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PMP Interview Questions

What is project management?

Project management is a combination of operations such as applying knowledge, skills, tools, techniques in a project followed by the deliverables of the project. As whole project management is managing time, cost and the scope of a project.

Generally the project management is the part of internal organizational functions.

-To perform all the tasks in the project execution we need an organization structure which will strategies the project execution & implementation.

-To carry out the project successfully one must have a clearly defined goals & objectives.

-There are several tools available for the successful project management in the market.Most common names can be coined as PERT , CPM , MS_PROJECT , GANNT CHART etc.

-The WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) is very important in the context of project management .

-The project management characteristics are complex,unique,involves high risk,constrained by time & cost.

-The project management is very much resource intensive.

-Ultimately , the successful project depends on the manager’s efficiency, effectivity & performing standard of the core managerial activities , i.e. planning , organizing , staffing , Directing , controlling & coordinating.

How do you handle non-productive team members?

Analyse the issue first, Talk to Team members first informally then followed by problem solving.

Customer or Development Team. Which one is important for a project manager? How can you balance between two?

You have to accept that the customer comes first. The customer is always right. You ca not take care of the customer if you first are not taking care of your project team. It is a challenge. While there are some things you can do for the whole team, it comes down to taking care of each team member as the individual that he or she is. And to make it more difficult, then you must bring their various interests into coherence.

What do you spend the most time doing each day?

This gives you an indication of how they do their job. Someone who spends all day at the PC may suit your environment, or you might be looking for a project manager who gets out and visits clients most days of the week. Remember that they might be prepared to do something other than what they do now, so if you hear something that doesn’t fit with the post you are recruiting for, don’t rule them out before exploring this further.

How do you work with sponsors? How do you manage up?

Managing up means working well with people more senior than you. Project managers do this all the time, so it’s good to find out how they make those relationships work.

When was the last time you didn’t delegate and what happened?

This will help you work out if they are happy to be honest and tell you about a time that something went wrong. This shows their capacity to learn from mistakes and how they deal with information overload. Delegating work packages is key to project work and you’ll want to hire someone who understands that.

What was the most difficult ethical decision you’ve had to make on a project?

It can demonstrate their awareness of PMI Code of Ethics and even if they aren’t aware of that, their general approach to work. You can also use it to open up an interesting discussion and allow you to judge how they will fit into your business culture.

What are your career goals? How do you see this job affecting your goals?

Give realistic objectives and goals and provide substantial information to justify.

In what types of situations is it best to abandon loyalty to your manager?

No situation by default unless your manager is going against the law and moral values.
Why are you interested in this position?
Can state the qualities of a Project Manager which eventually contributing to the holistic benefits gained by company and yourself.
What have you learned from your failures?
Lesson learns are important not to repeat similar mistakes and provide better estimation for future.
What criteria are you using to find your next job?
It will show you what’s important to them at work: green credentials, career progression, work/life balance, working for a big brand etc. It will also tell you if they are actively job hunting or whether they saw your ad and couldn’t resist (either is fine).
How have you improved project management processes at your current firm?
Not everyone has the chance to work on business critical, exciting projects that make for a great CV, but everyone has the chance to offer some suggestions for improvements (even if they aren’t taken up). Look for someone who has ideas and who isn’t afraid to put them forward.
Tell me about special projects or training you have had that would be relevant to this job?
Mention of similar industry domain, certifications will be a plus.
What are some things that you would not like your job to include?
Be careful of things that you dislike, as a Project Manager should be flexible and a problem-solver.
What creative problem solving techniques do you use?
It’s worth probing the technical skills of candidates. Can they talk knowledgeably about fishbone diagrams, De Bono’s thinking hats, role play? Branch out to talk about the last project issue they resolved with creative thinking.
What are your current work plans? Why are you thinking about leaving your present job?
Leaving a current job makes sure doesn’t affect on the professionalism and ethics.
Describe an ideal job for you?
There is no ideal job in the world, we have to face challenges and changes, and a project is always subjectable to risks and changes. We have to accept the fact life is not a bed of roses. Trick question.
What would you do if you found out that a contractor was in a conflict of interest situation?
Terminate/Penalise the Contractor according to the agreed contract terms.
Give me an example of a win-win situation you have negotiated?
Understand that win-win situation means boths side wins and do not have any compromise. Talk about customer ‘s requirements negotiation through change control system, its a win-win situation.
Describe what you did at your workplace yesterday?
Here is not expecting mediocre answer, show elements of excellence and problem solving.
Describe how those contributions impacted results?
Mention about what are the improvements through better Scope control, Time, Cost control.
What strengths did you bring to your last position?
The strengths of a Project Manager – Problem Solving, Communicator, Pro-active, Motivating for team members, a big picture person with an eye for details, integrity person, constant monitoring.

