Be careful not to disqualify yourself by being too vocal about the types of personalities you don’t harmonise well with. When working on projects you are exposed to many stakeholders with differing personality and traits such as suppliers, clients and team members – and you’ll still be expected to deliver!
A good answer for a project manager could be:
At work I generally get on well with almost everybody. However, occasionally I’ve encountered representatives of suppliers whom are very pushy and aggressive. I always remained professional and took the personality out of the equation and focused on the project deliverable. I found that when the project started to take shape and mutual respect was built they become more amicable.
The hiring manager is looking for validation that your qualifications and experience are in demand in the current job marketplace. Do not oversell your other opportunities because the interviewee may presume you’re holding out for a better vacancy. Also, you may appear like a desperate candidate that applies for everything.
Talk in generalities and don’t mention the name of a competitor company, as this could jeopardise your credibility some adverts are confidential.
A good response could be:
I’m very selective about the vacancies I apply for – and most jobs don’t fit my criteria. I have a couple of upcoming interviewers with top tier financial firms, for privacy reasons I won’t mention their names. However, I am very excited about this opportunity in front of me.
The hiring manager is trying to find out if you’re prepared for the stresses, commitment and expectations on the horizon. Do not attempt to minimalise the upcoming challenges as you’ll come across as under prepared for dealing with adversary.
Analyse the job specification and highlight an area which seems ambitious or daunting and then welcome the challenge to conquer it.
A good answer could be:
The job description says I’ll be responsible for line managing a team of twenty staff; line management isn’t a responsibility I’ve had before so it may be challenging initially. However I feel it’ll become second-nature after I learn the company’s Code of Conduct and disciplinary procedure. Also I’m looking forward to getting involved in the recruitment process to identify new talent and then support their development and training.
The hiring manager wants to know the approach you took to find the vacancy. If a current or ex-employee told you about the position avoid mentioning their name, because they may have left the company on bad terms. Also the hiring manager may feel pressured into consider you over better candidates.
Find a publication which the company has featured in, and base your answer around that.
For a project manager role in the automotive industry a good answer could be:
I’ve always had a passion for emerging technologies and I’m subscribed to many automotive journals. In last month’s addition there was a story about a driverless car developed by your company. Further research into the technology lead me to your website where I came across the open vacancy.
In this question the interviewer wants to know if you’re committed enough to roll-up your sleeves and get stuck-in with your team during exceptional circumstances.
Give a specific example where you went above and beyond to rescue a project by supporting your team’s activities.
A good answer could be:
At my last job I was a manager of a team of software developers. Our biggest client requested a demonstration of the product but the application was still incomplete; and our director requested that my team works overnight to meet the deadline.
As their manager I feel no task is beneath me, so I stayed behind too and assisted with the coding. We didn’t get any sleep but it was worth it as the client loved the finish product.
There are numerous project management applications in the marketplace and the hiring manager is trying to find out whether you are competent using at least one.
Try to demonstrate an awareness of the alternative applications, and an eagerness to learn how to use it, if necessary.
A good answer could be:
I am very familiar with Microsoft Project and its advanced features. I understand that in the software development industry JIRA is preferred because it combines project management with bug tracking; and there is also a movement towards BASECAMP because it allows the teams to collaborate.
I am open to undergo further training to learn an alternative project management application and I am confident that my experience in Microsoft Project will help me to pick it up quickly
The hiring manager wants to know the largest and most significant project you’ve delivered successfully.
Avoid personal accomplishments, as a last resort use a notable educational achievement like completing a Masters or PhD. But a work related answer is best.
Take time and think back over your career, and give an example of a specific significant project which had a positive and impactful outcome.
A good answer for a Project Manager position could be:
At my last job I simultaneously undertook three projects across the continents of Europe, Asia and America. Despite the geographical challenges the projects were a success and our revenue has since increased 150% since last year. Because of this accomplishment I was offered a position sitting on the board of directors.
The hiring manager wants know if you’re dynamic enough to work both in a team and alone.
It’s a mistake to exaggerate one preference over the other. If your answer leans too heavily on working alone the hiring manager may become concerned that you won’t get along with your colleagues. Lean too heavily on teamwork and you may come across as too reliant on others to get things done.
Answer with balance, emphasise your adaptability to exercise both your interpersonal skills and discipline for solitary depending on the given task.
A good answer for a project manager position could be:
On my last project it was typical for me to write the project mandate document in isolation. However the draft document was peer reviewed by the wider team and myself.
The interviewer is checking to see that it’s not because you are unemployable. The best way to answer this question is to be truthful. Whether it’s a career break to raise children or looking after a sick relative, travelling the world or you returned to university, answer with honesty. Practice a short-concise response without over indulging personal issues which could derail the interview.
A good answer could be:
I returned to university to complete my Master’s degree in Project Management and I passed with a distinction. It’s something I been wanted to accomplish for a while. Now that the course is complete I am focused on my career; refreshed and eager to put my knowledge into practice.
Avoid an answer that involves money, an exception is sales where a key motivating factor could be exceeding sales targets and getting commissions.
Analyse the job description for keywords and tell a story around it. For example the job description for a project manager vacancy may require experience dealing with suppliers.
A good answer could be as follows:
I am motivated by the recognition I get from my stakeholders whenever I successfully deliver. In my last position I was involved in the procurement process to select a supplier to develop a software application. The quotes were out of budget, but this only motivated me to persevere until I found a supplier in Bulgaria whom who met our requirements. The project was a success and my managing Director congratulated me on successfully brokering the deal.