Hiring For Product Managers? Here are 5 Things You Should Do

Product managers have a unique role in the regular line-up of organizational work. They naturally need to have a diverse skill set to deal with their work responsibilities.  

You have to cast a wider search net of multiple backgrounds to track the candidate who is the perfect fit for your company. 

Traditional job sites and hiring protocols might give you a large candidate pool. 

However, regular rules do not apply to the hiring processOpens in a new tab. when you are preparing to hire a product manager. 

You need a more customized hiring protocol if you intend to wade through that pool to find the ideal solution for your organization. 

Top 5 Things you should do when hiring a product manager 

Experienced HR recruiters will often describe the product manager designation as a white space position. 

The entire responsibility structure and consequently the hiring process will differ for every company.

It will largely depend on what the company does and what the product is. The most likely interview meeting should be with the team who will be directly working with the product manager. However, an initial assessment of the skills and aptitude is just as important to validate the candidate for the position.

In light of this information, we have curated a systematic process to vet the product manager candidates and evaluate their skills and vision on your specific testing parameters. 

You will find this information vital in the process of designing a unique interview session to hire the product manager for your company.

Let’s check out the details!

1. Assess your needs

Every decision you make in the process of hiring a product manager will be solely dependent on what you need from the professional.

Without a detailed analysis in place, you will be designing a generic interview and possibly miss hiring a candidate who would have been a much better fit for the role.

Instead, take the time to ask these questions from the concerned departments to analyze the fundamental role of the product manager. 

Make the entire team a part of this conversation to assess the exact expectations from the candidateOpens in a new tab. in this position.

  • Are you looking for a senior product manager to take charge of the strategy, drive the process, and create the roadmap for the future of product development in your company?
  • Are you looking for an interim candidate to start with the team and train to take over as a senior product manager down the line?
  • What are the most pressing talents you need from the right product manager for your team — is it good taste in product design, predictive business insights, or in-depth technical expertise?
  • Do you need a candidate with ready to go industry experience or do you have the time and resources in place to train a candidate with relatively lesser experience in the field?
  • What importance do you place in aptitude and soft skills level for a product manager in your company? Does the candidate need to be prepared to handle client communication and negotiations as part of their responsibilities?

Answering these questions will give you a fundamental list of skills that you need for the position. 

You can then start singing an interview session that tests each of these requirements at its core before you make the final hiring decision. 

2. Create a product manager persona

Creating a persona helps to humanize the role of the product manager. 

You start imagining the persona in different simulated situations, which gives you a better handle on the actual demands of the position.

In fact, this is a great method directly recommended by ToddOpens in a new tab. Opens in a new tab.Jackson the VP of product at DropboxOpens in a new tab..

It will give you a chance to categorize all the necessary qualities required for the role into priority specific segments. You can categorize them as good qualities, bad qualities, and even bonus qualities that you should track in the potential candidates.

You can also use this information to create an interview script to assess initial interviews and close the right candidate through a deep hiring process. 

3. Evaluate trainable aspects

When you are hiring a candidate for a position, you should have a clear idea of the areas where you can actively compromise to cinch a hire for more priority talents.

For instance, a candidate might not have an experience in managing a product in your specific industry but he/she might have a deep experience in handling large product teams and establishing strategy structures for increased product developmentOpens in a new tab. efficacy.

If you want the latter quality as priority, think whether the absence of industry specific experience is a total deterrent.

On the other hand, is it a minor hurdle, which you can easily vault by setting up factual training for the industry, completed within the first few weeks of hiring?

You can train a potential candidate to introduce them to industry specific terms like minimum viable product. However, only a candidate with predictive insights and deep experience will be able to scope out the potential MVP using their analytic skills and judgment. 

Prioritize the analytic and decision making qualities over basic gaps in knowledge, which can be managed easily within a few training sessions. 

4. Design the hiring assessment

As already mentioned before, designing the most appropriate hiring assessment for product ownersOpens in a new tab. should be a team effort. It should be comprehensive and test for skills across the board.

At the end of the assessment, you should not only have information about what skills the candidates have but also a gap analysis of the skills that they are lacking.

This will help you in the decision making process for the final hire. It will also be critical to design the induction process and trainingOpens in a new tab. for the final hired candidate.

Set up an assignment that the candidates can take home, invest some time to research, and create for final assessment.

This part is to test their independent working skills and application of readily available resources to create a good quality project.

The assignment itself should not be a direct part of the product but created on the lines of assessing the skills required for the product development.

You can use professional resources to create the analytical and hiring assessment for product owners. This gives you a direct look into the candidate’s current knowledge of the product. It also helps you understand whether they have analytical skills to predict trends and evaluate product ideas down the line.

Also, set up the soft skills assessmentOpens in a new tab. through a round of direct interviews or zoom meetings, whichever is convenient. Try to take cues from the candidate’s nonverbal communication and interview approach to assess the personality as a potential part of your team.  

5. Create a positive candidate experience

At the end of the day, the hiring protocol is not just for assessment but also for introduction to the team ambience and work cultureOpens in a new tab. in your company.

When hiring for a senior profile candidate, the entire experience is just as much a chance to woo the right candidates as much it is about checking whether they fit your team.

Further, if the interview process is too strict or fraught with a nerve-wrecking atmosphere, it can have a negative impact on even great candidates.

Some excellent options might test horribly and thus miss the chance to add to and improve your team value.

In fact, a better idea would be to treat each interview experience as an additional product. Look for ways to improve the experienceOpens in a new tab.. Ask yourself how you can make the process easier, courteous and enjoyable.

Throughout the time that your interview protocol is conducted, make sure you are accessible to the candidates for timely replies.

Any queries or doubts during this time should be clarified almost at once. This will help to increase your candidates’ trust in the position and the management.

Make it a point to ask the candidates about their vision for the position. You will need to inculcate these points in your closing marketing communicationOpens in a new tab. when you have finalized the candidate that you feel is your next product manager.

Finally, during the entire interview, be polite and give them a chance to present their point of view. In fact, your intent should be to cultivate more opinion from the candidates to evaluate their decision making approach.


A product manager has the maximum responsibility in a product development cycle.

Everything about the team hinges on this position. Hiring an appropriate candidate is critical to ensure the continued success of your product lines.

Interviewing candidates for this role should be a balance of value assessment and skill tests. You do not want to end up excluding some potentially great options just because your interview set up is filtering the wrong people.

Make sure to follow a systematic approach to test at all levels while keeping a positive interview ambience to put the candidates at ease.

This way they test well and are motivated to join the company with a better work attitude right at the onset. That is a win-win situation for any company.

Author bio:

Atreyee Chowdhury (LinkedInOpens in a new tab.

Atreyee Chowdhury works full-time as a Content Manager with a Fortune 1 retail giant. She is passionate about helping small and medium business owners and agencies achieve their content marketing goals with thoughtfully crafted SEO content. Be it long form articles and blog posts or website copywriting, email sequences or press releases, she has worked on every kind of format. She loves to read, travel, and experiment with different cuisines in her free time.   

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