How to Prepare for Your Project Manager Interview Questions

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

Your resume grabbed the attention of a recruiter and now you’re officially a candidate for a project management role. Congratulations! To get the job, though, you’ve got to know how to prepare for your project manager interview questions. Let’s do a run-down of what to expect and how to get ready.


Study the Job Description

Project management is a varied field with a range of responsibilities. Your first step in prepping for a project management interview is to identify the main requirements of the job on the posting. While all PMs have core competencies, a PM role in IT will need different skills than a PM in construction, so it’s helpful to drill down to the specifications on the job listing.


Be prepared to give examples of how your background qualifies you for the specifics of the role. For instance, if the job description places risk assessment as a priority skill, have examples at the ready for how you handled a project’s dangerous elements. If you’re an entry-level applicant with no job or internship experience, relate how you did in your risk coursework, including any projects you can present in your portfolio.


  • Pro tip: If your confidence isn’t high that your skills are a perfect match, focus on the transferrable skills that do match. For instance, if you worked in manufacturing and helped the company simplify its processes, saving 12 percent in materials costs, that’s relevant experience that you should highlight in the interview, even if was not gained in an official PM role.

A recruiter going over the resume of a candidate for the project manager interview.

Start With a Super-Sharp Elevator Pitch

Almost every interview begins with some variation of, “Tell me why you’re interested in this role.” Have a succinct but powerful one or two-liner at the ready that focuses on the value you will bring to the team and to the organization at large. They want to hear your story and know why you’re the one for this job. Give them the condensed, lively basics in your first response, adding details as the interview progresses.


Research the Company

Even if you have a contact or two at the firm and can identify their logo at a hundred paces, you still need to do your due diligence to find out everything you can about the company. This isn’t just about you earning brownie points for being prepared; it’s also to gain a deeper understanding of the company’s mission, culture, competition, and growth potential.


Start with the company website, then do a Google news search to see if the board, the brand, or the project have made headlines. Check their social media feed, especially LinkedIn, and pay particular attention to how many open roles are listed on job boards. If you discover a long list of vacant roles, that could be good news about the company’s expansion, or it could mean high turnover. Either way, it’s a good topic to bring up with the recruiter to gauge the status of the organization.


  • Pro tip: Reframe your thinking about the interview. It is not an inquisition. It should be a conversation, so have your questions ready for the interviewer, too.


Female preparing for her interview by going over some project manager interview questions.

Get Familiar With the Hiring Manager’s Profile

While you’re investigating the company on LinkedIn, do a quick read-through of the hiring manager’s online bio. You might learn you both volunteer for the same nonprofit or that you both worked for the same company at different times, which is all good fodder to break the ice.


But you will also find clues about what it’s like to work at the company. Has the recruiter just been hired? Have they been promoted repeatedly over the years or stayed in the same role? While on the company’s LinkedIn page, look at the credentials and backgrounds of more senior PMs and their bosses – it can give you a roadmap for how you might advance in the company, an important topic you’ll want to discuss with the recruiter.


  • Pro tip: If you notice all the PM jobs you want tend to have the same three or four qualifying skills, take a moment to update your profile blurb with similar phrasing. It helps recruiters find you (in case you don’t land the role at hand).

Practice and Practice Some More

Most preliminary interviews for PM roles are conducted via video call. The downsides of Zoom interviews are legendary, but there is a golden upside: the opportunity for rehearsal! A day or two before your interview, prepare a list of potential PM interview questions, turn on your computer camera, and record a test-run interview of yourself answering the questions you think you could get in the real interview.


Don’t memorize your answers, but get comfortable with the format and with how you look and sound on screen. Slow down. Repeat the question before answering to give yourself a moment to organize your thoughts. Review the recording to pinpoint your weaker answers, then repeat the ones you don’t think were strong enough. Practicing does soothe your nerves on the big day.


  • Pro tip: Mannerism matter in video interviews. Try to smile as naturally and as often as you can. Video can feel unnatural, but it helps to make it less robotic if your body language tells the interviewer that you’re enjoying yourself and you love talking project management.

Detail Your Technical Skills

Be prepared to discuss the PM software systems you prefer, which methodologies you have used on projects – such as agile, scrum, or a hybrid – and how you handle responsibilities such as scope, budget, complexity, and scaling. If they pose a hypothetical situation to you about your technical skills, have a solid answer about how you would solve the challenge. Back it up, if you can, with an example from your work experience. Scenarios set the stage, so paint a realistic picture of how you work in the real world.


When interview day comes, it pays to be prepared to answer some common questions, including those that will help highlight your technical skills:

  1. How do you prioritize tasks on a project?
  2. How do you feel about generating reports?
  3. How do you manage team members who aren’t pulling their weight?
  4. How do you get projects back on schedule once they fall behind?
  5. What metric is your most important indicator of a project’s progress?

Highlight Your Soft Skills  

Your resume lists the credentials that qualify you for the role, so you don’t need to rehash every element of your background. But when the opportunity arises to discuss your soft skills, that’s your chance to display your personality and leadership presence. Don’t hold back, but do not simply tick off “organized, patient, good multitasker, persistent.” This is the time to deploy engaging storytelling. Give examples of a project that demanded you to be a team player. Be specific and honest, even about the soft skills you’re still working on.


Show up to the interview prepared to answer a few common questions about your soft skills:

  1. How do you delegate tasks?
  2. What’s your communication style?
  3. How would you get stakeholders on board?
  4. Do you like to get credit for a project or be behind the scenes?
  5. Can you tell me about a mistake you’ve made on a project?

Present Your Results

Arm yourself with data ahead of any interview. Did you bring in your last project 10 days ahead of schedule and 10 percent under budget? Draw a big verbal circle around that and be prepared to tell the recruiter how you did it and what you learned that can be applied to future projects. The more specific you can be with the results you share, the better.


PM Certification From USF Can Help You Get Hired

If you want the best chance to land that PM role, enroll in USF’s Project Management courses. You’ll gain hands-on skills to shepherd projects to completion and position yourself to pass the PMP® exam, a credential that not only could give you a competitive advantage against other candidates, but could also boost your salary by as much as $20,000 per year.


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