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How to hire a rock star project manager

Moira Alexander | March 2, 2016
When hiring a PM, the knee-jerk tendency seems to be to hire the person with the most technical knowledge, when other, broader skills are more likely to get the results you're really after.

A great project manager (PM) can mean more than just the difference between project success and failure (which is important enough). With a rock star PM on your team, you can enjoy some peace of mind knowing that projects and processes are being shepherded in a professional, efficient, timely and ultimately profitable manner. Conversely, a lousy PM can have deleterious effects, including a drain on your own time and, eventually, your company’s money.

Here are the things to do, consider and look for to ensure you get the former, and avoid the latter.

Clearly and precisely identify the goals for the position

The first step when looking to hire a first-rate PM is identifying what the crucial goals are for this role. Be clear within the job posting on exactly what you need from the PM. All too often project management job postings are cookie-cutter and focus primarily on the general technical aspects and candidate attributes.  Flush out detailed business and job-specific goals, and document precisely how the new project manager’s role will assist in accomplishing those exact goals.

Plan ahead to increase chances of finding the best candidate

The timing for hiring a PM should be identified ahead of the actual need. Waiting until the need is arises will simply create unnecessary stress and possibly end in disappointment. Often the hiring process cuts too close to the initiating of a project, creating a situation where the rush is on and yet the choices may be too limited.  The end result: hiring a good project manager, but not the best one for a specific role.

After those important basics are checked off your list, what exactly should you look for in a primo project manager? Ultimately, you want to find a PM who meets the following criteria:

Is a business strategist

Consider looking for project managers with broader high-level business knowledge and skillsets who understands how their role plays into the overall business-wide objectives. Project managers who possess this understanding, and who approach the role with this in mind can make a top PM candidate as they are able to make a conscious effort to ensure all project activities align with strategy. Without this knowledge and understanding, the key foundations can easily be eroded.

Loves what they do

The role of a project manager is stressful in the best of times, requiring them to juggle multiple deadlines, resources, requests, stakeholders, and goals. The role can be overwhelming, rewarding and discouraging all at the same time, and can result in a high level of job satisfaction but also job frustration. In order for a PM to be effective and stay focused and vested, they must absolutely love what they do, as often times this is what allows them to stay motivated and focused. 


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