macdonald and company
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How Property Developers Hire the Best Project Directors

Posting date: 16 May 2019
Christine Scott our consultant managing the role

Property Developers Tips to Be Expert Interviewers

When you are interviewing to fill property development jobs or roles in a property development consultancy, you want to hire the best person for the job. It’s likely that interviewing isn’t your major responsibility or your greatest skill, yet often you are expected to select the right person based upon the interaction you have during an interview of only an hour or two perhaps a couple of weeks apart whilst interviewing other professionals for the same role. The ace you have up your sleeve is that you know exactly what your project needs and who can deliver.

The interview gives you the opportunity to weigh up an applicant both subjectively and objectively, using appropriate questions to explore personality, skills, experience and motivations. It is important to hire the Project Director who is the best fit. To ensure you assess all candidates equally, you should prepare questions in advance and devise a rating system to help you compare all facets of each candidate you interview.

These interview tips will help you become an expert interviewer and improve your ability to hire the best and most suitable Property Development Directors and Project Directors for your role.

Prepare Like You Are Interviewing 

The best Project Directors who want to work for a property developer or property development consultancy prepare diligently for an interview. They will have prepared for questions that you are likely to ask, and practiced the answers given. 

Christine Scott Development Recruitment

They are likely to have loads of questions they wish to ask to find out more about your project, the team and the environment or culture in which they'll be working. Match their effort with your own preparation. If you don't, it'll just be a waste of precious time - for you and for them. Create a list of questions to identify the traits you must have and those you would like to have from your new hire, as well as an agenda to keep your interview on track.

Skills Shortages Are Increasing Across Real Estate and Built Environment – a talented Project Director is likely to also be interviewing with your competitors. The interview is the chance for the candidate to probe and decide whether they want to work with you. Be prepared to sell your company and the opportunity to the candidate.

Set Interview Objectives Before

Expert interviewers don’t conduct interviews from the hip. They know exactly who they wish to hire; not by name or face, but by a list of skills, capabilities, and character traits. It is important to define the person you want to hire in these terms.

You should refer to the duties and responsibilities that your new hire will have. Consider the technical knowledge and skills needed to perform the role, and what level of experience is ideal. You’ll need to identify if the candidate has what it takes to accomplish what you expect.

Compose Your Questions in Advance

Having set your objectives for the interview, you will be able to structure the interview with questions that uncover what you wish to discover. Never rely on the Project Director's CV to devise your questions. Always set questions based on your list of objectives, and the skills and technical knowledge that you have identified as essential to the role.

(Read our article “Types of questions to ask when you interview an asset manager” (link))

Tips for Interviewing Project Directors

The interview process itself starts before the Project Director walks through the door of your interview room. You are more likely to see the real person behind an interview persona if you ensure they are relaxed when they sit opposite you. Make sure that they are greeted by someone you have primed as a greeter. Have the applicant escorted to the interview room, shown in and introduced.

Begin the interview with questions designed to put them at ease. Low-key questions that are easy to answer so they get used to talking.

Alka Poole, Development Consultancy Recruitment

Ignore the temptation to make a snap judgement based on your first impression. Some of the best hires made have been the most nervous and bumbling at the start of their interview.  The overarching objective of the interview is to evaluate the prospective employee against your list of objectives for your Project Director role. Give everyone an equal opportunity to shine. Here are a few tips to help you keep interview momentum:

1. Explain The Project Director Role

This is a great way to start the interview after those icebreaker questions. Summarise the role, including main duties and responsibilities. Discuss challenges and KPIs. This should give a frame of reference for the Project Director when answering further questions.

2. Talk Less, Listen More

To learn all you need to about the candidate, it is crucial that you allow them to do most of the talking. A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule – with you talking no more than 20% of the time.

3. Be Flexible

While you should have a list of questions to ask of the candidate, be prepared to respond to an unexpected answer to probe a little more to discover more.

4. Take Notes

Write down bullet points of the most important information a candidate tells you. This may include key accomplishments, examples of projects undertaken, or other pertinent points. These notes will help you remember the Project Director and compare them to others.

5. Invite Questions

You can learn a lot about a Project Director from the questions they ask. Is it a new challenge they are seeking, a new direction in their career, or is it something about your organisation that they are attracted by? Red flags here include if the candidate has no questions or is obsessed by financial considerations.

Interview Close

When the interview draws to a natural close (or an early one) you should thank the Project Director for coming in and explain the next steps. Be positive, even if they aren’t quite what you’re looking for. You need to consider company reputation risk as well as your priorities.

If you are happy for the Project Director to call you with further questions, let them know. Otherwise be clear about what they can expect next. If you are working with a recruitment consultancy, let the Project Director know that they should expect a call from them to discuss outcomes after you have conducted post-interview evaluation.

Project Director Interview Success

By taking a structured approach to interviewing for Project Director and Property Development Project Managers, including planning questions beforehand and following an interview agenda, you ensure that you:

  • Identify if they meet the requirements of your role
  • You’ll treat all candidates equally and have a robust hiring process.

Project Director Interview Success

By taking a structured approach to interviewing for Project Directors and Property Development Project Managers, including planning questions beforehand and following an interview agenda, you ensure that you 

  • Identify if they meet the requirements of your role
  • You’ll treat all candidates equally and have a robust hiring process
Following this approach should help you to hire the best Project Director for the role – the one who fits in with your culture and has the hard and soft skills to excel in the position offered. The hire who will help your development project, scheme or development achieve its objectives, on time, on budget and add to your bottom line.

To discuss your Project Director hiring requirements and discover how Macdonald & Company can help you in your search for talented property development professionals, contact the Development recruitment team now, the preferred recruitment partner of RICS.

Nicholas Carman, Developer Recruitment Expert

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