Main image of article Top Recruiter Interview Questions for a Project Manager

Getting ready to interview project manager candidates, but not sure what to ask? We have what you need. Use the sample recruiter interview questions for project manager roles below. They’ll help you identify the capable candidates who are most likely to thrive in the challenging and often critical role of project manager. 

While many recruiters like to go in with a set list of interview questions for project manager candidates, others are motivated by getting to an outcome and allow the questions to flow naturally from there. For instance, Kyle Conte, Corporate Recruiter at CRH, likes to understand who a candidate is not only technically, but “personally and culturally to make sure they are going to be a team fit.” 

Project managers, on the most basic level, are tasked with ensuring projects fulfill original goals and are completed on time and within budget. But that description misses a lot: Project managers constantly negotiate and influence stakeholders—both within a project team and the broader organization—while making tradeoffs in scheduling, resources, and more. 

As you’ll see from our sample interview questions below, you want to go beyond the basics (such as communication skills and time management) and technical fit. Technical fit is, of course, important, but it can sometimes be “only half the battle,” Conte told us. Our sample interview questions for project managers will also help you uncover the professionals who are deep-thinkers, high-performers, and all-around true standouts (and are thus worth top compensation). 

You’ll find these sample interview questions to ask a project manager candidate (and answers) below. But first, here’s more on the project management knowledge and skills to look for in a candidate:   

Project Manager Knowledge and Skills to Look for In an Interview 

Before you start prepping your interview questions for project managers, it’s important to consider fundamental project manager knowledge and skills. Project managers can come from a wide range of educational backgrounds, whether it be in software engineering, business management, or the humanities. But no matter what their backgrounds, project managers should be skilled in the following:

  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Time Management
  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork/Collaboration
  • Budgeting
  • Scheduling

You should also be looking for project managers skilled in budget management and project management software. 

Now that you’re better acquainted with project manager knowledge and skills, check out the sample interview questions to ask project managers below. We’ve included common, beginner, and advanced interview questions to ask project managers. 

Common Project Manager Interview Questions and Sample Answers 

Here are three common interview questions for project managers: 

Describe in detail a project you worked on recently. 

Why you should ask: 

This is one of the key questions to ask a project manager candidate. Asking this question will provide insight into the kinds of projects the candidate has worked on and how well they can communicate factors such as project scopes, manager responsibilities, key stakeholders, and problems encountered and solved. This question is useful for seeing how candidates talk about impacting projects themselves, Conte said. 

What you should hear from the candidate: 

Candidates should demonstrate good technical knowledge of project management tasks, clear articulation of goals and purposes of projects, and a history with proactively addressing and resolving problems with projects. They should also be able to speak to their experience with outside vendors. 

Sample Standout Answer: “My most recent project was creating an advisor portal for our client to manage customers’ assets. After getting all the project details from the client, I had an internal kickoff where I worked with my team to develop a reasonable timeline, budget, and detailed goals. I regularly checked in with team members about any roadblocks and either worked with them directly to resolve them or brought in other team members to help. I also reached out to our tech vendors ahead of time to ensure my team had all the support they needed on that end. We ended up delivering the portal on time and within budget. The keys to our success were steady, clear communication and keeping up with our deadlines and expectations. The client was so pleased with the interface that they had us create mobile applications afterwards.” 

Describe your management style. 

Why you should ask:

This question helps identify if a candidate would complement the needs of your team and project goals. For example, if your team works on complex projects with multiple moving parts and need regular notifications and check-ins, you may want to look out for candidates with a hands-on management style. This is one of the most important questions to ask during a project manager interview. Asking it “gives you a lot of really good insight” into candidates’ overall approach to leading people, creating goals, providing feedback, and how they react when people make mistakes, says Jason Ertter, Senior Recruiting Consultant at Parsons Corporation

What you should hear from the candidate: 

Ideally, candidates should demonstrate they have many leadership skills and techniques in their skill set, but look for those who mesh well with your team’s specific needs and preferences.   

Sample Standout Answer: “I’ve had the opportunity to hone my management skills through every role I’ve had, and one of the most important things I’ve learned is that different people respond to different management styles. Some need to take a directive and go off on their own to work while others require more check-ins and support throughout a project lifecycle. Once I determine how each team member responds to which approach, I employ it as necessary. But generally, I believe in supporting others to do their best work.” 

