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Program Manager interview questions and answers

This Program manager interview profile brings together a snapshot of what to look for in candidates with a balanced sample of suitable interview questions.

Nikoletta Bika
Nikoletta Bika

Nikoletta holds an MSc in HR management and has written extensively about all things HR and recruiting.

program manager interview questions

Program Manager Interview Questions

Program managers oversee inter-connected projects (programs) and supervise project managers. While the technical aspects are left to the project managers, a program manager has a more strategic role and ensures the program brings value to the business. They’re found commonly in educational institutions and elsewhere in the public sector, but also in private companies.

Required experience depends on the programs you’re hiring for. It’s sometimes best to look for program managers with a relevant background such as software engineering programs. You can ask specific questions to assess their technical expertise. Likewise, you’ll often need candidates with a relevant degree (e.g. degree in medicine for medical research programs). Depending on the seniority of the position, you can also look for candidates with certification in project/program management.

During the interview, dedicate time to learning as much as possible for the candidate’s past experience. Try to gain insight on programs or projects they have managed and what the outcomes were. They should demonstrate a leadership and problem-solving aptitude as well as a clear understanding of strategic aspects: change management, ROI, defining objectives, resource allocation etc.

Operational and Situational questions

  • What are the most common reasons that projects fail?
  • When having to monitor different projects, how do you prioritize them?
  • If you were assigned a program with a 6-month deadline, how would go about planning and delivering outcome?
  • Imagine you’re halfway through the completion of a program, when there’s a change in the company’s business strategy or objectives. How would you handle this?

Role-specific questions

  • What does a program manager do that project managers don’t?
  • What’s the role of technology in program management?
  • Which metrics do you use most frequently?
  • What’s your experience with program charters?
  • Are you familiar with the PMI code of ethics?
  • What would you use six sigma for?
  • Why is change management important for this role?
  • How do you avoid scope creep?
  • How do you keep up with industry trends?

Behavioral questions

  • Describe the most recent program you managed. What was your contribution?
  • Tell me about the biggest challenge you’ve faced while managing a team of project managers
  • How did you measure the success of deliverables in your last program? How did you choose the best metrics?
  • Describe how you developed a budget and allocated resources for a past program
  • Have you ever had to deal with a program that was falling behind schedule?
  • Have you ever faced a communication problem while managing a program? Who with and how did you resolve it?
  • Tell me about a time you found it difficult to negotiate with a sponsor/stakeholder. What did you do?
Ready to fine-tune this interview kit?
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