In the following article, we share interview questions for the positions of Project Manager and HR Specialist for technology organization. In the beginning, the questions about the project manager role are presented.
After each question, we indicate any appropriate answers from the candidates, which can be used for reference when deciding to hire a project manager (or HR specialist, respectively). In addition, we point out an example reaction that you probably won’t like.
What would you define as the greatest achievement in your work so far?
Successful completion of a project before the deadline and motivation for the fast and successful work of all team members. This type of answer would tell me that the candidate is a professional.
Every completed project is an achievement. At first glance, this answer seems positive and meaningful, but for me, it would say that the candidate is confident and has no personal attitude to his projects or teams.
Which of your projects would you describe as successful?
A socially engaged project that I led from preparation to its successful completion. This type of answer shows me that the candidate is empathetic and socially engaged.
A project in which we raised the company’s turnover by 30%. A very good answer if it was in addition to his positive answer, but if his first signal answer is this, it will tell me that the person is extremely material.
What tools do you use to achieve “success”?
Communication, motivation, teamwork, empathy, supervision. This type of tool would tell me that a good and effective manager is against me.
Discipline, individualism, authoritarianism. This type of answer will show me that the person is despotic and works hard in a team.
When a conflict arose in the work environment, what was your approach to it most often?
Conversation with the employees involved in the conflict, hearing of the parties, acquaintance of the parties with the company’s standards. This kind of response and attitude towards the suppression of the conflict would make a very good impression on me.
I make my own decision in such a situation. This answer would show me that man is autonomous, lacks understanding, and has difficulty working with people.
What do you think was the biggest challenge in your work and how did you deal with it?
I had a project for which they surprisingly shortened the deadline. We had to raise the quality and turnover of the whole team very quickly in order to complete the project on time and successfully. This kind of attitude to challenging situations would tell me that the person is calm, balanced, gets out of situations, and does not panic.
Working in a team of people with whom I could not find a common language. This type of response shows that the person works hard in a team, has no emotional intelligence, is not flexible, and does not find a “way” to employees.
What tools did you use to resolve conflicts in your previous team?
Communication, listening, analytical, empathy. This kind of attitude toward conflicts would tell me that the manager is emotionally intelligent, flexible, and skillfully moves his team.
I have no tools, I act according to the situation and the people. Not a bad answer, but if this is the first signal, it means that the person is autonomous and does not comply with the opinion of others.
What are the criteria in your opinion for a team to be successful?
Respect, understanding, empathy, motivation, flexibility, directing efforts to a common goal. Great attitude to the issue and teamwork in general.
Discipline and clear rules. This type of answer would tell me about authoritarianism and difficult understanding with people.
Was there anything on your old team that you didn’t like?
We got along great, we had emotional moments every time we worked with people, but we went through them quickly and easily. This type of answer would tell me about a person who is trying to understand people and would do everything to make the teams finish their work without any problems.
There were people I was uncomfortable working with, but I tried to be impartial with them. This attitude to the issue would make a bad impression on me, it tells me about the lack of any empathy and bias towards employees.
What kind of work environment would you describe as successful?
An environment with motivated team members focused on a common cause. This type of answer would tell me that the manager puts the welfare of the employee first.
An environment with clear rules and responsibilities for each team member. This answer would tell me again about autonomy and lack of understanding towards team members.
In what scale team would you feel comfortable – bigger or smaller?
In larger. This answer would lead me to think that the person easily manages to motivate people, does not feel discomfort from managing more people, is flexible, and knows how to work in a team.
In smaller. This answer would show me that the person does not work successfully with more people, fails to find a way to employees.
What approaches do you use to motivate your employees?
Communication, interest, praise, feedback, constructive criticism. I would like this type of approach to employee motivation and in general the overall attitude to the predisposition of the employee to feel good in their work environment.
Organizing meetings and conversations, constant monitoring, and expert opinion. These approaches I do not think would help motivate the employee.
Give me an example of a successfully motivated team?
Many of the members of my old team expressed a self-union desire to work with me and this is my next project. Here, this type of answer would show me that the manager has really managed to motivate his employees and they trust him.
A team that has completed its project on time and successfully. This kind of formal response would tell me no personal connection to the team and no example of personal motivation.
What do you think are the main components to define a team as “good”?
A team can be called successful or good when there is respect, understanding, a clear goal, motivation, and enthusiasm for success.
It would make a good impression on me if the candidate does not think when he answers, says it with a smile, and the way he grades the components.
A team is successful when everyone in it knows their responsibilities and performs them in the right way. If the answer is given briefly, clearly, without any empathy on the part of the candidate, I would accept this attitude as incorrect.
Describe to me the work environment in which you will feel the best and most effective?
Positive and motivating environment, understanding with colleagues, without conflicts, an environment that gives you room for expression of your strengths. It would impress me if a person smiles when he speaks and the position of the body he will take.
An environment in which everything is calm, there are no conflicts and everyone is aware of their responsibilities. This answer seems sterile and too learned, it has no personal relation to the work environment.
