7 Tips to Hire the Right Project Manager

Editorial Team

Tips to Hire the Right Project Manager

Project managers play an important role in the successful execution of projects. They do not have fixed tasks, given that projects are structured differently. However, all these roles are aimed towards the efficient day-to-day management of the project.

Hiring managers need to be thorough when sourcing or selecting a project manager. You need the right candidate to manage the project scope, handle scheduling, finance, risk, quality and resources. How do you achieve that?

This article provides you with a few tips that will help you get the best project manager. The right choice not only ensures that your projects move smoothly but also guarantees project success. Let’s dive right into these and help you in your staffing.

1.    Look Out for Critical Behavioral Traits

You will not get the right project manager by just focusing on their education level, experience and qualifications. You need to look into more than that and focus on behavioural traits. This means that you should apply a different interviewing process that focuses less on education and certifications but traits.

Can the project manager gel with team members? You cannot know this by just focusing on the resume. Apart from the essential skills and experience, consider the right behaviours before engaging a new project manager.

This should be a wake-up call to Human Resource Teams, who only focus on fixed objectives that have since become redundant when advertising for job positions. Instead of requiring candidates to be adaptable, positive, proactive and other ‘cliché’ attributes, look deeper into what the company requires for the specific position.

Have a list of all the behavioural traits you expect the interviewing team to focus on when assessing the candidate. There are instances where the project manager must show high degrees of patience, especially during buy-ins, whereas in others, passion and being a go-getter is the key.

We advise that you conduct some homework and uncover what being a project manager in your organization requires. You can then speak to a former colleague or employer of the given candidate to know more about their behaviours. How do they work with other employees? Do they blend in well? Are they passionate about the job?

Only pick someone who can earn respect from clients and other team members through their appealing behaviours.

2.      Focus More on Experience Than Degrees and Certification

Most hiring managers have not fully accepted that the most qualified candidate does not have to be the most learned. Instead, they channel most of their focus and energy to those with the highest industry certifications under the belief that they will automatically propel the company to greater heights.

What happens if they don’t? When hiring a project manager, make sure that you think beyond the industry certifications and focus on giving the candidates with hands-on skills and the right experience a chance.

Remember, even the project managers with the highest qualifications cannot guarantee you that a project will be 100-percent efficient. Several great project managers have seen their companies successfully execute lots of projects in certain industries, even with minimal to no proper industry certifications. It should not come as a shocker that some of the so-called ‘highly certified project managers’ have not delivered even a single good project.

Therefore, cease from the old practice of attaching value to candidates based on their certifications and start focusing more on what they can offer you based on their experience. Have they ever delivered a quality project?  What is their working style? What were some of the projects that they handled in their former areas of engagement? Can they continue doing that in your company? Only when these questions are answered will you know that you have the right candidate.

However, focusing more on experience does not mean that you overlook the credentials. Take some time and thoroughly verify their credentials and working style. This does not also mean that a highly certified candidate with excellent experience should not be given the job. If you have a list of highly experienced and certified candidates, then you can use their credentials to eliminate them, provided that you end up with the best choice.

3.      Ensure That You Have the Right Job Listing

Getting the right candidate for the job of a project manager starts at the job listing. How do you advertise that you have a position to be filled? You will be shocked to learn that even some of the biggest organizations have a problem with putting the right job listing.

Ensure that you are original in your listing. Do not just blindly copy another company’s job listing or use a common listing template for project managers. Whatever you include should not only informational but also specific to your needs.

We also advise you to incorporate a little bit of technology such as Google forms, where you can ask a few questions to help you easily sort through the myriads of applications. Do not try the template job descriptions, which seem and look cliché.

The right job listing does more than help you get the right candidate. It helps you inspire trust among the most qualified persons. Also, make sure that you correctly and specifically define the skills that the project manager role needs in your listing.

Remember, given their importance in project delivery, they need several essential skills, which we could term as ‘shining skills.’ Ensure that you indicate the need to be a good, effective and frequent communicator, be it with teams or other employees.

The project manager must also be able to build strong and trustworthy relationships with clients from the word go. This is best done by translating their needs effectively to the team members, who are often responsible for coming up with the deliverables.

In your job listing, be sure to indicate that the project managers should be able to listen carefully, plan huge work scopes and schedule tasks, prioritize the given tasks, be good at problem-solving, identify and manage the project risks, drive the team to success and offer helpful feedback to both the clients and production teams.

