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How to hire a construction project manager: 6 steps on hiring a construction manager

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Behind every great construction project is a talented project manager holding the whole site together.

Construction project managers are responsible for the planning, execution, and logistical coordination of construction projects from the ground up. A million things can go wrong during a construction project, so you must hire top talent to prevent future headaches. Construction management tests can help you do that.

This comprehensive guide on how to hire a construction project manager reviews the necessary skills and shares tips on hiring a construction manager. It also explores the concrete steps to hire the best candidate to make your project successful.

What is a construction project manager?

A construction project manager is responsible for executing a project from concept to completion and facilitating smooth communication between project organizers and the on-the-ground team. Think of them as the grease that oils the wheels of a construction project.

Not only does a construction project manager ensure that projects meet quality standards and regional specifications, but they are also responsible for ensuring the project is completed within budget and on time.

So, what does a project manager do for a construction company?

A qualified construction project manager manages resources and on-site risks, controls communication and project planning, leads health and safety initiatives, and implements quality control standards.

What is a construction manager?

A construction manager is a professional who oversees the daily operations of construction sites, managing labor, materials, and communication with subcontractors and vendors. Their primary focus is to ensure the construction process is completed efficiently, on time, and within budget.

Unlike a construction project manager, who is responsible for the overall planning and completion of a project, a construction manager is more focused on the on-site execution of the project plans.

While the project manager handles the broader project scope, including budgeting and scheduling, the construction manager deals directly with the day-to-day management and problem-solving on the construction site.

Why hire construction project managers and construction managers?

You probably wonder why you should hire for these roles. What does a project manager do for a construction company, and what benefits do construction managers bring?

Hiring construction managers and construction project managers is vital for the successful execution of construction projects. They bring many benefits that significantly impact project efficiency, quality, and financial health.

Here are some advantages when you hire construction project managers and construction managers:

  • Understanding construction methodologies, materials, and building codes to ensure quality and compliance

  • Managing budgets effectively and identifying project cost-saving opportunities

  • Scheduling and coordinating tasks to ensure timely completion

  • Anticipating delays and implementing contingency plans or change orders to keep the building project on track

  • Identifying potential risks and strategies to mitigate them to ensure safety and smooth project progression

  • Communication and coordination among various stakeholders, including architects, general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and clients

  • Overseeing work performed on-site and ensuring that it meets all quality specifications and standards

  • Maximizing productivity by ensuring resources like labor, materials, and equipment are used efficiently

23 fundamental skills to look for in an excellent construction manager

Successful construction managers and project managers possess certain skills that affect how they carry out operations.

Recognizing these core skills is key to recruiting talented project management for construction in your organization. Below are some of the most important skills of great construction managers and construction project managers:

Construction manager hard skills

Construction manager hard skills refer to the technical competencies and knowledge necessary for effectively managing construction projects. These skills can be acquired through education, training, and practical work experience in the field.

That’s why, before thinking about how to hire a construction manager, you need to get familiar with these necessary hard skills:

Skill

In brief

Technical construction

Deep understanding of construction techniques, tools, and practices

Site management

Skills in overseeing the physical aspects of the construction site, including safety protocols, site layout, and maintenance of construction equipment

Material management

Expertise in the procurement, allocation, and utilization of construction materials

Local building codes and regulations

Knowledge of specific local building codes and regulations to ensure compliance in the residential construction process

Hands-on construction tools

Proficiency in using and managing the tools and technology directly involved in the construction process, such as machinery operation and on-site technology applications

Construction manager soft skills

Alongside the hard skills necessary to be an effective construction manager, the candidate you hire also should possess the following soft skills: 

Skill

In brief

Communication skills

Knowing how to communicate effectively with superiors, clients, and teams prevents mistakes and misunderstandings

Problem-solving

Ability to quickly assess and resolve issues that arise during construction, making timely decisions to keep the project on track

Critical thinking

Being able to take information from a variety of sources, analyze it, and take necessary action

Time management

Important for keeping track of the productivity on a building site, the process of the project, and the resources and budget

Team management

Essential for working in teams and enabling construction managers to coordinate their teams effectively