Describe your communication style. 

Why you should ask: 

Project managers must be effective communicators to help your team succeed. Project managers interface with a variety of team members, stakeholders, vendors, customers—all with different communication needs.  

What you should hear from the candidate: 

Listen to how the candidate approaches communicating project expectations to team members and negotiating and influencing other key stakeholders. Candidates with good communication skills know how to strike the right balance with different parties and can confidently smooth over any issues that arise. 

Sample Standout Answer: ”I believe in communicating project requirements and deliverables as clearly as possible, with as much information as I have available, to every member of the team from the top down. That includes delays, switches in direction, and anything else that may affect the project progress and delivery. I try to be proactive and find opportunities to prevent any conflicts or hurdles. But if conflicts do arise, I stay transparent and work closely with every team member to get to resolutions as soon as possible.”

Beginner Project Manager Interview Questions and Sample Answers 

Now that we’ve covered the most common interview questions for project managers, here are four baseline, beginner questions to ask during a project manager interview. 

What is your favorite project management software? 

Why you should ask: 

Most teams rely on someone to delegate and track project tasks with project management software. Although this is one of the more straightforward interview questions for project manager candidates, you want to see how candidates approach keeping up to date with the latest collaboration tools. You can also use this question as an opportunity to gauge how comfortable candidates are with leveraging AI and ML tools. 

What you should hear from the candidate: 

Although this question doesn’t have a single right answer, candidates should be confident with leveraging software tools to run meetings, track time, generate reports, and measure progress. Depending on the makeup of your organization, they should also demonstrate expertise using tools to manage remote teams and onsite teams. 

Sample Standout Answer: “I really like using Jira, but I also have a lot of experience using tools like Asana and Trello. I’ve used these tools to work with on-site and remote teams. I love these tools, but I know that new ones are always on the horizon, so I take time to see how new tools track time and measure progress. I’m also taking the time to educate myself on how technologies like generative AI can help me automate and streamline my processes.”

Which project management methodologies are you familiar with? Which ones do you prefer? 

Why you should ask:

This is another of the more straightforward interview questions for project manager candidates. But it’s key to identify candidates who can deploy the methodologies necessary for getting your team across the finish line with projects, especially to address scope and stakeholder needs. 

What you should hear from the candidate: 

Top candidates will demonstrate clear understanding of—and comfort with—different methodologies (like Scrum, Agile, Waterfall) and know when to use them. Ideal candidates are adaptable and able to switch among methodologies depending on project demands. 

Sample Standout Answer: “I’ve worked on a variety of teams and projects, so I’m pretty comfortable deploying everything from scrum to waterfall. If a team has projects with shorter cycles, I usually go with scrum so I can help remove all obstacles, and I meet daily with teams to discuss current tasks and roadblocks. If a team is working on a more complex project with a lot of specific steps, I’ll rely on waterfall to set up a sequential, linear process to make sure each discrete phase gets done properly and everything can smoothly build on each other.” 

What types of projects do you like to work on? 

Why you should ask:

This question helps you identify the kinds of projects candidates excel with. This is a good opportunity to see which types they’re most comfortable with, but ideally, candidates can adapt and stretch themselves for all kinds of projects.  

Why you should ask:

Top candidates will demonstrate preferences that align with your team’s needs and project goals along with adaptability. 

Sample Standout Answer: “Most of my experience is with new product launches and marketing campaigns, and I really enjoy running those. But I’m always eager to work on all kinds of projects and collaborate closely with every team member so they can unlock as many opportunities for success as possible.” 

How do you track your team’s performance? 

Why you should ask:

Tracking a team’s progress is a core skill for project managers—that’s why it’s one of the more important technical interview questions for project managers. Tracking performance ensures that projects get delivered on time and also helps identify opportunities for growth and improvement for future projects. 

What you should hear from the candidate: 

Ideally, candidates should show expertise with a variety of project management software tools that help with tracking progress. They’ll also have experience quickly and effectively identifying trouble spots with projects and assisting underperforming team members. 

