Project Management Interview Questions in Java

We have compiled most frequently asked Java J2EE Interview Questions which will help you with different expertise levels.

Java J2EE Interview Questions on Project Management

Question 1.
What do you understand by a project?
A project is a specific plan or design or a planned undertaking towards achieving some specific objective(s) / goal(s).

Question 2.
Enumerate the main characteristics of a project.
The characteristics which distinguish projects can be summarized as follows:-

  1. non-routine tasks are involved;
  2. planning is required;
  3. specific objectives are to be met or a specified product is to be created;
  4. the project has a predetermined time span;
  5. work is carried out for someone other than yourself;
  6. work involves several specializations;
  7. work is carried out in several phases;
  8. the resources that are available for use on the project are constrained;
  9. the project is large or complex.

Question 3.
Consider the following:

  1. Producing an edition of a newspaper;
  2. Putting a robot vehicle on Mars to search for signs of life;
  3. Getting married;
  4. Amending a financial computer system to deal with a common European currency;
  5. A research project into what makes a good human-computer interface;
  6. An investigation into the reasons why a user has a problem with a computer system;
  7. A second-year programming assignment for a computing student;
  8. Writing an operating system for a new computer;
  9. Installing a new version of a word processing package in an organization;

Some of the above would appear to merit the description ‘project’ more than the others. Put them into an order that most closely matches your ideas of what constitutes a project. For each entry in the ordered list, describe the difference between it and the one above which makes it less worthy of the term ‘project’.
The order you put these projects is, of course, to a large degree subjective. Here is one example of a possible ordering:-

(1) Putting a robot vehicle on Mars to search for signs of life: Almost everybody would put this first. The huge scale of the task, the relative novelty of the project, all the different specializations involved, and the international nature of the project make it special. Note that the successful achievement of the project from the engineering point of view is the safe landing of the robot, not the discovery of signs of life.

(2) Writing an operating system for a new computer: This is a prime example of a software development project.

(3) Amending a financial computer system to deal with a common European currency:
This project is modifying an existing system rather than creating a new one from scratch. Many software projects have this characteristic and it does not make them any less a software project.

(4) Installing a new version of a word processing package in an organization: Although no software is being produced /modified, many of the stages that are associated with software projects will be involved and the techniques of software project management would be appropriate.

(5) Investigation into the reasons why a user has a problem with a computer system: This will have many of the stages common to software projects, although the precise nature of the end result is uncertain at the outset. It could be that the user needs some simple remedial training. On the other hand, it could turn out to be quite a considerable software modification task.
(6) Getting married: There could be lots of arguments about this one! Some will be reluctant to give a high rating to this because of its personal nature. The degree to which this is ‘project like will depend very much upon the cultural milieu in which it takes place. Very often it requires a high degree of planning, involves lots of different people, and, for most people, is a non-routine operation.

(7) A research project into what makes a good human-computer interface: Compared to some of the projects above, the objectives of the research project are .more open-ended and the idea of a specific client for the end-product may be less well defined. Research projects are in some ways special cases and the approach to their planning needs a rather different approach, which is outside the scope of the normal ‘project management course.

(8) Producing an edition of a newspaper: In some ways, this has all the characteristics of a project. There are lots of different people with lots of different specializations whose work needs to be coordinated in order to produce an end-product under very tight time constraints. What argues against this as a typical project is that it is repeated. After a while, everyone knows what he/she needs to do and most of the problems that arise are familiar and the procedures to deal with them are well defined.

(9) A second-year programming assignment for a computing student: This is not being done for a customer, although it could be argued that the tutor responsible for setting and assessing the assignment is, in effect, a surrogate client. Not all the stages of a normal project will be gone through in this case.

