- Sajid Ajmal
- September 16, 2020
Best Project Manager Interview Questions and Answers
Project Management is known as an old profession, but, in the modern world, there has been an on-going debate the significance has altered. On the one hand, people argue that it’s more of a methodological and chronological group of activities. Whereas on the other hand, it is defined as a proper discipline or a business practice that is widely implemented in the modern world of business. Regardless of how people perceive it, Project Management is undoubtedly a vital aspect of business management across all industries across the globe. With the abrupt growth information technology and digitization, this field has kept up the pace and evolved accordingly.
Talking about technological advancements, the 21st century is a continuous challenge for professionals and organizations alike to change, adapt, and increase. The traditional job roles and methods are changing, and such is the case with project management. In recent years, the trend has altered and we’ve noticed an increasing demand for skilled project management professionals. Instead of “I-shaped” professionals with less broad skills, “T-shaped” professionals demand a wide array of skills and expertise. Apart from just project management, organizations look for professionals who can demonstrate more comprehensive skills in business management, strategic management, and leadership.
In today’s world, project managers are expected to be skillful while dealing with the tactical and strategic aspects of the project across its wide spectrum. In a continually developing and digital world, the scope of project management is evolving accordingly. The increased demand for skilled project management professionals is a vivid indication that this profession holds a bright future. If you plan to kickstart your career, a PMP Certification would be ideal for kickstarting or boosting your career.
What is a Project?
A project is defined as a unique and transient set of jobs performed to achieve planned objectives. The objectives of a project are limited in terms of required output or profits. The success of a completed project is determined by attaining desired goals that are set according to budget and timescale. The building blocks of every project are:
What is Project Management?
As defined by Dr. Martin Barnes, APM President 2003-2012, project management is: “At its most fundamental, project management is about people getting things done.”
In broader terms, the definition of project management is the application of procedures, skills, knowledge, and experience to achieve specific objectives as per project criteria within defined limitations. Project management has defined deliverables that are controlled, keeping n view a fixed timescale and budget.
Process of Project Management
Modern-day project management focuses on exclusive projects. Keeping in view the uniqueness of desired results, modern project management implementation requires more flexible procedures along with highly specialized human resources.
Typically, projects are carried out in stages. Certain project management processes commonly run through these stages. The key project management processes are:
- Phase management
- Team management
Phases of Project Management
Projects are not as simple as a mere routine activity. Projects, regardless of their scope, have multiple running parts. To execute a project successfully, numerous things need to be coordinated and tracked to move from Point A to Point B. To keep things distinct and simple, projects are further broken down into smaller and relatively focused portions, known as project phases. The benefit of project phases is that they allow you to manage huge and time-consuming workflow and organize it to make progress effectively and accordingly. The phases are as under:
- Conception and Initiation
- Monitoring and Control
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Project Management Jobs and Average Salaries
A project manager’s job is considered highly demanding and complex. That is why project managers often get lucrative pay scales and esteemed positions in organizations around the world. This particular job role requires attention to detail, planning skills, foresightedness, PM tools, and specific project management skills.
The average salary range for project managers is around $90,000. Depending on the organization, this figure can vary accordingly concerning the industry’s sector, level of education, and experience of a professional. According to the data collaborated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, project manager salaries range from $74,000 to $100,000.
In a nutshell, project management is a growing field with a huge potential as the world does not seem to stop developing in the coming years or forever.
Experienced project managers are highly demanded in the job market; however, to excel and succeed, professionals need to enhance their knowledge with the latest skills and relevant certifications.
Project Manager Review Question Answers
1. How did you get into project management?
After completing my engineering academics, my whole practical experience revolved around the execution of infrastructure construction projects. From day one of my professional experience, I was keen to grab skills in project management, project planning, and control to deliver my assignments successfully and gracefully.
During my job, I always felt that there existed loopholes in the project management system of the company, which is why I suggested several improvements based on my experience. However, those observations were not considered by the management with a plea that I was not a certified project manager. I had heard a proverb, “You cannot change the system without becoming a part of it.” This thing triggered my ambition. I became a Primavera expert after having its certification. I served initially as a Planning Engineer leading to my certification preparation of project management professional and being an active projects & operations manager for a while.
2. If you had to rate the job of project manager on a scale of 1-10, with ten being the highest, how would you rate it?
Project management is my passion; I would rate this Job as 9 out of 10. I find it tempting when you are one of those who plan to achieve the objective by managing financial and human resources, keeping an eye on the time constraints to ensure effective completion of the project. Moreover, beyond 9, one should seek to gain skills in Program Management, which is the next level of more than one project of the same or different natures under the single umbrella of one Program Manager.