Was there something in your old work environment that you didn’t like?
There were some things I didn’t like, but I accepted them as a challenge to myself to become more tolerant and understanding. I would take this attitude towards the issue and the challenges we face in our work environment in general as positive.
I would consider the immediate complaint from the old work environment to be extremely unsatisfactory. The attitude is obviously negative, the person has a hard time working with people.
Tell me about your greatest achievement at work?
The successful cohesion and unification of the team I worked with in my previous job. Finding and hiring the right staff, their implementation in the company, and the minimum loss of labor. Building a friendly-positive relationship between senior management and other employees. New social benefits for employees. The attitude that would make a good impression on me is the positive attitude towards the way he describes his achievements. Answer without thinking and without long pauses.
Organizing large team building, internal events, and in general if almost all the answers are related to purely material achievements. The long thought between the answers would make a bad impression on me.
What qualities do you think have helped to achieve these achievements?
Emotional intelligence, wise protection of the interests of both parties – senior management and employees, personal attitude to each employee and his problem, organization and performance, diplomacy. I would like to point out this type of quality.
Perseverance, discipline, and pursuit of your goals. An answer of this type would make me wonder if the person is suitable for the position because no empathy is felt or there are no qualities listed that would help the common cause, but the individual.
Do you think that with us you can repeat your successes?
I know I will do my best, not just to repeat them, but to jump over them. This type of answer would make a very good impression on me because it would mean to me that the person is “firmly on the ground”, he realizes that it will not be easy, but he will conscientiously do his best for the common mission.
I will definitely do it. Such a definite answer would make me wonder if self-confidence is not without coverage, how he is so convinced when he does not even know the environment, people, their mood, etc. I believe that HR should be more flexible, adaptable to the situation and people, open to change, and learning new things.
Tell me about a situation (s) in which you did not agree with a decision made by your manager?
At work, these types of conflicts are commonplace. In such a situation, I try to offer my vision for a solution to the problem, and if it is rejected, I do what my supervisor tells me to do. I would like this type of answer and attitude. For me, he says that the person is executive, not conflicted, and has no hesitation in declaring himself.
I have had many such situations in which I have always clearly expressed my disagreement and, if necessary, I have entered into a conflict in order to defend my thesis. Again, such a definite answer would make a bad impression on me and show me that the person against me has no empathy, flexibility, and is conflicted.
When a conflict arose at work, what was your approach to it most often?
I always approach it with diplomacy, listening, and trying to understand the point of view of each participant in the conflict, wisely getting out of the situation. This type of attitude to the question asked suggests that one would try to quell the conflict in the most diplomatic and intelligent way, without having offended or embittered.
Depending on who the conflict is between, if it is between a higher and a lower one, I would take the side of the higher one. I would try to maneuver and find out who is right in the situation, but always in favor of the leaders. I would not like this type of answer, there is no empathy and understanding, but only the pursuit of interests and satisfaction of the needs of higher employees.
What has been the biggest challenge in your work so far?
To make an employee believe in his qualities and his motivation for career advancement. The successful reunion of a team of people who initially disliked each other and failed to work together. The motivation of unmotivated employees. Uniting an entire organization for their common cause and mission. I would like this type of answer and attitude to the question, and in general to what the person considers a “challenge” in the work of HR.
To dismiss an employee, to quell conflict, to deny a social benefit to an employee. This type of response, in my opinion, is aimed at the fact that the person takes as a challenge only topics with a negative note and does not attach much importance to the good he does for employees. Also, to accept the “dismissal” itself as a challenge would tell me they are a weak person.
Can you feel the mood of a colleague only by the expression on his face and body?
Yes, especially when I have spent some time with them, I can easily recognize their moods. This type of response speaks of emotional intelligence, concern, and empathy, it would impress me.
Not always, in most cases, I understand their problems if they tell me.
For me, this means that a person lacks a sense of empathy, low emotional intelligence.
Did you have close friendships in your previous work environment?
I had friendly and collegial relations with most colleagues, with some closer, with others not so much, but I avoid making personal and deep friendships in the places where I work. And if that happens, then it’s real, because it happened naturally. I would like this type of answer and a positive adequate attitude. He will tell me that the person is mature and distinguishes well between personal and professional relationships.
I make close friends almost everywhere I work. See you outside the office, go on vacation. In my opinion, this type of answer shows that a person does not easily and adequately distinguish between personal and professional relationships. Allows employees too close.
Do you find it easy to distinguish between emotions and reason when it comes to the work environment?
I try to do it in every situation. I would like this type of answer because it shows that the person clearly realizes that it is not always easy to do it, really tries to apply it, and has a clear idea that he has more experience in interpersonal relationships to be definite in your answer. For me, it would also mean that he is not guided by his ego and is ready to learn at any moment.
Yes, I always do. Such a clear and definite answer from a person who is expected to be younger and inexperienced than me would make me wonder if there really is coverage of the answer and to what extent this self-confidence is real. This is a person who would not have much desire to learn new things and develop.