Leadership skills

Strong influence on their teams to gain their respect and coordinate them effectively

Flexibility

Being adaptable to change and flexible in solving problems that come up due to the dynamic nature of construction sites

Attention to detail

A keen eye for detail to ensure that construction work meets quality standards and specifications

Construction project manager hard skills

Although many necessary hard skills of construction project managers overlap with those of construction managers, here are some additional hard skills that are more specific for this job title:

Skill

In brief

Project management

Ability to construct project plans, set achievable timelines and budgets, effectively manage resources and personnel, and ensure satisfactory completion

Blueprint reading and interpretation

Proficiency in reading and interpreting construction documents, technical drawings, and specifications

Health and safety knowledge

Extensive knowledge of safety codes, best practices, and regulations related to construction sites

Budgeting

Creating accurate budgets for a project, estimating costs, and quoting clients accurately

Contract management

Skills in negotiating, interpreting, pricing, and managing contracts with clients, subcontractors, and suppliers

Software proficiency

Familiarity with construction management software, CAD software, and other relevant tools for project planning, scheduling, budgeting, and communication

Construction project manager soft skills

Similarly to construction managers, construction project managers need strong interpersonal skills to manage diverse teams involved in project execution. Here are some soft skills you should look for when hiring a project manager for construction:

Skill

In brief

Strategic planning

Understanding how to plan strategically for the project’s success and align daily activities with overall project goals

Negotiation and conflict resolution

Skills in negotiating contracts and resolving disputes among stakeholders ensure a cohesive project environment

Stakeholder management

Managing and communicating effectively with all project stakeholders, including clients, architects, engineers, and government authorities

Emotional intelligence

Ability to understand, empathize, and effectively interact with diverse team members and stakeholders

6 steps on how to hire construction project managers and construction managers

The construction project management recruitment process is complicated without the right plan. 

These six steps provide a structured approach to identifying, evaluating, and onboarding project management professionals with the necessary skills to lead your projects to successful completion.

Here’s a quick summary before we dive into the details:

  1. Consider your company’s construction project management recruitment needs

  2. Choose the best hiring channels

  3. Create a detailed construction manager or project manager job description

  4. Use skill assessments to hire the best project management for construction

  5. Conduct structured interviews

  6. Onboard your new project manager for construction

1. Consider your company’s construction project management recruitment needs

The first step in hiring a construction manager is to consider whether you want to hire a freelancer or a full-time, in-house crew member.

Choosing between a full-time or freelance professional depends on the nature and duration of your projects, budget constraints, and expertise required.

For long-term construction projects, a full-time construction manager could be more beneficial for ensuring consistency and aligning with the company’s future vision.

In comparison, hiring a construction manager on a freelance basis can provide the necessary expertise and flexibility for specialized or short-term projects. 

2. Choose the best hiring channels

If you want a candidate who aligns with your company culture, consider hiring someone who’s already part of your team.

Internal hiring creates a sense of motivation and upward mobility within your workforce, providing opportunities for individuals who have already worked hard to earn your trust.

Considering that the lack of career development opportunities is the number one reason people seek new job opportunities, internal hiring can improve employee retention.

If you need to look outside for your construction project management recruitment, your best bet is online job boards.

By posting your job on Indeed or Monster, you can reach many applicants. The downside is not all of them are qualified for the job.

Another option to find great talent is to visit career fairs and trade shows, such as the International Builders Show or World of Concrete. 

There, you can approach promising candidates, chat, and invite them to apply for your available position. This way, you can find potential talent and verify their skill sets at a later stage.

If your construction team works closely together, this approach can be a great way to find a personality match for your organization quickly.

Other options include:

  • Freelance-specific online job boards: We recommend posting your job description on sites specialized in the construction industry, such as Field Engineer or on general platforms like Upwork

  • Construction networks and associations: Large construction companies and networks, such as the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and the Construction Industry Institute (CII), host online job boards with a vast network of qualified freelancers

  • Social media: Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be useful for finding freelance and full-time construction managers

3. Create a detailed construction project manager or construction manager job description

Drafting your construction manager job description should catch the attention of talented candidates while preventing inadequately qualified candidates from applying.

