How to assess project management soft skills

How to assess project management soft skills

Project managers deal with people all the time, so they must possess strong project management soft skills.

Soft skills are personal characteristics that make it easy for someone to interact with others. They’re often called interpersonal skills and include communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and empathy.

Project managers who lack these soft skills can have difficulty connecting with team members, understanding their needs, and communicating effectively. This can ultimately lead to project delays and other problems.

Assessing project management soft skills with TestGorilla before hiring a candidate eliminates these risks. You can only objectively assess soft skills with the right tools.

But with 300+ pre-screening tests, how do you know which specific tests are best for identifying your next hire?

This blog post discusses how to assess project management soft skills, why soft skills are important, and which skills and traits to assess.

What is a project management soft skills assessment?

A project management soft skills assessment is a tool or process used to evaluate soft skills during the hiring process. It helps employers identify candidates with the interpersonal characteristics needed to be successful project managers.

Having the right soft skills improves the performance of any project management team. In fact, research shows that soft skills are attributed to 85% of career successes.

Let’s examine why soft skills are essential to successful project management.

Why are project management soft skills important?

Soft skills enable project managers to interact and engage effectively with other people. But soft skills go beyond just communication and interpersonal skills. They also encompass problem-solving, leadership, collaboration, decision-making, and other essential abilities.

Many employers consider soft skills to be as important as hard skills. Here’s why project management soft skills are essential.

Timely completion of projects

Finishing projects on time helps teams to avoid unnecessary stress and potential failures due to rushed work. Project managers with good soft skills are more likely to manage people and tasks effectively, improving the chances of on-time and successful completion of projects.

Better collaboration

Good soft skills make it easier for project managers to work well with their team members. For effective collaboration, a project manager must have soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and decision-making.

Conflict resolution

Projects usually involve different people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and goals. This can lead to disagreements within the team that must be resolved quickly and effectively. Project managers with excellent soft skills are better equipped to handle these situations.

Making informed decisions

A project manager sometimes needs to quickly decide things like budgeting, scheduling, and resource allocation. Soft skills like critical thinking are important to ensure the manager makes the right decision.

Creative solutions

There are tons of challenges that project managers come across at some point in their careers. With soft skills like creativity and problem-solving, a project manager can find innovative solutions to these challenges, preventing projects from stalling.

What soft skills and traits are important for project managers?

Research shows that 89% of companies consider employees without soft skills to be bad hires. Knowing which of these skills are essential for project managers allows you to hire the right candidate. Here are some of the top soft skills and traits to assess in a project manager.

What soft skills and traits are important for project managers


A project manager must communicate daily with team members, clients, and other stakeholders to prevent costly mistakes and missed deadlines.

Some of the communication skills that you should look for when assessing a potential project manager include:

  • Effective listening: A project manager must have listening skills. The ideal candidate should be able to fully pay attention during a conversation and interpret what’s being said. They should also practice active listening by focusing on the person speaking and asking questions to clarify what the speaker is saying. This way, they can understand what team members say and move projects along quickly.
  • Written communication: Can a potential candidate express their thoughts clearly in writing? A project manager must communicate complex ideas via emails, presentations, reports, and messages. They should also use different writing styles effectively based on their audience.
  • Verbal communication: Project managers frequently give verbal instruction or updates. The right candidate must be able to express themselves verbally, clearly, and concisely.

Other communication skills to assess include:

  • Non-verbal communication
  • Presentation
  • Empathy
  • Leadership communication


Because project managers frequently direct employees and conduct activities such as facilitating meetings, they need strong leadership skills. Leadership is essential for driving a team to success, and the right candidate should be able to motivate team members, manage conflicts, and maintain morale.

The following are some of the leadership skills you should assess when hiring a project manager:

  • Ability to give truthful feedback: A project manager shouldn’t be aggressive when they give feedback to employees. However, they should be bold enough to point out team members’ weaknesses that are getting in the way of the job, such as coming to work late, or workplace gossip.
  • Organization: The ideal candidate should be able to prioritize.
  • Inspiration: Project managers must inspire and motivate team members to work together.
  • Initiative: The candidate should be able to make decisions without waiting for someone else to give them instructions.

Additional leadership skills that a project manager should have include:

  • Integrity
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Relationship-building
  • Dependability

Use these 53 leadership interview questions to identify the best candidate.


Proper decision-making allows a project manager to set clear deadlines, identify risks, and take adequate measures to deal with them. It also enables managers to ensure that all projects meet their timelines and don’t exceed the budget.

The decision-making process of a project manager should involve the following:

  • Gathering data from various sources
  • Analyzing the data to make sure it’s accurate
  • Brainstorming ideas in collaboration with the team
  • Considering feedback from the team before making a final decision


There are common problems that most project managers face, such as delays or conflicting schedules. 

When these issues arise, a project manager can use problem-solving skills to identify the challenges, brainstorm possible solutions, consider the risks involved with each option, and make an informed decision.

The best candidates should have the following problem-solving skills:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Researching
  • Creativity
  • Lateral thinking
  • A keen eye for detail

Conflict management

Working closely with different personalities can lead to conflicts among team members. A project manager should have strong conflict management skills to reduce tension and move the group toward a consensus.

