Suppose you’re a project leader looking for a new Product Manager role. Work for a company already on top like Microsoft, Google, or Amazon. You probably have a solid infrastructure to support, including a recruitment staff to assist screen applicants, product manager interview questions polished through thousands of PM interviews, and calibrated interview panelists on standby.
What about the rest of us, though? This playbook will help you decrease subjectivity, save time when considering candidates, and, most importantly, hire great Product Managers.
The Playbook For The PM Interview Process
The framework focuses on interviewing and hiring excellent generalist PMs and adapting the critical ideas to jobs such as growth expert or VP of Product (with some other processes).
Let’s go over each process step by step, using examples:
- Define PM success as follows: Educate your employees about the qualities that make a great PM in your organization.
- Create a plan for your interviews: Make a list of the PM traits that correspond to the steps in your interview process.
- Standardize the interview format by using templates.
- Grading should be uniform: Use a consistent grading rubric.
1. Understand The PM Success Criteria.
Many product teams make the obvious-in-hindsight error of not assessing the Product Manager jobs‘ post-hire traits they value. It is similar to having tryouts for a basketball team by putting your tennis talents to the test. You could locate competent PMs, but you’ll wind up with mismatched expectations for them and the organization, as well as costly recruiting errors.
As a result, your firm must define the qualities you want PMs to possess.
- Make a list of the properties you wish to test first.
- Many PMs will have highs in specific locations and lows in others. You also probably don’t have the time to verify each attribute thoroughly. As a result, it’s critical to determine which of your qualities are deal-breakers versus nice-to-haves.
2. Try To Create An Interview Loops.
There are a variety of formats for interviewing PMs, but the following are the most common:
- Evaluation of product abilities
- Case study of a product (this can be a panel presentation form or a 1-on-1 session)
- Practicing technical skills
- Experiment with user experience
- Assessment of soft talents
- Behavioral knowledge
- Assessment of Values
- Match interview steps to PM characteristics.
- We need to match what we’re looking for (attributes) with how we will test them (interview formats).
Important Note: You should test your high-priority traits in at least two different interviews. It provides your interview panel with several data points to assess the candidate on the most important criteria to you. Consider combining if you discover that many interview phases are testing for the same traits (as with the Behavioral and Values interviews below).
- Assemble The Panel Of Interviewers.
Product Managers are the ultimate dot connectors, collaborating closely with engineers, designers, product marketers, salespeople, performance and lifecycle marketers, operations, and executives. As a result, it’s critical to assemble a varied panel of interviewees.
3. Must Create An Interview Template.
For each interview, we must now identify 1) the questions and 2) the criteria for scoring responses. Create a copy of this document to conduct your interview, take notes, and evaluate the candidate.
- Structure and context
The prospect will also have a phone and video call with the PM Lead, PM, or PMM before phase 2. However, interviewers will use the four criteria described below to assign a score to the candidate. For further information on grading applicants, consult the rubric.
- Thinking from the ground up
- Empathy for customers
- Sense of the product
- Exceptional communication
4. Create A Grading Rubric That Is Consistent
The following are some grading guidelines:
- It is not a risk: Don’t judge the candidate’s ability to provide particular facts. Though they should arrive at logical answers, we grade them on their thought process and high-level structure.
- Anticipate imperfection: PMs don’t scout new prospects during brief video sessions and expect rough edges in their comments.
Finally! Benefits From Compounding
Investing in this process will take time and effort, but it will pay off in the long run as your company and team grow:
- Time-Saving: Hiring managers will save time by not recreating the wheel for each open PM position.
- Reduce thrash: Creating consistency will result in fewer tumultuous applicant debriefings and hiring choices.
- Company polish: the interview process reflects the organization, and applicants will notice whether the procedure is well-oiled and efficient.
Lastly, if you keep all of the above ideas in mind, you should grasp the entire procedure and have a flawless interview experience with the prospect. While we hope this playbook will be helpful, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution: try it, adjust it, and make it your own.