How to Hire a Product Manager: Tips, Actionable Insights, and More

How to Hire a Product Manager: Tips, Actionable Insights, and Templates

Product management is a critical function for all organizations–technical or non-technical.

However, for most organizations, product management is still nascent. Plus, 75% of product managers feel product manage­ment best practices aren’t being adopted at their entire company properly:

A stellar product manager builds the right environment for developers to innovate. They instill an outcome- and customer-oriented approach into the organization to drive business development. They’re enablers of long-term organic growth.

Today, we’ll show you how to hire a product manager for your growing business. Whether you are a Product Lead or a Chief Product Officer, use this advanced guide to recruit—and onboard—top-tier product managers with the problem-solving abilities to drive business goals.

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The Difference Between Product and Project Management

People often confuse project management and product management, but there’s a world of difference between the two.

While both project management and product management involve planning, executing, and delivering a product, they differ in their focus and scope.

Project management is a process or function that enables organizations to complete a specific project within a set timeframe and budget. For this, project managers must:

  • Allocate resources optimally
  • Schedule tasks strategically
  • Get ahead of risks with prompt management

Product management, in contrast, is focused on the entire lifecycle of a product, from ideation to launch and beyond. Product managers are responsible for:

  • Defining the product vision
  • Conducting market research
  • Working with different teams to bring the idea to life
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Why Hire a Product Manager?

On average, product management teams believe profits would increase by 34.2% if product management were fully optimized at their company.

Optimizing product management can boost profits by 34.2%
Optimizing product management can boost profits by 34.2% via 280 Group

The first step to optimizing product management starts with hiring product managers who demonstrate the following well-defined product management skills, including soft skills. 

Achieving and exceeding customer expectations

One in five products delivered fails to meet customer needs. A product manager can fill the understanding gap through customer research and complete the loop by gathering customer feedback to provide value-driven products.

Multi-tasking their way to success

An experienced product manager can bring multiple capabilities, such as:

  • Building stakeholder trust and driving engagement with leadership skills
  • Obtaining important insights from customer interactions
  • Understanding how the product dovetails with the market
  • Adding their experience, observations, and suggestions to enhance the product

Solving problems with creative and critical thinking

Aside from deep product knowledge and a solid product management background, a great product manager possesses a creative problem-solving ability that your team will value when they face unexpected challenges.

Improving alignment with effective communication skills

A product manager may tick off all boxes for product management skills. Still, if they don’t have practical soft skills, such as solid communication skills, your product development process will be riddled with misunderstandings, misaligned expectations, and delays. A product manager understands the importance of engaging in sales speak, marketing speak, developer speak, and so on as required.

Demonstrating customer empathy and rolling out relevant products

Apart from problem-solving, another advantage of getting a great PM onboard is leveraging their ability to look at things from the customer’s viewpoint (including their fears, habits, interests, aspirations, etc.), create a product strategy, and build products accordingly. Recent estimates indicate the following activities are the most challenging to track and measure success within a product life cycle:

Most challenging activities within the product life cycle 
Most challenging activities within the product life cycle via Product Plan 

Coaching new hires

A product manager becomes indispensable for mentoring and coaching new hires while working to improve the product’s user experience.

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Common Skills & Qualifications to Look for in a Product Manager

Product management is a multifaceted discipline involving various skills and responsibilities. Therefore, it is even more important to learn how to hire a product manager who best suits your organization’s needs.

Generally speaking, candidates with a technical background can connect and work closely with the engineering team. However, without a STEM education, one can become an excellent product manager or leader.  

In the following section, we’ve tried to encapsulate all the essential skills and qualifications a product manager must possess.

While specifics can vary by industry, a typical product manager must be proficient in:

