IT Project Manager Interview Questions
IT project managers handle the supervision of information technology projects across different departments. These projects can include anything from a software upgrade to creating an entirely new application in order to support critical business functions. Project management tasks include managing various IT teams, managing project finances, reporting on status to senior leaders, and making sure all related tasks and initiatives are done in a timely manner.
The role of an IT project manager is extremely important as they provide strategic planning and integration of information technologies into the company as well as lead project teams for optimal effectiveness.
IT project manager responsibilities may include:
- Creating and managing project plans
- Using project management tools to track team progress
- Delivering progress reports to clients or management
- Recruiting subcontractors
- Advising various IT areas as it pertains to the project scope
- Ensuring projects are progressing on time and on budget
IT project managers are essential to making sure both deadlines and the quality of work is held to a particular standard. In order to ensure projects run smoothly, a skilled IT project manager will:
- Communicate effectively with other team members
- Have organizational skills to manage many project documents
- Possess an eye for detail to identify errors
- Utilize creative thinking to automate processes
- Possess presentation skills to report project status to management
Candidates are typically required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field to qualify. However, larger companies may require candidates to possess a master’s degree. Work experience is required to qualify for a position as an IT project manager, and candidates can make themselves more attractive to employers by obtaining certifications such as a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
If you’re getting ready to interview for a position as an IT project manager, you can prepare by researching the company as much as possible. Learn about the 9 things you should research before an interview.
Salaries for IT project managers range between $82K and $140K with the median being $106K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as an IT project manager include:
- Degrees (bachelor's, master's, PMP certification)
- Years of Experience
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager you report to and number of direct reports)
- Level of Performance - Exceeding Expectations
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IT Project Manager Interview Questions
Question: What methodologies do you use to manage IT projects?
Explanation: By asking this question, the interviewer is seeking to understand how you go about doing your job. This is an example of an operational question. Operational questions help the interviewer understand your qualifications and skills. They are best answered directly and concisely.
Example: “When managing complex IT projects, I employ methodologies including Agile, Lean, and Waterfall. Using these frameworks, I can keep a project on schedule and under budget. The frameworks also help me identify the project milestones and correct any errors or mistakes before they have a larger impact on the overall project.”
Question: If you could design your ideal project, what would it look like?
Explanation: An interviewer will ask this question to understand your project management preferences. When you answer, also provide them information about how you manage projects and what roadblocks are challenges you prefer to avoid. Your answer should also reflect the type of projects the organization with which you are interviewing typically engages in.
Example: “My ideal venture would be a challenging software development project. The application would be designed for internal use, and the customer would be one of the organization’s internal departments. The project team would be well experienced and familiar with the application and the end-user community. The timeline would allow us enough time to complete the project, and the budget would enable us to obtain all of the needed resources. The project requirements would be clear and transparent, and the stakeholders would be available to provide timely and helpful feedback.”
Question: What experience do you have managing budgets?
Explanation: An interviewer will be interested in your background in budget management because this is a crucial skill every project manager must possess. In addition to completing projects per the requirements and on time, meeting the budget is critical. You should be able to briefly summarize your experience managing project budgets and also include a statement as to why this is important in your answer.
Example: “I have a great deal of experience managing project budgets. I have worked on projects with budgets ranging from four to six figures. I understand the importance of keeping projects under budget, and I strive to do this without jeopardizing the quality of the work or the timeliness of the project. Having worked on many projects, I know how to identify areas in which I can save money without any impact on the overall project.”
Question: What steps do you take to collaborate with customers and other project stakeholders effectively?
Explanation: Collaborating with the project stakeholders as well as the end users or customers is critically important. An interviewer will ask this question to gain an understanding of your collaboration and communication skills. You may also want to mention your negotiation skills in your answer since you use these to reach an agreement with the stakeholders.
Example: “Working closely with the project stakeholders and customers is a critical skill for any project manager. The steps I take to develop a good relationship with the team involves holding a project meeting early in the process to define the project goals, parameters, resources, and budget. I make sure everybody clearly understands this and is committed to it. Using the Agile process, I hold stand-up meetings each day to assess the project progress, identify areas of concern, and correct any issues that may impact the project in the long term.”
Question: What criteria do you use to prioritize tasks on a project?
Explanation: Prioritizing tasks on a project is critically important. This is what keeps the project on track and under budget. It also determines when the project resources are required. Proper prioritization is a critical skill every project manager must possess, and you should be able to describe how you go about accomplishing this quickly.
