Hiring is hard. Hiring a talented and organized PM who is also the perfect fit for your team is even harder.
With some solid interview preparation and the right Project Manager interview questions, you’ll be able to hire a Project Manager that’s a match made in heaven for your business. 🤝
Read on to see the questions and what to listen out for in your candidates’ answers.
Top 5 must-ask Project Manager interview questions:
Here are the top five must-ask interview questions for Project Managers you can rely on to really get to know your candidates and hire the best fit for your growing team.
<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">💡 Remember: A job interview is a two-way street—as much as you need to get to know the candidate to make a hiring decision, your candidate is also interviewing you about your company. Be ready to answer candidate questions and share helpful information that’d get them excited about working at your company.</p></div>
📣 30 remote interview questions to ask when hiring remotely
The interview is a time for you to look beyond what’s listed on a Project Manager candidate’s CV. Dig into where they worked last, what they’ve been responsible for in previous roles and how their career and tasks have progressed in those roles over time.
Listen for: A chronological summary of past experiences that are relevant to the PM role you’re hiring for. A strong candidate should be able to relate their previous work experience to your open role.
Dealing with challenges and unexpected complications is completely normal (and expected!) in project management. What matters the most is how your potential hire handles these situations and the lessons they take from the experience so they can improve in the future.
Listen for: A clear explanation of the challenging situation, the action they took and the result. A compelling response would include an explanation of how they reworked their processes to account for similar, future project hurdles.
Project Managers are professional taskmasters—they organize and execute projects within tight constraints of a budget and schedule. Their task prioritization skills (the ability to decide what needs to be done now vs. what needs to be done later based on urgency and importance) is key to their success. And at the end of the day, their success = your team’s success.
Listen for: A hypothetical example or a real-life example of how the candidate has done this in the past. They should mention how they consider stakeholders or other team members on a project, deadlines or the critical path method when faced with competing priorities.
📣 Want to know how to grow your remote team? Read our complete Guide to Remote Hiring
A strong process is the key to a successful project. Project Managers need to have the skills and commitment to see a project through to the end. Not only that—they should also understand the importance of following a process and be able to improve that process over time.
Listen for: The STAR method in their response:
The most organized PMs are more efficient and more productive. It’s an important soft skill to have when managing a ton of projects at a time. You want to understand how candidates use their time and energy in the workplace.
Listen for: Methods and strategies your potential hire turns to to stay on track. This might include setting priorities, delegating work to team members, using tools and automation, setting a deadline, defining scope and reviewing progress.
This Project Manager interview question gives your candidate the chance to really show off what they’re most proud of and why they think you’d be impressed. It also gives you another chance to get a better understanding of their PM background.
Listen for: Measurable outcomes and the candidate’s own role in the project so you can get the most complete idea of what they were responsible for in bringing the project to life.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, scope creep is when the overall scope of a project is not clearly defined, controlled or documented. It’s a big no-no in the project management world and can lead a project off the rails. Your candidate is most likely familiar with this common struggle so this is a good opportunity to hear how they would avoid a possible scope creep on your team.
Listen for: Signs that the candidate can identify and handle scope creep. See what steps they would take to steer clear of scope creep creeping up in a future role. 🧟
You should know what types of project management tools your candidate has experience with. There may or may not be overlap with what your team uses. Regardless, this question gives you an idea of their technical skills and abilities.
Listen for: Mention of typical project management tools and software, including how the candidate has used them to do their job in the past. This could include collaboration tools like Asana, Trello or ResourceGuru.
This behavioral question is not about asking your candidate to brag. It’s about getting the candidate to explain, in their own opinion, what makes them stand out from all the other candidates you’ve spoken to, based on this accomplishment.
Listen for: A sense of pride and any indication that they might have the same feeling again as part of your team. You want to make sure the skills they developed from their previous work experience are transferrable.
Hard skills aren’t everything. You need a PM that has the soft skills to manage a successful team. This question gets to the heart of how they manage a team of people and how previous team members perceived them.
Listen for: Mention that they give clear direction, constructive feedback and support when needed. They should also mention the importance of doing regular check-ins with the team members they directly manage.
Strong team collaboration boosts morale, it improves productivity, builds healthy relationships and it helps ensure everything runs smoothly in your workplace. Win-win-win-win!