Hiring managers should draft the job listing to reflect the specific company’s needs, and that is why we call for originality. Therefore, ask yourself whether you need a person with particular subject matter expertise or project managers with backgrounds in the type of projects your company wants to execute. Should they be experienced in specific software? All in all, ensure that your job listing will help attract candidates who are the right fit for the job.

This will also help you avoid the struggle of sieving through candidates.

4.      Engage Some Science and Smart Hiring Practices

You do not have to struggle to find the right candidate for a project management role when you can easily use smart hiring. This gives you an in-depth understanding of a candidate and how well they can help further your business strategy. However, note that it may take quite some time to find the right candidate.

You need a manager who will have an easy time tracking performance and adapting the scope of work for better results if you intend to plan, review and improve your projects effectively. We advise that you use technology to help in predicting how well these candidates fit the position.

You, therefore, need to know what you are looking for in the right project manager before engaging the right hiring tools to help you screen the potential candidates. If possible, demand that the candidates complete both behavioural and cognitive assessments during the initial application process.

Several scientifically validated tools will identify a candidate’s behavioural drives. This will help you get the right job fit to avoid pairing good employees with the wrong jobs. Science and technology will simplify the hiring process, saving you the need to screen candidates independently.

You will also have fewer resumes to review and a team of highly qualified employees to choose from. Therefore, look for the right hiring tools after knowing what you need in an ideal project manager and simplify your job.

5.      Avoid Hiring Biases

One of the reasons why hiring managers let the most qualified candidates go is because of hiring biases. These are things such as age, alma matter and gender, which cloud their judgement, inhibiting proper decision making. Most of the time, unconscious bias normally creeps in automatically; however much hiring managers seem to be open-minded.

Therefore, the best way to deal with this is not by ignoring it but by addressing and doing away with it. Do not allow a particular bias to stand in your way of getting the best project manager. You can achieve this by leaning towards Science as a guide in your decision-making.

Data allows you to assess your candidates and predict their success when given the job. You can easily predict their behavioural traits and cognitive ability, which are key requirements when it comes to the role of the project manager.

Through Science, candidates will move to the next interview stages because they are perfect for the job and not because of certain cheap biases such as age and gender. Avoiding biases helps you focus more on experience and the right skills, saving you from letting the right candidates go, leaving behind a pile of less-qualified or experienced potential employees.

6.      Ensure That You Focus on Enthusiasm and Passion in The Interview

Even with the right skills, experience and credentials for the job, a project manager will not perform well if he/ she is not charged up. Even though this is a common requirement in interviews, it may sound cliché, and therefore most hiring managers tend to overlook it.

How do you tell if the candidate is charged up for the job? Check whether he/ she is passionate or enthusiastic all through the interview process. Remember, being a project manager is not an easy feat and may get overwhelming at times.

Therefore, these individuals must be focused and thoroughly invested in their day-to-day roles, which can only happen if they are passionate about them. Passion will give them enough motivation to wake up every day and make the project a success.

While interviewing the potential candidates, be sure to look out for laziness, tiredness or excessive nervousness since these are traits you need to avoid. If they cannot exude passion and enthusiasm in the interview, they are definitely not suited for the job, and you need to focus more on the other candidates.

Energy, passion and enthusiasm are the driving fuel for project managers, and if they lack those, you are better off without them.

7.      Be Specific

You need to pick out a specific methodology required for the project manager based on your company’s needs. Companies are normally tempted to employ generalists who can handle multiple roles given the high competition and recession experienced in some industries to cut costs.

Whereas this is understandable, a jack of all trades and master of none may not help your company if you need to engage a specific methodology that fits the organization. We, therefore, advise that instead of focusing on all the methodologies that the potential employees are gifted in, pick out the specific methods that you want them to use and include them in the job listing so that they know what is expected of them.

You will not only reduce the number of applicants but also make your hiring process highly efficient. Companies need to get out of the old-age belief that the best candidate is one that can adjust when needs arise.

Therefore, if you need the right project manager, clearly articulate what you need before or during the interviewing process so that you do not end up with an unqualified candidate.


These are just but a few tips that will help you get the right project manager for your job. Ensure that you are thorough in your selection to help you avoid future problems. Take some time and do not rush the recruitment process while also using science and data to pick the most qualified candidate.