So, Where Do I Find A Fantastical Being?

mystical.gifProject managers come in all shapes and sizes, with varying levels of training, experience, education, and background.  Some come with professional project management credentials, others do not.  Some have spent their entire professional careers managing projects, while others have strong ambitions to become project managers.  And there are many candidates who fall in between these extremes. 

The challenge for every organization is to know what you want in a project manager before you search for one.  Be thoughtful and precise in assessing the level of project management proficiency you need (to support the size, type, and magnitude of your project portfolio) and overlay those requirements with emotional, social, and interpersonal intelligence requirements.

Only in the last five years have project managers been recognized as needing keen techincal skills and top management skills to be effective.  In fact, some believe grooming project managers with a 360-degree focus on key leadership attributes is a successful recipe for creating future business leaders and CEOs.  The challenge is this:  project managers have been around for much longer than the past five years – so, how can you recognize a “good one”?

Screening project manager candidates requires hiring managers to a see beyond credentials and accomplishments.  Traditional interview questions still apply when assessing project manager candidates.  These questions typically include:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What are the roles and responsibilities in your current position?
  • Whom do you report to?
  • What size projects do you manage?
  • What size is your project team(s)?
  • What is the average length of your projects?
  • Are you PMI-certified?

To really see beyond a candidate’s resume, take the time to fully evaluate the person thoroughly.  Use behavior-based methods to screen candidates.  The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations.  The key is delving deeply enough during the interview process to accurately assess past behavior.  Behavioral interviewing requires the interviewer to ask quesitons in a way that reveals a candidate’s true character.  The interviewer must probe to reach a depth of details that forces candidates to share previous experiences and behaviors.  Interviews must ask pointed questions to elicit detailed responses that reveal whether the candidate possesses the desired characteristics.

Don’t be timid to drive a question to a level to find what you are looking for in a candidate.  Suppose, for example, an interviewer asks, “How would you handle XYZ situation?” The responder has minimal accountability.  However, suppose the interviewer continues to probe by asking, “What were you thinking at that point?” or “Lead me through your decision process.” This tactic is apt to provide far more insights about the candidate and his/her ability to handle tough situations.  Continuous probing of a situation puts the pressure on; this also enables the interviewer to observe the candidate’s ability to hold up under a barrage of difficult questions. 

Be brave.  Look beyond the label to find the “right” one.

Lisa DiTullio

Lisa DiTullio & Associates

www.lisaditullio.com

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