Project Manager Scenario-Based Interview Questions And Answers

Updated 2 June 2023

Project Managers plan projects, determine project goals, document deliverables, list work tasks, estimate costs, establish deadlines, monitor work progress and approve completed work. When hiring Project Managers, many organisations use scenario-based interview questions to determine whether the candidates have the required knowledge and skills. By understanding the questions you might get in an interview, you can plan your responses regarding how you might react in specific situations and manage the job responsibilities. In this article, we provide five Project Manager scenario-based interview questions and answers, and offer tips to help you succeed in your upcoming job interview.

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5 Project Manager Scenario-Based Interview Questions And Answers

You can use the following Project Manager scenario-based interview questions and answers for your job interview preparation:

1. Suppose you inherited a half-finished project after the former Project Manager left it unexpectedly. What steps would you take to assume control and ensure a smooth transition?

When interviewers ask this question, they want to find out how well you can handle challenging situations. In your response, you can explain how you would consider the different issues that the project entails. You can then describe the specific steps you would take to restart the project.

Example answer: In such a situation, if I cannot discuss the undertaking with the previous Project Manager, my first step would be to review the work done so far and determine items the project team is yet to accomplish. Then I would note the project-related challenges and find appropriate solutions. I may discuss the situation with the team and get their feedback about handling the existing issues. Additionally, I might reach out to the client and suppliers. I may also conduct technical, market and industry research to get current information to advance the project.

Related: Importance Of A Project Manager In An Organisation

2. You are in charge of a project that is not progressing smoothly. The issue could lie in your communication style. What would you do to improve the situation?

Recruiters often ask this question to assess the self-awareness of the candidates they interview for a Project Manager position. They may also want to test their conflict resolution skills. You can answer the question by explaining how you would adjust your communication style and make other necessary changes to help the project progress.

Example answer: Generally, I begin each project by explaining the project goals to the team, assigning tasks and outlining individual responsibilities. I try to ensure that I communicate all the details clearly and to the point. If I notice that a project is not advancing as smoothly as I had expected, the first step I typically take is to check whether there are any internal or external challenges impeding it. If there are no such problems and the team cannot handle its tasks, I arrange a group meeting or meet with each member one-on-one. I get their feedback on the matter.

I assess if there was a communication failure on my part. Perhaps I failed to explain the tasks as clearly as I ought to have, I assumed someone already knew what was expected from them or perhaps they misunderstood the instructions. After discovering where I went wrong, I make a note not to repeat the mistake the next time. I consciously readjust my communication style for better clarity, make the written documentation more precise and ensure each team member understands the project goals. I make more periodic checks and ask the team to inform me if they face further challenges.

Related: How To Write An Effective Project Manager Cover Letter

3. The company wants you to follow its regular project management methodology for a new undertaking, whereas your research shows that adopting a different strategy would benefit the project and ensure success. How would you convince the organisation that your way is the better choice?

Interviewers may ask this question to evaluate your reasoning and negotiation skills. They may expect you to show them how you can convince others to see your viewpoint and negotiate with them to take actions you deem necessary. In your answer, demonstrate how you list facts, provide an actionable plan and explain the positive outcomes of your strategy.

Example answer: To convince the company about the benefits of my strategy, I might explain the lower cost and quicker results. I would prepare a presentation comparing it with their methodology. I might list the pros and cons of each method, and let them see why my proposal may be better.

Related: What Is A Project Manager Certification? (With List)

4. You meet with clients to discuss an ongoing project and get their feedback. They are enthusiastic about the work you have done so far and offer many ideas for the project's advancement but are unable to provide you with the resources you require. What would you do?

This is a question recruiters frequently ask in scenario-based project management interviews. The interviewer usually wants to know whether you can be resourceful and manage a project well, even when you cannot access the specific materials, funds or staff you require. In your response, you can discuss the measures you would take in such a situation and how you would ensure the project does not stagnate.

Example answer: If the clients cannot provide all the resources the project requires, I would review the project plan, tasks and goals to determine how the project team can make adjustments with what supplies are available. It may be necessary to focus on meeting customer requirements regarding only the key elements of the plan. After re-evaluating the plan, I would discuss the changes with the clients and get their approval to proceed. Even though the final project may not be what they initially envisioned, my team and I would deliver excellent results.

5. The company has put you in charge of overseeing its business expansion into a new geographical market. What steps would you take to ensure the project's success?

The purpose of asking this interview question is to evaluate how you typically start and manage new projects. Mention the process you usually follow when the company assigns you a new project. Also, explain the steps you would take to ensure the project progressed smoothly towards the desired goals.

Example answer: If the company put me in charge of handling our business expansion into a new geographical market, I would first research the market in-depth and learn everything I could about its specific demands, competition, and regulations. I would get information about any permits the organisation might require and details about its target customers. I would research their incomes, age groups, social media behaviours, interests and buying habits. I would consider how the company might position its brand in this geographic market, the marketing strategies it might use to increase brand awareness and the price points that might attract buyers.

After using these considerations to create a basic action plan, I would gather a team to work on the project. Typically, I try to ensure they are familiar with the market, the local culture and the local language. If not, I ask them to do the necessary research. I discuss the project plan with them, get their feedback and incorporate their ideas. I may make further improvements to the project after meeting with the senior management and the client. I determine the project resources, budget and schedule. I assign tasks next, then the team and I begin the project.

Related: How To Improve Project Management Skills (With Tips)

Scenario-Based Interview Tips For Project Managers

The following scenario-based interview tips for Project Managers may help you make a good impression on interviewers:

List the past workplace challenges you encountered

You can prepare a list of the project management challenges you encountered in your previous jobs. Consider the steps you took to overcome these and why your actions had the desired effect. Because interviewers may want to know about the specific tasks you performed, ensure that you are aware of these yourself. Write down what did and did not work. For example, you might mention that although you could not get all the resources necessary for the project, you were able to find a less demanding strategy to advance the undertaking.

Related: 9 Project Management Types For A Project Manager

Prepare responses for several scenarios

Before the Project Manager interview, you can benefit from researching the organisation and the types of projects they typically undertake. This can give you an idea about the different scenario-based questions they might ask. It is advisable to prepare responses for several work situations so you have an answer ready for any question the recruiter asks. It can also help to practise adapting your replies to different scenarios. For example, if you prepared an answer for a case that requires you to manage a half-finished project, you can adapt it to a question about project challenges.

Related: What Is A Project Manager? (Duties And Qualification)

Use the STAR method to formulate your response

Using the STAR method you can prepare a structured response to a project management interview question by considering the situation, task, action and result. You can start by describing the project you managed, the specific tasks the undertaking required, the exact actions you took to accomplish the project's goals and the eventual outcome of the project. Interviewers prefer responses that use the STAR method as these can give them a clearer understanding of your project management style and accomplishments.

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