How to Hire a New Project Team Member

Figure Out What You Need

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Hiring New Team Members. J.A. Bracchi/Getty Images

Do you need to add someone to your project team? This article will cover the whole process of hiring a new project team member.

It starts with working out what you need.

Identify The Needs

Before you start to write that job advert, think about what it is that you actually need from a member of your new project team. What sort of project-related skills are you looking for?

Go back to your project schedule and look at the kinds of tasks that the person will be doing.

Check the project’s requirements and compare that to whom you already have available to work on the project. Look for where the gaps are: there’s no point in hiring another Java developer when someone with those skills is going to come off a project in a month or so. It is probably better to wait a month and use the existing internal resource rather than get to a point in 9 months where you have two of them and not enough work to go round.

Read Next: The Roles You Need On A Team

It’s really important to consider the timing of the work, not only because you might be able to shift things around and make better use of the people you already have working for the company but because you may find that this is not going to be a long-term need.

For example, a product launch may need a specialist marketing expert, but if you only plan on doing a big launch once a year then this is a role that would be better filled by an agency or contractor than someone who joins the staff.

Write the Job Requisition

You might need to write several versions of the requisition depending on where the final job ad is going to be published. Something that is appearing in the Financial Times is going to be very different to the ad you put on the intranet or print out to pin on the notice board in the office canteen.

If you expect candidates to hold certain qualifications like PMP or technical qualifications then specify these clearly and also make it obvious if other qualifications like CAPM would be acceptable instead.

Think about the personal attributes you expect them to have as well. For example, if you expect them to manage difficult stakeholders then you may want to ask them about their experiences of dealing with difficult people when they come to interview.

Remember to include in the requisition how you expect people to get in touch with you. If they don’t know how to reach you, they can’t apply for your job!

Receive Resumes

This is the point in the process where people send in their resumes. You may have specified that it’s OK to send in resumes by email, fax, letter, or that they complete a corporate application form (online or on paper). Whatever the method, you should start to receive them now.

You did specify a date by which you will no longer accept resumes, didn’t you? This should have been clear from the requisition or job ad. If a fantastic applicant gets their details across to you a few hours after the deadline has passed then you’ll have to decide whether you reject their application on principle or are prepared to waive that criteria to consider them.

Here are some tips for managing resumes as they come in.

  • Log all applications as they come in. It’s helpful for internal statistics to see how many applicants you had for the role.
  • Save electronic resumes with the filename being the candidate’s name. You can also include their salary expectations in the filename if you know it.
  • Keep paper copies save and stapled to their cover letter so that they don’t get separated.
  • Keep detailed records about why you are rejecting candidates. It’s not enough to reject and bin resumes. You may have to justify your decisions at a later point so note down why the applicant was not considered for progression further in the process.

Different countries have different regulations about hiring, so if in any doubt, take advice from your Human Resources team. Ideally, they should be supporting you through the whole hiring process and you’ll be following internal guidelines for hiring best practice.

Conduct Interviews

You’ll need a set of interview questions and some people who are willing to come to interview before you can conduct your interviews. First, the interview questions.

Asking everyone the same questions makes the hiring process fairer and easier. You can compare the answers between candidates, which is helpful. Standard question sets exist for lots of jobs and project management is no different. Project Management Interview Questions Made Easy by Dr. Andy Makar is a good resource for candidates and for recruiting managers (that’s not an affiliate link; I just think it’s a practical resource to suggest to you as a starting point, but feel free to search for others).

Next, you’ll want to make sure that the people on your shortlist are actually prepared to come to interview.

You may find that your colleagues in HR can over the contacting and scheduling of interviews with prospective candidates if you can provide them with your shortlist. If you can find someone to do this liaison then it will certainly save you a job. Trying to track down candidates can be time consuming!

With people and interview questions lined up, you can conduct your interviews.

Make An Offer

You’ve interviewed your candidates. Now you can compare their performance against your criteria and question set. You’ll probably have a pretty good idea about who would be a good fit for the project team, and you’ll want to take personality into account too. Ultimately you are hiring someone who will fit well with the rest of the team and who will be an asset in terms of attitude as well as skill.

If your first choice candidate says no then you can consider whether you want to make an offer to the second choice candidate on your list. If, faced with that decision, you don’t think they are suitable for the role and you are not comfortable about moving forward with that, then you should go back to the start of the process and start advertising again.

Conclude Hiring

Your selected candidate has said yes. That means you can wrap up the other bits of hiring, such as getting back to candidates who were not successful and offering them feedback.

Not all recruiters do this, and it’s your choice whether you do or not and whether you let candidates know that’s your approach. You may find that candidates approach you for feedback anyway, so plan what you are going to do or say in that situation so that you can be ready.

It’s appropriate to give feedback to internal candidates if they are unsuccessful, but you might not want to do that for all the external applicants.

Onboard Your Hire

Ideally, you should start the onboarding process before the new team member arrives at reception on their first day. Send them what information you can prior to them joining. Before they start they should have their contract, benefits information, security checks and anything else completed. Check with HR to see what you need to organize. You want to make a great impression on your new recruit, and they'll be trying to do the same too.

It also helps to have their first day programmed so that you know exactly what they are going to do. It should cover things like:

  • Getting a security badge photo
  • A tour of the building
  • Being introduced to the project team
  • A project briefing
  • Meeting their line manager if that is not going to be you
  • Being allocated a mentor or buddy

And so on.

The Three-Month Ramp Up

It takes time for a new member of any team to be fully productive. Typically that’s about 3 months.

Their induction and onboarding plan should continue for the whole of three months. Don’t assume that someone will be fully competent from the moment that they have had their building tour. Factor in some slack in their schedule for learning activities and any training that you think they would benefit from.

Plan Ahead

We’ve stepped through the process of getting and onboarding a new member of a project team but, ideally, you should be planning ahead and making sure that you’re scanning the horizon for new resource needs long before you need to get that job ad on the intranet.

Starting the process of identifying resource requirements early means that you have extra information for your budget cycles. It helps you to understand what training to offer existing staff. It gives you an insight into who is available when so that you can adequately plan the work for the rest of the period.

Read Next: How Resource Management Saves You Time

This article has hopefully given you everything you need to find, recruit and onboard a new member of your project team. You’ll have seen that it’s a very similar process to the one you would go through to add a new member to any team, and that’s because projects aren’t that dissimilar to operational teams.

Why not bookmark this guide so that you can come back to it when you are next hiring?