When assessing candidates for their ability to manage conflicts, look out for the following:

  • Objectivity
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Collaboration
  • Patience

Balance and self-care

Balancing personal and professional life helps project managers to perform optimally by avoiding burnout. The ideal candidate should have good self-care practices that allow them to be mentally and physically healthy, and know how to have an effective work-life balance.

7 Project management soft skills and traits tests

Evaluating project management skills before hiring gives you a better chance of selecting a qualified candidate. A great hire saves your company time, money, and resources.

Let’s look at some tests that will help you gauge an employee’s soft skills objectively.

7 Project management soft skills and traits tests

1. Critical Thinking test

A project manager needs to use inductive and deductive reasoning to make independent decisions a lot of the time. This Critical Thinking test assesses the candidate’s ability to be creative and think outside the box, analyze problems, and generate solutions.

By administering this test, you’ll find a candidate who is:

  • Open-minded: Discover alternative interpretations of ideas allowing them to handle everyday situations at work better.
  • A good decision maker: Analyzes data before making decisions and can avoid subconscious bias.
  • A good problem solver: Identifies the leading cause of an issue and can develop creative solutions.
  • An effective communicator: Can effectively communicate ideas and solutions to the team, thus preventing expensive miscommunication mistakes.

How does the Critical Thinking test work?

This Critical Thinking test is based on the Watson and Glaser Critical Thinking model. It uses numerical and written information to assess a candidate’s approach to various problems.

With this test, you’ll be able to evaluate these five areas that show a candidate’s critical thinking abilities:

  • Inference: This shows the candidate’s ability to tell if a statement is true, false, or impossible based on the data and scenarios given. 
  • Recognition of assumptions: These are a set of beliefs and ideas made by the candidate that may or may not be accurate. The test evaluates the candidate’s ability to identify false assumptions and their accuracy in recognizing valid assumptions made from text.
  • Deduction: Tests a candidate’s ability to draw logical conclusions from information and identify relevant evidence supporting a specific argument. It also evaluates the applicant’s capacity to draw reasonable conclusions using inductive reasoning. A candidate is given a statement and several outcomes, and the candidate must then rely on the information in the message to determine if the findings add up.
  • Interpretation: Evaluate the candidate’s ability to interpret data, such as statistics and graphs, and identify how it relates to the discussion. It also tests their capacity to draw inferences from given information.
  • Syllogism: A syllogism is a logical argument composed of three parts: a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. This test helps to determine if the candidate can evaluate ideas and recognize valid conclusions from given statements.

Importance of the Critical Thinking test

A Critical Thinking test has many advantages, including the following:

  • Predicting performance: This type of test accurately predicts how well a candidate will perform on the job.
  • Objective assessment: Eliminates bias and subjectivity when assessing a candidate’s soft skills.
  • Time-saver: A fast and efficient critical thinking test saves you time in the hiring process.

2. Numerical Reasoning test

Project managers deal with numerical data daily. Giving potential hires a Numerical Reasoning test helps you evaluate their ability to work with numbers. 

This test evaluates a candidate’s ability to interpret data to solve numerical and quantitative problems.

How does the Numerical Reasoning test work?

This test assesses a candidate’s skills in four main areas:

  • Numerical computation: This evaluates a candidate’s ability to use arithmetic skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Data interpretation: Look at how well a candidate can interpret information in diagrams such as graphs.
  • Numerical estimation: Assesses candidates’ ability to estimate answers to numerical problems quickly
  • Numerical reasoning: Presents a candidate with data and no defined problem-solving method.

Importance of the Numerical Reasoning test

The Numerical Reasoning test allows recruiters to hire project managers who can:

  • Use relevant data to monitor and predict business results
  • Communicate and understand business needs from charts, graphs, and tables
  • Make quick estimations and evaluations when data is missing
  • Identify trends, anomalies, and patterns in numerical information
  • Analyze complex financial reports and forecasts accurately
  • Develop strategies based on numerical data to improve performance

3. Problem Solving test

Another critical skill that project managers ought to have is the ability to solve problems. Effective problem-solving for a project manager involves:

  • Defining a problem
  • Organizing it into small manageable parts
  • Using creative and analytical thinking to develop and implement solutions

Problem-solving skills are essential for project managers as they help them to keep clients happy, finish projects on time, and keep their teams motivated. With a pre-employment Problem Solving test, you can assess if a job candidate is up to the task.

How does the Problem Solving test work?

Our Problem Solving test assesses the applicant’s ability to identify issues, develop strategies and solutions, and analyze data to reach a resolution.

This test looks for the following critical problem-solving abilities in a candidate:

  • Analytical thinking and attention to detail: Can a candidate quickly evaluate a situation and identify the most logical solution? It also checks if a candidate can identify the causes of a problem and what the effects of the problem will be.
  • Critical thinking: It’s impossible to solve a problem without the necessary thinking skills. A problem-solving test measures a candidate’s ability to quickly think through a situation and develop the most effective solution.
  • Communication and active listening: Can the applicants’ collect accurate and valuable information from clients and colleagues to solve problems based on relevant information?
  • Creativity: Can the project manager think outside the box when finding solutions?

Importance of the Problem Solving test

Recruiters and hiring managers can use this test to hire project managers with the necessary skills to:

  • Identify and assess problems accurately
  • Develop creative solutions and strategies for resolving them
  • Use available data and resources effectively
  • Analyze information to make informed decisions
  • Lead teams and clients in problem solving
  • Collaborate with colleagues to create innovative solutions

4. Communication test

Good communication is essential for projects to run smoothly. A project manager’s responsibility is to communicate effectively with stakeholders, team members, and other related parties to get tasks done on time.

How does the Communication test work?

A Communication test assesses how well an individual can convey their message to others. These tests usually include written exercises, oral interviews, and situational role-plays.

This type of assessment measures the following traits:

  • Verbal communication: The candidate’s ability to explain complex concepts in simple terms.
  • Listening skills: Checks the candidate’s capacity to ask questions and understand others’ points of view. It also assesses their understanding of non-verbal cues.
  • Written communication: How well the candidate understands and interprets simple and complex written communication such as emails and reports.

Importance of the Communication test

Communication is an important trait that sets great project managers apart from other candidates. A candidate with strong communication skills will be able to work well with team members and effectively interact with stakeholders and resolve conflicts.

5. Leadership & People Management test

Since project managers interact with coworkers, team members, clients, and other stakeholders daily, they need strong leadership and people management skills. These skills are important for enhancing communication, boosting team morale, and improving employee management.

The Leadership & People Management test measures an applicant’s ability to take charge of a situation, motivate others, build relationships, and handle conflict. It checks for the following skills:

  • Delegation of authority and tasks
  • Giving timely feedback and guidance to teams and clients
  • Supporting the growth of others
  • Mediation
  • Creativity

How does the Leadership & People Management test work?

The Leadership & People Management test focuses on two abilities that a project manager must have – self-awareness and emotional intelligence. It doesn’t propose any style of leadership. Instead, it uses the situational leadership theory to study how a potential project manager would act in different situations.

The test typically consists of multiple-choice questions and simulation exercises that assess an individual’s ability to lead, motivate and manage teams in various scenarios. It also measures a candidate’s potential to handle complex tasks and take on additional responsibilities when needed.

Importance of the Leadership & People Management test

With the Leadership & People Management test, you can identify project manager who:

  • Understands how to prioritize the goals and needs of your organization
  • Can genuinely help others develop and grow their careers
  • Can unite a team to meet important business objectives
  • Leads by example
  • It is approachable and allows people to ask questions and share ideas

6. Time Management test

Most projects are time-sensitive, requiring effective time management to meet deadlines, so a project manager must be organized and manage time well to motivate teams to complete projects on time.

How does the Time Management test work?

The Time Management test measures a candidate’s ability to plan, prioritize tasks, and make quick decisions. It typically consists of multiple-choice questions, scenarios, and timed simulations that assess a candidate’s time-management skills.

This test checks for four crucial abilities:

  • Prioritization: Can a candidate sort the important from the urgent?
  • Planning: Does the candidate plan their work efficiently? How good are they at sticking to a plan?
  • Reflection and communication: Assesses if a candidate thinks about their work, monitors progress and outcomes, and communicates this information with relevant parties.
  • Execution: Uses real-life scenarios to assess which decisions a candidate will use to solve these scenarios efficiently.

Importance of the Time Management test

By assessing a potential project manager’s ability to manage their time well, you can hire someone capable of:

  • Delegating tasks appropriately
  • Creating detailed plans
  • Limiting distractions
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Ensuring that tasks are completed in the most efficient way

7. Attention to Detail (Visual) test

The Attention To Detail (Visual) test is a visual assessment that examines the applicant’s ability to observe and remember details. It helps recruiters evaluate how accurately a candidate can recognize minor color, shape, size, and texture differences. 

It also measures a candidate’s attention span and ability to concentrate on tasks for extended periods.

Evaluating attention to detail before hiring a project manager is crucial as it helps new hires minimize errors, supervise tasks more effectively, and complete projects within the desired time frame.

How does the Attention To Detail (Visual) test work?

This test typically consists of images with slight differences between them. The candidate needs to identify these tiny details in a given amount of time. This assessment measures the individual’s short-term memory, attention span, and ability to recognize patterns quickly.

With this visual attention to detail test, you can assess the following traits:

  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Organizational abilities

Importance of the Attention To Detail (Visual) test

The Attention To Detail test helps you hire a project manager with high standards of accuracy. 

A candidate with good attention to detail is well-suited for a project management role as they can easily recognize errors and inconsistencies. This test also helps you find an individual who can manage complex projects, identify discrepancies in data sets, and interpret various reports accurately.

Let’s help you find the best project manager

Before hiring a project manager, you need reliable tools to assess various soft skills. Try Test Gorilla’s pre-screening tests today. You can quickly measure the necessary project management skills such as communication, time management, and attention to detail. 

Assessing potential candidates with these tools helps you find the best fit for your team and ensure successful project delivery. Sign up for your free plan with TestGorilla, or book a free 30-minute live demo with a member of our team.

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