Example: “I spend a lot of time reviewing the tasks required for a project and prioritizing them. The criteria I use to prioritize the tasks include how critical the task is to the overall success of the project, how timely the task is, and any dependencies the task may have. Critical and timely tasks receive high priorities as do those which are required for other tasks to be completed.”
Question: What issues do you look for to indicate a project is falling behind schedule?
Explanation: Keeping a project on schedule is one of the project manager’s most important roles. Being able to identify issues that indicate a project has fallen behind schedule is critical to the job. The interviewer will ask you this operational question to learn how you go about doing this and what systems and tools you use. Operational questions are best answered directly and concisely, describing the process or the steps you take to accomplish this task.
Example: “Keeping a project on schedule is one area in which I invest a lot of time and resources. Since I employ the Agile methodology, I have the opportunity to identify issues that impact a project schedule every single day. Indications a project has fallen behind schedule include incomplete tasks, feedback from the project team about a lack of resources, and requests for additional time to complete a task.”
Question: If a project is falling behind schedule, what actions do you take to get it back on track?
Explanation: This is a follow-up to the previous question. The interviewer will ask a follow-up question if they are interested in the topic being discussed or need additional information to determine your qualifications and skills. During an interview, you should anticipate follow-up questions to any answer you provide. Keeping your answer short and concise will enable the interviewer to move on to a new question or provide them the opportunity to ask a follow-up question.
Example: “As I mentioned in my previous answer, I have several criteria I use to determine if a project is falling behind schedule. When I identify an issue that may impact the project schedule, I examine it very closely to determine if it is genuine and needs to be addressed. If it is genuine, I take corrective actions to mitigate it. If it isn’t, I coach the team member about the importance of staying on track and spend even more time monitoring their progress on the tasks they are assigned.”
Question: Have you managed projects which utilize remote teams and outsourced resources?
Explanation: The interviewer will ask this question to determine your experience in this area. You should take this as an indication that the organization utilizes outsourced resources and remote teams when working on IT projects. If you have experience in this area, you can describe it and discuss the techniques you use to manage these resources. If you don’t have this experience, admit it and then discuss what techniques you believe you would use to manage external resources.
Example: “Many if not all of the projects I manage involve remote team members and external resources. This is very common for IT projects. I have a set of tools I use to manage both of these aspects. They include video conferencing, screen-sharing software, Gantt charts, outsourcing agreements, and daily Agile stand-up meetings. Together, these tools enable me to make sure the remote team members are staying on task and external resources are available when needed.”
Question: What is your process for addressing team members who are working well below their potential?
Explanation: As a project manager, you’re a team leader, and you are expected to be able to manage a team so they are producing up to their full potential. The interviewer will ask this question to determine your leadership skills and how you go about accomplishing this task. Any skilled project manager should be able to answer this question easily.
Example: “Keeping my team on task and working up to their full potential is a challenge, but one that I welcome. I take the time to get to know each of my team members very well and understand what they are capable of. I only assign them tasks I know they can accomplish. I take the time to communicate the project goal and requirements. I also make sure each team member commits to their role on the project both verbally and in writing. I do daily check-ins with them to ensure they are on schedule and identify any issues which may be impacting their work. Finally, at the end of the project, I recognize their contributions and provide a small reward for their work.”
Question: Have you ever sought help outside of the immediate project team, and if so, why?
Explanation: This is another operational question in which the interviewer is hoping to understand whether you are willing to go outside of the immediate project team and stakeholders to request assistance when you need it. Project managers need to take full responsibility for the successful completion of the project but must also be open to requesting assistance. You should be able to confirm that you are willing to request outside assistance and describe why you would do this and what result you would expect to achieve.
Example: “Even the most competent project teams often require assistance from an outside source. I am not averse to doing this, as long as the assistance is reasonable and will not impact the timeline or the budget for the project. I normally request help from someone who may have the skills or resources not available from the project team. I only request help if it is absolutely necessary, and I make sure the person I am requesting help from understands it is a one-off and that I am willing to return the favor when needed.”
Additional IT Project Manager Interview Questions
Tell me about a full project life-cycle you have managed.
What tools have you used in the past to track project performance?
How would you define a project plan to someone who is not familiar with what they are?
Have you ever failed as a project manager? If so, what was it, and how?
How do you handle team members failing to meet expectations?
Discuss a time when you had to explain a technology concept to someone with little technology background.
How can you bring creativity to your career in project management?
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