How to Hire a Great Traffic Manager

When you think about agency recruitment strategies, you’ll immediately visualize sifting through piles (well, digital piles) of portfolios looking for creative geniuses. But what goes into hiring agency talent within the project and account management departments? When running through what to look for when you’re sourcing your agency’s management talent.

Traffic managers work within the project management sphere, handling task management through to project completion. They’re often a key liaison between the account management and creative teams, ensuring that work is completed on budget, on schedule and to agency standards.

Ready to improve your agency’s project flow by hiring a great traffic manager? Read on.

Know What a Traffic Manager Does

The role of traffic manager is commonly found within larger agencies or in-house teams. Because of this, those unfamiliar with the role may have some trouble defining exactly what they do, and how it differs from project management.

Traffic and project managers both work together to support projects through completion and serve as a go-between for the accounts and creative teams. They’re related roles that require similar skill sets, but they’re not identical. Here are a few key differences:

  • Project managers are involved in the planning and estimating stage before new clients are signed, whereas traffic managers work mostly on underway projects.
  • Project management is generally considered to be a more senior role than traffic management.

Still not quite clear? Check out our full post outlining the differences between these 2 roles, or visit The Balance for a complete traffic manager rundown.

Strategies to Hire the Right Traffic Manager

1. Define the Top Traffic Manager Qualities

Before looking for a traffic manager, you should craft an ideal candidate profile. This will guide you throughout the recruitment process to select the right applicant. Beyond technical skills and industry knowledge, you should identify the personal qualities that align with your culture and objectives.

With that in mind, here are our top 9 qualities or personality traits you should look for in your new traffic manager:


Creative projects rarely run exactly as planned, and it’s up to a traffic manager to redirect the flow of work to meet goals and deadlines as best as possible. While it’s great to have someone strict in their planning, being overly rigid will either mean they’re difficult or in the fast lane to Burnoutville. A traffic manager should be adaptable and comfortable with uncertainty. This person must be able to handle unexpected changes with ease and adjust plans accordingly.

Ability to Prioritize

We’ve all worked under account managers who think everything is a priority. It’s often up to the traffic manager to read between the lines and decipher which projects truly are a rush. This requires advanced planning and careful communication skills. Someone’s gotta be the no-man.

Excellent Communication Skills

As traffic managers frequently coordinate with various teams and clients, they must be able to clearly convey project requirements, deadlines, and any changes along the way. Their job is to facilitate open communication, foster a collaborative work environment, and encourage teamwork.

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Strong Leadership Abilities

A good traffic manager need strong leadership skills to guide and motivate the creative team. They are the one who delegate tasks, and offer direction and support to team members when needed.


Attention to detail is essential for traffic managers, as they oversee multiple projects simultaneously. They need to ensure everything is under control: all tasks are completed on time, on budget, with the desired quality.

Problem-Solving Skills 

Good traffic managers can detect and resolve issues during project execution. To do this, they need critical thinking skills to find solutions that overcome obstacles and keep projects on track.

Time Management Abilities 

In charge of project timelines, traffic managers must have excellent time management skills. They must know how to prioritize tasks and allocate resources efficiently to deliver projects within deadlines.

Analytical Thinking

Traffic managers often handle large amounts of project data. This makes analytical skills essential for them to assess performance, look for improvement, and make decisions to optimize workflow and resource distribution.

Continuous Learner

Amid the constantly evolving digital landscape, a good traffic manager should have a thirst for knowledge. They need to stay updated on the latest tools, trends, and best practices in traffic management.

A Genuine People-Person

You know the barista who always remembers your order and asks about your dog? That’s a future traffic manager. Small gestures like remembering the particular skills and passions of the creative team, and then assigning work accordingly, makes for a beloved teammate. Being the go-between for so many different arms of a project can be a stretch, so the ability able to work efficiently with a wide variety of personality types will be sink-or-swim for this role.

Remember, these traits may vary depending on your agency’s specific needs. Hence, it’s important to consider your agency’s goals and requirements when selecting a traffic manager.

1. Sourcing Candidates 

Once you’ve established the candidate profile, it’s time to source potential candidates. Here’re some common avenues:

  • Internal recruitment: suitable if you have existing talent pools or plan to promote internal staff. 
  • External hiring: best when you want to seek the best from a broader talent pool:
    • Use job boards, professional networks, and related forums to advertise the position. 
    • Leverage social media platforms and engage with relevant communities to attract the right talent. 
    • Consider referrals from employees, clients, or your connections to find qualified candidates.
    • Partner with headhunters in the creative and marketing industry to streamline the hiring process and get more pre-screened candidates.

