How To…Hire IT Project Managers

The first in a series of “How To” Guides

If you are responsible for hiring IT Project Managers and you don’t have relevant technical expertise-how do you recruit effectively?

The good news is that you don’t have to be a tech head to manage the recruitment process successfully though input from the IT team will be essential in defining the requirements of the role and the type of candidate needed. Get this feedback at the outset and then use this Guide to walk you through the process-why not bookmark the link now so you’ll have it handy when you need it?

The Snapshop

  • Establish the essential requirements which candidates must demonstrate
  • Create a simple rating system to rank CVs in line with priority requirements
  • Follow the recommended Step by Step Actions-see list below
  • Ask the candidates the Right Questions-see list below
How To…Hire-I.T-Project Managers

Via iStock

Document your Expectations

As soon as you sit down to define what you expect the new recruit to do and deliver, you will help clarify in your own mind the type of person you need to recruit. You’ll probably want to divide these requirements into “the essentials” and those that are “nice-to-have”. Liaise with relevant team members-both technical and operational-to develop these requirements

Top Tip-don’t make the “essential” requirements too restrictive or you might be eliminating strong candidates from the process at the outset.

There is an interesting article which outlines these essentials as follows;

  • Academic Qualifications – a third level I.T. qualification may be sufficient or an MBA may be required for senior roles.
  • Professional Qualifications – these can be essential in specific functions; a Project Management Certification, for example, may be relevant or you may be satisfied with on-the-job training
  • Work Experience – has the recruit worked in a similar role before and for how long?
  • Skillsets – what skills are needed for the role and has the candidate demonstrated these competencies in previous jobs?

Once you’ve completed this list, develop a separate set of “useful” requirements-then implement and document your selection process in a professional, consistent way. Before you go forward, take a step back and ask yourself if its possible that you already have the resources you need in-house. Sometimes by reorganizing and outsourcing you can free up essential resources. But for now lets assume you need to hire someone.

Create a Shortlist – Step by Step

On one hand the current economy is at a low ebb and yet on the other hand it can be hard to recruit the right I.T. Project Management resources. So you may find it necessary to have a flexible set of essential requirements and a rating system which delivers enough candidates through the system to ensure a successful recruitment process.

However what you definitely want to avoid is wading through a lot of non-relevant CV’s and then, worse still, wasting time interviewing unsuitable candidates before you wind up with a useful shortlist of qualified, appropriate candidates.

This checklist of actions/questions will help you to quickly identify a quality talent pool of suitable candidates. Go through these questions with the relevant management team in your company. This will help identify if there are any differing expectations from people within the organisation in terms of what the recruit is expected to deliver.

checklist

Via iStock

Step by Step Actions to develop a Shortlist

1. Work out how many initial interviews you want to do

This process will help you to identify how flexible you need to be with your essential criteria and rating system . If you want to interview 5 people, for example, then there is no point in having the essential criteria so tight, only 1 of the 30 CVs you might have would actually meet them.

2. Delegate initial shortlisting then refine it in stages

If you’re swamped with CV’s then get someone to run through them initially, eliminating those who don’t meet the absolute basic requirements.

3. Use a spreadsheet and ranking system

Review the remaining CVs and rank them according to their ability to meet both essential and desirable requirements. To help you rank the CV’s submitted, it’s useful to put together a rating system; a third level qualification may not be essential, for example, but it may rate highly in your selection criteria-if you put together a table and mark each CV in line with a simple rating system, you will have documented a transparent, systemised approach which can also be used to give candidates feedback in the future, where requested. You could also use a recruitment tracking system-this site includes a comparison of systems currently available.

4. Eliminate inconsistent CV’s

Are you looking for a full time permanent resource or a part-time contractor-look for CV’s where the employment history is consistent with the type of recruit you are looking for.

5. Final Shortlisting

At this stage you can review the “nice-to-have” attributes and skills of each candidate. Have they got relevant industry experience, an outside interest which might be useful in the role, professional contacts, a foreign language which might come in handy etc.

6. Initial Interviews

First impressions are vital and it’s only at interview stage when you can establish personalities and clarify whether they are a likely to fit well in your company. The questions listed below will help you through this initial interview process.

7. Conduct Second Interviews

A second interview can be more indepth, it gives you the chance to clarify any queries you had after the initial interview and it also gives you a chance to bring in another team member for a second opinion. The second interview also shows whether or not the candidate is consistent in the impression they give. Ultimately aim to make the final appointment based on the person that best meets the defined criteria.

By going through these steps you will have implemented a process that should eliminate bias and this makes it a professional and transparent system-which is useful from every perspective.

Key Questions to Ask at Interview Stage

There are plenty of role-specific questions that you are likely to have and you will certainly want to discuss the relevant skillsets of each candidate directly, at interview stage. However you may find that you then get a set of standard responses, defined to show the candidate in the very best light. So how can you cut through these generic type interviews to really get a sense of the person and his/her approach to their work?

Check out these 8 questions that were put together by a group of recruitment experts to help recruiters identify the type of personality they are interviewing. Here’s a sample of the type of questions you might ask based on their recommendations;

  • 1. Who do you admire the most and why have you picked that person?
    This will help you to work out if the candidates thinking aligns with the culture of your organisation. It’s a very personal question and shows the true thinking of the person and what their priorities are. It’s a great question to help you get an insight into the persons’ true character.
  • 2. In your last performance assessment, what areas for improvement were suggested?
    No-one is perfect but if they don’t realise there’s areas for improvement then they may find it hard to progress within an organisation. So its useful to know whether there is self-awareness in the candidate about his/her short-comings and whether or not they are willing to address these.
  • 3. What happened the last time a project was delayed and how was the delay dealt with?
    Many projects run over time and managing this process, identifying why it happened and how things can be improved, is a core skill for an IT Project Manager. The answer will also help you to learn more about the candidates work experience and level of responsibility.
  • 4. Why are you doing this interview?
    It’s good to ask this question at the outset-it will immediately show whether someone is just there for a job or actually interested in your organisation and the role. 
  • 4. What is your passion?
    This question immediately identifies the priorities of the person and what drives them. If the interviewee cannot easily come up with a true passion, will they be passionate about their work? If it’s golf, will they be out every Friday afternoon? Maybe in your organisation that opportunity to network would be a good thing?  
  • What has been your experience?

    Have you got any great interview questions you’d like to share? What system do you use to rate prospects? Has recruitment been a challenge? You can leave a comment below, or contact us for more information on our recruitment services.

    With over a decade of experience in providing I.T. project managers to a range of national and multi-national organisations, Daysha Consulting are in an excellent position to offer advice and consultancy on every aspect of recruitment and the I.T. project management life cycle.

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