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10 Project Manager Interview Questions To Help You Hire

Are you thinking about hiring a project manager?

As a small or mid-sized business owner, you’re probably trying to do it all…on a budget.

How do you make the most of your time and expertise when resources are limited but you want to…

  • Launch a new product
  • Attend a trade show
  • Host a conference

You find someone to support you.

But it’s important to find just the right fit for your needs and your budget. Here are the top ten project manager interview questions that will guide your hiring process.

10 project manager interview questions to help you find your fit

You’ve probably hired core employees for your business – sales, administration, book-keeping or accounting. Or maybe you’re still doing it all on your own…

But there’s a difference between hiring an executive assistant, for example, and hiring a project manager.

Here are ten questions that will help you hone in on someone who will manage projects outside the realm of day-to-day operations.

1. On a scale of 1 to 10, where do you rate this as a career opportunity?

If your candidate indicates that they merely see this project manager gig as a low-grade stepping stone, you probably have the wrong person sitting in front of you.

You want someone who sees their role as integral to the company. They don’t see the job as a stepping stone…they see it as part of the foundation of your business.

2. What’s the most important role of a project manager?

Your alarm bells should ring if you get an answer like, “Mostly admin tasks.”

A potential project manager should be crystal clear on their role in the company, and it shouldn’t be ‘rolling with the punches’ or ‘adapting as they go along’…

They should be task-oriented and know that their role is particular and targeted.

3. How do you spend the majority of your time in a day?

Do you want someone to launch a social media campaign or someone to get out into the marketplace and meet with customers?

If your project manager says they spend most of their time on Linkedin and you need boots on the ground, it is better to find out now.

4. What don’t you want to work on?

Of all the project manager interview questions to ask, this one will give you an indication of your candidate’s flexibility.

It’s great if they have a specific area of expertise. But if they express an unwillingness to colour outside their lines – say, work with venue managers or sponsors rather than solely focus on social media – you might want to keep looking.

5. How do you “manage up”?

If you’re going to hand over projects like planning trade shows, conferences, or new product campaigns, your project manager will be working with people in senior positions.

A great project manager will know how to “manage up” – working effectively with people who are farther up the food chain. But, will they be able to navigate interactions with people who outrank them but don’t necessarily have the skill set they possess?

6. What’s the toughest ethical decision you’ve had to make on a project?

Even if your candidate isn’t familiar with the PMI Code of Ethics, you should be able to get a sense of their moral compass when it comes to project management.

Whether it’s surrounding nepotism, conflict of interest, or transparency in their dealings, their answer should tell you how they’ll represent your business.

7. What happened when you didn’t delegate?

A good project manager must have the ability to delegate tasks…and chances are your candidate has learned that the hard way.

You don’t want a project manager who has a “faster and easier to do it all myself” mentality. That will backfire. But if your candidate is honest and confident, they’ll tell you how they learned from their mistake and how they’re going to avoid making it again.

8. What are your creative problem-solving techniques?

Does your candidate have a system for problem-solving? When asking project manager interview questions, this has to be explored.

Whether they use something systematic like the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PCDA) model or Ishakawa’s Fishbone diagram, you want a project manager who has a strategy. And it should be one that can be shared with other stakeholders. But, on the other hand, you don’t want someone who’s simply going to ‘roll with the punches’ and find solutions based on every different scenario.

9. How did you improve processes in your current role?

This question will indicate your candidate’s willingness to speak up when they see opportunities for improvement.

They may tell you about improvements they suggested that weren’t pursued or concrete examples of places where they found efficiencies that were implemented with a successful outcome.

You don’t want someone who simply finds a fault but isn’t willing to put in the work to correct it…

10. What criteria are you using to find your next job?

Were they lured by your recruitment ad, or are they just looking for a bigger salary?

If you understand what they’re seeking in their role as a project manager, you’ll better understand if they’re a fit for your company’s culture.

Whether you’re well-established or still working on getting a foothold in your marketplace, understanding what motivates your potential project manager will help you make the right choice for your business.

Ask the right questions, get the right fit

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a project manager to handle one specific project or someone permanent who will take care of the details; these interview questions will help you understand your candidate.

And, it will help them understand you and your expectations.

If you’re not ready to hire someone in-house, consider outsourcing to us. We have the expertise and resources to manage projects of all sizes and scopes.

Want to learn more? Contact us, and we’ll get a conversation going.

More to explore:

Why You Should Outsource Your Non-Profit Management
Outsourcing Project Management Is Good For Business
Avoid These 6 Common Business Mistakes And Fuel Growth

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