Over the past 7 years, I’ve hired more than 70 digital project managers and interviewed hundreds of project manager candidates. I’ve made loads of great hires (thanks team!) and probably more than my fair share of bad hires too.
I'm lifting the lid on the process to help all you job hunters out there in your next project manager interview. I'll explore some project manager interview questions and answers to help you prepare and give yourself the best chance to land that new gig.
51 Common Interview Questions For Project Managers
I've split this section up into different categories of questions you might be asked, and how to prepare for each category of question.
Interview Questions About Motivation
- Why are we talking? Why are you leaving your current role?
- How did you get into project management? Why digital?
- What do you enjoy about being a digital project manager?
- What don’t you enjoy about being a digital project manager?
- What are you looking to achieve in your next role?
- What’s your long-term plan? Where are you going to be in 5 years?
How to answer: Sell your story and show that you’re cultivating your interest in digital project management.
Even if money is the primary motivator for moving on, think about some more valid reasons: that you’re looking to take on more responsibility, looking for specific experience or a different type of work, or a new challenge.
Interview Questions About Ethics & Chemistry
- Tell me about yourself. What would you like me to know about you? What’s unique about you?
- What was your most important contribution to your last team, your last project, and your last employer?
- How will you improve the agency or business?
- How would you deal with a situation where your project is running behind because the resource you’ve booked is being used by another urgent project?
- How do you like to manage a team? How do you motivate them?
- How do you manage a project that’s under-resourced?
- What would you do in a scenario where you’ve estimated for a project, and you’re told you need to cut the costs?
- What was your biggest mistake? What did you learn from this? How did you make sure it wouldn’t happen again?
- What's your approach to conflict resolution?
How to answer: Don’t be afraid to pause for a moment to think about a good response. When you’re given scenario questions, try and provide a range of solutions to overcome a problem, and if you need clarification, ask for it!
Where you’re given an impossible scenario, don’t be afraid to be confident in knowing that you can’t have it all. Costs, timings, or project scope have to change sometimes!
Interview Questions About Digital Passion
- What the coolest digital thing you’ve seen recently?
- What are people talking about in the world of SEO/Analytics/UX/Coding/Design?
- What was the last bit of tech you bought? What’s good about it? What would you change?
- What is your favorite app? Tell me what you would change about this app.
- How do you personally make sure that you continuously improve?
- What’s your approach to learning and sharing knowledge?
How to answer: Make sure you do some reading. If you’re good at your job you’ll be doing it anyway, but be clear that demonstrating some passion for the industry that you’re trying to work in is important.
This is also an opportunity to talk about any side projects you might have, or volunteer work you do that demonstrate you’re not just a 9 to 5 kind of person.
Interview Questions About Working Style & Character
- What makes a good project manager? What makes you a good project manager?
- How would your co-workers or subordinates describe you professionally?
- How would you describe your approach to managing projects? How do you manage people and projects?
- What is your management style? What is your communication style?
- How do you deal with underperforming team members?
- How do you deal with people who aren’t working fast enough, or the quality of their work isn’t good enough?
- What type of performance problems have you encountered in people who report to you, and how did you motivate them to improve?
- How do you manage to keep your documentation up to date throughout a project?
- What gets you stressed out on a project?
How to answer: Make sure the interviewer has every confidence in your care, thoroughness, level-headedness, and attention to detail.
Offer to show specific examples of your work and documentation, or better still, bring it with you to inspire confidence that you know the detail of what you’re presenting.
When asked questions about working with tricky people or stressful situations, focus on the solution that you came to, anticipating issues, being proactive, and escalating early, rather than just berating people or blaming it on other people.
Interview Questions About Project Management Experience
- Talk me through your experience and the types of projects you’ve managed.
- Describe a typical day as a digital project manager.
- What digital project management tools do you like to use?
- Describe your dream project process or way of working from start to finish.
- Talk me through the most complex budget, timeline and project you’ve managed. What budget management and time management strategies did you use?
- Talk me through the documentation you use in a project. How did you manage it?
- What types of projects have you worked on in the last year that you enjoyed? Why did you enjoy them?
- What kind of projects don’t you like? What gets you stressed out?
- Give me an example of a project that went well. Why was it a successful project?
- Give me an example of a project that didn’t go well. Why didn’t it go well? What did you do to get it back on track?
- How do you create the right conditions for project delivery?
- What does leadership mean to you? What’s your leadership style? How do you demonstrate leadership skills in managing and motivating your teams?
