Randstad Technologies has 35 years of experience recruiting for the IT sector, matching the right candidate with the best IT role. Part of the IT management job hunting process calls on the candidate to perform well at the interview stage.

In order to help candidates throughout the preparation process, we gathered 30 commonly asked interview questions and answers for project manager candidates and 10 questions you should ask the employer. 

Personal IT project manager interview questions and answers.

1. Describe yourself in a few words.  

The interviewer is only really interested in hearing what might be relevant to the job. Restrict yourself to a few words about your qualifications, a few remarks about previous jobs and a comment about your plans for the future.

2. Describe a milestone.

A milestone is a stage in the project where a significant objective has been achieved. They are a measure of progress. Here you should give an example or two of stressful work situations you have encountered in the past. Describe why they were stressful and how you overcame them. You could also include a word about how you personally deal with stress.

3. What was your greatest success as a project manager?

Describe the project or aspect of a project that you consider was the most successful and explain your reasons. If you can tie this back to examples of activities/requirements given in the job description then that could score bonus points.

4. What was your biggest failure as a project manager?

Do not be afraid to mention a failure. You should, however, give your answer a positive spin – describe the cause of the failure, but stress what you learned from it and how it has made you a better manager.

5. What do you think are your greatest strengths?

Describe what you believe are your key strengths (good motivator, good problem solver, strong under pressure etc) and give examples of how you used these strengths in previous projects.

6. What are your weaknesses?

No one is perfect. State where you think your weaknesses might lay but focus on what steps you are taking to overcome them.

7. Why should we hire you?

Make sure that you align your answer to the company and the job and focus on the benefits you can bring. Answers could include statements like I have the skills and abilities to get the job done; I am an excellent team leader and team player; and, I will always go the extra mile.

If you're heading to an interview soon check out our IT recruiter's top preparation tip below: 

Project manager related interview questions and answers.

1. What are the essential qualities of a project manager?

Good leadership skills and the ability to empower and motivate all the members of the team. A project manager should also be knowledgeable in his/her field, a good problem solver and calm under pressure.

2. Give your definition of a project.

A project is a task, or group of tasks, outside the routine that must be carried out in order to achieve a specific objective. It could be something like designing a new software system or implementing new protocols.

3. Can you describe a project charter?

A project charter details the project requirements and desired outcomes. It must be authorised before the project can be started.

4. What do you understand by project life cycle?

Project lifecycle describes the separate phases of a project. These are:

  • Initiation – the reason for the project and its purpose.
  • Planning – defining team skills, required actions, and timelines.
  • Development– teambuilding, establish budgets etc.
  • Implementation – taking the steps necessary to complete the project and presenting it to the client for approval.
  • Closure – Final delivery to the client and a review of the project to evaluate its success and any lessons learned.     

5. Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law?

Yes. It states that “Work expands so as fill the time available for its completion.”

6. What do you consider to be the most difficult aspect of project management?

Use your own experience. But you could identify motivating staff when circumstances are difficult, or dealing with clients who have totally unrealistic expectations.

7. What projects have you handled before?

Describe previous projects on which you have been engaged and be prepared to provide evidence of your participation. Emphasise your successes and how they benefited tour employer.

8. How would those you have worked with previously describe you?

Be positive. Say that they would describe you as knowledgeable, dedicated, a good team member and other similar attributes.

9. What is meant by quality standards in software projects?

Companies and the software they use and develop vary widely, so standards are necessary as a guide to quality Software is classified on the ISO scale according to aspects such as reliability and functionality. Companies are graded on the CMM scale, which basically describes their level of software organisation and processes.

10. Explain in simple terms what is meant by a CMM Level 1 company.

CMM stand for Capability Maturity Model. It is a way to develop and refine a company’s processes. There are five levels and Level1 is the lowest. It describes companies where processes are on an ad hoc basis, are not defined and depend on individual efforts to succeed.

11. What is a stakeholder?

A stakeholder is an organisation, entity or individual that has in interest in or is affected by the project. You should elaborate on your answer by giving examples.

12. How would you motivate your team?

This is intended to examine your management style. Describe your motivation techniques and give examples of where they have been effective.

13. How would you deal with a team member who is not performing?

Here you are being asked about your management and motivational methods. You will need to describe how you would establish why the team member is not performing well and what remedial action you would take. Draw on previous experience, if you have encountered the problem before.

14. What project management software systems do you use?

Simply mention the software you most commonly employ but also refer to other systems to demonstrate your knowledge and that you are abreast of the latest developments.

15. How would you close a project?

Some project many fail to finish projects or close them properly. Describe the end stages of a project that you have completed, including details of evaluation and feedback from stakeholders.

16. How would you close a project?

Some project many fail to finish projects or close them properly. Describe the end stages of a project that you have completed, including details of evaluation and feedback from stakeholders.

17. As a leader, do you think it is better to be feared or loved?

This is always a difficult question. The best answer is to say that you would prefer to be respected.

18. How would you resolve a situation if two key stakeholders hold diametrically opposed views?

Explain how you would achieve consensus while keeping the project on track.

19. What do you think are the main causes of project failure?

Projects fail for many reasons including:

  • Unrealistic expectations.
  • The project addressed the wrong business requirements.
  • Poor governance.
  • Poor implementation. 
  • Loss of focus on project benefits.

20. Briefly, describe EVM.

EVM stands for Earned Value Management and is a technique for measuring the performance and progress of a project.

21. What is the difference between effort variance and schedule variance?

Effort variance is the difference between planned effort and actual effort expended while schedule variance refers to the difference between planned milestone dates and the dates they are actually achieved.

At the end of the interview, employers will usually ask if you have any questions. These are among the questions that you should ask.

  • What particular qualities are you looking for in a project manager?
  • Does your company have a Project Management Office?
  • Where does your company expect to be in, say, five years?
  • What projects does the company have in the offing?
  • What problems is your company experiencing at the moment?
  • What will be the most important contribution I can make in the first three months of my employment?
  • What criteria does your company use to evaluate staff in their annual review?
  • What are your company’s main goals and how will my role contribute to them?
  • How will I be able to make myself indispensable to the company?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement in your company?