A project manager needs tools to plan, monitor and report on the project. There are many, from simple to more complex. This question reveals first how up-to-date the candidate is regarding software and project management tools. Additionally, it provides a picture of what tools and processes they use to manage a project.
Talk about not being prepared. Who is going into a job interview with this information in their head? You don't really want an accurate answer to this question, but you do want to see how the project manager deals critically and seriously with the question. Because, during the project they will be sidelined with unexpected challenges and questions.
This is an telling project manager interview question. Some project managers are going to think you want a person who is wholly independent and pulls from an inner-reservoir. Fair enough. But more resourceful is the project manager who knows when they're over their head and asks for help from a mentor or a network of professionals.
Most people would say they would study the company's business. You must go beyond this answer to speak to specific job's key challenges or goals. You also want to assure your potential employer that current production will continue without interruption. Of course, you want to express that you would work with the team, your boss and any key influencers to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
It's easy to forget that project managers are people, too. They are hired to perform and lead a project to success, but they can suffer the same setbacks as anyone on the team. The difference between a good and great project manager is the ability to monitor oneself and respond proactively to any drop offs in performance.
This question is about discovering any lessons they learned from that project. Everything is a learning experience, and each project offers lessons from which a good project manager grows.
Where there are people, there are conflicts, and even the best projects have people problems. Good teams collaborate and trust one another. If there's a problem between two or more team members, it must be resolved quickly. But this can also apply to stakeholders, vendors, etc. A project manager is a bit of a psychologist who must know how to resolve conflicts quickly.
Every project hits a snag along the way, but not every project manager is aware of that delay until it's more pronounced or even beyond repair. The ability to monitor and track the progress of a project and tell immediately when it's not meeting the benchmarks you set in the planning phase is perhaps the most important duty of a project manager.
Employers want to be able to trust how you'll make decisions for them. While they may have internal processes to help with this, there will still be times when you'll be on your own.
Begin with an outline of your process. You might start with a general statement, such as, “I gather all the available information to me, analyze the options, and prioritize outcomes based on the project and company goals and objectives.” Then, continue with a specific example of a business-critical, decision-making situation you navigated.
Knowing that a project is not keeping to its schedule is only as important as being able to get the project back on track. Once a project manager is aware of the discrepancy between the actual progress and the planned progress, what steps do they take to get the project back on time without jeopardizing the enterprise? Any project manager worth hiring will be able to answer this with practical specifics.