By Rivi Aspler
Product managers are required to demonstrate a broad and heterogeneous set of skills. The best product managers are those who master all trades, but how many would really fit the “Jack of all trades” definition?
If this is the starting point for your interviews, you should start by analyzing the skill set that candidates REALLY need in order to succeed.
What would the product manager be required to do 70% of his/her time? Is it mostly writing detailed specifications for R&D, is it following up on R&D work mainly as a project manager, or is it mostly visiting customer sites, pre-selling and gathering new requirements?
The following 5 interview questions have helped me understand if the person that I’m talking to has the skill-set and temperament needed to be an effective product manager:
1. Tell me about your last position. List 3 things that you loved doing and 3 things that you didn’t like doing.
This question will help you understand the tasks that the interviewee was mostly engaged in but more importantly his/her comfort zone. For example, an interviewee who says something like:
“I love visiting customer sites. It’s a pleasure seeing them use the product and come up with new ideas….. but I really think that drilling down to the bits and bites of a feature in the user stories document is an abuse of Agile methodology.”
should alert you that this interviewee is not that much of written-details person.
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