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Project Manager Interview Questions

I want to make the jump into project management and just started looking for jobs. I've been a software engineer for 9 years so I have a pretty good idea of the types of questions to expect for a technical interview but not for a management one. What sort of interview questions can I expect (assuming I land some interviews)?

Anon
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

"How come you're applying for a project management job when you don't have any experience in that area?"


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

maybe... questions about, team work, leadership and motivation?

Cecilia Loureiro
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

www.pmi.org

DataMiner
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I don't think PM is about  team work, etc. It's about
negotiating and tracking features, requirements,
budgets, people,  equipment, designs, schedules,
quality, interfacing between different groups, reporting to management, making tradeoffs, etc.

It has little to do with day-to-day details of development
software.

son of parnas
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

PM Interview Question: Developer A is on Atkins diet.  Developer B is a vegetarian.  How do you order dinner and keep both happy?

freakazoid
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

No employer in their right mind would hire a software engineer with no management experience into a management job. Get promoted from within, then change jobs.

Neat Chi
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

"hire a software engineer with no management experience into a management job"

Project Management isn't really management. Where I work pretty much anyone can post for a PM job (although most don't for reasons anyone who's ever tried to be PM will understand)...

Anony Coward
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

it's easy if one is vegan the other is atkins. order a normal food, give one portion to the vegan, give the meat to the atkins guy.

next problem please.


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

When described like this:

PM is about negotiating and tracking features, requirements,
budgets, people,  equipment, designs, schedules,
quality, interfacing between different groups, reporting to management, making tradeoffs, etc.

As son of parnas did this makes me thing that one day a good AI could do this job. That is you leave people personal issues out of it.

Somorone
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

> This makes me thing that one day a good AI could do
> this job. That is you leave people personal issues
> out of it

Hopefully the dreary details. But a lot of it is about
dealing with people: Negotiating, decision making,
compromising, convincing, making hard decisions.
AIs won't be up to that for a long time.

son of parnas
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

OK maybe I should have been more clear. I do have some project management experience as I have been team lead for a while now and been handling some project management tasks over the years; however, my title is still Software Engineer and all the interviews I have had in the past were related to technical positions. Now I want to leave the technical side behind. I understand what is involved in project management via courses that I've taken and books that I have read but that still doesn't tell me the type of questions I would be seeing in an interview.

Anon
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

What schedule/status tracking tools have you used? Compare two of them.

What would you do if a programmer tells you it is too late to follow the process because the product has to go to testing now?

Describe a "cards on the wall" session you've moderated.

How do decide where to cut if you have to choose between cost, schedule, and quality?

Describe a development problem you tried to solve but couldn't.

(PS, just because a question is asked, that doesn't mean it has to make sense or have a "right" answer)

Tom H
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I've done heaps of project management, and I reckon the key is, as Caligula was reportedly fond of saying 'they can hate me as long as they fear me" (oderint dum metuant). Aske the interviewers a question for a change: see what they think of that...

bah humbug
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I hate to say it but qualifications don't really matter as you move up.  I spent a few years reading books on PM, then finagled a job as a PM and eventually concluded that ability or knowledge of being a PM simply isn't a factor.

There isn't really a test, like you might give a software engineer, to tell whether he is any good or not.  There are some books but most working PMs read only one (or perhaps none) of them.

If I were you, I'd just keep applying, try to be a little bit arrogant, look the part and try to distance yourself from programming.

The arrogance can be played two ways.  If you are a little bit arrogant, people will confuse that with confidence and ability.  Another way to go is to be more arrogant and constantly say, "People may not like me but I get the job done!"

Looking the part is basically that you have to look like a manager.  At some companies, being obscenely fat immediately shows that you are a (lower level) manager.    Being and looking older helps, too.

Distancing yourself from engineering certainly helps.  If you talk about managing like you talk about engineering (e.g. you compare management philosophies, describe books that you've read, describe how you manage and so on), others will assume that you are a newbie manager or even a faker.  Sympathizing with engineers also marks you as being an engineer.  Talk about how many releases and how long it took to do your last project and don't talk about the actual engineers that you managed, except when asked.  If asked, talk about engineers in the aggregate ("I managed 3 staff engineers.") and always avoid personifying them.  If you can worm in how you fired or laid off somebody, it will show that "business is business" and that you were responsible for doing manager dirty work.  In the end, you want to show yourself to be part of the manager caste so treat engineers the same way that you used to treat QA people (that is, as necessary but less important employees than yourself).

Daniel Howard
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Excellent daniel! My only modification would be
to say "I managed 3 resources" instead of
"I managed 3 staff engineers." Engineers is
to personal. Bragging about how much over
time your resources worked would probably
be good.

son of parnas
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

>There isn't really a test, like you might give a software engineer, to tell whether he is any good or not.<

True, but "PMP certification" is showing up more and more in job requirements. It's all BS, of course.

DataMiner
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Take a look at http://www.IAdea.com/hire.html for a couple of interesting project manager interview questions.

john_wang
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I am a Technical lead/Software engineer and I am also looking to make a jump into PM.Not many companies promote Tech people to PMs.I would say the qualities that a PM should have are:
1.Be close to other PMs and be close to Management.
2.Don't ever do the dirty job of programming even though you did that for a longtime before you became a PM.
3.Brag about the resources all the time.
4.Act as if you have worked on all the Platforms.
5.Fake some experience.Becuase everybody does it.

Veer
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Project Manager is about Managing Deliverable and budget Controls. dont involve yourself as a PM into too many things. 2 aspects of PM are Being technical and being Non Technical. Both are fair Enough as demands the Hiring Entities. Don't involve yourself into Technical Management if you have been or have not been into Technical Stuff Prioir to Applying for the Job, let show yourSelf as a Manager rather than a Technical Monster. The Basic Drawbacks are Too Much WorK and Less Productivity being Technical. As CMM Defined in their PRevious Versions "Its all about Process" now they have even changed their Mother sentence to "Its all about OUTPUT". so U see PM is about Quality OUTPUT you can produce for the Company(Management).
I have had 14+ yrs of Experience out of which 5+ as PRoject Manager handling 44+ Multiple Project at one Time. So have survived and Changed and Fallen and Risen to Onyl produce One Thing "Quality Output" and Rest "DELIGATE WORK" are the Golden Words.

Maninder Singh
Saturday, July 03, 2004

One more Comment :--> companies hire Project Managers as CareTakers Who can Do these Things in a better Way and independently.-->
Results oriented manager.
* Design Solutions.
* Excellent communications skills.
* Bring “closure” to projects and issues.
* Establish clear understanding of goals and objectives.
* Detect shifts in priorities and direction to avoid “scope creep”.
* Project and change management control.
* Manage client requirements, specifications, and expectations.
* Advise on complex matters to non-specialists/non-technical.
*Client advocate.
* Manage and lead people.
* Problem resolution coordination.
* Break work down into manageable units.
* Project status reporting.
* Manage project plans.
* Cross-team coordination.
* Implement best practices and new processes.
* Ensure project’s success.

Being a PM is getting into becoming a SUPERMAN of DELIVERY for any Company.

Maninder Singh
Saturday, July 03, 2004

They may ask how you will be able to manage people remotely, especially when there is time difference.

rs
Monday, August 16, 2004

Good responses!  If you understand project management and have done it, you will do just fine in responding to the questions.  If you don't understand it take some time to do so, because once you are in, they will expect miracles from you.

ek thompson
Thursday, August 19, 2004

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