Product Manager Applicant - Qualities to Look for
By Arijit Banerjee
Labeling a product manager as a ‘mini-CEO’ won’t be untrue. A product manager is responsible for setting the vision of the product. Again, a product manager is the one who bears the responsibility of aligning the product strategy with that of the company. To ensure success for a product, he/she envisions how the offering, other players of the industry and the industry itself will evolve.
The role of a product manager is of paramount importance. However, when it comes to hiring a product manager, it is essential to keep plenty of things in mind. A wrong product manager on board and all the existing strategies and planning may land in vain.
Do look for these five things in a product manager applicant before offering him/her the appointment letter.
1) Spidey Sense
Spiderman senses any threat seconds before it is actually happening and prevents it from creating a havoc. A product manager should have the same quality. He/She should have this product instinct that takes him/her in the right direction, which in turns leads to the right decisions. Give the applicant a real life problem related to the product. If he/she comes up with an approach that is unique yet effective, you know he/she is your product manager.
2) Wear Multiple Hats:
Some people pass their verdict by looking at a challenge or problem from only one angle. If the product manager applicant is from the same cluster, he/she is not fit for the next round. Product management requires an individual to analyze issues from multiple angles.
A product manager is the one who interacts with engineers, product designers, sales personnel, and marketing department. It is necessary for him/her to take into consideration their point-of-view before making a decision. So, it is good to have a panel consisting of engineers, product designers, etc. for the interview and assessment of a product manager applicant.
3) Take His/Her Hustle Out:
Managing a product over its lifecycle is not a job that takes a day or a month. In fact, there is no specific duration for the process. It is an agile methodology that is undertaken by the whole team led by a product manager. However, if a product manager’s responsibilities include leading a team, he/she also has the authority to get the job done from others. Try to find out how good the applicant is when it comes to influencing someone to get the job done.
4) A Priority Manager before a Product Manager
An essential trait that the interviewer should look for in the product manager applicant is his/her ability to prioritize. A product manager needs to bifurcate the whole product strategy into individual elements and prioritize them to maximize the winnings against the company’s competitors. Assign a few tasks to the applicant and ask him/her to prioritize them on the basis of their significance.
5) See if He/She is Learning or Selling
The possibility of a product manager meeting actual customers is endless. Especially when it comes to consumer goods, their customers are almost everywhere. A product manager can and must interact with them to gain insight on the product. It could lead to broadening the scope for improvement. However, it is important on the part of the product manager to learn more from the customers rather than trying to sell products. Once the product is improved as per the customers’ demands, the sales figure is sure to elevate by several notches.
To Sum Up
With the initial product management training at the organization, the new hire can understand the ins and outs of the process. However, certain traits and qualities are quite necessary to shoulder the product manager roles and responsibilities. If the applicant is in possession of all or some of the qualities mentioned above, then you have found your new product manager.
About the Author
Dr. Yogesh Bhatt
Head and Director
Manipal Global Academy of Information Technology (MGAIT)
Dr. Yogesh is a Graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee; Post-Graduate from CEPT University, Ahmedabad; and Fellow (Doctorate) from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad.
Dr. Yogesh Kumar Bhatt is the Vice-President – IT Education and Training at Manipal Global Education (MaGE). He heads Manipal Academy of Information Technology (MGAIT), and looks after entire academic development and delivery of programs for Information Technology vertical. He has around two decades of experience involving employee competency development, education, training, delivery and consulting in Information Technology sector.
Prior to joining MaGE, he has worked for 16 years with Infosys, spending this time across various functions and roles. His last role at Infosys was as the Associate Vice President and Head.