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How to Hire a Product Manager

How to hire a Product Manager

Hiring a product manager in haste could be devastating, All of it kickstarts with the way you interview them, and that is what decides the future of your business.

Hiring PMs with only IT degrees isn’t enough in most cases.

A PM should come from a strong engineering background and must know the required tools.

Product managers don’t have the direct authority or power to lead others.

What are you looking for, exactly?

Product Management is a vast space with plenty of fundamental space here and there to confide the skills that you may or may not possess. However, the required skills aren’t mandatory to have but strongly depend on the skills you possess.

The best way to fight this approach would be to include people who will work alongside the PM and will conduct the interview. The work of the PM works best when they are needed by a team.

If you are interviewing a candidate for a PM, here are the questions to keep in mind.

  • What are the gaps that are present in your team? How do you think the PM is going to fill the gap?

  • Are you looking for a PM who is process-oriented and knows the ins and out of conducting the various strategy and roadmaps? Or Are you looking for a PM who has started off their career and is ready to partner with other PMs?

  • What are the mandatory soft skills that your company needs? Are they important for a candidate to acquire?

  • Is your requirement limited to someone with flawless taste in design or it is better to have someone who has a vision, a strategic approach, and strong skills and insights to progress?

If the candidate possesses the potential, it is easy to teach them certain skills of Product Management, tools, and information. To see PMs who have closely worked on A/B testing is rare, but given their expertise and knowledge, it will be easy for them to grasp the understanding. 

Here are a few very important interview questions that I make sure to ask:

  • What will be your approach to gain the respect of other teams, be it engineering or QA?
  • What led your transition from engineering to product management? How has the journey been? 
  • What is one of the key lessons that you assessed after your transition from engineering to PM?
  • While you were an engineer, what do you think you missed out on?

These questions will not only help to know the candidate interviewing for the role better but will also help you detect the required parameters. 

Spot and Hire a PM - 4 Prime Qualities To Look For!

What is the first thing that I look for in a PM? Well, in addition to their intellect, I am down for anyone who is smart, detail-oriented, and knows how to solve a problem.

Below are the “clues” that I look for before hiring a PM! 

1. The ability to solve problems

For most teams, having a PM with the ability to solve a problem is mandatory. In my tenure of working closely with product managers, I have seen this as a necessity.

Product management is not as easy as it sounds, and luckily, most executives know this. It is a role that has the maximum momentum. This makes problem-solving ability a requirement for hiring PM. 

Instead of throwing a riddle at the candidate you are interviewing which will yield no results, they can be asked more about their background. Furthermore, once there is clarity on the background, you can ask about them a real problem related to your product. This will help you explore the way they think and what they bring to the table to offer.

2. Leadership

From the tons of traits that you are likely to scour in your next PM, having a certain level of charisma that comes with leadership can go a long way. 

A product manager goes through the difficult process of coordinating with the team, leading them throughout multiple phases, and working parallelly with a cross-functional team. However, the PM has no direct authority over any of the teams they are working closely with. 

Thus, it lands us on the most important question which is, how can a product manager overcome such a complex situation when they don’t carry the power? Well, with their leadership skills.

3. Accepts Failure

Failure could be an intimidating term but not for product leaders/managers who have a visionary goal in life and mind. The product manager is aware of the failure they might crossroads if their products fail.

This is exactly why one should hire a PM who is well-versed with how failure operates. So, when hiring your product manager, look at how acceptable they are of failing. Furthermore, one should hire a PM who knows the appropriate way to react, grieves and overcomes it, and finally starts putting together the learnings for the next success.

Having said that, it is best to ask this as an interview question too. This is indeed a tricky question but the answer will let you figure out the parameters of the potential candidate.

4. Communication Skills

Every executive who is hiring for the role of product manager count “communication” as one of the primary skills. Regardless of how good a PM is in all the other sectors, having strong communication skills is the most important. 

Depending upon the departments, a PM can choose the dialect and brush their knowledge skills for the same. 

Communication skills should top the list of qualities that you are looking for in a product manager. 

Final Words

When the interviewing process is a success, you can identify the right and talented people who are willing to work for the team and accordingly make contributions. 

However, the real problem is when you do it wrong and exclude the candidates who could have potentially benefited your organization. Thus, before hiring any candidate for an interview, make sure to gather all the qualities you are looking for.

Photo by Edmund Dantes from Pexels

Final image

Mayuresh S. Shilotri writes on Product, EdTech, UX, Customer Development & Early Stage Growth. 2,000-Word posts only. You can discover more about me here

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