Project Management Interview Questions

Project Management Interview Questions

Interviews are hard when you are out of job & quite enjoyable otherwise. I hope you are here to prepare for an interview either you are a hiring manager or the candidate itself. Here, I have compiled most important Project Management Interview Questions. I have gathered this data mostly from my personal experience, LinkedIn & as well as from colleagues.

I have divided this into two section

  1. Interview Questions for a Project Manager
  2. Interview Questions for a Project Planner

As I do believe these are the most common and authentic roles on a project in Project Management point of view.

Interview Questions for a Project Manager

project management interview questions

This is one of the top positions in any given project. This guy has the charter to deal with the resources of a Project and ultimately is responsible to utilize in effective manner or accountable otherwise.

The questions to be asked most of the times are situational that is usually to judge communication skills, leadership & Managerial skills at the sometime. As in Project Management, you know higher the position requires less technical skills but high Leadership skills.

Most Frequently Asked Interview Questions​

Question-1: Tell us about the major projects you have managed?

Answer: My major projects include a Tower project where I handled 15 contractors in parallel. It was a worth of 300 Million USD. This was much versatile in scope wise.

Question-2: How you rate yourself as a project manager from 1-5 star.

Answer: Well, this is bit tricky one, but to be honest Project Management is really a vast field but considering Mangers around I can only rate 3 stars only as I am surrounded by most competent people around.

Question-3: Tell us about your qualification, certifications etc. if any?

Answer: I was graduated as Civil Engineer from a well reputed university, later I went for MS in Project Management and I hold a valid PMI– PMP certification which I consider an extra feather. I have an extensive fifteen years of extensive experience & have managed a number of successful projects globally.

Question-4: What qualities should a project manager must have?

Answer: Good communication skill is always that matters a lot everywhere then comes the managerial & lastly, I consider technical. My opinion as per my experience but may differ on text.

Question-5: How you normally handle the politics at project?

Answer: I always try to look on both sides of the conflict in handling the situation. I try not to complicate things as there may be many factors. Any powerful stakeholder may be involved in it. First of all, I need to understand the structure of organization either it’s projectized or functional before making any conclusion. At the end, I try to tell the personal benefits to all for completing a successful project.

Question-6: Who is most important stakeholder in any project?

Answer: I consider always Client the major & then top Management, SME- Subject Matter Experts, Project Team, Legal Team etc.

Question-7: What is Gold plating and how to avoid it?

Answer: To do extra work that is not as per your contract (scope statement) to get credit the Client – Boss buttering in easy sense. To avoid simply refer to scope statement always & distribute its copy to your relevant team members.

Question-8: What is difference between Change Order and a Variation Order Request?

Answer: These are just anonymous. Different culture uses different terms. But I only have heard verbally about Variation Order Request but never seen any form about that. I only know Change Order Request.

Question-9: Are you familiar with any scheduling software?

Answer: Yes, I know Primavera P6 & Microsoft Project very well.

Question-10: Can you tell us about Conflict Resolution Techniques?

Answer: I think 95% of conflicts are due to poor communication. I try to get the people involved Face to Face and it resolves 80% conflicts on spot with win-win situation. I always focus of behavior not the personality. But if still someone has already crossed the lines then I always refer to HR manager to tackle the members.

Question-11: Do you know about Crashing & fast Tracking?

Answer: Both are schedule compression techniques. Crashing involves additional resources & Fast-tracking needs to re-arrange activities but increases the overall risk. Before applying any technique, I always discuss with my team first & then the management.

 Question-12: How will you handle Risks on a project?

Answer: I always try to stick with basics and follow to avoid, mitigate, transfer & accept. As risk is not always a negative sometimes it helps you a lot. Even the best planned project may hit any risk anytime.

Question-13: What reporting tools you use to prepare status report for stakeholders?

Answer: I normally prefer Primavera P6 but also use Microsoft Excel to make better visualization that are helpful for ease of management. I can use Microsoft project also.

Question-14: Can you elaborate about contingency plan?

Answer: It’s just a plan B or backup plan in case something went wrong on original plan. For example, if the main contractor/supplier goes bankrupt all of sudden? Or, your project control manager gets fever on meeting day suddenly? How many projects you can handle at a time easily?

Question-15: How do you evade Liquidated Damages on a project?

Answer: Eying on each & every milestone where LD is applicable & follow strictly the critical path. Also get inline all the contractors to work on it.

Question-16: What are major factors to look at when accepting a change order?

Answer: There are many factors but I consider time frame & the Cost. Then I do some calculations for extra resources if available.

Question-17: Which Project management tool you use and why?

Answer: I use normally Primavera P6 as I said earlier, It has unlimited features for reports of every kind.

Question-18: Who has the rights on Float to use in the Schedule?

