Project managers are responsible for the planning, execution and delivery of specified projects. A good project manager has the power to unify a team and ensure higher quality output.
Project managers are a valuable business asset as they can coordinate a project team, draw up necessary plans and documents to help people work to the best of their abilities, ensure timelines are adhered to and take overall accountability for the delivery and success of the project. They need a whole host of skills, character traits and abilities to do the job successfully.
When hiring a project manager for your business, the right combination of tests will support you to find the best person possible for the role.
This article will help you to plan the right selection of tests to form part of the recruitment process, identify which skills to look for in prospective project managers, and equip you with additional knowledge that will prove valuable when hiring.
What should a project manager be able to do?
Overall, a project manager needs to be able to oversee both the people and different facets of a project to ensure it is delivered on time, within an agreed budget and to the expected standard.
Organisational skills are key for project managers; as well as setting up documents and timing plans, they need to be confident in managing finances, presenting to key stakeholders, setting and adhering to agreed milestones, and scheduling and running meetings.
Strong interpersonal skills are vital as this is a role that involves liaising with multiple people and ensuring the needs of all of these individuals are met so the project can be delivered on time. As well as securing the respect and trust of those they're working with, a good project manager will be able to unite a team and ensure everyone is invested in working towards a common goal.
As with any role that involves juggling multiple priorities, a head for problem-solving and the ability to keep calm in challenging situations is key.
Skills to look for in a project manager
Ensuring you're testing for the right set of competencies is essential when hiring for any job — but particularly in roles such as project management, where you need to see a wide range of skills across multiple areas. To meet the basic requirements of the role, it's useful to look for the following when hiring a project manager:
Microsoft Office suite: project managers will need to schedule meetings, send important documents, set up timing plans, record actions and do a whole host of other tasks that can normally be facilitated by programs such as Excel or PowerPoint in the Office suite.
Project management planning tools: depending on which project management tool your business uses, it can be beneficial for a candidate to have worked with that software before, or something similar.
Logical thinking: problem-solving and being able to use logic to resolve issues is an essential skill for a good project manager. Making rational decisions in moments of high stress or tension can be the difference between a project running smoothly or not.
Presentation skills: a large part of this role is being able to present ideas effectively to key stakeholders, and in doing so garner support and confidence in the project and the project team. Strong presentation skills, both technical and personal, are an important thing to look for when hiring a project manager.
Written and verbal communication skills: whether it's clearly explaining a plan, conveying the importance of something over email, or uniting a team, communication is an essential skill in a role like project management.
Useful abilities for a project manager
A candidate's innate abilities can be one of the deciding factors when it comes to hiring, especially if you have a pool of people with similar levels of education and experience. When interviewing and assessing prospective project managers, we recommend looking for the following abilities:
Patience: when working with a lot of different people with different priorities, tight deadlines and many moving parts, it's essential to have patience and to remain professional.
Organisation: whether it's people management, filing documents, setting up meetings or ensuring deadlines are met — project managers have to juggle a lot, so a natural affinity for an organisation will go a long way.
Teamwork and leadership : as well as leading the team on the successful delivery of the project, a project manager also has to know when to defer to other people's expertise and must show that they're comfortable getting stuck in and being part of the team, as well as delegation.
Adaptability: things often change course or don't go to plan. A good project manager will be able to take this in their stride; showing that they can think on their feet and adapt to suit the needs of the team to meet any challenges or issues.
Problem-solving: keeping calm and being able to come up with innovative solutions to new challenges is a really important ability for any good project manager.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a project manager?
Soft skills are a great indicator of the type of person you may be about to hire, and how well they're likely to fit into the team.
For a project management role, we'd recommend assessing these soft skills:
Time management: this test seeks to examine how well a candidate can prioritise different tasks by putting them in hypothetical workplace scenarios to see how good they are at juggling, planning and delivering.
Decision-making skills: making sound decisions when lots of variables are at play is not easy. But it is essential in the field of project management. A decision-making test allows you to see what kind of things your candidate prioritises, and how good they are at making decisions that benefit the team and the project.
Interpersonal skills: a great indication of emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills are how well you work with other people, how strong your communication skills are, and how you adapt your approach to different people and situations.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a project manager?
Using technical or aptitude tests as part of the recruitment process is a great way to ensure fair hiring practices and a stronger cohort of candidates at the interview stage.
For a project manager, we'd recommend aptitude tests such as these:
Error checking: this test puts candidates under pressure and asks them to identify errors in data sets or text. It's great for assessing attention to detail, as well as how they balance speed and accuracy.
Verbal reasoning: as a project manager, communication is key. This test assesses an individual's ability to process information, extract key details and differentiate between fact and inference.
Logical thinking: most good project managers are logical thinkers by nature. This test will help you to see how comfortable they are thinking logically under tight time pressure.
Our recommended test battery for a project manager
We recommend the following combination of tests when hiring a project manager:
Teamwork and leadership : great leaders are required to successfully manage projects and teams and work colloboratively.
Interpersonal skills: fostering strong teamwork and relationships really is one of the most important parts of project managing.
Time management: project managers are accountable for setting milestones, and delivering assets on time. Therefore it's essential that your project manager has a proven ability in time management.
Error checking: delivering an accurate project is important, so every step of the way a project manager needs to show that they're on the ball and can spot inconsistencies or errors in their own work, and others.
We have specific job knowledge tests and more information about using tests to help in hiring a project manager, such as our project manager test guide.