It is always useful to use a construction manager job description template to avoid mistakes.

Construction project manager job description template

The first step in hiring a project manager for construction is to create a good construction project manager job description.

Here’s a project manager job description in a construction company you can use as a template when hiring for your vacancy: 

Construction Project Manager Position Available at [YOUR COMPANY NAME]

Job Overview:

We’re looking for an experienced, efficient construction project manager with the skills to facilitate the delivery of top-quality contract work to [COMPANY]’s clients. This job is ground-up, meaning you are responsible for all steps of managing a construction site, from initial cost estimates to quality control and project handover.

Attention to detail in resource, time, and financial management is essential. The successful applicant has a chance to manage a cohesive, competent team to bring ambitious construction projects to life. 

Communication skills are key since the construction project manager acts as the intermediary between management and the on-the-ground crew. 

Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Overseeing and managing all aspects of the project

  • Ensuring compliance with regulations and codes

  • Developing and maintaining project schedules and budgets

  • Coordinating with stakeholders

  • Hiring and managing subcontractors and workers

  • Monitoring progress and quality of work

  • Resolving issues and conflicts

  • Implementing safety protocols

  • Maintaining project documentation and records

  • Communicating regularly with stakeholders

Qualifications:

  • [Required hard and soft skills]

  • [Preferred hard and soft skills]

  • [Preferred education level]

  • [Preferred experience]

4. Use skill assessments to hire the best project management for construction

Before inviting applicants for interviews, it is always a good idea to review their skills. This helps reduce bias in your recruitment process and improves the candidates’ experience.

You can evaluate their skills with talent assessments that give candidates the opportunity to show their abilities by answering questions and solving problems.

Talent assessments also help you hire diverse candidates, which is important because construction and manufacturing are amongst the least diverse industries.

We recommend giving candidates the following tests when hiring a project manager for construction: 

  • Construction Management test: This assessment evaluates a candidate’s proficiency in overseeing construction projects from start to finish, ensuring they meet deadlines, adhere to budgets, and achieve quality standards.

An example question from TestGorilla's Construction Management test
  • Project Management test: This test measures a candidate’s ability to make the best decisions for project management and handling a team.

An example question from TestGorilla's Project Management test
  • Attention to Detail (Visual) test: When analyzing technical drawings and specs, attention to even the smallest details is critical to getting the job done right. This test helps you determine whether your candidates are thorough and attentive when examining visual information.

  • Budgeting test: Creating an accurate budget based on estimates is challenging. Sticking to that budget after a client has accepted your quote can be even harder. See if your candidates have got what it takes with our skills test.

An example question from TestGorilla's Budgeting test
  • Communication test: Clear communication is vital to staying productive and ensuring the team’s safety. You can assess candidates’ verbal and written communication skills with this test.

  • Problem Solving test: A wide range of challenges pop up throughout a construction project. Applicants who ace our Problem Solving test can navigate these complex situations with ease.

An example question from TestGorilla's Problem Solving test

If you want to learn more about using our talent assessments in your hiring process, book a live demo.

5. Conduct structured interviews

Since construction project management is a social and communicative field, the way your candidates interact in the interview stage can greatly affect your hiring decision. 

That’s why you must ask the right questions to get an accurate picture of who they are. Here are a few interview questions for construction project managers you can use: 

  • From beginning to end, can you describe a construction project you have managed successfully? 

  • How do you ensure a construction project stays on schedule and within budget?

  • What is your preferred way of communicating with stakeholders (such as owners, architects, and subcontractors) during a construction project?

  • What safety protocols have you implemented in the past to ensure a safe working environment for all the construction workers in your crew?

  • The last time a project didn’t go according to plan, how did you handle the situation?

Construction project manager interview questions

6. Onboard your new project manager for construction

Onboarding and orientation introduce your new employee to your company, projects, and common practices.