What Methods Will You Use to Deliver the Results We’re Looking For?

When answering this question, it’s good to highlight techniques that you’ve used successfully in the past and identify the tools and support you expect your employer to provide. However, it’s also important to show that you understand the challenges inherent to that particular company and project. The interviewer may be looking to see if you’ll take a one-size-fits-all approach to your project manager duties, or if you’ve given some thought to the demands of a particular job.

Because of this, a generic answer is likely to fall short. Most interviewers don’t want to hear that a prospective project manager will apply the same framework to every problem; they want to know that the person they hire will take the unique nature of each project into account. To give a well-considered answer, it’s a good idea to respond to some questions of your own. For example, find out who your project sponsor will be, what support you’ll receive from the various departments involved in the project and what recourse you’ll have if shifting priorities impact resource allocation.

This means that you’ll have to do some quick thinking on your feet to process the interviewer’s answers and address how they will impact your approach to the project. The key is to demonstrate that you’ll ask the right questions at the outset rather than make broad statements that suggest you would take the same approach to any project manager job.

How Will You Put Together Your Project Team?

In asking a question like this, interviewers are really trying to find out what kind of a leader you are. They want to know if you understand the diverse skills and competencies that are required to bring a project to completion. Will you seek out people just like yourself, or are you prepared to work with many different personalities? Can you inspire and motivate everyone from senior executives to hourly support staff? Your answer should show that you recognize it takes many individual contributors with different strengths and capabilities to complete a project. A successful project manager doesn’t have to be good at everything; he or she just needs to know how to assemble and manage a team with expertise in a wide variety of areas.

What is the difference between a project, a program and a portfolio?

Projects are undertaken for a specific or a related set of purposes. A program is a set of projects managed in a coordinated manner in order to achieve different parts of an overall goal. A portfolio encompasses a set of different programs and other portfolios that help the organization achieve a high level business purpose.

What are the knowledge areas you must pay cognizance to as a project manager in order to efficiently handle the project and attain the anticipated outcome?

-Scope management

-Resource planning

-Cost optimization

-Application of Lean Six Sigma

-Procurement and risk management

-Benchmark analysis

-Process improvement

-Quality planning


-Root cause analysis for major deviations

How do you estimate using three-point estimating methods?

Three-point Estimation is based on three different estimated values to improve the result. The concept is applicable for both cost and duration estimation. This helps in mitigating the estimation risk. It also takes into consideration uncertainty and associated risks while estimating values. Estimation can be carried out  for an entire project, or for a WBS component or for an activity.

In a three-point estimation, the expected value of a task is determined by calculating the  mean of three different values. These three different values are Optimistic Value (O), Pessimistic Value (P), and Most Likely Value (M).

What creative problem solving techniques can you use for unique problems?

It is important to engage the team in solving unique problems as brainstorming can often yield positive results. Additionally, the Fishbone diagram and De Bono’s thinking hats can also help one approach a problem creatively and effectively.

Define RAID in the context of project management.

RAID stands for risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies. These are vital components that a project manager (PM) should always be aware of. There are always risks about actions and a PM must take least risk action. Unless assumptions about any estimates or actions are clear, these can go wrong. Issues and dependencies also limit the choices of actions.

What are the ways a project time schedule can be compressed?

Crashing and fast-tracking are two methods for accelerating a project time schedule. The crashing method tries to optimize the schedule, making use of the time floats available while keeping costs under control. Fast-tracking is to make selected activities faster by applying additional resources if necessary. It may mean paying team members over time or paying for the time of a consultant.

What is Earned Value Management (EVM)?

At every monitoring point, the planned value (PV), earned value (EV) and actual cost (AC) are monitored. Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB) is the aggregation of all planned values. Variances from baselines are determined and schedule variance (SV) and cost variance (CV) are calculated. If earned value is equal to the planned value, then the project is achieving what it is supposed to. If the schedule or cost variance is significant, appropriate action needs to be taken to correct the slips. Estimate at completion (EAC) is estimated and compared with the budget at completion. In case there is a slip, the cost consequences will be known.

State the role of Isikawa/ Fishbone diagrams in determining root causes of risks.

This is a graphical method of determining cause and effect relationships leading to a specific risk. One could then determine mitigation actions for that risk.