Answer: It’s always as per contract if not mentioned there then first come first alleviate basis for Contractor or the Owner.

I have only compiled the questions & answer as per my experience & qualification but if you need to know more explanation you can comment below. I am always happy to answer.

Interview Questions for a Project Planner

This is my favorite area as this person possess most of the project related information on finger tips all the time and you call it right hand of any project manager.

I will also compile the answers with all the related question in this section

Question-1: What is a Base Project Schedule?

Answer: A baseline is an approved program by both parties which is used as a bench mark to measure progress of a project.

Question-2: What is a Main Driver of a Project and how you will get it?

Answer: A main driver consist of the major activities that are driving the project at critical path. To get it just go to last activity and check its driving activity, then go to that driving activity and mark its driving also, same goes until you reach the first activity. This is normally done through scheduling software like Primavera P6, Microsoft Project etc.

Question-3: How many baselines are allowed in any project and which baseline decides the success or failure of the project?

Answer: A project must have minimum one project baseline & that number can go to unlimited. But if you find more number of baselines that means the planning team is quite inefficient – Avoid it! The latest baseline defines the success & failure of any project.

Question-4: What are the Key Performance Indicators – KPI’s?

Answer: A KPI is type performance measurement on a particular activity where engaged. KPI’s are defined by keeping a factor “What matter the most”. A careful study and analysis is required to define because it differs from organization to organization like a critical KPI for you may not be of nay interest of other same type organization. It is really a diverse area. Examples Rubber lining, Concrete Work, Machine Failures in a Specific Duration, Plantation, Number of hiring/firings, Training etc. etc.

Question-5: What you normally need to develop a plan?

Answer: I need the Contract documents to understand the scope, the schedule drawings to know about areas, Bill of Quantity-BOQ including cost, scheduling software access. Yes, I need to meet my project team to know about a little productivity rates if I don’t know in case of any specific activity.

Question-6: How you define a critical path?

Answer: The longest path & the minimum time required to complete a project. A combination of activities with total float as zero are included all.

Question-7: How much duration a milestone activity normally has?

Answer: Well, there are different types of milestones are there like start milestone, finish milestone etc. but all have ZERO duration.

Question-8: What is the difference between Free Float & Total Float?

Answer: Free Float – amount of time we can delay an activity without effecting the early start date of its successor activity. Total Float – amount of time we can delay an activity from its early start date without delaying the whole project finish.

Free float may affect the start of any activity but total float may affect the duration of overall project.

Question-9: What is the difference between Change order & Variation order Request?

Answer: Technically there is no such a difference. Change order or Variation request is a change in scope from contract but as per contract. If you are much curious which term should be used the better refer your contract documents. Personally, I have heard the term Variation Order but never seen any documentation for. Everywhere they write a Change Order Request.

Question-10: How to measure progress of a project?

Answer: Normally there are three ways to measure the progress 1)-Man-hours, 2)-Cost & 3)-Quantity

My preferred method is through Man-hours as It is more logical but I have to comply as per contractual obligations as most of the companies prefer through Cost.

By the way, sometimes we have to use all three methods on a single project to get more intensive project updated status.

Question-11: Have you heard about Kick of Meeting?

Answer: Yes, I have handled a number of Kick of Meetings on different projects & companies.  kick-off meeting is normally the first meeting of all major Stakeholders including the Project Manger with his team and Owner’s representatives. Here, we discuss things like how we are going to execute through rolling wave planning normally.

These meetings can be conducted at new phase start during the execution of project also.

Question-12: What certification & qualification you have?

Answer: I am a Project Management Professional- PMP certified from Project Management Institute – PMI. I am a Graduate Engineer & perusing Master in Project Management.

Question-13: Do you know about CPI?

Answer: Yes, it’s a Cost Performance Indicator and it evaluates the performance in the sense if the project is under-budget, over-budgeted or on track. The formula is for CPI is the ratio of earned value – EV over actual costs – AC that is CPI =EV/AC

Question-14: What do you know about SPI?

Answer: It is Schedule Performance Indicator and indicates the performance of project work is completed to baseline schedule. It is calculated by dividing the earned value by the planned value that is SPI = EV/PV

Question-15: What you know about Triple Constraints?

Answer: Cost, Time and Scope with quality as the fundamental theme.

Question-16: What are undesirable in any plan?

Answer: Constraints, SF (Start to Finish) relationship, Log lags or leads, Negative Float etc.

Question-17: What are undesirable in any plan?

Answer: Constraints, SF (Start to Finish) relationship, Log lags or leads, Negative Float etc.

Question-18: If you are reported 5 SPI, what is means? – Real Question was Asked to me!

Answer: They planner has made a blunder during calculations.

Question-19: What is an S Curve?