Listen for: Kickoff meetings, relationship building, considering communication styles and realistic goal-setting.
This question helps you better understand what motivates your candidate and what type of work they enjoy the most. When your team members are engaged and happy at work, they’re more likely to do their best work. You’ll want to make sure the PM role you’re hiring for would be the best fit for your candidate.
Listen for: Similarities between what you can offer the candidate and what they most enjoy doing in their job.
Planning 👏 is 👏 everything. This question helps you understand how organized a candidate is and how they build a strong foundation for their project to get it to the finish line.
Listen for: Mention of project phases and the project lifecycle. A PM candidate may also mention a certain methodology in response to this interview question.
No project is free of a budget or a timeline. That’s why it’s important that your potential hire has the skills and prowess necessary to handle the constraints of a budget and deadline.
Listen for: An answer that includes setting realistic goals, focusing on one task at a time, having an accountability partner and regularly reviewing progress of each project element.
It’s important to get an understanding of your candidate’s experience with and knowledge of common PM methodologies. This Project Manager interview question helps you dig into that and learn more about their experience with each approach.
Listen for: The practices, techniques, procedures and rules the candidate has followed in their PM career.
When a project doesn’t go as planned (it happens!), you benefit from having a PM that can get things back on track. That includes delegating to their team and being crystal clear with what’s expected of them.
Listen for: How the candidate would help to turn the project around, including dealing with the cause of the issue and re-adjusting resources to help get back on schedule.
This Project Manager interview question helps you understand how your potential hire deals with internal team conflict and how they work with their teammates to come to a resolution.
Listen for: The importance of listening, considering both perspectives, maintaining team unity and prioritizing the goals of the project.
Constructive criticism and feedback are part of the job—particularly when so much about marketing is subjective. That means your Marketing Manager should be able to accept feedback, respond in a professional way and make adjustments from there.
Ask this question to uncover how self-aware your potential hire is, particularly when it comes to their communication style. You’ll want to know how they best communicate and how they prefer their team members communicate with them.
Listen for: A sense of self-awareness, including the pros and cons of how the candidate communicates and how they like to be communicated with.
Cross-functional projects are a given, especially with stakeholders, customers, sponsors and other internal team members. That’s why this question is a must-ask to give you insight into their cross-functional experience and how they work at staying aligned with all of the team members involved in a project.
Listen for: If they ask for help when they need it, if they ask for feedback throughout the project and if they give directions clearly.
Goal-setting is important for a PM because it helps motivate team members and it allows them to track how a project is progressing.
Listen for: Mention of SMART goals and setting individual goals on the team. It’s important to remember that not all goals have to be quantitative (for example, increasing revenue)—it’s also helpful for PMs to set more qualitative goals. An example might be a goal to improve overall efficiency.
Who doesn’t have their fair share of struggles at work? This is a great, transparent question to ask a potential hire to get insight into what they believe they struggle with and how they are working on improving.
Listen for: Pretty much anything goes here! Try not to jump to quick conclusions when you hear this answer. Have an open mind and ask fair follow-up questions to dig into their answer.
Work isn’t everything in life and your new team member needs to be able to quit Slack and turn off their computer at the end of each day. (This can be a real challenge for remote teams.) You’ll want to get a sense of how your potential hire manages the stress of work and how they shut off at the end of the day so they can enjoy their time off, recharge and get ready for the next workday.
Listen for: Logging out of message applications like Slack and email, snoozing notifications and putting value on getting time to themselves at the end of every day.
Working non-stop is a recipe for disaster. It’s important that your PM values their downtime and their personal life. This question helps you get to know your candidate better and it also gives you insight into how they manage work/life balance to avoid the infamous burnout.
Listen for: The importance they put on spending time with family and friends, taking ample holiday time throughout the year, not working on the weekends, etc. You get the idea.
This question is all about learning more about your potential hire and who they are outside of the confines of a professional office setting. They may tell you something surprising and you may also have shared interests. Have fun with this one!
Who says you can’t have a hiring process even a Project Manager would be envious of?
With Homerun, you can organize and streamline your entire hiring workflow, and most importantly, make a good impression with PM candidates.
Once you’ve gathered your candidate short-list, you can involve the rest of your team in the hiring process: share feedback on the candidates, get a clear visual of the hiring workflow, email candidates, invite them to final interviews and keep everything related to the hiring process organized in one place.
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