What is the triple constraint triangle in project management?

All projects are carried out under certain constraints – traditionally, these are cost, time and scope. These three important factors are commonly called “the triple constraint”. Each constraint forms the vertices, with quality as the central theme:

-Projects must be delivered within cost

-Projects must be delivered on time

-Projects must meet the agreed scope – no more, no less

-Projects must also meet customer quality requirements

What is a decision support system (DSS)?

A DSS is used vastly in enterprise applications, mainly MIS & ERP based systems. It provides automation and stability in the decision making process of the organization. There are two types of DSS, structured and unstructured. DSS connects many flow charts in the organizational process. It can be formulated and built statistically or stochastically.

What is a fish bone diagram?

Fishbone diagrams, also called as Ishikawa diagrams (or cause-and-effect diagrams) show the reasons behind a certain event. In project management, this tool is used in quality management and risk management processes.

What is CMMI?

CMMI stands for Capability Maturity Model Integration. It is a process improvement approach that provides organizations with the essential elements for effective process improvement.

What is Six Sigma and how is it important in project management?

Six Sigma is a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. It is data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects. In order to achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. If applied effectively, six sigma can approach can help finish a project on time, be reducing the risk of effects/failure.

What is a risk register?

It is a register/document that contains all the identified risks of a project, including a list of actions/potential actions.

What are some techniques used for defining scope?

Some of the techniques used for defining scope are product breakdown, requirements analysis, systems engineering, systems analysis, value analysis and alternatives analysis. Alternatives analysis can be achieved by lateral thinking brainstorming and pairwise comparisons.

What is a work breakdown structure (WBD) and how does it affect work estimates of tasks/activities?

Work breakdown structure defines the work activities required for the project and the sub activities of each of the work requirements. The breakdown goes down to levels where all the work required is clearly understood. The work breakdown dictionary includes additional details that help define the tasks. Time and effort estimates can be accurate when everything about the work and dependencies are known.

Situational & Behavioral Questions

Unfortunately, providing you exact answers to these type of questions is impossible, but we sure can share tips as to how you can approach these questions. Since project management has a lot to do with the manager’s attitude, these questions can be tricky, but if you answer honestly, wearing the cap of a capable project manager, your answers will be convincing enough.

What are the most important values and ethics you should demonstrate as a leader?

Integrity: being truthful and trustworthy and having conviction is an essential leadership competency. The effective leader demonstrates values and ethics in personal behavior and integrates these values and ethics into organizational practices and activities. A good leader acts with the courage of his/her convictions. While leaders are open with their employees and model honesty, transparency and fairness, they do not violate confidences or divulge potentially harmful information.

You may also share your knowledge and learnings from the PMI code of ethics.

How do you determine the communication needs of stakeholders?

The communication needs of stakeholders depend on their position in the power/influence grid, power/interest grid as also impact/influence grid. Salience modeling is another technique to determine who is the most effective for the interest of the project. This is a qualitative assessment and will determine the kind and details of communications they need for the project.

When was the last time you didn’t delegate properly and what was the consequences?

This question will assess your capability to learn from mistakes and deal with information overload. Even if you have not faced a similar situation in your professional life, try to draw parallel inferences from your personal life as a testimony of your ability to learn from mistakes.

What is your biggest weakness?

While this question sounds like a general interview question, but its approach in the project management background makes this question, extremely important for your interview. As a project manager, you are supposed to thoroughly understand your team. You are supposed to hone their positives and motivate them to fight their negatives. Thus, it is important for a project manager to first understand himself as a person. Try to give an honest answer and remember to also share how you plan to deal with your weakness and not let it come in your way as a project manager.

How have you improved project management process at your current firm?

You might not have achieved something phenomenal in your current firm and that is absolutely alright. What the interviewer wants to assess by asking you this question, is your ability to make a difference and contribute as an individual. This question is your chance to prove that you can blend in, yet stand out.

What is most challenging aspect about being a project manager?

While you can answer this question based on your understanding and past experiences, make sure that while answering this question you do not demonstrate your inability to deal with some of the most critical aspect of project management. Challenges can be empowering, so try to structure your answer around this.

What methods have you used to gain commitment from your team?

Leaders gain commitment by influencing and persuading the team to set objectives and buy into the process. They establish a spirit of cooperation and cohesion for goal attainment. They take the team into the performing phase as quickly as possible. Leaders encourage debate and ideas from all stakeholders. They inspire a commitment to success and excellence by demonstrating passionate personal commitment and promote a productive culture by valuing individuals and their contributions.

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