What are the traits of a good project manager (PM) and how do you know if you’ve found the right one for your project and your business? Ask every potential project manager these eight questions to ensure they’re a good fit for you.

8 interview questions to ask a project manager

    1. Are you able to see beyond the project?
      A great project manager is able to see beyond the immediate goals, such as delivering on time and on budget, to achieving broader ambitions and aspirations for the client. You’ll want a PM who can partner closely with you and ask the hard questions up front to get a better understanding of what’s really possible and then deliver on that vision. A good PM is driven by your ambition.
    2. Have you completed similar projects before?
      Find out if the candidate has successfully managed projects comparable to yours in scope, building type and industry group. An experienced PM should be able to provide solid references from organizations they have served successfully and cite specific examples of their efforts.
    3. How many points of contact will you have?
      Projects can suffer potential slowdowns and information gaps when you’re dealing with a team of different project managers. Make sure there is one lead PM assigned for the duration of the project, as well as a dedicated backup contact in case they’re on vacation or otherwise unavailable. Consistency and trust are critical to achieving your project’s success.
    4. Can you instill collaboration across teams?
      A project manager should be able to facilitate a collaborative process across a wide range of groups, from architects and contractors to other project contributors such as technology and furnishings planners, internal review boards, public interest groups, regulatory bodies and so forth. Again, asking for references or case studies can help you get a sense of someone’s success in this area.
    5. Is there flexibility in your solutions?
      A seasoned PM approaches each new project with zero plan in place. No matter how similar your project is to another, you’ll want someone with knowledge and expertise to customize a plan for your specific needs. Their solutions should assimilate with your company’s culture and scale with changing requirements.
    6. How are you perceived in the industry?
      Does the PM’s favorable reputation extend beyond clients to architects, contractors and other vendors? While these professionals may not agree with all of the PM’s decisions, they should respect their regard for quality and fairness. A PM with a reputation for lowering costs by “squeezing” suppliers will be neither trusted nor respected. Character and integrity are vital to building the best partnerships.
    7. What’s the guaranteed ROI?
      A responsible PM will assume some of the risk in order to stay motivated and ensure the project’s success. Guaranteeing 100% or better ROI creates a strong incentive to meet and exceed expectations. On average, a PM can save you 4-6 times their fee equivalent in project-related cost savings. An experienced PM should cite examples of former client savings and demonstrate that your bottom line is their principal priority.
    8. Are you able to deliver under extraordinary circumstances?
      Sometimes challenging situations come up during a project that are out of the PM’s control. A power outage, major delays or even a hurricane may threaten the course of a project. Ask them how they’ve handled these types of situations. You want a competent partner who can deliver in the face of extreme challenges and extraordinary circumstances.

If you’re looking for real results, the question isn’t why hire a project manager? But rather how can you afford not to?

With so much at stake, including your reputation, you can’t afford to make mistakes. Armed with these questions, you’ll find the right project manager to lead your renovation beyond completion and ensure a valuable outcome long after they’re gone.

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About the author


About the author

Tim Kay, Managing Director, Project and Development Services
Providing executive leadership and oversight for the planning and execution of a wide range of projects on a local, regional and global basis.

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