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Top 10 Project Manager interview questions (third part) -- All answers about project documents

Have you sent a job application for a PM role? The interview questions asked by Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook recruiters do not really matter: what matters is the knowledge you need to give the right answers to any question! So, stop reading hundredth of interview questions: it is a waste of time. Rather learn the key concepts  (processes, frameworks, methodologies, templates, steps, and tools) described in this series of posts and you will be in a much better position the day of the interview. In particular, many questions are about the documents you would produce as a project manager, or you have used in your past projects.

To be really well prepared for your interviews read also: the ultimate preparation package for PM interviews.

NB:  I strongly advise you to read the PMBOK before your interview...

The documents that project managers use depend on the project phases. If you do not remember the 5 phases of project management, jump to the end of this post, where I remind them. Otherwise, you can continue reading this post to directly learn what the top 4 project management documents contain.

Top 4 Project Documents produced by good project managers

Two kinds of documents matter for every phase of a project: the required (1) input and (2) output documents for that phase of the project. The input documents are demanded by the project manager but she usually does not write them: they come from the customer or other project stakeholders. The size of all these documents is closely related to the size of the project. Use common sense: if your project is small, do not fill hundredth of pages...

The top 4 project management documents are the following:

  1. Project charter: 

    • It is the agreement between the people who will do the work and the one who request the work. It gives the Project Manager a clear mandate to plan and execute the project. 
    • Either the project manager writes this document and validates it with the project sponsor, or (better) the sponsor writes the project charter while involving the project manager.
    • A good project charter usually includes: 
      • The rationale for the project - what business need does the project answer
      • The project (SMART) objectives and success criteria as well as the process to validate the success or not of the project (e.g., restitution to sponsors)
      • The clear delimitation of project scope 
      • A summary of the main aspects of the project: budget, timeline, leader, shareholders, 
      • The identification of the sponsors who decide to launch the project

  1. Project management plan

The project management plan is one step more detailed. It describes the way several aspects of the project will be managed:
  • Schedule
  • Scope / requirements / deliverables
  • Cost
  • Human resources
  • Less important aspects can also be detailed, depending on the size and stakes of the project:
    • Communication
    • Quality
    • Risks
    In practice, the project management plan consists, therefore, in the sum of various documents:
    • The project statement of work (SoW)
    • A cost / resource / time estimation for every activity
    • Who will do what: roles and responsibilities, a name in front of each activity
    • The list of milestones,  a deadline in front of each activity
    • The changes in this project, especially if it is run with an iterative / incremental approach
    Project Plan Templates
    Project Plan Templates (Photo credit:

    1. Accepted deliverables

    The accepted deliverables are the result that the project provides to (internal or external) customer.

    1. Archived project documents

    The archived project documents are the memory of the project. In practice, they are often neglected and never reopened by anyone. They can nevertheless prove useful: as templates, as proof of execution in case of an audit, and as a source for lessons learned.

    To conclude this post, please be aware that I did not detail all project documents but stressed only the most important ones. If you want more details, I advise you to read the PMBOK

    Other project documents

     Additional less important documents can be filled in the case of large projects. They include:
    • Make or buy decisions
    • Detailed requirements / specifications
    • ...

    Reminder: the phases of project management

    The five phases of a project are:

    1. the initiation, 
    2. the planning, 
    3. the execution, 
    4. the monitoring / controlling, and 
    5. the closing. 

      Project phases (image from Wikipedia)

      About Gilles


      1. Great blog! Very helpful. I found links for first and third parts in PM Interview questions session. Where can i find the second part in this series?

        Thanks in advance!

        1. Sorry for the super late answer: