Product School

How to Recruit and Hire Product Managers

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Carlos González De Villaumbrosia

December 14, 2023 - 9 min read

Updated: May 6, 2024 - 9 min read

Product Manager (PM) is undeniably one of the most pivotal roles today, ranking among the top 5 job roles in the U.S. PMs are the architects of digital products, guiding them from conception to launch. As you consider building or expanding your product team, you'll realize that finding the right mix of talent is no easy task.

Recruiting PMs from the external job market can be a daunting challenge, particularly with the lack of consistent industry-wide standards for the role, making job requirements highly variable.

Attempting to cram every conceivable skill into a PM job description is not the solution. To succeed, you must tailor the role to align with your company's objectives, taking into account factors like company type (B2B or B2C) and the nature of your product offering (traditional software, SaaS, API-driven, or data-centric).

So, let's explore how to recruit Product Managers, one that you can adapt to your specific needs as you embark on the journey of building your product team.

Writing hands

1. Start with the job description

Crafting a job description for a Product Manager role should be a thoughtful process, distinct from what you'd create for engineers or designers. Your goal is to attract the right talent without overwhelming potential candidates. To achieve this, consider the following guidelines as you create a job description tailored to the role at hand.

Offer insights into daily responsibilities

Candidates want to know what their day-to-day responsibilities will entail. Provide a glimpse of what success would mean for them on day 1, day 30, and day 60. This gives them a practical sense of what the job demands. 

Be transparent about expectations, especially if you anticipate them mentoring junior PMs or, if it's a junior or associate PM role if you require skills beyond their core focus. For example, working effectively with remote and distributed teams might be a critical aspect of the job.

Inform your candidate about their role in your product roadmap

Provide a clear understanding of their role in your company's product roadmap. If your company is embarking on a new product venture, paint a picture of the product's vision for the upcoming year.  Define what success would look like for them in tangible terms. 

On the other hand, if the role is geared towards improving an existing product, outline the specific stage of the product lifecycle they'll be involved in, whether it's acquisition, engagement, retention, or revenue generation.

Clearly outline essential, preferred, and nice-to-have skills

Defining a rigid skill matrix for a PM role is challenging due to its inherent variability. Instead, establish your minimum expectations based on the level of the position you're hiring for. Allow candidates to demonstrate their potential in preferred skills as stretch goals within their application or cover letter.

Across all levels, consider these top 5 essential traits for evaluating PM candidates:

  • Communication skills: Assess their ability to articulate the product vision to both executives and peers, whether in strategic or tactical terms.

  • Prioritization skills: Evaluate their decision-making and prioritization abilities, considering resource constraints and available data.

  • Customer-centricity: Gauge their commitment to a customer-first perspective when problem-solving and enhancing the user experience.

  • Market orientation: Determine their grasp of the addressable market, including their ability to define a target audience and position the product effectively.

  • Technology and design acumen: Assess their awareness and technical background, which influence their ability to engage with and gain the respect of design and engineering teams.

Don't forget to include a transparent timeline and step-by-step breakdown of your screening and interview process in the job description. This demonstrates your respect for candidates' time and effort, encouraging them to prepare and eagerly anticipate the screening process.

Job Posting Templates

Get inspired by our job posting templates and attract the best talent for your new PM role.

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Hiring A Product Manager: Job Posting Templates

2. Look for PMs in the right places

In your quest to find top-notch Product Managers, it's essential to cast a wide net and explore various avenues. Here are some strategic places to connect with potential candidates:


LinkedIn remains a tried-and-true destination for talent acquisition across various roles, including Product Management. If your company maintains a presence on LinkedIn, leverage it by establishing thought leadership in the field of product management. 

Sharing insightful content and engaging with the community can help you attract attention and establish your organization as an authority in the domain.

Freelancer marketplaces

Tech-focused freelancer marketplaces offer a valuable resource for identifying skilled PMs. Several platforms have a strong reputation for screening candidates based on their skills and abilities, making your search more efficient. 

Alternatively, you can explore sites like Upwork, where you'll have the opportunity to vet and screen product managers independently.

PM course communities

Product Management has evolved into a well-established community, complete with closed groups and job boards. These communities are often hosted by organizations that provide Product Management courses. For instance, at Product School, we host some of the most frequented job boards for product-related roles. 

Connecting with these communities can be a goldmine for talent.

Remote-first forums

The dynamics of the job market have been reshaped by the COVID-19 crisis, leading to increased interest in remote PM roles. If your company supports remote work options, consider tapping into these forums for enhanced visibility. 