Conduct Behavioural Interviews

Behavioural interviews are becoming more common with HR leaders because they rely on showcasing the mindset of the individual, or the how and why of their working style. Traffic management is unique in that a candidate’s success in the role is just as much related to their personality type as it is to their skill set. Therefore, design behavioural questions to understand how candidates face challenges, manage tasks, and communicate with the team.

Behavioural interview questions ask for real-world examples of how a candidate has worked in the past rather than creating hypothetical situations for them to problem solve. Here are a few questions that are well-geared towards traffic management:

  • Give me an example of a goal you set, personal or professional, and how you went about achieving it.
  • Tell me about a time you or your team made a mistake at work, and how you solved it.
  • Can you think of a time you were in disagreement with your manager? How were you able to come to a satisfactory conclusion?
  • Tell me about a time that you had to modify or change your plan to accommodate the needs of another person.

Even if you’re open to hiring a new graduate or an entry-level traffic manager, you’ll be able to get a grasp of how they think, delegate and problem solve. It doesn’t matter if they’re managing a team of creatives or managing a team of waiters—behavioural interviews will give you a glimpse into their personality and problem-solving abilities.

In addition, you should assess their cultural fit and compatibility with your agency during the interview process. Since traffic managers collaborate closely with different departments, find someone who can adapt to your agency’s culture and work well with others.

1. Assessing Practical Skills

Here’re a few ways to assess the practical skills of a traffic manager candidate:

  • Prepare a set of technical questions that explore the candidate’s knowledge of project management methodologies, experience with traffic management software, and ability to manage complex workflows.
  • Request portfolios from candidates. By examining their previous projects and traffic management plans, you can understand their capability to handle agency workflows.
  • Give a skill-based test tailored to simulate real-life situations for traffic managers, such as project planning, resource allocation, and time management. This will help you evaluate the candidates’ proficiency in daily work.
  • Present hypothetical scenarios and evaluate their approaches to solving the problem. This way, you can grab a sense of their critical thinking and decision-making skills. 

2. Checking References and Backgrounds 

Conduct reference checks and verify candidates’ backgrounds before making your hiring decision. Contacting the references can give you objective opinions on the candidate’s capabilities and work ethic. 

Remember to verify their employment history and qualifications to ensure the candidate’s claims are genuine. This involves checking education certifications or specialized training, and previous work experience.

3. Make a Decision and Send A Job Offer 

To make the final decision, thoroughly evaluate and compare the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and cultural fit to your ideal candidate profile. Consider their potential for growth and adaptability as well. In this step, you should involve key personnel who will work closely with the traffic manager, and listen to their perspectives for a well-rounded assessment.

Once you’ve selected a candidate, send a job offer that outlines the position with clear job description, salary, and additional benefits. Try to offer a competitive package if possible, since your candidate may be considering other opportunities. Be prepared for a negotiation in case they want to discuss certain details. Once you’ve reached an agreement, draft a formal contract to solidify the terms and conditions.

Additionally, it is equally important to inform the unsuccessful applicants. Send an email expressing appreciation for their time and effort, while notifying them that the position has been filled. This shows your professionalism and respect, while leaving the door open for them to reapply in the future.

4. Onboarding and Supporting the New Hire 

After selecting the traffic manager, you need a seamless onboarding process to help them quickly pick up the job. Create a full plan to introduce your agency’s processes, tools, and systems, and support them when needed.

Assigning a mentor from your team to provides the new traffic manager with guidance, support, and answer their questions or concerns. This develops a sense of belonging and helps the new hire be comfortable with your agency’s dynamics and team expectations.

To ensure ongoing growth, conduct regular check-ins, performance evaluations, and constructive feedback sessions. You can encourage continuous learning via training programs, workshops, and industry conferences. This makes your employees stay updated with the latest trends and best practices.

To Wrap Up

Traffic managers have an important, busy role that can sometimes feel akin to actually standing in the middle of a busy intersection with a whistle. But when things are running smoothly, your account managers and creatives won’t be able to live without them. Hire with care, and you won’t risk your new team member being flattened by a rogue account executive driving a double-decker bus.

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