Job Interview: Tell me about a time you managed an important project. How did you prepare for it?

If you a job interview coming up for a managerial position, you’re most likely going to be asked behavioral job interview questions. Interviewers use this specific type of job interview questions to assess whether or not you have the skills, abilities, and competencies needed for the job. The thought behind behavioral job interview questions is to find out how you performed in the past to get an idea of how you might perform in the future. This is also the reason why interviewers ask you about managing important projects.

Similar questions that the interviewer can ask you during a job interview:

  • Tell me about your leadership skills and experience
  • Tell me about your experience in taking the lead on important projects or tasks
  • Describe a time when you took the opportunity to lead a project
  • Give me an example of an important project or task that you worked on

When you’re preparing for your job interview, make sure you are able to answer the most frequently asked job interview questions as well. Solid preparation will help you impress the interviewer and land that dream job!

Why is the interviewer asking about a time you managed an important project?

The interviewer is interested in how well you can handle managing a project or a situation. Also, he or she is interested in what way you approach challenges and how you deal with them. The goal of the interviewer is to find out if you possess the skills needed to successfully lead projects. It’s, therefore, important for you to be able to demonstrate that you possess the skills and capabilities of taking proper initiatives and actions to successfully manage a project. The best way to do this is not only by saying this but by providing an example situation to go with it.

Interviewers, in general, are interested in your work ethics and your values. This is also the reason that they ask you behavioral job interview questions. From the answers you give, they are trying to determine whether you’re:

  • Responsible
  • Dedicated
  • Productive
  • Self-starting
  • Punctual

How to answer job interview questions about managing important projects

The key to successfully answering behavioral job interview questions is to prepare thoroughly. As a candidate, it’s important to think of answers to commonly asked job interview questions prior to the interview. It’s advisable to relate and highlight your answers to the competencies and skills that the interviewer is looking for. The easiest and quickest way to find these is to analyze the job description. Therefore, make sure to prepare strong answers and adapt them to the relevant competencies of the job that you’re applying for.

To start preparing your answers to interview questions about managing important projects, it’s smart to write down a list of important projects that you have been involved in. Think of all the projects in your career that really made a difference. Then, behind each project, you write down what the exact goals and objectives were. Also, do not forget to write down your specific role in successfully finishing the project as well. To finalize, write down what the outcomes of each of the projects were. Now that you have all this information summed up, it’s time to structure your answers in a way that you can use them during the job interview.

The best way to approach structuring your answers to behavioral job interview questions is through the STAR interview technique. This method allows you to answer in a structured manner so that the interviewer can clearly understand all the important aspects that you want to convey. It will help you in a simple yet effective way of how you handled specific situations and challenges in the workplace. STAR is an acronym that stands for:

Situation

You start by telling the interviewer a specific project, challenge, or event that you faced.

Task

Next, you discuss the responsibilities and assignments you had in that specific situation.

Action

What actions did you take to address the situation you were in?

Result

What was the result of your actions? Also, discuss what you learned from the process. This indicated that you are able to reflect on situations and have self-knowledge.

Mistakes to avoid when answering job interview questions about managing important projects

Just like there are important things to focus on, there are interview mistakes you should avoid.

General mistakes that you should avoid

Mistakes related to answering job interview questions about managing important projects

  • Don’t ramble. This is easy to do when you’re proud of your accomplishment but avoid it. Keep your story concise and clear, and only provide the necessary details to answer the interviewer’s question.
  • Don’t go into the interview without being able to provide clear example situations, especially to behavioral job interview questions.
  • Failing to emphasize your contribution to the success of a project.

Sample job interview answers about managing important projects

If possible, select a project that you have worked on recently to use in your answers. Below an example of an answer is given to a job interview question about managing an important project. Remember, your goal is to make the best impression as possible when explaining how you manage important projects. If possible, try to quantify your results when you mention example situations and always share the outcome of the project.

Example answer 1:

‘I’ve been involved in several important projects in my previous job as manager of the sales department. One time I was asked to set up a project team to work on a sales presentation to convince a new client to use our services. The pressure was on because it was a 5-year deal and a multi-million dollar contract that was at stake. For the company as well as for me personally, this was a big deal. As this deal would mean a lot for the company in terms of turnover increase, I understood that failure was not an option because it was a unique opportunity.

I gathered a team of the most experienced employees and selected them based on their individual qualities and strengths to make sure to balance the team out. Together with the team, a planning document was set up, and goals and milestones were determined. After that, I delegated tasks based on the knowledge and experience levels of each team member. Also, I hired a project manager to carefully monitor the progress on a day to day basis and report to me on the milestone progress.

Because I distributed the responsibilities according to experience and knowledge levels, everyone on the team was aware of their responsibilities and the importance of the project. The team delivered everything on time without requiring intense oversight. We finished our sales presentation ahead of the deadline and were able to provide the client with everything he asked for.  The client told us that he was impressed by our efforts, and we landed the contract, which was the largest contract closed in that year. This was a great achievement for the team as it was an effort that could not have been made without the people on it.’ 

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic