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Interviewing for a New Project Manager? Here Are Some Great Questions to Try Out
By Michelle Symonds

If you’re about to start interviewing people for a project management position you’ll need to have a great selection of questions at the ready to ensure you’re going to get the best out of your interviewees. It’s always worth adding some new questions to your list so you feel as though you candidate is challenged in a positive way, and you don’t just feel like you’re going through the motions.

Here are some fantastic questions to ask your project management candidates:

  • Which types of projects do you dislike the most?

    This question is useful because: Project management involves working on a huge variety of projects and the best project managers don’t shy away from projects no one else wants to do. Putting the business first means doing their best on any project they are given, even if they do hate it.

    A negative candidate response would be: “I prefer working on social media projects, and if you don’t mind, I would rather choose my own projects?”

  • If you had to value your PM career from 1 to 10, what value would you give it?

    When they give you a rating, you will want to ask them to explain it to you.

    This question is useful because: It isn’t too specific and it should give you a good idea as to how passionate they are about where they are going and how confident they are in their abilities.

    A negative candidate response would be: “I would probably say a 3 because I still don’t know if it’s for me”.

  • What is the most important part of a PM’s job role?

    This is useful because: This should demonstrate their understanding of the job and what their priorities are..

    A negative response from the candidate would be: “Telling people what to do”.

  • Which tasks take up most of your time?

    This is useful because: You get to find out how they do their job. Are they active? Do they focus mainly on the laptop? Are they open to working in other ways?

    A negative response from the candidate would be: “I don’t really know”.

  • How do you work with senior management?

    This is useful because: It’s important to know that they have thought about how they manage up. Working well with senior management is an important part of a project manager’s job role, your candidate should have a good idea of how they approach this.

    A negative response from the candidate would be: “I tend to leave them out of it as I know they are too busy to be involved in my project”.

  • Can you think of a time you failed to delegate tasks?

    This is useful because: You want to see if they are open and honest about mistakes they have made. Most importantly they have the opportunity to tell you how they turned it around and learned from the experience.

    A negative response from the candidate would be: “I tend to try and do everything myself”.

  • What do you want to gain from your next job?

    This is useful because: You find out what their priorities are and why they are applying to your job. Perhaps they want to progress their career or work for a different industry.

    A negative response from the candidate would be: “My cousin works here, I think the holiday allowance is good and the pay is great”.

  • How do you approach problem solving creatively?

    This is useful because: You can gauge their technical ability. You can also ask further questions about their last project and how they used creative techniques to solve problems.

    A negative response from the candidate would be: “I tend to deal with everything myself”.

  • How do you feel you helped improve PM Processes in your last or current job?

    This is useful because: No matter how small the company, or how mainstream the projects, you should see some enthusiasm and passion from your candidate in relation to this question. Even if they don’t feel they made a significant change to the project management processes already in place, they should still be mentioning suggestions they did make. You will want to hire someone who generates ideas and speaks up about them.

Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.

There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.

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