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Product Teams & Hiring

Hiring Product Managers

What makes a great product manager in part depends on your business and the role you want product management to play in it. For example, a PM at a B2C productivity app might do more quantitative work running A/B tests, whereas a PM at a enterprise B2B productivity tools might spend more time interviewing individual users. Nevertheless, for a large part of the PM role there are also common skills required to excel.

The following is a mix of the Todd Jackson (former product leader at Google, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and now Partner at First Round VC) great article find, vet and close the best PMs with some additional input from us.

What to look for in great PMs

The best product managers do three things:

Articulate what a winning product looks like.
Rally the team to build it.
Iterate on it until they get it right

The skills required for this

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The Must Haves are important for a PM to excel at the above activities. The Good to Haves will help the PM gain the credibility and loyalty that they will need to motivate engineers and designers. Most well-known tech companies like Dropbox will only hire PMs who have both columns A and B covered.

The bonus skills are particularly useful in early stage companies and early product hires, as the organisation and roles specialise these skills become less relevant.

Product Manager Archetypes: Where do PMs come from?

  • The classic PM profile in the US would be a CS graduate that wants more exposure outside of coding, and has gathered some experience via an product management internship or even a product management role already.
  • Another common type are former management consultants or bankers that want to enter tech. Due to their analytical and strategic mindset they can make great PMs, make sure though that they are truly passionate about technology and products.
  • Engineers or designers that are looking to branch out of their specific task can also make great PMs if they show a passion for interacting with customers and thinking higher level. These candidates are very likely to be effective at working with engineers and designers on the team in their new role.
  • Marketers/Business Developers might turn to PM as well. They can be very good at communicating the product vision throughout the organisation and speaking to customers, but you should check whether they have the technical understanding or experience with building products (e.g. by founding a company before) to excel as PMs.

Example interview questions for Product Manager interviews: