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6 Tips for Hiring a Rockstar Project Manager

A great project manager can mean the difference between a successful launch and an abject failure, but why settle for just a “great” project manager? A true rockstar can deliver ROI, ensuring profitability of projects of every size and scope. Many hiring managers seek out PMs with extensive technical knowledge, which is critical for success, but expanding search criteria and focusing on soft skills will help you achieve the results you truly seek.

Plan Ahead Or Plan To Fail

If you want to connect with the best and brightest, a last-minute search makes little sense. Rockstar PMs are in high demand, and the odds that your ideal candidate will be able to sign on with you in a matter of a few weeks is slim. Profitable projects don’t happen by accident. They take planning at every level – including the talent search. The longer you run your search, the better your chances of locating and attracting your ideal candidate.

Seek Out High-Level Business Acumen

Project launches drive business goals, and successful PMs understand how their role fits into business objectives. If you expect a project to align with business strategy, you need someone at the helm who can ensure that alignment every step of the way. Ideally, you want to find someone with extensive experience in your vertical who has a true grasp of the way their decisions will impact business outcomes.

Yes, Enthusiasm Matters

Project managers experience a great deal of stress from the moment a project kicks off. They must juggle deadlines and resources, manage requests, and appease stakeholders who often come to the table with divergent priorities. Frustration is a daily obstacle, and if a PM does not truly love what they do, that frustration can impact the success of the project. Throughout the hiring process, pay close attention to candidates who demonstrate true enthusiasm for what they do. True passion fuels motivation and drives focus under the heaviest pressures.

Crisis Managers Need Apply

No matter how well a project is planned, no matter how talented the staff, no matter how many contingencies are put in place, one thing is certain: crisis. Projects rarely ever go as planned and finance, timing, staffing and development issues often arise. True rockstar PMs are virtuosos of crisis management and resolution. Include behavioral interview questions that can uncover crisis management skills.

There Is No Project Without the Team

Project managers lead and facilitate groups, but they should also understand the power of the team. A person who is too focused on their own successes and achievements can lead to disastrous team dynamics. As you interview candidates, look for signs that a PM lays credit for success on the feet of the group and search for someone who is also willing to accept individual responsibility for failure.

Trust, But Verify

If you think you have a rockstar on your hands, you may be right. However, interviews only tell part of the story, and it’s easy to get fooled by someone who just happens to be great in the hot seat. Before you select a candidate, spend extensive time talking to references. Verify all claims of project success, and ask probing questions get a feel for their personality, work style, leadership qualities and facilitation skills.

Finding a rockstar PM isn’t easy, even if you plan ahead. You must be able to match technical skill with soft skills and other intangibles, and that person must also fit in with your company culture and team dynamic. Don’t strain your internal resources. Trust your search to recruiting experts who have a proven track record of matching rockstar project managers to rockstar organizations.

The award-winning team at Talon can help you find the talent you need to ensure successful, profitable project launches. Call us at 609-924-8900 or fill out our online form below to get started.


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