- How do you manage risk?
- What are your weaknesses? What digital project manager skills do you need to improve?
- What project management software and tools have you worked with?
How to answer: Provide plenty of detail here. What was the budget? What were the timelines? What were the deliverables? How big was the project team?
You might be asked for sample documentation or to do a competency assessment in the form of a statement of work exercise, for example. The interviewer is trying to assess your ability to pull together a plan for a project, create basic project documentation, and they might use this in a follow-up interview to ask questions on their approach.
Also, be very careful with what you put on your CV in terms of past experience! It’s important to be able to talk in depth about projects you’ve claimed to have delivered, and be totally comfortable with the detail: knowing what language it was written in, the history of a project, the challenges you came up against, and how you overcame them.
Make sure you’ve got good examples of project success and failures, as well as challenging projects. The valuable thing is the awareness of why they went wrong, and what you’d do differently next time.
When talking through your experience, if it is broad, make sure you let the hiring manager know that, and also be clear about what you enjoy doing; you don’t want to be offered a job for work you don’t really enjoy.
Other Potential Interview Questions
- What startup would you work on if I gave you money to do so? If money wasn’t a factor, what job would you do all day?
- What did you do over the weekend?
- What haven’t I asked you about, that you wished I had?
- Anything you’ve said that you wished you hadn’t?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Questions for me?
How to answer: Showing the recruiter what you're interested in outside of work is important, but don’t let your guard down too far. While you might just be ‘chatting,’ you’re still in a job interview. Be professional. Avoid stories about drunken craziness where you ended up in the clink.
How To Prepare For Your Project Manager Interview
To get you started, we made a video that goes over the project manager screening, hiring, and interviewing process. We ask a handful of common PM interview questions and explain how we’d answer them, and why.
Here's a handful of other tips I'd recommend when it comes to preparing for your project manager interview.
- Do a deep dive on the company: What products or services do they offer? How does the role you're applying for fit into the organization? What are the company's values? What is the working environment and company culture like?
- Practice with a friend: Play out a mock interview with a friend or family member. This can help reduce your stress, and get you used to not knowing what question is coming next, so you're prepared for the real thing.
- Show off a bit: This is your time to really sell yourself and the value you'll bring to the role. Don't be shy about talking up your accomplishments. The interviewer wants to hear about how you came in 20% under budget on that website project, or how impressed a particular client or stakeholder with your marketing campaign.
- Ask good questions: Asking proper questions at the end of the interview shows your interest and offers you a chance to make sure the project manager position is a fit for you. Here's a few ideas: What does a successful project manager look like in this role? What metrics will be used to determine success? What do you enjoy most about working for this company? What does a typical day in this role look like?
FAQs About Project Management
Here's a few frequently asked questions about project management. If you're relatively new to the field and you're on the hunt for your first job, start here, or find out more about how to get your first job in project management.
What are key skills for project managers?
Project managers need a combination of soft skills, hard skills, and traits to be good at the job.
You're well-suited to a project management role if you're organized, have excellent communication skills, and a strong critical thinker. It's also worth considering whether you're detail-oriented, good at working on a team, have excellent at problem-solving skills, and have strong decision-making and prioritization skills.
These are usually inherent qualities that project managers just tend to have, but you can improve upon them through practice.
When it comes to hard skills (which are easy to learn, to some degree), you'll need to have abilities in process management, documentation, project planning and initiation, tracking dependencies and milestones, task management, and risk management.
Project management certifications are good ways to learn these hard skills, and they're also great for getting familiar with the project life cycle and specific project management methodologies like Scrum, agile, or waterfall, as well as tools as techniques like Gantt charts and work breakdown structures.
Find more project management skills here.
What do project manager salaries look like?
Project management salaries can vary widely according to your industry, experience level, and location.
In a recent study, we found that the average project manager salary in 2023 in the United States is $100,459. Averages in Canada and the United Kingdom were $99,395 CAD and £44,444, respectively.
See the full results of our project manager salary survey here.
What's the difference between project managers & project coordinators?
Project coordinators are more of an entry-level position compared to project managers. While the project manager is the one leading kickoffs, conducting risk assessments, and checking in with the team on a regular basis, the project coordinator acts in more of a support role.
This includes tasks like updating documentation, sending out meeting invites, and other internal comms.
What do you think?
What do you think? What have you been asked in project manager interviews? I’d love to hear if you’ve got any thoughts on great questions for digital project manager interviews. Join the conversation below and let us know what you’re thinking!