Categories: General
      Date: Dec  1, 2015
     Title: What should employers look for when recruiting Project Managers?
Employers, HR departments and recruiters struggle with the question, "What makes a good Project Manager?"

Employers, HR departments and recruiters struggle with the question, "What makes a good Project Manager?" How do we know if the person we are interviewing has what it takes to organise and lead a team to implementation? Most struggle especially when they weigh the candidates and try to come up with the one that they decide should become part of their organisation.

A top project manager should be a:

Strong communicator

A good communicator does not mean a person who does not stop talking. I have interviewed many a project manager who constantly interrupts and takes over the conversation, or digresses only to forget what the original question was.

Without doubt, a good project manager should be able to communicate effectively at all levels. This means communicating in one-on-one sessions, in small groups and presenting to large audiences. The ability to managing upwards, i.e. stakeholders and senior management, external vendors and team members, involves constant communication using all forms of media. I look for evidence of having performed presentations to upper management, the frequency of steering committee meetings and how the team is involved in and communicated to.

It is also important to be a good active listener.

Excellent organiser

All talk and no action won't work either. In order to lead a project team and to keep a project on track, project managers must understand, follow, and enforce standard project management methodology and organisational processes. They must provide an action plan and be able to follow it through. Some psychometric tests may display strengths in this area.

Smooth negotiator

Does the project manager have the confidence to negotiate a scope change or altered timeline? A good project manager must have the ability and initiative to stand firm on scope issues as well as be able to see possible negotiation points, in case the 'sell' is harder than anticipated. A good negotiator can sell to the client that the changes will benefit them and make them happy even though they may have to pay more for additional effort.

Have knowledge of technology

It certainly helps if the project manager is familiar with, or has some previous experience with the technology being utilised on a project. This is an advantage over those who don't understand it. The project manager should have sufficient technical knowledge to understand and question the technical staff, evaluate whether estimates are reasonable and explain technical issues to non-technical members.

In the process, they will also gain the respect and trust of the project team, and effectively promote the end product to the user community and executive management.

If employers exercise due diligence in their recruitment practices, these characteristics can be quantified which will allow a more effective selection process, and hence many more successful projects!

Patricia Burt