Getting the right team

Projects differ from business-as-usual activities, requiring people to come together temporarily to focus on specific project objectives.Getting the right team is key to an effective teamwork. Effective teamwork is key to successful projects.
Ideally, a project manager would have the freedom and the ability to select the project team. In reality, often the team is there or the choice is limited to the resources available.
If you can hire, know exactly what the project needs and have an idea about how to get it.

My colleagues call me Sherlock Holmes when I join the interview panels. My scanner is on for attitude and transferable skills, i.e. an evidence that they learned something from their previous job and are ready to apply it further.

“Hire for attitude and aptitude. If someone is self-motivated, interested in the business, the project, and the people, they will add value to the team while remaining loyal and ultimately push themselves and the organization to greater heights” writes Erin Wilson on Linkedin.

A former team member was recorded as saying at a job interview that she is not interested in the job but will accept it because she was unemployed for the past six months. Would you consider such a candidate? My answer is no. Anyway she got the job and her “do not like” attitude impacted her performance. When she learned about an upcoming audit, she resigned. The audit revealed the reasons.

Another example: a competition for an expert in customs procedures with three candidates to be interviewed. Two have prior customs related experience. The supervisor, the successful candidate is going to work with, turns increasingly uncomfortable as the interview unfolds. The reason: attitudes exhibited, arrogance and “know it all outlook” on everything and everyone by the first two candidates. The third candidate has none of the customs experience, but a good academic record from a reputable University with worldwide credentials, good analytical skills and legal research skills. She is soft spoken, feels well the audience and is very considerate. She would fit well within the beneficiary’s set up. The choice is clear to me and to her immediate future supervisor. It is not that obvious however to other members of the interview panel, who adhere to “does the candidate respond to advertised job requirements”, which, we know, tend to be pretty standardized. The third candidate got the job, as after all common sense prevailed. After that, I hired her for four other assignments. And transferable skills worked just fine.

One more example: a competition for a project assistant. Five short listed candidates. My colleagues are keen on technical qualifications. Yes, they type, yes, they have basic procurement procedures knowledge, yes, they have basic organization skills, yes they seem to give the right answers. But there is always more to it than meets the eye. The way they dressed for the interview, their reaction to non-standard questions, their consideration or lack of it to the members of the panel inquiries, their reaction to the appreciation given at the interview, the match between verbal and non-verbal communication, an insight into their motivation you get from their body language. For example, when you praise the body language control of a candidate he/she may give it up or, to the contrary, increase self-control. Or for example, would you select a candidate who is relaxed, laid back, hands under the table at the beginning of the interview and pretty much throughout the interview or a candidate shoulders up, hands clenched on the table and, as the interview unfolds, relaxing shoulders, using freely his/her hands to amplify the conviction put into words? It is an easy answer to me. And it usually proves right. At least up until now.

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