Sample Standout Answer: “I’m most at home using Asana, but I’ve had a lot of experience with tools like Trello, Jira, etc. No matter the tool, I’m constantly watching a project’s progression to make sure everything is running smoothly. I also constantly communicate with the team about their progress and ability to meet deadlines. I keep tabs on when and where delays occur, and address those issues directly with the team members involved. From there, I can work directly with them to determine what they need to move forward, ensuring things don’t go too far off track.”

Advanced Project Manager Interview Questions and Sample Answers 

Once you’ve gone over the basics and common questions to ask a project manager candidate, you’ll want to get into the nitty gritty of what the role entails — and especially how a candidate would handle complicated issues. Here are three advanced interview questions for project manager candidates: 

Describe a time when you thought you would go over budget or miss a deadline. How did you get the project back on track? 

Why you should ask:

Any number of unforeseen complications can derail progress for your team’s projects, so it’s key to find candidates who remain flexible while reacting effectively and quickly. This is one of the interview questions for project managers that will also help you learn more about how candidates react under the pressure of a hectic delivery schedule and managing the team tasked with that delivery. 

What you should hear from the candidate:

Top candidates will demonstrate experience with spotting impending issues in a decisive manner to minimize or altogether avoid them. They’ll also share the problem-solving techniques they use, like collaborative brainstorming or root-cause analysis, to ensure successful outcomes. 

Sample Standout Answer: “At one company I worked with, we had a project that came to a halt when funding fell through, so that created a lot of chaos. First, I connected with department heads to determine whether or not the pause was going to be temporary or permanent. Then, I communicated to the team to ensure they could reallocate their resources accordingly. It turned out that the halt was temporary, so I was able to keep the team on track with delivery and effectively support their needs. It was stressful, but it taught me the value of communication and collaboration to navigate issues and create new opportunities to thrive.” 

Describe a time when you improved a process for project management. 

Why you should ask:

While some recruiters may focus their interview questions for project manager candidates on avoiding issues, project managers go beyond risk management. Project management also requires creative and strategic problem solving that maximizes a project’s potential.

This is one of the great questions to ask during a project manager interview because it shows you which candidates go above and beyond with tinkering and finding improvements. 

What you should hear from the candidate:

Listen to how candidates describe implementing process tweaks and how they made improvements based on past learnings. Top candidates are diligent when it comes to analyzing results and obtaining feedback from every team member and stakeholder to make future projects even better. 

Sample Standout Answer:Once after we completed a project, the client wasn’t entirely satisfied with the outcome. I asked the client for comprehensive feedback to help determine what steps we could take to improve next time. I learned that the quality of the final deliverable was solid, but it didn’t come in fast enough and the client was facing tight deadlines. Once I figured this out, I went back to the team to explain where we succeeded in delivery and the areas we needed to make changes to better hit the client’s timetables. 

“As simple as it sounds, the team and I figured out that we were meeting internally too frequently (every other day). It was turning out to be a drain on productivity. We adjusted our meeting cadence to once a week, and that massively helped speed things along. I was happy that I was able to better support the team, find a constructive way to improve our process, and make the client even happier.”

Let’s say a team member falls behind with their assigned tasks, putting the entire project at risk of missing an important deadline. How would you handle this situation? 

Why you should ask:

This question will give you insight into a candidate’s communication skills and empathy. It’s one of the critical interview questions for project manager candidates, especially for gauging leadership potential. 

What you should hear from the candidate:

Ideal candidates emphasize the importance of teamwork and flexibility for overcoming hurdles like this and achieving larger project goals. They also have strategies to motivate and support a team member when they’re struggling. 

Sample Standout Answer: “As a project manager, I believe collaboration is the key to ensuring a team has everything they need to complete a project, so if someone is falling behind or having issues, I immediately work with them to determine what it is they need to get back on track. Sometimes it’s just more clarity on a deliverable, sometimes it’s feedback to help point them in a better direction. Or it can be helpful for them to collaborate with another team member. Whatever it is, I aim to create an environment where every team member knows they can rely on me if they hit a rough spot.” 


Formulating interview questions for project managers can be overwhelming, but we hope we’ve given you a solid sense of the common, basic, and advanced interview questions to ask project managers. That way, you’re ready to go out there and determine which candidates will be outstanding fits for your organization. 

For more recruiter insights, check out our recruiting advice and resource library. We look forward to helping you find and land the game-changing technology professionals your organization needs.