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How to hire exceptional product managers?

There’s a lot of information available on the internet from a candidate’s perspective on cracking an interview. There are also umpteen useful resources to understand the skills that a Product Manager must possess. But hiring the right product manager for your team is crucial to the growth of an organization and therefore, it is important for hiring managers and recruiters to have a clear idea of what they need to do. Finding the right personnel entirely depends on how you interview.

Product Managers, for instance, help to fasten or boost product business of your organization. There are designers and engineers in a company and then there are PMs who work with multiple teams and drive product development and growth. This means that hiring the right PMs is vital for the success of a company. The HR team must ask the right interview questions in order to scoop out the best Product Manager from the lot.

Here are the important things that you need to keep in mind if you want to hire exceptional product managers:

What is it that you’re looking for?

The required skills of a new Product Management hire are largely dependent on what skills your product team already has and what is it that your team needs. A discussion with the people who will have a close association with the PMs and who will be interviewing the PM is recommended to prepare a draft of what you need. The output of PMs is best when the team they join really require their skills and expertise.

  • Are you looking for someone senior who will take charge of the entire process, strategy, and roadmap? Or do you need someone in the early stages of their career who will assist another PM or the founder?
  • Does the PM need to have a great taste for design, active business insights, and strong technical expertise? What is it that your team is exactly looking for?
  • Do you need someone to immediately start in the industry or can you wait till a generalist is trained for actual groundwork?
  • Are there any gaps that you expect the Product Manager to step in and fill?
  • Which soft skills are vital for supporting and advancing your company’s culture?

Are there any specific qualifications?

Some companies specify qualifications like an MBA or a Computer Science degree and this is beneficial since it filters a lot of candidates and you’re not bombarded with applications. However, a given product management role may not need a business degree or strong technical skills.

You need to decide what is the criteria for educational qualification and what is it that you are looking at to be able to hire the right PMs.

Set out the interview process

When you interview engineers and designers, you can test their efficiency at design and code. Their responses are tangible results and give you a clear picture of the candidate’s ability. In the case of a Product Manager, it is difficult to formulate questions and test one’s skill and abilities.

Generally, the competencies that you need to check for in the candidate are as follows:

  • Strategic Thinking: These include macro as well as micro level problem solving and design making abilities.
  • Technical Expertise: It is important for the PM to have an understanding of design collaboration and engineering tools.
  • Collaboration: This includes EQ and conflict management skills.
  • Communication: Product Managers play the role of managing and coordinating engineers, designers, marketing executives, and sales personnel. This means that their skills of communication must be excellent and they should be able to inspire others.
  • Detail Orientation: includes QA and several different types of analytics.
  • User Empathy: This takes care of the study and research of users, both as a quantitative and qualitative level.

Apart from the 6 competencies listed above, a lot of recruiters and hiring managers suggest checking the individual for their will and skill. What are these?

WILL: This entails the motivation levels of an individual to do the job, i.e. how excited is the Product Manager and does the position touch their soul?

SKILL: Is the individual competent enough to take charge of the role? Is he/she capable of fulfilling the position’s responsibilities?

What can you teach the candidate on the job and what is difficult to teach?

Some processes and skills of a Product Manager can be taught if the candidate has the potential to learn. For instance, a candidate can learn factual information and tools. Not all PMs have experience in A/B Testing but if they have strong analytical powers, they can learn testing processes. Similarly, they may not have an idea about what a Minimum Viable Product is, however, if they have prioritization skills, they can sooner or later understand how the scope of an MVP can be drafted.

On the contrary, when it comes to mindset and certain kinds of competencies, they cannot be picked up quickly. These take time to develop and a hiring manager must not count on a candidate who doesn’t have those already.

Maintain a positive candidate experience

In an interview, always remember that you’re not the only one interviewing the candidate. The candidate is also trying to understand if they would like to work with your company. Create a comfortable experience and identify ways in which the atmosphere can be kept easy and enjoyable.

This can be done by promptly responding to the candidates. The candidate must be aware of the entire interview process and should have all the necessary information. Hiring managers must be polite and attentive. Candidates must be allowed to share what they have to, especially when it comes to personal information about themselves and their past experiences. You must also leave time in the end so that they can ask you questions.

Interviewing is an amazingly important and crucial task. Only when you get it right can you hire talented people for the role of exceptional product managers. Every employee makes a huge contribution to your team and therefore, they must be chosen wisely. If you looking to hire a Product Manager at your company, feel free to contact us for any help.