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What questions to ask when hiring a project manager?

Posted last April 28, 2017, 8:05 am in Services report article

What is project management? Project management is the process of planning, initiating, controlling and executing work with the help of a team to achieve the required results or fulfill a criteria.

Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria. All this is done by a person who we all know as project manager.

A project manager’s role is a difficult one. With so many responsibilities and expectations to meet in limited resources is not a cut of job for everyone. It is therefore, finding a project manager who is as unique as your project is a tedious task. To ease project owners in hiring the best-man for the project management responsibilities, here is a list of questions that you must ask in the interview:

How would you bring a conflicted team to harmony?

Management of the team members’ fall among the core responsibilities of a project manager. When more than one brain combines on a project scenario, it not only brings more ideas but conflicts too. Some conflicts are even healthy, but keeping a blind eye over others can results in detrimental outcomes. Avoiding such conflicts can exaggerate underling issues and can wreak havoc in the completion process down the line.

An ideal project manager understands fully that every conflict is unique, therefore the tactic to tackle it requires to be one of its kind as well. Resolving conflict with the same solution is an approach that has been widely criticized and lack the idea of team management, particularly in high stress situations. The probable answer from an appropriate candidate will be creation of a situation that fits the requirements of every member of the team, hence bringing them all to a serene conclusion.

What were the results of the project you last accomplished?

Although this question may seem like asking about the results of the projects the candidate accomplished, but in reality the question points to some key areas of project accomplishment and how were they achieved. The candidate is required to evaluate the entire process and determines what factors led to a successful completion of the project while at the same time pointing towards the methods he/she applied that lead him/her to the desired results. Those methods could be anything from training of the team members to the scope of work or online task management to resource acquisition and allocation.

In case the project didn’t end as plan, then the areas need to be highlighted that according the candidate became the reasons for the failure. Any candidate that has the ability to assess and recognize the reasons behind the success or failure of a project is the right candidate for you to pick, keeping other factors constant.

How do you prioritize tasks when there are multiple in the line and of same importance?

With all the complex details and parts that goes into a project, it’s common for project managers to get stressed and clogged down. A strong project manager contain in him strong abilities to break the barrier by prioritizing tasks, even if all of them are of prime importance.

Now here is the catch. There has to be one task among many that can be delayed to let the others complete. Resource allocation for that matter is a tough call that usually creates a difficult situation at project sites. An ideal candidate should successfully de-tangle a troubling similar situation with his planned hierarchy of actions and follow through all the tasks.

How do you plan to keep the support of sponsors intact?

Project creation is an expensive game, and requires external support n form of sponsors. Each of them posing a unique requirement to the project that needs to be successfully fulfilled. Building and maintaining support for your project is imperative and must not be compromised at any all costs. The responsibility of any project manager is to keep the interest of the sponsor intact in the project, by keeping them informed about the progress and more. A viable candidate for the project manager’s position must depict qualities to effectively engage the sponsor and keep their interest alive throughout.

What will your stance be in tackling an under performer?

One of the many hats that a project manager wear is of a coach. He/she is responsible for not only the appropriate acquisition but allocation of the resources and to attain maximum output from them. If any one of the team member is under performing then it’s the project manager’s job to find the reason for below the mark performance. Replacing that team member is not even an option, but to carefully looking for questions and answering them is the job that needs to be done.

What is the best communication style that a PM should possess?

A project manager should always be a strong communicator. There is not a single ideal style of communication that I could vouch for, but any project manager should be well aware of the style he/she must acquire to instill effectiveness in his communication. Ask the candidate to categorize his/her style of communication and if he/she is well equipped to mend it if required?

Monitoring of the team’s performance?

Being a project manager requires the candidate to have hands-on ability to keep a strict check and balance to ensure optimum performance of the team mates. Keeping a check on the team’s performance avoid conflicts and swift restructurings at most times and delay the time frame of long meetings as well. The time that is saved can be utilized in other productive activities like that of trainings that facilitate learning and development of the team for better productivity. Find a project manager who can keep the team focused on a task-by-task basis and continually re-affirm the project's main objectives.

Work experience?

Probably a very usual of the questions that were asked in every interview. Asking the candidate about his previous work experiences allow the interviewer to effectively assess the skill set the candidate possess and even if he/she is fit for the role? Always ask for specific roles the candidate has fulfilled in case he has worked within a team. Generic roles might seem adequate at first but might lack the efficacy that is required at certain level of project development.


So these were the basic set of question that needs to be asked with every candidate that you interview for the role of a project manager. The questions might vary with the kind of project that needs to be supervised. I leave the selection of the question on the interviewer's’ discretion here.