  • Testing and validation: Developing a hypothesis relating to customer behavior and testing its validity for an iterative feature and idea development; utilizing standard testing methods such as customer surveys, no-code prototypes, targeted emails, and so on
  • Customer focus: Extracting customer patterns by observing them and understanding their behavior;  Defining the product vision, goals, and roadmap based on market research and analysis to deliver customer-first products (Intuit’s Follow Me Home program is an excellent example of how to get into the customer’s shoes and understand the complete picture)
  • Strategic thinking and decision making: Understanding the business use case (think: market dynamics, product’s business model, untapped partners, etc.) and assessing the product–market fit to drive long-term product success; looking at the product value being delivered for internal and external stakeholders and analyzing the right key performance indicators across a product’s value chain
  • Technical knowledge: Creating seamless experiences due to their deep technical acumen and a granular understanding of the product tech stack 
  • Product strategy: Driving quick time to value based on simplified use cases to give customers what they want quickly and without compromising on quality
  • Understanding user experience (UX) design: Working closely with designers to create a user-friendly and intuitive product and bring it to market with the minute details intact
  • Working collaboratively with cross-functional teams and influencing without authority: Building chemistry with different functions, including the sales team and non-technical colleagues, to align product goals with priorities and ensure timely and successful product delivery. This will also require strong communication skills
  • Implementing agile methodologies and monitoring product lifecycle: Implementing agile practices for efficient product development; continuing to look for answers and push boundaries; overseeing the entire lifecycle of the product, from conception to retirement, to ensure lasting success
  • Being passionate: Driving product development with passion despite roadblocks, feature failures, and more 

Incorporating these skills into their daily work enables product managers to embed a change in mindset within the organization’s culture and make it more customer-centric and outcome-driven.

Also Read: 10 of the best books for product managers 📕

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How to Hire a Product Manager in 4 Steps

As a scaling startup, don’t let the absence of a full-fledged HR team or robust recruitment tools stop you from hiring the right talent.

Here are a few tips that show you how to hire a product manager and grow your team without additional investment:

Step 1: Create a detailed job description 

The first task of a hiring manager is to create a detailed description of what makes a great PM candidate.

The description should:

  • Be concise and direct
  • List the objectives, responsibilities, specific skills, and qualifications needed for the role
  • Reflect the expectations of the product manager
  • Demonstrate the culture and values of the company
ClickUp’s Business Plan Template is designed to help you create and track a comprehensive business plan.

While important, this process can be time-consuming. Using the ClickUp Business Plan Template for Job Description, you can easily create a flawless description. It streamlines hiring by providing a structured format for outlining roles, responsibilities, and qualifications.

Want more targeted and compelling job descriptions? Use the ClickUp Job Description Generator powered by Brain to get a comprehensive description quickly.

Moreover, you must also use a mix of relevant channels to share your requirements (such as website, social handles, job boards, communities, and employee referrals).

Step 2: Invest in software to streamline the recruitment process

Engaging top talent for your company is only possible if you have a solid recruitment process in place—one that:

  • Organizes complicated details relating to potential candidates, applications, and outreach 
  • Saves you time with pre-built templates, custom statuses, and automation
  • Moves candidates through your pipeline for you based on their technical feasibility
custom statuses in clickup
Create custom statuses in ClickUp easily

With ClickUp Custom Task Statuses, you get the status of the application at first glance:

Plus, if you want to track candidate performance and engagement, software like ClickUp comes in handy. Start by creating a central hub of confidential candidate information, which will act as a bridge between hiring managers and candidates.

ClickUp offers wide-ranging customizable views like List, Board, Calendar, and more to help you with every recruitment stage. For instance, List and Board views allow you to organize product manager candidates by stage and update their status throughout the process.

ClickUp HR Kanban Board Template
View your hiring steps sorted by status in the Board View in ClickUp

Step 3: Have a structured screening and interviewing process

The third step entails screening, testing, and interviewing the candidates to assess their technical and cultural fit with your company.

You have all the candidate information in one place, so screen each applicant based on their resume and track record.

The next step is to set up a structured interview process with predefined questions assessing technical skills and cultural fit. Consider using a mix of behavioral and situational questions to gauge how candidates have handled specific challenges in the past and how they align with your company’s values and culture. 

Avoid brain teasers or logic puzzle questions when interviewing, as they are ineffective and might also be discriminatory. Throwing technical challenges to assess the candidate’s ability is a thing of the past.

Instead, create structured interviews with questions to:

  • Enquire about their background 
  • Inform them of your product
  • Pick their brains on how they would manage or enhance your product line
ClickUp 3.0 Task view Checklist
Use the ClickUp Task View Checklist to jot down your to-do items and questions

Use ClickUp’s Checklist feature to create a checklist of product manager interview questions.

