Question forms part of
Civil Service Question Bank
Project Manager Question & Answer Sheet
Other interview questions that are similar
Are you familiar with Waterfall Projects?
Are you familiar with Agile Development?
Tell me about a time you had to choose a Project Management methodology
What are the advantages and disadvantages of each methodology?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
This is a pretty common interview question for everyone who works in projects. This can be asked to a Project Manager, Project Coordinator, PMO, Business Analyst, etc.
The interviewer is trying to understand how much you know about project management and the different ways a project can be approached. This is something that is taught early on in most PM courses so a failure to answer this question shows the interviewer that you have not done much studying in the field.
The interviewer wants to know if you understand the difference between certain methodologies. The key methodologies that you should be aware of are:
You should also be aware of specific Agile techniques such as Scrum, Lean & Kanban. If your interviewer is passionate about software development do not be surprised if a discussion breaks out into whether these are actual Agile techniques or Project Management methodologies of their own. But we are not getting into that mess here!
When asking this question the interviewer is most interested in seeing how you approach a new project and choose the methodology by which you will run the project.
The best approach to answering this question
This is a trick question!
The premise of the question is asking you to decide which methodology is better, or rather, which methodology do you perceive to be better.
There is no right answer. That is the trick. Each methodology has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. And each methodology suits itself best to different types of projects.
The best approach to answering this question therefore is to say how you don’t believe either methodology is better and that prior to initiating any project you choose the methodology that best suits your project, it’s deliverables and it’s aims.
Feel free to mention that you have a personal preference for one style of project and why – for me I prefer the simplicity of waterfall, in that you know exactly where you stand with it: you start a project, you deliver on its aims then you close the project. With Agile, it can be a never ending beast, particular with a regularly updated piece of software. But that is just my personal preference, I would still use Agile when the situation lends itself to a more iterative approach that Agile can support.
How NOT to answer this question
Don’t say one is better than the other. As previously mentioned no PM methodology is better than the others. Regardless of what some proponents might tell you. Stay neutral and talk about how you use the methodology that is best for the situation.
Don’t confuse terms. Project Management “Methodology” refers, primarily, to Waterfall and Agile. This is not to be confused with any other terms. Lean, Scrum & Kanban are tools and techniques used within Agile. PMP, PRINCE2, PMBOK are certifications and not methodologies.
Don’t answer a different question. This question is asking you for your opinion on which methodology is better. It is not asking you which methodologies you know, or which methodologies you have experience in – although you should weave into your answer your experience with each methodology you discuss. This question is asking which you think is better, highlighting that the interviewer is interested in what you believe the relative strengths and weaknesses of each methodology are.
What Project Management Methodology do you believe is better?- Example answer
“My preference is for Agile. I find that it is the most adaptive methodology meaning that we can pivot on a dime and be able to deliver quickly and often. Something that I don’t believe is possible when working with a Waterfall or even a Hybrid model.
That is not to say though that I believe Agile is better. I think all of the methodologies have their place in an organisation. I have worked Waterfall before and believe that it is better adapted for complex projects with a single one time delivery, like the time I oversaw the opening of a new call centre wing. That was better suited to Waterfall as there were defined stages and a handover to the business.
Contrast that with the time I managed a software deployment (to the same call centre in fact). This was better suited to an Agile-based deployment as we initially delivered a MVP of the software and then deployed multiple releases that introduced new features as we went. Agile was the better choice in this instance as it allowed us to deliver a working product much earlier than we would have done had we used Waterfall.”
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