The role of the project manager is very challenging. It is described as a critical link to management, clients and the project team that keeps the project moving forward on-track, on-schedule, and on-budget. According to the PMI’s Global Job Report, economies around the world continue to share a strong demand for project managers. This demand started in 2010 and is predicted to continue up to 2020, stronger in some countries and industries than others. As a senior project manager of a growing or expanding organization, you may have the task to interview candidates for new PM jobs for your team or company.
If you come across good potential candidates, there are some tips in how to investigate and evaluate them further during the interview process. Some of the obvious signs to look for in a PM job candidate are their confidence and their ability to answer questions clearly indicating their technical and interpersonal skills, methodologies used, and how they worked previously with project sponsors. You may be interested in reading our top 5 sites for finding pm candidates.
1. Is there Chemistry?
It is also important to note how easily they connect with the interviewer. Chemistry between people is something hard to define, but is something very observable. Observe if the applicant is relaxed during the interview, is able to maintain a sense of humor, and is seen as generous with his or her answers. However, if trying to connect with the applicant seems to be a struggle, no matter how hard you try, it can be a potential problem of relating to others.
2. Spend More Time
Time is precious, both for the interviewer and the applicant. However, spending more time on the job interview to get to know the applicant better is negligible compared to the potential cost of a wrong hire. Spend a longer time with a strong candidate, to ask specific, follow-up questions to good but general answers. Observe also the candidate’s behavior as the interview gets longer, to see if there is any indication of impatience or any other change.
3. Long-Term Goals
As a senior project manager with the company, you understand the vision, goals and commitment of the organization. Thus, it is important to ask applicants for the PM role about their long-term goals as well. They may be well-suited for the short-term or urgent project at hand, but you may be looking for someone to be part of the company for the long haul. Knowing their long-term goals can give you an idea if it is aligned with your and the organization’s goals. Having a long-term goal also shows the applicant’s career direction and planning skills.
4. Offer to Clarify
The job interview should clarify as many things as possible, not only for the interviewer but also for the applicant. If a strong candidate was able to answer many questions well but also have some questions about the job or the company, welcome it by providing clarifications. If the candidate is a little hesitant, offer to clarify anything but be mindful of company policies and confidentiality. This resolves any misunderstanding or wrong impressions about the job, role or the company that can cause serious issues later on.
5. Invite for a Second Interview
It is important also not to hurry the interview process. If there are many good candidates, and an initial interview only narrowed the choices a little, invite the stronger candidates for a second interview. This is a chance to compare and contrast several applicants with more direct and specific questions and job scenarios. It is also a good opportunity to see who is consistent from the first interview, and who has become undecided or uninterested.
6. Talk about Salary, Check References
In the later stages of the interview with a potentially strong candidate, it is important to discuss salary expectations. It can be all smooth and well up to this point, until compensation requirements and expectations do not meet the actual offer. Unless one is willing to compromise, this can be the end of the road. There are also ways to make sure that strong candidates will more or less accept the salary offer, and this is by checking their references and previous salaries. Unless the new job is dramatically more demanding than what they have previously performed, the expected salary of the chosen candidate will also not be significantly and unrealistically higher.