Question 4.
Enumerate the activities covered by software project management.
Usually, there are three successive processes that bring a new system into being:-

  1. Feasibility Study
  2. Planning
  3. Project execution

The complete set of activities under software? project management can be outlined as follows:- L! Requirements analysis

  • Architecture design
  • Detailed design
  • Coding & Testing (individual software units)
  • Integration
  • Qualification testing (complete system)
  • Installation
  • Acceptance support (resolving of new problems, correction of any new bugs, extension, improvement, and maintenance)

Question 5.
What are the problems generally faced by software projects? Enumerate at least ten.
Following is an exhaustive list of the problems frequently faced by software projects (you can enumerate any ten):-

  • Poor estimates and plans;
  • Lack of quality standards and measures;
  • Lack of guidance about making organizational decisions;
  • Lack of techniques to make progress visible;
  • Poor role definition (who does what?);
  • Incorrect success criteria;
  • Inadequate specification of work;
  • Management ignorance;
  • Lack of knowledge of application area;
  • Lack of up-to-date documentation;
  • Preceding activities not completed on time – including late delivery of equipment;
  • Lack of communication between users and technicians;
  • Duplication of work;
  • Lack of commitment – especially when a project is tied to one person who then moves;
  • The narrow scope of technical expertise;
  • Changing statutory requirements;
  • Changing software environment;
  • Deadline pressure;
  • Lack of quality control;
  • Remote management;
  • Lack of training.

Question 6.
What does the mnemonic SMART stand for as regards the objectives of a project?
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Relevant
T – Time constrained
Thus, the objectives of a project must be so well defined as to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-constrained.

Question 7.
Bearing in mind the above discussion of objectives, comment on the appropriateness of each of the following ‘objectives’ for software developers:

  1. To implement the new application on time and within budget;
  2. To implement the new software application with the fewest possible software errors that might lead to operational failures;
  3. To design a system that is user-friendly;
  4. To produce full documentation for the new system.

Among the comments and queries that could be made in each case are:-

(i) Has the actual time and amount of the budget been specified somewhere? Deadline and budget constraints normally have to be set against the scope and the quality of the functions to be delivered, e.g. if the deadline were not achieved, would the customer rather have the full set of functionality at a later date or an essential subset of the function on the deadline date?

(ii) “The fewest possible software errors” is not precise. Removing errors requires effort and hence money. Can developers spend as much money and time as they like if this reduces errors?

(iii) What does “user-friendly” really mean? How is it measured? Normally ‘ease of use’ is measured by the time it takes for beginners to become proficient in carrying out standard operations.

(iv) What does “full documentation” mean? A list of all types of documents to be produced, perhaps with an indication of the content layout/would be more useful.

Question 8.
How would you go about initiating a new software project? Elaborate.
The first step in initiating a new software project is triggered by the creation of an agreed project mandate. Ideally, this should be a formal document describing:-

  1. The new services or capabilities the project should deliver;
  2. How the organization will be improved by the use of the new services or capabilities;
  3. How the project fits with corporate goals and any other initiatives.

At this point, a project director ought to be appointed to provide initial leadership for the project. To be successful, the project needs a champion who is in a prominent position within the organization. This will signal the seriousness with which the organization takes the project. The project director is likely to come from the sponsoring group that has identified the need for a project and has initiated its progress.

A project brief is now produced which would be the equivalent of a feasibility study for the project. It will have sections setting out:-

  1. A preliminary vision statement which describes the new capacity that the organization seeks (it is ‘preliminary’ as it will later be elaborated);
  2. The benefits that the project should create – including when they are likely to be generated and how they might be measured;
  3. Risks and issues;
  4. Estimated costs, timescales, and effort.

The project brief should have given the sponsoring group enough information to decide whether it’s worth moving to a more detailed definition of the project. This next stage will involve a lot of detailed planning work and would justify the setting up of a small team. At this point, a project manager who would have day-to-day responsibility for running the project could well be appointed. The project manager is likely to be someone with considerable project management experience.

This group can now take the vision statement outlined in the project brief and refine/expand it. It should describe in detail the new capabilities that the project will endow the organization with. If estimates for costs, performance, and service levels can’t be provided, then there should at least be an indication of how they might be measured. For example, the headings under which costs will be incurred can be recorded. Similarly, for performance, one might be able to say that repeat business will be increased, even if the precise size of the increase can’t be provided.

The achievement of the improved capabilities described in the vision statement can only come’ about when changes have been made to the structure and operations of the organization. These are detailed in the blueprint. This should contain:

  1. Business models outlining the new processes required;
  2. Organizational structure – indicating the numbers of staff required in the new system and the skills they will need;
  3. The information systems, equipment, and other non-staff resources that will be needed;
  4. Data and information requirements;
  5. Costs, performance, and service level requirements.

