6 sure-fire ways to spot and hire a great product manager

Hiring a product manager is one of the most important tasks faced by organizations. They have the power to make or break your business. At DigitalGrads we regularly write blogs on the attributes and qualities to test for during interviews. We’ve covered: the 8 qualities you should look for when hiring a Graduate Software Developer, and the 10 qualities tech companies should look for when hiring junior salespeople.

But today, we wanted to share with you ‘6 sure-fire ways to spot and hire a great product manager’…

1. They can solve problems

This is a trait many product leaders believe is the most valuable quality when hiring in a successful product manager.

The product manager’s role consists of the ability to juggle lots of moving parts. Driving a product to market requires plenty of creative solutions to unexpected challenges.

During an interview, you need to look for a natural problem-solving aptitude, which often presents itself as creative thinking. Ask a candidate to manage or improve a theoretical product. Their answers will give you an insight into the creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.

2. They have great communication skills

Like in many tech roles, communication skills are a necessity when hiring a product manager.

If they are unable to communicate clearly and effectively with clients, professionals, and co-workers, then (to put it frankly) they won’t succeed in a product management role.

3. They are empathetic

Another desirable attribute is the ability to empathise with their clients. Empathy is a requirement when truly gaging a customer’s point of view. Additionally, a good product manager will also build products that fit customer needs and motivations.

Ultimately, you don’t want a product manager who forces their solution onto a client. Unfortunately, in a B2B environment, empathy is a difficult trait to come across, but is a necessity when recruiting for this position.

4. They are charismatic

A successful PM will have the ability to coordinate and lead a large team covering all aspects of your business. Though they are not likely to be high on your organisation’s hierarchy – especially as a junior – they will still need the ability to collaborate with your team members.

You’re looking for someone with the ability to build a relationship with your team members and generate passion and enthusiasm amongst those they work with.

5. They are curious

Product management requires a significant amount of initiative and self-motivation. Sometimes the most obvious answers aren’t the best, so you need someone who will persevere and remain motivated when searching for the best strategy.

Your next product manager will also be passionate, both about their work and your business. It’s no secret that product development is sometimes a rather long-winded process, and most of the time is saturated with setbacks and disappointments. You need someone who will remain both passionate and positive throughout this process.

By extension, you are also looking for someone who is…

6. Comfortable with failure

Successful PMs take a pragmatic, long-term approach to problems. In a turbulent market, it is likely that products will fall flat for no reason in particular.

Your next hire needs to be someone who won’t fall apart when faced with product disappointment. They will take every step back as an opportunity to learn and adapt accordingly.

It might be tricky to test for their ability to overcome failure in an interview, however an example interview question might be: ‘How would you react to an unsuccessful product launch?’ There isn’t a necessary right or wrong answer, however you will be able to gain an understanding to their thought process.

Red flags to watch out for when hiring a product manager…

  • A lack of enthusiasm
  • Uninterested in: Executive stakeholder meetings, Sprint demos, Release day, Customer feedback
  • Satisfied with ‘close enough’
  • Not advocating for the product

Feel confident enough to begin the hiring process? Browse our current confident, charismatic, curious, and empathetic grads for your next product manager!

About post author

As a recent graduate from the University of Reading. I am currently working with DigitalGrads as their content and marketing intern.
Posted in Hiring Graduates