Here’s a quick guide to onboarding for construction managers:

  • Provide a detailed walkthrough of the current and upcoming projects, including key objectives, deadlines, budgets, and any specific challenges or priorities

  • Offer in-depth sessions on your company’s specific construction methodologies, quality standards, safety protocols, and compliance requirements to ensure they align with your operational practices

  • Facilitate meetings with critical stakeholders, including clients, architects, engineers, subcontractors, and job site supervisors, to establish relationships and open lines of communication

  • Provide targeted training on construction-specific software and technologies used in project planning, scheduling, budgeting, and reporting to improve their managing abilities

  • Emphasize the importance of safety by arranging comprehensive briefings on your company’s safety policies, procedures, and past safety performance

  • Establish a structured feedback loop to discuss project updates, address any issues or concerns, and offer support and guidance

4 tips on how to hire construction managers effectively

Here are four quick tips to help you learn how to hire a construction manager the right way.

1. Pick an excellent communicator

Effective communication ensures clearly defined objectives and expectations, regular updates, and prompt handling of issues before they escalate. 

This skill is critical in coordinating the diverse teams involved in construction, including architects, engineers, subcontractors, and clients.

2. Find people who are solution-oriented

Solution-oriented managers contribute significantly to project success by maintaining momentum, meeting deadlines, and keeping the project within budget. 

Their ability to foresee potential challenges and devise effective strategies minimizes downtime and ensures the project progresses smoothly, even when unanticipated issues arise.

3. Use talent assessments to find people who fit your company culture

A good cultural add is more likely to be engaged, productive, and committed to your company’s success. This alignment is especially crucial in construction management, where collaboration and teamwork are vital for project success.

Using talent assessments, such as our Culture Add test, you can measure how well a candidate’s personal values, work style, and aspirations align with your company’s values and goals.

If you want to start using TestGorilla’s talent assessments, sign up for a free forever plan.

4. Hire someone with solid construction knowledge

Comprehensive construction knowledge enables a manager to make informed decisions, troubleshoot problems efficiently, and ensure compliance with all building codes and safety regulations.

This expertise is crucial for maintaining the quality and integrity of the construction work, managing resources effectively, and securing the project’s success.

How much do construction project managers and construction managers cost?

The average yearly construction project manager salary in the US is around $98,000 at the time of writing. According to the same data, the average construction project manager salary can vary by as much as $44,000 based on their skill level, location, and years of experience. 

Construction managers earn a similar wage, considering their annual salary is around $95,000.

Hire the best construction project managers with TestGorilla 

The right construction project manager is the “cement” that holds a construction site together.

Hiring the right candidate for this role is essential to your company culture, occupational safety, efficient processes, and turnover. So, if you’re wondering how to hire a construction project manager, the answer is: Use our construction project management tests.

See how TestGorilla can streamline your hiring process by taking a product tour to learn about our skills assessments’ different functionalities and customization options.

However, the best option is to create a free account and start using our talent assessments today to ensure an unbiased, quick, and engaging hiring process.

How to hire a construction project manager FAQs

Still have questions about hiring a construction manager or construction project manager? Find your answers below.

Can a construction manager be a project manager?

A construction manager can be a project manager if they possess the necessary skills. This is particularly true in smaller projects or firms where roles often overlap. Although their primary focus is on the day-to-day management of construction sites, their skills in coordination, budget management, and team leadership help them to oversee a project’s overall progress.

What is the difference between a construction manager and a project manager?

The difference between a construction manager and a project manager lies in their scope of work and areas of responsibility. A construction manager focuses specifically on the construction phase, overseeing day-to-day operations, managing on-site personnel, and ensuring timely material delivery. They report directly to the project manager. A project manager has a broader role, overseeing the entire project, including pre-construction planning, design, procurement, and construction.

How do I choose a construction project manager?

  • Ensure they have strong skills in budgeting, scheduling, and stakeholder communication

  • Consider their ability to navigate the bidding process and negotiate various types of project contracts effectively

  • Assess their ability to manage diverse teams effectively

  • Ensure they are a team player with strong problem-solving and organizational skills

  • Check for relevant certifications (like PMP or CCM) or degrees (like civil engineering)

How do I find a good project manager?

If you’re wondering how to hire a construction project manager, you need to evaluate their communication skills, technical expertise, leadership qualities, and decision-making abilities. You can use talent assessments to evaluate hard skills, personality traits, and culture add. Look for proficiency in project management tools and their approach to delegation, communication, prioritization, and time management.

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