From budget planning to managing dynamic, multidisciplinary teams and workflows, project managers are essentially the oil that keeps the machinery of a project running smoothly (and ideally on time and on budget). In addition to an advanced operational familiarity with their field, the best project managers possess certain skills and character traits that inspire creativity, productivity, and synergy within teams and projects of all sizes and complexity levels.
What to Look for When Hiring a Project Manager
In addition to the technical knowledge necessary to successfully steer IT and software projects, successful project management and consulting require exceptional communication and leadership skills. According to HubSpot, hiring managers should consider some of the following interview questions when recruiting a project manager:
- What are your tools and tactics for managing conflict and divergent opinions within your team?
- How do you determine which tasks and deliverables to prioritize?
- Describe the outcome of previous projects in this field.
- What are your strategies for keeping a project on track? And for getting it back on track when something (inevitably) goes wrong?
- How would you reassure and manage the expectations of the project’s sponsors?
- How do you manage underperforming team members?
- How would you best describe your communication style, and how would you say you are perceived by others?
Tailoring the questions to reflect how the candidate would handle and meet the specific parameters of your project can help to get a more accurate picture of how well they will fit in and how likely they are to succeed within the project and your organization.
Some of the Qualities to Look for in a Great Project Manager
In addition to a solid technical and managerial foundation and background, there are a number of essential “soft skills” that will separate the good project managers from the great.
From project stakeholders and sponsors to vendors and the team, a good project manager must do more than ensure that all of the moving parts of a project are churning along. When deadlines are missed, and projects go over budget, a savvy project manager will instinctively know how to keep everyone focused, dedicated and invested in the project.
Relationship-Building and Diplomacy
This is especially important for large, complex teams, where members may have different communication styles and ideas about what the project and team’s priorities should be. Helping a diverse team of employees and consultants to find common ground and find a way to work together even in the face of disagreement and disputes is an important skill for a project manager.
Patience and Empathy
Working long hours under tight deadlines and heavy demands can take a toll on even the most dedicated and talented team members. The ability to listen and make people feel like their needs and concerns are appreciated and being met is essential to keeping them motivated, and excited about showing up for work every day.
Flexible and Calm Under Pressure
As the captain of the ship, the project manager will have to come up with workable solutions when issues arise and a project veers off track. The ability to handle and excel under pressure and highly stressful situations are mandatory for a good project manager.
Finding the right person to steer a project through to completion can make or break its success. Investing in a robust vetting and interview process to find the perfect candidate for the job will ultimately save your firm time and money.
Before you call us to help organize the recruitment of your first project manager, take a final look at the resources available to you internally. Knowing what is missing in your current resource pool may well help you finalize the requirements for your vacancy.
Ready? Get in touch and let us help you find the perfect PM for you.