Illustration of a woman sitting at a desk working on a computer

Why this matters:

This question will provide insight into the type of projects the candidate has been involved with and the details. The ideal candidate will be able to clearly articulate project scope, manager responsibilities, and key stakeholders, as well as any problems that were encountered and solved.

What to listen for:

  • Good technical knowledge of project management tasks
  • Ease in communicating the goal or purpose of the project
  • Instances when the candidate was proactive in addressing and rectifying a problem

Why this matters:

Many project tasks are delegated, tracked, and executed through project management software. The ideal candidate will have an aptitude for using software to streamline workflows, and be willing to learn new software as business needs (and technology) evolve.

What to listen for:

  • Specific names of project management software and the project areas that were managed with it
  • Indications that the candidate is comfortable adapting to new technology
  • Experience in using the tools that your team relies on

Why this matters:

The best project managers are well-versed in different methodologies and comfortable with them. Rather than sticking with one approach across every project, they employ different methodologies to organize and execute projects according to factors such as scope and stakeholder needs.

What to listen for:

  • Clear understanding of different methodologies — such as scrum, waterfall, agile — and when to use them
  • Specific examples of using a methodology to organize and oversee a project
  • Ability to switch among methodologies, depending on project demands

Why this matters:

Scope creep is common and happens when project sponsors increase their demand for deliverables without adjusting the budget accordingly. Scope creep is often unintentional, but it needs to be managed swiftly in order to prevent the project team from failing to hit its deadline or burning through its budget before completion. Especially in this regard, the project manager must be diligent, proactive, and communicative.

What to listen for:

  • Examples of when the candidate was able to effectively renegotiate the project timeline, budget, and deliverables, based on shifting demands
  • Mention of eliminating silos in the workflow to ensure open communication between team members and stakeholders

Why this matters:

Project management involves many moving parts. Any number of unforeseen complications can derail progress, so it’s important for a project manager to remain flexible and react quickly. You need to know that a candidate can not only spot impending problems but also take decisive action to avoid or minimize them, thereby ensuring a successful outcome.

 

What to listen for:

  • Detailed examples of when the candidate was able to identify and solve complex problems for a project
  • Mention of problem-solving techniques that were used, such as brainstorming with the team or performing a root-cause analysis

Why this matters:

The ideal project manager is a creative and strategic problem solver who's always seeking ways to maximize a project’s potential. This often involves process tweaks during a project, or making improvements for future projects based on lessons learned. Top project managers are diligent about analyzing results and obtaining feedback to make the next project even better.

What to listen for:

  • Evidence that the candidate is always thinking about strategic or innovative ways to improve processes and drive better results
  • Patience and understanding
  • Listening to feedback from team members and using it to inform a process change

Why this matters:

Leadership skills are important in the project manager role. The manager typically oversees a team in executing aspects of a project, and must motivate team members and offer support or find solutions if they're struggling. Empathy and strong communication skills are required to get to the root of a problem.

What to listen for:

  • Emphasis on the importance of teamwork and flexibility to overcome challenges and achieve project goals
  • Details of strategies the candidate uses to motivate and support team members, such as giving kudos and speaking to people privately when they’re struggling

Why this matters:

Project managers must regularly use communication and conflict-resolution skills to resolve disagreements with internal and external stakeholders. The best project managers often handle these situations by explaining how the results fulfill the agreed-upon scope and providing the evidence necessary to back up the claim.

What to listen for:

  • Calm, rational communication style that could reflect the candidate's approach to resolving conflicts with a sponsor
  • Examples of reaching a successful resolution that satisfied all stakeholders

Why this matters:

With budgets, deadlines, delegated tasks, and other variables, project managers must simultaneously keep track of multiple aspects of a project. A single missed step can have negative repercussions throughout. Excellent organizational skills are essential to managing a project and staying on top of all of its moving parts.

What to listen for:

  • Specific examples of organizing strategies and project management tools such as Google Workspace or Trello
  • Thoughtful discussion of how the candidate’s organizing methods contribute to the overall success of projects
chatting over desk with laptops and coffee

Contact a sales specialist.

By submitting this form, you agree that we may use the data you provide to contact you with information related to your request/submission and LinkedIn's products and services. If you are a LinkedIn member, you can control the messages you receive from LinkedIn in your settings. If you are a guest, you can unsubscribe from LinkedIn marketing emails at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the email. Your data will be used subject to LinkedIn's Privacy Policy.