Look at it this way: you are hiring a temporary General Manager who will run your business for some predefined period of time and deliver certain results.
Regardless of the nature of your business, you will expect your General Manager, above all, to be proficient in making things happen. If what bothers you the most is the candidate’s technical competence, then you must be looking for a technical lead, team coordinator, or some kind of a technician – but not for a real project manager.
Likewise, if you start with the “professional” requirements (PMP certification, Black Belt, etc.), then you are not there for a meaningful business result. Some of the best project managers I have worked with during my professional career were not certified.
Regardless of the field, you will need a quick thinker, well organized, with strong people skills and a good ability to learn.
This PM Law is immutable indeed: “The greater the project’s technical complexity, the less you need a technician to manage it.”
I would add as a mandatory requirement a good sense of humor – but this one comes at a premium.
True, it is hard to find out how capable your candidate is without actually having worked with him. If you are really serious about hiring “the best professional,” then you will need to invest some time and effort into this quest. Perhaps invite your candidate to a social event, talk to their former colleagues.
From my experience, one of the key determinant’s of the person’s future success working with a project team is the congruence of basic values of the individual and the team. To measure those, I developed questionnaires and mapped the answers of all players. The values of each player must align with the values of the team; when the individual results were all over the map, the team would likely be dysfunctional. Ideally, the personal values are congruent with the company values (vision and mission).
Originally answered on Quora.