How Do You Know When You’re Interviewing Your Next Outstanding Project Manager?

Given the growth and complexity of modern IT projects over the last few years, the demand for project managers has skyrocketed. Companies need PMs to help them ensure timely delivery of products and services. However, finding the right people to manage your mission-critical projects isn’t always easy. Strong PMs should have great technical skills, have keen attention to detail and excellent time management and multitasking abilities; but they also need some less-obvious (but no less critical) skills.  If you want to know if you’ve got an outstanding project manager sitting across from you in an interview, look for these signals.

“When interviewing Project Managers, ask them about how they handled the projects that were not on time and under budget. That will give you valuable insight into how they can keep you (or get you back) on track!” says Brendan Coghlan, CSS Tec Managing Director.

They Speak About Managing Resource Conflicts

No project ever goes 100% smoothly, and the biggest roadblocks often have to do with resource allocation. Strong project managers will talk about how they prioritize and allocate limited resources and overcome things like tight budgets, technology limitations and staffing issues to ensure the best outcomes.

They Understand The Importance of Business Strategy

Great project managers should understand how their projects contribute to the organization’s overarching goals. In an interview, they probably won’t know much detail about your company’s specific goals, but they will talk about how their previous projects fueled company growth. They will also likely show an interest in learning about your goals through thoughtful questions.

The Ability to Assess Risk

Every IT project involves a host of risks. There are risks around resource allocation, risks that the outcome won’t meet client/stakeholder standards, risks of missed deadlines, etc. Outstanding project managers are able to assess those risks and mitigate them through a thoughtful and strategic planning process. Look for a candidate that can articulate his or her approach to assessing risk.

Strong Communication Skills

Communication skills are a fairly obvious must-have for PMs, but you’ll know you’ve got an outstanding candidate when they talk about the importance of communicating well with non-technical members of management and clients. PMs have to deal with all types of different personalities and levels of technical understanding, and communicating effectively has a major impact on success. Look for candidates who talk about how they communicate with both internal and external stakeholder throughout a project.

They Have “Street Cred”

Technical teams can be tight-knit and tend to view outsiders with skepticism. It is critical to hire a project manager who can quickly establish trust and respect with the team.  Look for a background that ensures the PM can “speak the language” of the team, who is intimately familiar with the platforms they will be using and who has a strong grasp on the software development lifecycle. Ideally, the PM should have worked in the trenches, ensuring they can both talk the talk and walk the walk.

If your organization is looking for effective project managers to help you motivate your team, manage budgets, ensure timely delivery, the experts at CSS are here for you. Our recruiters can help you develop strategies that will ensure strong matches for your organization. Contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve your tech recruiting goals.

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