Websites like We Work Remotely (WWR), Remotive, and have emerged as popular platforms for remote PM positions. Exploring these forums can help you access a broader talent pool.

3. Benchmark net pay and  benefits 

While factors like experience, location, and skill level play their part,  the post-pandemic work environment demands a fresh perspective on compensation.

Craft an attractive employer proposition

In your job description, go beyond the numbers and paint a vivid picture of your company culture and workplace accommodations, especially if you embrace remote work. 

For global remote positions, tailor your listing to showcase the specific benefits you offer, such as local healthcare options, hardware or software provisions, or co-working space allowances.

To ensure competitive compensation, leverage resources like GlassDoor, PayScale, LinkedIn, and AngelList. These platforms provide valuable insights into industry salary standards. For a more comprehensive understanding of Product Manager compensation structures, is a rising source worth exploring.


4. Screening and interviewing 

If you anticipate a significant influx of applications, consider implementing an online screening test or survey. This tool can include a mix of open-ended and multiple-choice interview questions, allowing you to assess candidates' problem-solving skills effectively. 

Many companies seeking product roles use platforms like HackerRank or Typeform for this purpose.

Initial interview

Once the initial screening results are in, it's time to move forward with the interview phase. Schedule interviews with one of your current product managers if available. 

In cases where you don't yet have a product team, your founders or a pair of engineers and designers can collaborate to evaluate the applicant's skill set. Use a set of questions designed to probe key product manager traits in each interview.

Technical interview evaluation

Following the initial interview, consider conducting a fictional product case study. Task the candidates with crafting a two-page pitch or slide deck, as if they were presenting to your team, with one of your team members playing the role of the CEO of a fictional company. When designing the case study, keep these points in mind:

  • Manage the workload: Ensure the case study can be completed within half a day's work.

  • Select with care: Proceed with this step for candidates who have garnered a high degree of confidence from your hiring team, streamlining the process for both sides.

5. Prepare the offer

Crafting a compelling job offer is a critical step in securing top-tier PMs for your team. While many aspects of this process align with those for other roles in your organization, these specific guidelines will help you stand out and attract top talent, especially in the face of competing offers.

Clarify reporting structure and responsibilities

Provide a detailed breakdown of the organizational reporting structure and the specific responsibilities the candidate will assume within the first 1, 30, and 60 days. This clarity ensures that the candidate understands their role and expectations from day one.

Transparent compensation breakdown

Clearly outline the compensation package, including details on bonuses and stock options, if applicable. Candidates appreciate transparency in this area, as it allows them to assess the overall value of the offer.

Holistic work environment view

Portray a holistic view of the work environment, especially if the role is remote-first. Outline the work schedule, onboarding procedures, and comprehensive benefits to give candidates a complete picture of what it's like to work at your company.

Transparent timeline and next steps

Offer transparency regarding the next steps in the hiring process and the timeline leading up to the start date. This includes opportunities for candidates to interact with your existing team, fostering a sense of connection and engagement.


6. Onboarding

Effective onboarding is a crucial step in ensuring that your newly hired PMs are well-prepared to make an immediate impact from Day 1. 

Infrastructure prep

Make sure that infrastructure access and welcome packages are ready well in advance of the new PM's start date. If the role is remote-first, ensure that these packages can be shipped ahead of time to account for any potential delays.

Introduction to company culture

It's essential to introduce new PMs to your company's culture right away. Pair them with mentors who can provide guidance and create a safe space for them to ask questions and seek advice.

Product environment access

Provide new PMs with appropriate access to your product environment, including feedback systems. This access allows them to form an unbiased understanding of the product's performance and the needs of your customer base.

Stakeholder meetings

Schedule 1:1 meetings with key stakeholders within the organization and product team counterparts. These meetings are an opportunity for new PMs to understand the team's working style and establish productive relationships.

Formalize the hiring process 

The methods outlined in this post are designed to help you establish and formalize a structured approach for making your first product hire. This process will enable you to consistently identify, evaluate, and recruit high-caliber PM candidates to drive your company's growth.

However, it's worth noting that the field of hiring PMs is continually evolving, so it's essential to stay attuned to the latest trends and strategies employed by leading product companies.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • How is your organization currently approaching the hiring of product managers?

  • What adaptations are you making to your recruiting strategy as the market dynamics evolve?

Updated: May 6, 2024

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