10 Programme Manager Interview Questions to Help You Prepare

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Are you interviewing for a job in programme management? Review these programme manager interview questions as part of your preparation to make the best impression.

[Featured image] A male wearing a white shirt and gray tie is being interviewed for a program manager position. He is being interviewed by a female, wearing a dark jacket and having long dark hair. She is taking notes on her laptop which is sitting on her lap.

A programme manager oversees a programme or initiative for an organisation. While project management focuses on short-term projects, programme management is about leading a larger goal. 

As a programme manager, you’ll plan, direct, document, and monitor the quality of more extensive programs involving smaller projects. You will also provide guidance and delegate projects to other project managers. 

To ace your programme manager interview, practice and study questions to help land your next job. Here are 10 common programme manager interview questions:

1. Tell me about yourself.

Expect to talk about yourself, your work history, and any relevant skills related to the program manager job description. This will show the interviewer that you have the required skills and have researched the company you’re interviewing with.

2. Why do you think you fit this programme manager role well?

Start by showing the difference between a project manager and a programme manager. Provide reasons for your fit for the role, including experience leading project managers. 

Programme managers are adept at assessing and mitigating risks; mention your experience with risk management in previous projects. As a programme manager, you’ll need strong communication, collaboration, and multitasking skills, so it may be essential to provide examples.

Remember to mention your success as a programme manager with metrics from past programmes. These success measures include cost variance, resource utilisation, and customer satisfaction.

3. Tell me about a successful project you have overseen.

Employers are looking for an ideal candidate who emphasises the importance of quantitative success, is data-driven, and has intuition. Provide experiences where you’ve increased programme or project performance using metrics like customer satisfaction, engagement, the program’s cost variance, etc. To set yourself up for success, you may include examples of when you’ve solved a problem, like a scope creep or a non-compliant team member.

4. Give an example of prioritising your tasks when working on multiple projects.

Managing multiple projects simultaneously is essential to a programme manager’s success. The interviewer likely wants to hear about the software programs, tools or applications you use to organise your projects’ tasks and your preferences. Examples of project management tools include Basecamp, Jira, OneNote, Asana, and Google Suite. If you have any other tips or methods you have learned in your experience while completing successful projects, this is the time to list them.

5. How do you adapt if a company changes its goals when you are halfway through a project?

Show your resilience, professionalism, and problem-solving skills by detailing how you pivoted when a company changed its goals during a project. Talk about your experience with scope creep and how you tackled it. You can also talk about communicating and guiding team members and stakeholders about any changes to a project or programme’s goals. 

6. Tell me about a time you fell behind on a project. What did you do to catch up?

This question touches on important programme management skills, including risk management, preventing scope creep, and problem-solving skills. Provide examples of steps you’ve taken to set a delayed project back on the right course to meet milestones and deadlines for deliverables. 

Communication would also be key in this situation. Mention your experiences being assertive and the steps you’ve taken to control projects, prioritise tasks, and communicate with others on your team.

7. Tell me about your management style when directing a team of project managers.

Talk about the traits that make you a successful programme manager. An ideal programme manager can show empathy, problem solve, offer support, give constructive and respectful feedback, communicate effectively, and offer strategies and guidance to their team. Highlight your ability to communicate with various stakeholders. You can also discuss your ability to build teams, improve collaboration, and promote positive change. 

8. Give me an example of a time that you identified project risks and how you mitigated them.

Risk management is a critical part of being a programme manager. Talk about how you identify and evaluate potential risks. You can discuss ways to foresee potential risks and their impacts with a cause-and-effect diagram. You can also talk about creating a risk management plan and how you communicate and document them. Talk about times when you’ve had to avoid risks by taking action, exploring your options, transferring risks by outsourcing tasks, or accepting risks and their impacts. You can also discuss times when you had to escalate a problem to key stakeholders to make speedy decisions, reduce frustration, and offer checks and balances. 

9. What is your approach to change management?

Companies use change management to allow adjustments throughout their organisations. A successful programme manager will have the plan to roll out a companywide change or process. 

Change may have to be implemented in steps. Ways to influence change include using personal motivation, providing social or structural motivation, and allowing people to make changes. Talk about how you have earned buy-in from the people involved.

10. How do you measure success in your projects?

Answer this question both quantitatively and qualitatively. While you can talk about metrics such as customer satisfaction, engagement, the programme’s cost variance, etc., you can also discuss other signs of success thanks to a project. Your achievements are essential, so provide examples of how you’ve stayed in scope, met deliverable dates, and kept your team motivated.

How to prepare for an interview

Interview preparation can help you succeed and feel more confident for your programme manager interview; here are some steps to consider before your interview. 

Research the organisation.

If you still need to become familiar with the company, you can find yourself in the news or press releases. Read about their products and services and the organisation's mission. Job review sites like Glassdoor and Payscale can provide insight into the company’s work culture. Another suggestion is to search for the potential interviewer and company on LinkedIn. 

Prepare your answers.

Write down your answers to common programme manager interview questions. Taking notes and providing examples can help you memorise and recite the answers more naturally. 

Practice the interview.

After preparing your answers, practice answering the interview questions confidently and naturally. Answer the questions at a moderate pace so you can communicate your answers. A mock interview with another person can help you identify gaps in your answers and think about better ways to answer questions.

Ask for feedback.

Ask a fellow programme manager, instructor, mentor, or friend for feedback on your CV and interview question answers. They could explain how to show your ability to do the programme manager job. 

Prepare your questions.

Always come with your questions for the interviewer. This is your chance to explain the role and expectations and explore what interests you most about the company. 

Next steps

As you continue your job search, consider improving your interviewing skills. On Coursera, try Successful Interviewing course that covers making a positive first impression, answering traditional interview questions, and proving you’ve researched your potential employer.  

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.