3. Briefly explain the reason for your rating. What do you enjoy most, and what do you like least about being a project manager?
I have already elaborated on my rating as in the above answer. I enjoy managing stakeholder engagement. I also love to perform integrated change control while remaining within the agreed business benefits.
However, in light of my experience, the management is always reluctant to spend sufficient time planning. It focuses on the groundbreaking, execution, and completion, which is quite a wrong approach as planning is the strongest pillar of project execution. It results in cost escalation, multiple revisions, bypassing the approving forums, wastage of resources, thus delaying the project. It is the reason I like least the unnecessary influential interference of any program manager into my scope of project works and responsibilities.
4) Did you have any training or experiences that qualified you to be a project manager? Are you certified, or have you thought about getting PMP certified?
As explained in the 1st question, I was keen enough to keep an eye on how the projects are initiated, executed, and completed. I always felt a considerable quality lapse as the project managers hide many facts from the management because their jobs are at risk. I, myself, being a straightforward person, expect clarity in everything, which is why I opted to go for a professional degree in project management. Moreover, I got PMP certified from PMI USA after completing my PDUs. I am an active PMI member.
5) What do you feel is the most important thing you do as a project manager? On what task do you spend the most time each day?
In my way of implementing Project management skills, I usually focus on these following knowledge areas:
- Planning: Defining Scope and Collect Requirements
- Execution: Manage Project Knowledge & Implement Risk responses
- Monitoring & Control: Perform integrated change control, control cost & monitor stakeholder engagement
- Risk Management: Carry out the risk management to avoid any possible risks and advise the solution to counter the risks
6) What are some of the opportunities and risks you have encountered on projects? Please describe any notable successes and failures and what you have learned from them.
While I was working on a prestigious project for the installation of a wind power plant, I submitted EOT (Extension of Time) three times of the project of 6 months but ultimately completed it in 14 months. Delay causes were; substandard submission of engineering design, wrong estimation, procurement of goods by the contractor and late release from the port for imported items, Dollar escalation, and late issuance for construction drawings from the consultant.
I had prepared and submitted the EOT documents three times on that project and got approved all the time. The key to getting it approved as an efficient way of keeping daily project log registers to our records, which were mutually signed by the Consultants and us on a daily basis.
7) What are some of the tools, software or otherwise, that you use, and what is your opinion of those tools?
I use Primavera P6 V8.2 & MS Office. These both are useful project management software. Also, Risk Register, Project Log and Lessons Log are the powerful tools I mostly use.
8) What are some steps a project manager can take to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of a team? How does a new project manager gain the respect and loyalty of team members? Can you share any examples of situations you faced related to this topic?
Few steps to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of a team:
- Policies (define/refine & establish relevance)
- Procedures (Management plan & review of plan efficacy)
- Practices (Management efficiency and monitoring performance)
- Proofs (Reports & Documentation) to gain respect and loyalty of a team:
- Integration of all knowledge Areas
- Develop and Manage a team
Being a straight forward person and a go-getter, I always keep my management in the loop and update them with the facts. At the same time, I was working on one of the projects, when one of my managers reported false facts to the management about the project and my team. As soon as I got information about it, I jumped in and reported actual facts to the management without putting any of my subordinates in the fire.
9) What suggestions do you have for working with sponsors and senior managers? Can you share any examples of situations you faced related to this topic?
Sponsors/CEOs or senior managers are all somehow esteemed stakeholders of the project and are real-time Program Managers. They should not influence Project Execution Managers, Procurement Managers & Construction Managers in the presence of credible and experienced Project Manager. The Project manager should develop the most appropriate stakeholder engagement planned. It should be implemented.
During one of the development projects, where I was the Project Manager, and the planning Manager, our CEO and Client’s Resident Office directly influenced project works. They had influence over the project in terms of technical and financial interferences, which resulted in a delay in the project and also decreased business benefits for our organization.
10) Do you have any suggestions for future project managers, such as any specific preparations they should make, skills they should learn, etc.?
The future project managers must get a PMP certification of PMI USA at least. Moreover, keeping up with technological advancements is suggested and the knowledge and skills of using the latest project management software.
The future of project management is expected to blossom with the rise in software houses. Companies are looking for eligible candidates, and if you want to be chosen, you need to invest in enhancing your skillset.
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