Question 9.
What do you understand by a cost-benefit analysis? Can all benefits and costs be quantified and valued? Elaborate.
The standard way of evaluating the economic benefits of any project is cost-benefit analysis, comprising two steps:-

(1) Identifying and estimating all of the costs and benefits of carrying out the project and operating the delivered application: These include the development costs, the setup costs, the operating costs and the benefits that are expected to accrue from the new system. Where the proposed system is replacing an existing one, these estimates should reflect the change in costs and benefits due to the new system. A new sales order processing system, for example, could not claim to benefit an organization by the total value of sales – only by the increase due to the use of the new system.

(2) Expressing these costs and benefits in common units: You need to evaluate the net benefit, that is, the difference between the total benefit and the total cost of creating and operating the system. To do this, you must express each cost and each benefit in some common unit, that is, as money.

Most direct costs are relatively easy to identify and quantify in approximate monetary terms. In this context, it is helpful to categorize costs according to where they originate in the life of the project:-

1. Development costs: Include the salaries and other employment costs of the staff involved in the development project and all associated costs.

2. Setup costs: Include the costs of putting the system into place. These consist mainly of the costs of any new hardware and ancillary equipment but will also include costs of the conversion, recruitment, and staff training.

Operational costs: Consist of the costs of operating the system once it has been installed.

3. Benefits, on the other hand, are often quite difficult to quantify in monetary terms even once they have been identified. In general, benefits can be:-

4. Quantified and valued – that is, a direct financial benefit is experienced;

Quantified but not valued – for example, a decrease in the number of customer complaints;

5. Identified but not easily quantified – for example, public approval of the organization. in the locality where it is based.

Question 10.
IIT, Delhi is considering the replacement of the existing payroll service, operated by a third party, with a tailored, off-the-shelf computer-based system. List some of the costs it might consider under the headings of:

  1. Development costs
  2. Setup costs
  3. Operational costs

List some of the benefits under the headings:

  1. Quantified and valued benefits
  2. Quantified but not valued benefits
  3. Identified but not easily quantified benefits

For each cost or benefit, explain how, in principle, it might be measured in monetary terms.
Category Cost

Category Cost
Development costs Software purchase – software cost plus selection and purchasing cost; Project team employment costs
Setup costs Training – costs of trainers and operational time lost while training; Staff recruitment; Computer hardware and other equipment which might have a residual value at end of projected life; Accommodation – any new/ refurbished accommodation and furniture required to house new system; Initial system supplies – purchase of stationery, disks and other consumables
Operational costs Operations staff – full employment costs; Stationery – purchase and storage; Maintenance and standby – contract or estimation of occurrence costs; Accommodation including heating, power, insurance, etc.
Category Benefit
Quantified and valued benefits Savings on local authority fees; Later payment – increased interest income through paying salaries later in the month
Quantified but not valued benefits Improved accuracy – the number of errors needing to be corrected each month
Identified but not quantified benefits Improved management information – this should lead to improved decision making but it is very difficult to quantify the potential benefits

Table 2 and Table 3 list costs and benefits, respectively, for the proposed IIT, Delhi payroll system. They are not comprehensive but illustrate some of the types of items that you should have listed.
These items (such as insurance), and some other dements, might show corresponding savings or: costs through no longer being required. For example, although new office furniture might be required for the new system, the existing furniture might be redeployed/sold.

Question 11.
What do you understand by Parkinson’s Law and Brooks’ Law regarding effort estimation?
According to Parkinson’s Law, Work Expands to Fill the Time Available, so that given an easy target, the staff will work less hard.

According to Brooks’ Law, The effort required to implement a project will go up disproportionately with the number of staff assigned to the project. As the project team grows in size, so will the effort that has to go into management, coordination, and communication. This has given rise, in extreme cases, to the notion of Brooks’ Law: “putting more people on a late job makes it later!” If there is an overestimate of the effort required then this could lead to more staff being allocated than are needed and an increase in managerial overheads. This is more likely to be of significance with large projects.

