Last week the NFL held their “Combine” which is a set of tests to see the skills of potential draft-day candidates. They do things like a sprint, high jump and other various drills. This way, the teams get a chance to see the skills of their potential hires. While watching some of these highlights I was thinking how great that would be if we had a Project Manager Combine where we could see all of the skills of PMs before hiring them. I would have such activities as the following…
- Speed planning – see who could bring the most structure to their work in the quickest time
- Jumping obstacles – see who could navigate around many risks and issues that arise without falling flat on their faces
- High jumping – see who can escalate an issue to upper management with the most articulation and facts to drive action
- Endurance – see who can handle 24 straight hours of status update meetings
In all seriousness, I do believe that successful PMs have certain essential skills for success (enter shameless plug for my skills book here) such as influence, diligence and attention to detail. Figuring out a way to determine these skills prior to bringing on members to your team is a critical activity. So maybe we can’t do a full combine like in the NFL, but there are certain behavior-based interviewing questions that can be used to solicit insight into these skills. Getting referrals and asking about these skills is another way to get an understanding.