When hiring for a project manager, there are a number of things a hiring manager will look for. Can this person manage a budget? Can they identify and assess risks? Are they able to sell a schedule to your customer? Weeding out candidates out of a wide crop is a tricky thing and it takes a skilled eye to identify candidates that could potentially be successful in your organization. This post will talk about three key qualities that you should attempt to sniff out when interviewing candidates for your next open project manager position.
Instinct is impossible to teach. In this writer’s opinion, it is developed through years of experience combined with a natural intuition. Instinct is what will trigger a lot of the actions and decisions that a project manager will make so it’s critical that their instinct and intuition will help them to make those good judgement calls. Good instinct also allows a project manager to sense when team members are struggling (or even when they are about to struggle) and then act to ensure that the risk is mitigated and team members are adequately supported.
Ability to Read People & Build Relationships
One of the primary jobs of the project manager is to build and maintain relationships, not only with the customer but also with the team members. In doing so, one of the key qualities needed to build relationships is the ability to learn personalities and adjust communication and leadership styles to suit those personalities. This is a “silent” quality in that those who do it well aren’t really noticeable but those who cannot do it (or do it poorly) are unfortunately very noticeable. This isn’t about changing who you are as a project manager, or as a person, based on whoever it is that you’re communicating with or speaking to but it’s about understanding who you are interacting with and being able to show the side of you that the other party will be able to connect with. Again, this isn’t about changing your personality, but your approach to how you interact with specific individuals or teams based on how you feel they will connect with you the best.
These intangible qualities are difficult to assess but should always be on the radar of any hiring manager when it comes to project managers. Measuring these qualities can be difficult however with questions structured in the right way such as scenario-based can really let the candidate show the hiring manager how they would handle the different situations. Reviewing the intangibles stacked up against the more concrete skills (ex. Budget and schedule management) can help give the hiring manager a full picture of the candidate.