5 Interview Questions for a Temporary Project Manager

Closing deal with a candidate

5 Interview Questions for a Temporary Project Manager

Although temporary staff can be tremendously valuable in a multitude of scenarios, one of the most common is project management.  When you’ve got a big project, with a real deadline, you know it’s time to call in the reinforcements.  The struggle is finding the candidate best suited for managing projects. Along with the technical skill sets they must have, there are also the characteristics necessary to take on an overwhelming projects with loft goals and little direction, all while working with a new group of people. These five interview questions are highly effective in finding your perfect temporary project manager candidate.

  1. Why are you applying for a temporary project manager position?

The answers always vary widely, but you can get a lot of information here.  For instance, if this project is a pilot program that is expected to turn into a permanent role, are they open to a permanent position? Then there are red flag answers, including those of the “only job I could find” variety.

  1. What’s your process for getting started with a new client?

When working with temporary staff for project management, it’s all about efficiency.  How your interviewee answers this questions says a lot about their work style and experience.  Someone who doesn’t have a process and relies on employer training, most likely does not work well independently.  Of course, if you ask them outright if they can take the lead and work independently, they’ll assure you they can.  Having a self-implemented onboarding process, not only tells you that your candidate is a self-starter, but also that they’ve been around the block. They’ve had enough onboarding experiences to know that it’s important, as a temporary worker, to expedite the process.

  1. What part of this project do you feel you’ll excel at most?

This is a great two for one question.  Not only will you get insight as to your candidate’s strengths as they pertain to the project, but you’ll also learn how well they understand the scope of the project. A lot can be said for a candidate who has thoroughly read through the job description and has already begun the process of mentally mapping how they would approach such an endeavor.

  1. Describe your last work disaster and how you handled it?

I could go on for days on how much insight you can get from this question.  This question is specifically tailored to the project scenario, rather than a typical job.  A typical job requires an ability to handle obstacles.  A temporary project manager position requires an ability to come back from complete disaster mode.  The pressure is turned up on projects, and it’s important your candidate can handle this.  You can also gain all sorts of information on your candidate’s creativity, stress coping ability, leadership ability, and critical thinking skills.  You also gain an understanding of what “disaster” means to them, which suggests a standard and quality of work.

  1. Tell me about your favorite placement/client to date?

I love this open ended question, because it really allows you to get to know your candidate on another level.  Here you will find out what environments they thrive in, as well as their motivating drivers.  Do they tend to really “invest” in a company or is it just another assignment?  Do they build relationships with their clients? What do tools and resources will they need in order to feel well equipped and do you have those things in place?

Try adding these five questions to your typical interview questions for hiring a temporary project manager the next time you have a big project due and you’ll be surprised at how much better suited for project management your selection will be.

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