Finally, use technical assessments relevant to the role to evaluate candidates’ skills further. The idea is to assess candidates on situational real-world problems. You can also ask these questions and gauge the candidate’s potential:

  • Name a recent product that you were impressed with and explain why you like it
  • Why do you think the product is successful? 
  • Now, name a product that you dislike and describe how you would launch it as well as market it differently
  • Here’s our product [x]. What problems do you foresee us encountering in the next five years?
  • What makes you think that a product is well-designed?
  • Have you ever cut corners to get the product out? Explain your experience

You must also enquire how the product manager candidate plans to leverage customer feedback. Experienced product managers report reviewing customer feature requests is the number one source of actionable product ideas.

So, it makes sense to understand how the product manager plans to:

  • Connect with product designers and gather customer feedback
  • Use cross-channels to source real-time feedback and map it to product specs and new features
  • Leverage the feedback and improve the product’s lifecycle

💡Pro tip: You can also use ClickUp Brain’s AI tools to build a bank of suitable interview questions

how to hire a product manager - interview questions
Use ClickUp Brain to create a bank of interview questions

Step 4: Provide an effective and planned onboarding experience

You’ve hired a product manager; congratulations! But the work is far from over.

Think about the next steps and how you would empower the new hire to make an impact faster.

We’d start with training and coaching, as for 44% of product managers, the biggest growing pain of a scaling product team is keeping roadmaps and processes consistent:

If you want to put all your onboarding and hiring documents in one place, ClickUp is one way to go.

It allows you to streamline training with trackable tasks, docs, and comments for increased collaboration and in-the-moment feedback:

Moreover, you can help your new product manager hit the ground running by providing them with a centralized database of all product documentation, help notes, wikis, PRDs, etc., within ClickUp Docs. With customizable access rules, you needn’t worry about security.

ClickUp Docs
Create highly customizable wikis and knowledge bases using ClickUp Docs

You can also collect employee feedback on the onboarding experience by organizing polls, surveys, and requests with customizable forms:

ClickUp's Employee Feedback Survey Form
Track employee response data using ClickUp Form View for new insights and smarter decision-making

Bonus: Red flags to remember when hiring a product manager

We’ve looked at everything you must consider when hiring a product manager, but what about the in-your-face red flags?

Here are a few to note:

  • Uncomfortable with failure: If the candidate becomes uncomfortable when discussing their failures, they probably won’t be able to handle product disappointments well. You must ask, ‘What would you do if the product launch received negative feedback?’
  • Lacking drive: You feel that the product manager candidate doesn’t show any excitement or energy when discussing stakeholder meetings, sprint demos, feature releases, future success, and customer feedback
  • Inflexible: A potential candidate has rigid ideas about the product development process and isn’t keen to adjust to your company’s process or doesn’t seem to buy into your product
  • Impatient and unorganized: A candidate comes across as disorganized or seems to reply to you without hearing you out fully
  • No curiosity: If a candidate for a product manager role isn’t asking intelligent counter-questions, it can mean they aren’t engaged or interested enough in the job

How to hire a product manager: Recap

  • Identify essential skills and create a job description. Take help from AI or templates in ClickUp
  • Use recruitment software to make the process easier to manage
  • Screen and interview your candidates; don’t forget to check for cultural fit
  • Don’t ignore red flags
  • Provide your selected candidate an amazing onboarding experience
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4 Ready-to-Use Product Manager Hiring Templates Every Hiring Manager Must Bookmark

Hiring managers can save time with good-to-go templates to streamline recruitment and track product manager candidates. We’ve rounded up four useful ones for you:

Template 1: For an efficient recruitment process, saving time and resources

Imagine if you could automate every tedious task of the recruitment process while allowing everyone to work on the tasks collaboratively.

ClickUp’s Hiring Candidates Template is designed to help you track and manage the hiring process

ClickUp’s Hiring Candidates Template lets everyone stay on the same page while recruiting and tracking job applicants. You don’t have to worry about creating an applicant tracking system. Simply add this template to your workspace and:

  • Compare candidates quickly to identify the best fit
  • Ensure that all the relevant information about a candidate is captured and organized

Template 2: To ease the hiring volume!

Most hiring professionals must review hundreds of candidate resumes daily before finding the right fit.

