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How to Interview Project Management Candidates

Eric McConnell
December 13, 2010

Four skills a PM candidate must possess to become a project manager

project manager interviewingLet’s imagine you’re in charge of interviewing skilled project management candidates for a vacancy on the leader of your project team. PM interviewing is a responsible duty that you should carry out to recruit an effective project manager able to manage your project throughout the life-cycle and lead the team. How to select project management candidates and choose the best one? Which selection criteria should you use to interview prospective candidates and measure their skills? In this article I’ll talk about four core personal skills that PM candidates should have in order to become an effective project manager. By understanding these skills, it’ll be no more a problem for you to find and employ the best PM candidate. This article is a short guide for recruiters and employers who need to know what key personal characteristics PM candidates must demonstrate to become effective project managers.

Skill #1. An Effective Project Manager is an Extrovert.

The process of project manager interviewing requires you to be attentive and listen to what and how your candidates say. If during the process, a candidate says that he or she will focus on establishing communications with project participants, then this candidate is likely to have the right understanding of project management.

Because a typical project manager’s role is 90% communication, your candidates should be ready to communicate all the time during the project life cycle. They should be extrovert and always tend to make team communications smoother and unhampered. Taking this consideration into account, you must listen attentively to project manager candidates and choose those having the extroverted type of person.

Skill #2. En Effective Project Manager Demonstrates Personal Courage

During the interviewing process you can ask PM candidates complicated questions and analyze how they answer you. A candidate having a broad experience and knowledge in the field of PM is likely to answer competently and unambiguously, displaying personal courage. This candidate will have no fear of continuous negotiations, strategic decisions and teamwork and will know how to efficiently handle PM challenges.

When interviewing project management candidates, you should select those displaying personal courage in all decisions made and understanding how to maintain respect from all stakeholders of the project.

Skill #3. En Effective Project Manager Possesses Charisma

This step during the process of interviewing project manager candidates refers to identifying if they have charisma. A charismatic project manager can always unite people and make them move towards achieving common goals and shared objectives. A candidate that possesses charisma is a great leader who can make your team have faith in leadership. Take your time to interview your PM candidates and find those having this essential characteristic.

Note that you must organize the interviewing process considering opportunities for training charismatic candidates in the future, because a charismatic project manager has a great potential to mentor and train others.

Skill #4. En Effective Project Managers has Strong Sense of Teamwork

A team can hardly deliver a project if the manager doesn’t have sense of teamwork. This statement is axiomatic. During the interviewing process you must focus PM candidates on the ability to consider long-term relationships with your project team. If a candidate has this ability and is able to build a productive team and create a teamwork environment, then this person is likely to have the sense of teamwork and leadership.

When interviewing a project management candidate, make sure he or she is an enabler who can force the team do things and move forward.

In conclusion, I can summarize that there are four key personal characteristics of an effective project manager. A candidate to the project manager’s role should 1) be an extrovert, 2) demonstrate personal courage, 3) be a charismatic person, and 4) be an enabler who can create and maintain a teamwork environment. I hope this article will help you manage the project manager interviewing process and find the best person among project management candidates.

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