Great product managers score off the charts in listening, learning, leading, analyzing, anticipating and re-imagining. Among other things.
How do you interview for that?
Get it wrong and your new hire might be shifting your business into neutral. Or worse yet, reverse.
Problem is, there are no standard best practices for interviewing product managers.
You might have developed your own approach. But is it coordinated with the rest of the interview team? Or does each interviewer ask his or her personal favorite questions?
Are you sure your team is covering all the key areas with enough depth?
Or are you rolling the dice?
Hiring with Confidence and Speed
The goal of this interview guide is to provide you with a structured framework to help your team hire product managers with confidence and speed.
This guide’s focus is on the first round interview only. It does not focus on the phone screen, the second round of interviews, or questions of cultural fit.
A significant difference in our approach is that we recommend your first round consist of 4 very different interviews with a candidate:
- The Product Management Case Interview: 45-60 minutes
- The Analytical & Cognitive Skills Interview: 45- 60 minutes
- The Leadership & Communication Skills Interview: 45-60 minutes
- The Most Significant Accomplishments (Resume Review) Interview: 45-60 minutes
Instead of trying to use your interviews to make individual yes/no decisions, use the interviews to collect information. Once the interviews are done, get the interview team together, share the information, and make an assessment as a group.
You can make this much easier if you record and transcribe your interviews. Most new mobile phones do great audio/video recordings, and Speechpad is a service that will take your audio or video file and return a high quality transcription.
How is this different from what most companies do?
Most companies do a first round of 3-4 interviews, but each interview is similar in structure and focus. The interview questions asked are largely up to each interviewer, and there is little or no coordination between interviewers.
Why do we recommend a different approach?
It is simply not possible to address everything needed to excel in a product management role in one 45-60 minute interview. It’s also not realistic to subject candidates to extremely long interview processes. In a tight job market for top talent, great candidates won’t have the patience.
The coordinated team approach we recommend allows each candidate decision to be made with up to 4 times as much data. It also ensures balanced coverage across all key areas.
In the alternative/classic approach, each interviewer decides individually using only his or her 45-60 minutes of data. And since interview questions are not coordinated, there is a high risk that some key areas are never addressed.
What are the benefits of our approach?
- Confidence: Assured coverage of all areas critical to the job.
- Objectivity: Information sharing and group assessment increases quality of decisions.
- Decision Speed: Coordination means less need for many rounds of interviews.
- Transparency: How else do you know if people on your team are good interviewers?
- Recruitment: A comprehensive approach gives top talent confidence in your company.
Learn more about each of the four recommended product manager interviews:
- The Product Management Case Interview
- The Analytical & Cognitive Skills Interview
- The Leadership & Communication Skills Interview
- The Most Significant Accomplishments (Resume Review) Interview
P.S. A lot of people have asked for book recommendations to further prepare for a product manager interview. Here are some great ones: