Behavioral Interview Questions for Project Managers

33847986_sToday’s candidate-driven job market means employers, hiring managers, and recruiters have to take advantage of every effective recruiting tactic they can. One of the best recruiting tactics is using behavioral interview questions, a mainstream method of job interviewing which employs questions about candidates’ past behaviors in specific work situations.

The goal of asking behavioral interview questions is to be able to get an accurate predictor of future performance by learning about past performance in similar situations. Behavioral interviewing is predictive of future on-the-job behavior because candidates are asked to discuss how they acted and behaved on the job in specific situations.

Take a look at these scenarios for behavioral interview questions and consider how you can use behavioral interview questions to improve your hiring success.


Project Management

In this project management recruiting scenario, inspired by “Hiring Talent: Decoding Levels of Work in the Behavioral Interview” by Tom Foster, the employer needs to evaluate if candidates’ skills and experience match the level of work in the open position, as well as level of interest and passion. The best way to determine candidates’ capability to do the job is to identify the level of work performed in previous roles and compare it to the open role. Questions should center around decisions that the candidate made, problems solved, and time-frames for doing so in previous roles. Work performed in shorter time spans indicates lower levels of complexity, and longer or extended time frames indicate more complex skills and capabilities.


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  • What kind of responsibilities have you had that involved meeting with clients? Do you like working with clients?
  • Step me through the process of taking a project from concept through implementation to completion.
  • During the past year, how many projects have you lead?
  • What made you take on longer projects? What are the unique challenges of working on long-term projects?
  • What’s the highest number of projects you’ve worked on at one time? Are you comfortable working that way?
  • What kind of work are you interested in? What keeps you interested in it?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project that highly interested you and stretched your skill sets? How did it exceed your skills and how did you manage the project work?
  • What is the best project you ever worked on? What makes you recall it as the best?


High Performance Attitude

In this high performance attitude recruiting scenario, from “Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting and Selecting People with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude,” characteristics of both high performing and low performing current employees have been identified through review of performance appraisals and input from managers. The purpose of using behavioral interview questions in this scenario is to identify high performing candidates by matching interview answers to high performer characteristics such as self-directed learners, asking for and finding the resources needed, and initiative and creativity in problem solving.


  • Can you tell me about a time you tried to fix or improve something and it didn’t work? How did you feel about it and what would you do differently?
  • Have you ever had to work with little or no resources, and how did you meet your goals with that kind of challenge? What do you do to get the resources you need to do your work?
  • How do you keep up your energy and your morale when things go wrong at work? How would you describe your energy levels and morale?
  • Explain your approach to problem-solving when you are at work and your attitude toward it.



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