Answer: Graphical representation of ‘anything’ like Manhours, Cost etc. plotted against time.

Question-20: What do you know about Reflection Schedule?

Answer: Reflection function is always underestimated but it is really great feature in Primavera P6 Professional.  A Reflection program is just a copy of the program to have a look at different scenarios after making desirable changes. Once satisfied just emerge in the native program.

Question-21: What is ACWP, BCWP & BCWS?

Answer: ACWP is Actual Cost of Work Performed, BCWP is Budgeted Cost of Work Performed & BCWS is Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled.

Question-22: How you will make a comparison of different updates for the same schedule?

Answer: I will use Claim Digger function that is available in Primavera P6.

Question-23: How you will make a comparison of different updates for the same schedule?

Answer: I will use Claim Digger function that is available in Primavera P6.

Question-24: Do you know any about Retained & Over-Ride Logic in Scheduling?

Answer: This only matters if schedule is not going at it was planned, means a difference is activities progress. The Progress Over-ride will not respect the logics anymore if there is any variance and hence will shorten the critical path but with mostly illogical out of sequence activities. In other sense, the activities will do as it is an open-end activity. The Retained logic is completely otherwise.

Question-25: What do you know about DCMA Scoring?

Answer: DCMA is 14-Point Assessment Metrics to evaluate any baseline schedule. It includes; 1. Logic 2. Leads 3. Lags 4. Relationship Types 5. Hard Constraints 6. High Float 7. Negative Float 8. High Duration 9. Invalid Dates 10. Resources 11. Missed Tasks 12. Critical Path Test 13. Critical Path Length Index (CPLI) 14. Baseline Execution Index (BEI)

Question-26: What do you about Delay Analysis Techniques?

Answer: Normally it is defined in the Contract documents that how we are going to calculate extension of time but if not then there must be a consensus for using any available technique from both of the parties like 1) Impacted as planned 2) Windows Analysis 3) Time Impact or 4) As-Built But-For.

Question-27: What is difference between Float & Slack?

Answer: Nothing, just synonyms.

Question-28: What is difference between Planner & a Scheduler?

Answer: Both are quite different but linked to each other tightly. Somewhere these are just synonym to each other.

Planner or Planning Engineer reads the IFC drawings, define the activities, duration & resources according to site construction conditions. He knows better all the phases of work to be done even during tender stage and also at construction stage. It should be from engineering background necessarily.

On the other hands, Scheduler takes-over the work done already by the planner to make more detailed one. This job does not require to have an engineering background.

I read somewhere on linkedin (by Mustafa Ozgoren) that

  • Planning is What & How?
  • Scheduling is When & Who?

Both should be well versed in Planning software in any case.
Question-29: What is different % complete type in Primavera P6?

Answer: Physical, Units & Duration.

Question-30: What is different duration type in Primavera P6?

Answer: Fixed Units, Fixed Units/time, Fixed Duration & Units, Fixed Duration & Units/Time.

Question-31: What is Productivity?

Answer: Productivity is the efficiency of any working entity. It is measured as the amount of output for work per hour. Productivity rates defines how efficient a team you have. Formula is Productivity = Output / Input

Example: Let say you have two masons (call A&B) and lets review their work for last week,  A worked for 50 hours and B for 30 hours. A fixed 5000 blocks & B did 3500 blocks. As a planner you may like A as it is putting more on but lets have a check on productivity for both

Mason A= 5000/50hrs = 100/hour

Mason B= 3500/30hrs =116/hour

Here, B is much more productive than A and hence you need to raise the skill level of A type Mason by proper training etc.

Question-32: What are different levels of a Schedule?

Answer: There are different school of thought to define levels of a program one says its six levels, other says it’s five and even one thinks only four level of program are there whens scheduling.

Here, I will explain the six levels as most of old school people still think as more logical, there are

LEVEL-1: Overview Schedule

LEVEL-2: Area Wise Schedule

LEVEL-3: Discipline Wise Schedule

LEVEL-4: Major Activities Schedule

LEVEL-5: Detailed Activities Schedule

LEVEL-6: Micro-detail Activities Schedule

Question-33: What is the difference between Project Planner & Project Controller?

Answer: Project planner does the planning phase for the project from WBS identification, identification of project deliverables, milestones, create the baseline, plan budget, cash flow and KPI’s and trackers. Planner is to prepare the program and prepare acceptable budget for all parties.

Project control, provides assistance and ensure that the plan is controlled by providing risk register, analyzing critical path, placing mitigation plans, track project KPI, and ensures that project is running on time and budget. It’s focus is only productivity & reports according to organizational norms.


Continued! ……………. Will be updated continuously to make it best available pool. Please suggest me more questions related to this.

Further Reads: You can read more about Planning Engineer & Project Manager

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About the Author: Team Project