Question 12.
How are effort, system size, and productivity rate related to each other?
PROJECT MANAGEMENT Interview Questions in Java chapter 14 img 1

Question 13.
What do you understand by COCOMO as regards software effort estimation?
Boehm’s COCOMO (Constructive COst MOdel) is often referred to in the literature ON SOFTWARE PROJECT MANAGEMENT, PARTICULARLY, in connection with software estimating. The term COCOMO refers to a group of models. Boehm originally based his models in the late 1970s on a study of 63 projects. Of these only seven were business systems and so the models could be used with applications other than information systems. The basic model was built around the equation

PROJECT MANAGEMENT Interview Questions in Java chapter 14 img 2

where effort was measured in pm or the number of ‘person-months consisting of units of 152 working hours, size was measured in kdsi, thousands of delivered source code instructions, and c and k were constants.

Question 14.
What do you understand by risk? How would you assess it?
A risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s initiatives. It can also be looked like the chance of exposure to the adverse consequences of future events. People may use different terms but the key elements of a risk follow:-

(1) It relates to the future: Risk planning involves speculating about future events. The future is inherently uncertain. Some things which seem obvious when a particular project is over, e.g. that the costs were under-estimated or that new technology was overly difficult to use, might not have been so obvious during planning.

(2) It involves cause and effect: For example, a ‘cost-over-run’ might be identified as a risk, but the simple description of ‘cost-over-run’ gives the consequence of some adverse event but doesn’t say what caused it. Was it, for example, an inaccurate estimate of effort, the use of untrained staff, or a poor specification? A good definition of a specific risk identifies a situation (or hazard), such as ‘inexperienced staff’, and a particular type of negative outcome, such as ‘lower productivity.

A common problem with risk identification, particularly for the more anxious, is that a list of risks is potentially endless. Some way is therefore needed of distinguishing the more damaging and likely risks. This can be done by assessing or estimating the risk exposure for each risk using the formula

PROJECT MANAGEMENT Interview Questions in Java chapter 14 img 3

Question 15.
Match the following causes (a – d) to their possible effects (i – iv). The relationships are not necessarily one-to-one. Explain the reason(s) for each match.


  • Staff inexperience
  • Lack of top management commitment
  • New technology
  • Users uncertain of their requirements


  1. Testing takes longer than planned
  2. Planned effort and time for activities exceeded
  3. Project scope increases
  4. Time delays in getting changes to plans agreed

There is no one correct answer to this. An example of a possible answer is provided below:-

  • i & ii. Staff inexperience leads to code that has many errors in it and which therefore needs additional testing time. Inexperienced staff will take longer to carry out development in any case.
  • iv. If top management does not have a strong commitment to the project they will not act with a sense of urgency.
  • ii. The new technology takes time to get used to.
  • iii. If users are uncertain of their requirements then they are likely to identify new requirements as the project progresses.

Question 16.
Give the full forms of PERT and CPM.
PERT – Program Evaluation and Review Technique
CPM – Critical Path Method

Question 17.
Enumerate the three principles of ‘Taylorism’ as regards organizational behavior.
F.W. Taylor, the father of ‘scientific management’ of which organizational behavior is a part, had three basic objectives

  1. To select the best people for the job;
  2. To instruct them in the best methods;
  3. To give incentives in the form of higher wages to the best workers.

‘Taylorism’ is often considered crude and mechanistic. However, a concern for identifying the best practice remains valid even today.

Question 18.
Enunciate Theory X and Theory Y regarding human behavior and management as proposed by McGregor.
The cash-oriented or instrumental view of work by some managers can be contrasted with a more rounded vision of people in their place of work. The two attitudes were labeled Theory X and Theory Y by Donald McGregor.
Theory X holds that:-

  • The average human has an innate dislike of work;
  • There is, therefore, a need for coercion, direction, and control;

People tend to avoid responsibility.
Theory Y, on the other hand, holds that:-

  • Work is as natural as rest or play;
  • External control and coercion are not the only ways of bringing about effort directed towards an organization’s ends;
  • Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement;
  • The average human can learn to accept and further seek responsibility;
  • The capacity to exercise imagination and other creative qualities is widely distributed.
  • One way of judging whether a manager espouses Theory X or Theory Y is to observe, how staff react when the boss is absent: if there is no discernible change then this is Theory Y environment; if everyone visibly relaxes, it is a Theory X environment.

