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What do managers look for when hiring a new PM?

Hiring
Onboarding
Product Team

20 February, 2019

Connie Kwan, a seasoned Product Executive with experience interviewing hundreds of new candidates, speaks about the qualities she looks for in potential PM candidates.

Problem

Product Manager roles are incredibly competitive. If you're a candidate, how do you stand out as a leader in the candidate pool? If you're a hiring manager, how do you interview candidates in order to find the right person for the job?

Actions taken

Throughout my years working as a PM and interviewing new PM's, I've come up with a list of five qualities that I find necessary in a PM reporting to me.

  • Passion - I test the interviewee to see if they have thought about the strengths, weaknesses, and potential improvements for the product in question.
  • Resourcefulness - I look for candidates who can think of 5 uses for any item in the room, can tell me what to use as IV fluid on an island, and talk me through their rationale for why drip-irrigation isn't taking off in perpetually droughty California.
  • Judgement - Strong candidates can tell me which decisions they made were wrong decisions, and what they learned from it. In an assortment of options, they can walk me through the rationale for choosing one over others.
  • Communication - Candidates that take 10 minutes to get to the point are red flags. Great candidates know that communication is two-way. They start at the right part of the story by first knowing their audience.
  • Empathy - I test candidates to see how they would put themselves in the customer's shoes.

Lessons learned

I've found that each of these qualities are necessary for a PM to succeed. Below are examples of some of the observed outcomes of being a PM with the specified trait.

  • Passion - Strong candidates have an unreasonable amount of passion for solving the problem your product is trying to solve. Really strong candidates teach me a thing or two about my product.
  • Resourcefulness - There is no typical day for a Product Manager. Creative problem solving, resourcefulness, and ability to connect the dots are instrumental to success.
  • Judgement - Product Managers are hired to make decisions. So judgement will play a role every single day. It's crucial to test this quality.
  • Communication - PMs spend 80% of their time communicating with somebody, whether with the team, with the customer, or with management.
  • Empathy - The underlying desire to learn the others perspective is crucial. Interestingly enough, 80% of the PMs at my currently company are introverts. Introverts are good listeners, which contribute positively to both good communication and high empathy. Source: https://medium.com/@connie.kwan/what-do-managers-look-for-when-hiring-pms-8c4be3736d75

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