within the project charter?

Issue and Risk Management

  1. Do you have experience with issue and risk management on a project? How would you differentiate the two?
  2. What was your role in identifying the issues/risks and performing the analysis?
  3. Describe a project that had high risks and how you offered a strategy to minimize those risks?
  4. Did you have a separate Risk Manager on your project? If so, how did you discuss issues/risks?
  5. Who was responsible for controlling the issues/risks?
  6. Issues and Risks are birds of the same feather, and yet not quite the same. What do you see as the difference, and how did you manage each one separately?
  • Risks are things that could potentially/probably occur; so we need to put in place strategies/plans to mitigate or eliminate the potential risks as they arise.
  • Issues are risks that we KNOW will occur (i.e. 100% probability); therefore, we need to deal with them immediately; not wait for them to happen

Project Lifestyle

  1. Have you managed a project throughout its full lifecycle from beginning to end? (i.e., Project Phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Close) 
  2. Please list the projects you managed from start to finish. Which one was most successful? Which one was least successful and in what regard? What was missed?
  3. Why is Project Close phase important? (Interviewer note: Project Close serves an important purpose for the organization and helps avoid unfavourable and adverse scenarios in future.)
  4. Can you share some of the online templates or plans that you completed in your last assignment? Have you written any publications or samples of templates for things that you have done?

Procurement Management

  1. As the project manager, were you responsible for procurement? If so, what aspects? What role did you play in procurement on your projects? What was being procured?
  2. Have you prepared a Statement of Work for technical resources that were used in procurement solicitations with the purpose of utilizing contract resources to support the project?

Stakeholder Management

  1. What are the tools and techniques you have successfully used to manage your stakeholders' expectations?
  2. How have you overcome resistance?
  3. What roles have stakeholders held when developing a governance framework?
  4. What is your communication style?
  5. What communication style do you find most effective when working with stakeholders? How does it differ in a virtual vs in-person environment?

IT Project Management


  1. Tell me about your experience managing server consolidations.
  2. How would you describe your experience in planning and managing data centre migrations or consolidations?
  3. What were some of the challenges your project team encountered and how did you work around them?
  4. Explain your experience managing projects involving server consolidation where physical servers were converted to a virtual platform?
  5. What virtualization platform was used and how were the hypervisor servers configured for high availability?
  6. What type of shared storage was used?
  7. Explain your experience handling the refresh of an applications stack from the application down to the infrastructure? For example: refreshing the hardware, operating system, middleware and re-installing and configuring the application. How did you plan this?
  8. What were some of the challenges?


  1. Why is the Software Development Life Cycle important?
  2. Describe your background in AGILE or other SDLC methodologies.
  3. Do you prefer the Agile or waterfall methodology? Why?
  4. What does project velocity mean?
  5. What PM tools were used on your project?
  6. What would you do if you found a major glitch in the development cycle during the testing phase?
  7. Describe how to modify a design that requires re-writing your initial thoughts on how a program would run.
  8. Are you responsible for delivery and financials or just the administration of the project? Tell me about your recent project’s goals and results.
  9. How would you manage one element of a project being late and resulting in another element being delayed?
  10. Did you utilize a formal gating methodology to move through the different phases of the project? How many gates were used? Explain your views on the gating process.

Certifications (Information for Employers)


There are many different Project Management Certifications that can be attained. Two of the most popular are the PMP and the Prince2 from the Project Management Institute. Here is what you need to know about them.

The PMP certification is based on the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Standard and is not a methodology.

The Prince2 certification is a methodology with a detailed process model and templates. It uses step-by-step guidance on how to organize and run a project.

Interpersonal Skills

  1. COMMUNICATION: Communication is identified as one of the single biggest reasons for project success or failure. What tools/strategies do you apply for effective communication with your project team, other managers, stakeholders, etc.?
  2. LEADERSHIP: Effective leadership is critical in achieving a high-performing team. How do you effectively focus a team’s efforts towards a common goal? What is your style of leadership? For example: trust and respect vs fear and submission, etc.
  3. TEAM BUILDING: The result of good leadership and team building is teamwork. What type of activities and/or how have you managed the team environment to obtain team commitment and quality performance? What is your view of virtual activities? In your experience, can virtual activities be a successful tool for team building?
  4. MOTIVATION: A project team’s commitment is related to motivation. What type of strategies have you used to keep motivation throughout a project? What did you do with a team member or subordinate who was plainly not motivated? How have you been able to get team members to cooperate towards common goals?
  5. DECISION MAKING: There are four basic styles: command, consultation, consensus and random. How many of these styles have you had to use and what success have you had?
  6. CONFLICT MANAGEMENT: Managing conflict is one of the biggest challenges a PM faces. Some of the things you may encounter in a role like this include competition for resources, breakdowns in communications etc. How have you managed conflict in a virtual or in-person environment? Please provide examples.
  7. COACHING: Coaching is used to aid team members in developing or enhancing their skills or to build new skills required to enable project success. How have you, as a PM, been able to help the team address poor performance, recognize their potential etc.? How have you mentored a junior team member with less experience working on a project? Please explain your approach in either a virtual or in-person environment.
  8. NEGOTIATION: Negotiating is integral to PM and increases the chances of project success if done well. What has worked for you in the past?
  9. POSITIONAL BARGAINING: Do you have experience with positional bargaining and if so, what strategies have you used? What do you see as the difference between “negotiation” and “positional bargaining”?
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