Stay organized and make hiring decisions quickly with the help of ClickUp’s Hiring Selection Matrix Template

To help you speed up, use the ClickUp Hiring Selection Matrix Template. This template makes your job easier by:

  • Organizing and tracking job applications
  • Helping you evaluate resumes and critical applicant data such as experience, skills, qualifications, and more
  • Enabling you to drive strategic decisions quickly based on objective data

Template 3: For bringing simplicity and efficiency to your hiring methodology

Whether you’re a startup owner looking to build your team or add skilled talent to your existing roster, you need a comprehensive toolkit to transform your talent-sourcing process. 

ClickUp’s Recruiting & Hiring Folder Template brings simplicity and efficiency to your hiring procedures

Enter the ClickUp Recruiting & Hiring Folder Template. This template offers a suite of features to:

  • Post jobs easily
  • Track candidates efficiently
  • Standardize the interview process and scorecards
  • Streamline descriptions and application forms

Template 4: For onboarding new hires seamlessly

A hiring checklist template can expedite the onboarding process for new hires and allow you to track all related tasks at one glance.

ClickUp’s Hiring Checklist Template is designed to help you streamline the hiring process

ClickUp’s Hiring Checklist Template provides a comprehensive task list to help you:

  • Define—and document—your hiring expectations
  • Build a streamlined workflow for recruiting new team members
  • Stay organized at every step of the way—from sourcing to onboarding
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How to Set Up New Product Manager Hires for Success

Newly hired product managers must establish a baseline or revise an existing one for managing products so that the team follows in their footsteps and maintains consistency.

Surely, they need software to plan, execute, and deliver thousands of tasks and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

ClickUp’s all-in-one product management platform can empower product managers and product teams to thrive.

Manage and master every aspect of product development with ClickUp

A day in the life of a newly hired product manager comprises multiple moving parts. Let’s look at essential phases in the lifecycle of product development and how different features of ClickUp add to it:

Phase 1: Prioritizing the right product to improve

In the initial phases, product managers often struggle to prioritize the right product or feature to focus on. Their lack of context and unfamiliarity with the company’s previous products are major contributing forces.

Track important product-related data points such as feature type, customer, value, impact, and more with ClickUp’s Product Features Matrix

ClickUp’s Product Features Matrix helps the product lead compare different features between various products and ensure they make the right decision. The template makes it easy to track important data points such as feature type, customer, value, impact, and more. 

Phase 2: Mapping the product vision

Once the product or feature is identified, it’s time to map out the vision.

ClickUp Product Roadmap Template offers a macro-level view of the vision, direction, and commitments of features and initiatives for a product

Use ClickUp’s Product Roadmap Template to:

  • Visualize overall product strategy, including upcoming features, milestones, and due dates
  • Organize feedback, epics, and sprints into a shared product roadmap

This helps align the team around a shared vision and ensures everyone works towards the same goals. 

Phase 3: Revisiting prior decisions to optimize the product development process

If the product development process is not collaborative, you’re setting the team up for failure.

The Product Requirements Template on ClickUp

ClickUp’s Product Requirements Template enables greater collaboration between a group of stakeholders so that they can drive informed development decisions, revisit prior choices, and continue to build on release plans. It offers a choice of as many as 17 custom status fields.

Phase 4: Driving product innovation with AI

So much goes on in the latter stages of product development, where driving innovation takes center stage. Product managers need to streamline user feedback, drive effective product discovery, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to enhance the product—all of which are easy as pie with ClickUp Brain:

ClickUp Brain
Generate product requirement documents in seconds with ClickUp Brain 

ClickUp Brain offers expert-crafted AI tools for product teams to use immediately, all within ClickUp. For instance, you can use:

  • AI Knowledge Manager to ask questions and get answers for your docs, tasks, and projects and even create tables out of raw data
  • AI Project Manager to automate tasks, progress updates, and project summaries, eliminating manual labor in the process
  • AI Writer for Work to generate documents, templates, transcripts, etc., with a writing assistant by your side
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Quality Product Managers Drive 10X Value and Build a Customer-first Product Management Culture

The product manager is responsible for shaping the direction of your product organization. Given the importance of this role, knowing how to hire a product manager that’s right for your product is essential. It lays the foundation for delivering value to your stakeholders, organization, and customers.

Hire standout product managers and give them a jumpstart with ClickUp—a complete HR-first platform with prime templates, product management tools, and intuitive task management capabilities.

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