Preparing to Run an Effective Project Manager Interview

by Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt)

Job InterviewAre you in a position where you are interviewing for a project manager to fill a particular position in your company? The following guidelines and principles will be good to keep in mind in order to make your interview as effective as possible.

Know Your Interviewing Format

When you are ready to interview know whether or not you are going to have a panel of interviewers or if it’s going to be one-on-one with you.  If a panel, who’s going to be there? Are your technical team members going to be there? Are the business unit people or some of your stakeholders going to be there? In your own personal experience, how many times have you shown up to an interview thinking you will be there for thirty minutes, but end up being there for a couple of hours? I don’t know about you but I have my schedule set. As an interviewee, I like to know beforehand how long they need me. I don’t like to go through the whole business of shaking hands with people I didn’t expect to meet. The interviewee wants to be prepared for who they are speaking with. As a courtesy, give the person an idea of the interview’s structure so they can be prepared.

Know The Interviewing Process

Next you need to determine the actual interview process. Have you ever shown up to an interview and no one seems to know who wants to speak with you? It’s an awkward moment as they fumble for their words, “Well, we are glad you made it, let’s see, who should I ask, what’s your name again? What are you doing here?” It’s all very impromptu and informal because no one knows who’s guiding that process. The project manager needs to know the process, who’s going to be asking the questions, and what responses to look for. And, as they are answering, listening and observing for clues about what kind of person they are. Do they give very detailed answers? Or are they an intuitive person?  Are they an optimistic person or pessimistic person? Being aware of their responses gives you an idea of who that candidate is.

Communicate Next Steps

The fifth step is to know what your next steps are, and communicate them clearly to your interviewee. Let them know what time frame you will be making this decision. Will they hear back from you in a day? Do you need them right away? Will they expect to hear back from you in a week? If they are chosen, is there another step in the interview process? Will they be interviewed by other people? And then, what would the employment process be once they are brought on board? Those are some of the things to think about as you prepare for an interview. To make it fun you need to be prepared as much as the person is being interviewed. Remember, they are evaluating you too. If you seem scattered, unprepared or not really knowing what you want, they may decide you are not a project manager they want to report to, or the project or environment they want to participate in.

If you found these tips from Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt) of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at

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