While the primary role of a Product Manager is to drive product vision, success in this role comes from more than just having great ideas. It also requires excellent people skills, an understanding of business objectives, and working closely with engineering teams to understand their challenges and deliver solutions that help them achieve results.
If you’re not recruiting for this role, it can be difficult to know how best to evaluate candidates. For Product Managers to succeed, they need a strong understanding of the business and technology, in-depth knowledge of their market, experience with user flows and design patterns, and an affinity with people across the organization.
So let’s take a look at some of the key aspects you need to consider when hiring for this role.
Your goal: Visionary and results-driven
Every candidate should provide examples from previous roles where they have demonstrated their ability to drive change, motivate internal stakeholders, and deliver products into production that meet customer needs.
At the same time, candidates must understand how to meet business and financial objectives within a set timeframe.
Your question: What are you working on right now? / Who is your customer?
To understand what motivates candidates in their day-to-day role, ask them about the most recent project that they have worked on.
What were the key problems? How did you go about solving them? What was missing from the initial solution? Was there a particular stakeholder who needed to be engaged?
Empathy is essential for Product Managers, and it’s helpful to understand how candidates think about their customers when designing solutions and new features.
Your question: What was the most difficult situation you’ve faced?
Although it may be tempting to focus on technical skills during a Product Manager interview, your goal is someone who has proven success in previous roles with regards to understanding business needs and objectives, achieving results within a set timeframe, and working well with teams to ensure that goals are met.
A common mistake when interviewing Product Managers is asking questions that require a technical skillset (e.g., What’s the difference between A/B testing and multivariate testing?). While these types of questions can be helpful when evaluating candidates for other roles, this type of question will not tell you anything about a candidate’s ability to manage teams and drive change.
Your question: What will you do with the information we provide? / How can we help you be successful in this role?
Product Managers need access to all of the relevant information to their role, so it helps if candidates have experience working in this environment.
For example, a Product Manager who is responsible for creating user stories and communicating priorities to teams should be able to articulate how they will use information from engineering teams that provide them with details around the following:
– What are the technical constraints of the platform? (ex. Ops team will not support a PHP solution)
– What are the non-functional requirements (e.g., performance or security)?
– How do engineering teams prioritize their roadmap? How could new initiatives from a Product Manager influence this prioritization?
The best candidates will have examples of how they worked with stakeholders in previous roles to gather information and meet deadlines, so discussing how they plan to work with teams at your organization will help you assess whether or not a candidate is a good fit.
Your question: What do you know about our company? / What’s one thing that you want us to know about you?
If candidates are planning on staying in the role for any time, they must understand the company’s history, products, and culture.
It’s also a good idea to include some behavioral questions in the Product Manager interview, such as ‘Tell me about a time when you…?’ or ‘What are your favorite things about working here?’. If you’re hiring for a remote role, it’s important to assess whether or not candidates have good communication skills and can work in an environment where they cannot always meet face-to-face.
Your question: How do you envision this job role developing over the next 12 months? / What would your dream job as a Product Manager be?
This is an opportunity to assess whether or not candidates are excited about the role you have available. It will help gauge how ambitious they are about wanting growth opportunities within your company.
Your question: What feedback do you think your manager would give after working with you for 3 months? 6 Months?
This question will provide you with insight into how candidates have previously worked within their teams. You want to hire someone who can communicate effectively in a collaborative environment, so try to avoid hiring someone who only receives positive feedback and has never had any negative feedback from anyone they’ve worked with.
Bonus Question: How would you rate your ability to work with others? (1 = I need to work on this skill or behavior, 7 = This is a strength of mine)