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.

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 skillset.

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.

With that in mind, here are our top 3 qualities or personality traits you should look for in your new traffic manager:

Top 3 Traffic Manager Qualities


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.

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.

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.

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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