“We have an opening on the team,” Marlena announced.
“And, you would like my help?” I asked.
“Yes, what kind of person should we hire?” she wanted to know.
“What’s the work?” I asked.
“It’s a project manager role, coordinating and organizing all the elements of projects we have in-house,” Marlena replied. “I am thinking we should hire someone who is analytical, good attention to detail, works well under pressure. Oh, and they have to work well with people, because there are people involved in all our projects. I think it is a very specific personality profile.”
I chuckled. “So, this person would only be able to work in the project manager role you have in mind?”
“Not necessarily, there may be other things they could do, but you have to be a special sort of person to be a project manager. There’s a lot of multi-tasking, to make sure none of the balls get dropped.”
“Marlena, the things you describe are character traits for most all jobs. Most every role requires someone who is reasonably analytical, reasonably organized, has reasonable attention to detail and can reasonably pace a project so that it meets internal deadlines. You seem to be focused on things you might describe as character traits. I want you to shift your focus to behaviors. Behaviors is how work gets done. My first question to you was – What’s the work? We often get carried away trying to climb inside the personality heads of candidates without a clear understanding of What’s the work?“