Question 19.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory of Motivation, where does the need for ‘self-actualization’ stand?
According to Maslow’s theory, as the lower level of needs is satisfied, there emerges a higher level of needs. The basic needs are food, shelter, and personal safety. The highest level need, according to Maslow, is the need for ‘self-actualization’, the feeling that you are completely fulfilling your potential.

Question 20.
What do you understand by Herzberg’s two-factor theory about job satisfaction?
Research into job satisfaction by Herzberg and his associates found two sets of factors about a job:-
(1) Hygiene or maintenance factors, which can make you dissatisfied if they are not right, e.g. the level of pay or the working conditions;
(2) Motivators, which make you feel that the job is worthwhile, like a sense of achievement or the challenge of the work itself.

Question 21.
What is your personal motivational factor?
(This question is a catch/trap and must be answered very carefully. We give the ideal answer. You can juxtapose it according to your background). I personally feel that apart from a good salary and hygienic working conditions, the job should give me a keen sense of satisfaction that I am doing something worthy. I like to take up challenges and would ultimately like to tap my full working talent and potential.

Question 22.
Distinguish between structured and unstructured decisions.
Decisions can be categorized as being:-

(1) Structured: generally relatively simple, routine decisions where rules can be applied in a fairly straightforward way (involving no risk and uncertainty normally), or

(2) Unstructured: much more complex and often require a degree of creativity (involving a fair amount of risk and uncertainty at times).

Question 23.
On what does the style of leadership depend upon?
Leadership is based on the idea of authority or power although leaders do not necessarily have much formal authority. Power may come either from the person’s position (positional power) or from the person’s individual qualities (personal power), or maybe a mixture of the two.
Positional power has been further analyzed into:-

  • Coercive power, the ability to force someone to do something by threatening punishment;
  • Connection power, which is based on having access to those who have power;
  • Legitimate power, which is based on a person’s title conferring a special status;
  • Reward power, where the holder can give rewards to those who carry out task to his/her satisfaction.

Personal power, on the other hand, can be further analyzed into:-

  • Expert power, which comes from being a person who is able to do a specialized task;
  • Information power, where the holder has exclusive access to information;
  • Referent power, which is based on the personal attractiveness of the leader.

Question 24.
What is your personal preferred style of leadership?
(This question is a catch/trap and must be answered very carefully. We give the ideal answer. You can juxtapose it according to your own background and preferences). I personally
like to lead by example and thereby, motivation. I would rarely use coercive or connection powers although I am not averse to legitimate and reward powers. I would frequently like to lead by expert power of carrying out my specialized tasks and duties.

Question 25.
What do you understand by egoless programming?
In the early days of computer development, managers tended to think of the software developers as communing mysteriously with the machine. The tendency was for programmers } to see programs as being an extension of themselves and to feel over-protective towards them. The effects of this on the maintainability of the programs can well nigh be imagined.

Gerald Weinberg made the then-revolutionary suggestion that programmers and programming team leaders should read other people’s programs. Programs would become, in effect, the common property of the programming group and thus, programming would become “egoless”. Peer code reviews are based on this idea. Weinberg’s ideal programming team was a decentralized group freely communicating within itself.

Question 26.
What causes stress in general? Is stress always a negative factor towards the quality of work? Elucidate.
Projects are about overcoming obstacles and achieving objectives. Almost by definition, 1 both the project manager and team members will be under pressure. But, some amount of pressure is actually ‘healthy’. Boredom can render many a job soul-destroying. Beyond a certain level of pressure, however, the quality of work decreases, and health can be affected.

Stress can be caused due to many reasons. It may be caused by role ambiguity when staff does not have a clear idea of the objectives that their work is supposed to be fulfilling, what is expected of them by others, and the precise scope of their responsibilities. The project manager could clearly be at fault in these instances.

Role conflict can also heighten stress. This is where the person is torn between the demands of two different roles, e.g. the parent of young children might be tom between the need to look after a sick child and the need to attend an important meeting to win new business.

As the deadline approaches and the staff is faced with some unexpected situation/problem they might have to work overtime to meet the deadline as well as take care of the unnecessary crisis due to the new problem resulting in cases of stress at times.

Good project management can reduce the reliance on overtime by the more realistic assessment of effort and elapsed time needed, ‘based on careful recording and analysis of the performance of previous projects. Good planning and control can also help to reduce the ‘unexpected problems generating unnecessary crises.