Product Managers define the input, process, and output of a product to meet customer demands. They take a very central role in a company’s attempt to provide a tangible and beneficial product for a market.
What to look for when hiring a Product Manager?
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Product Managers work alongside project managers to set goals and objectives for a product to be successful on the market. Product managers head teams of product designers, advertisers, researchers, and budget experts to transform ideas into consumption-ready products.
Who’s Qualified To Be A Product Manager?
Individuals who have a background in product design, industrial engineering, or a similar field of expertise can be product managers. Ideally, product managers would have had experience with administrative roles in their previous companies.
Candidates applying for a product manager role should have direct experience in product design, whether the role they play is participatory or overseeing development. The ability to relate to the product designers will make it easier for a product manager to maximize the strengths and minimize risks associated with certain areas of improvement of the staff involved.
That’s not to say applicants who only have had managerial experience don’t qualify – their ability to relate with more active players on product design will improve as their familiarity with the process progresses over time.
The Many Roles and Responsibilities of a Product Manager
A product manager’s roles and responsibilities have a wide scope. These can be divided according to the stages of product development.
This is the stage where the product manager sets up a brainstorming session with all of the teams involved with product development. This is to ensure all the teams have the basics of the product in development. The product manager at this point is tasked with helping teams coordinate and collaborate.
This is also when product managers have to make sure the discussion has a direction. Recruiters should be able to sort out product managers based on how they approach disagreements and which ones possess decisiveness, both of which are critical in the early phases of product development.
A product is only good if there’s a market to sell it to. The next stage of the product development process involves a lot of research. Additional input may be required from the market research team.
A product manager will coordinate with the head of marketing and his or her team to find out what percentage of the population is looking for a specific product. Product managers should at least have a basic understanding of marketing research to be able to narrow down the direction of product development.
Interviewers will want to find out how potential product managers help teams collaborate to achieve a common goal.
This is where the concept of the product is already established and where the project manager and product manager collaborate closely. The project manager oversees time-sensitive objectives while the product manager monitors the development of the product.
The product manager works with the designing team closely and makes plans in light of foreseeable problems. Recruiters should then consider questions that involve foresight and adaptability to product managers.
Advertising and Marketing
Once the product is in beta-testing, the product manager has to go back to the three teams involved in the development of the project. The product manager will work with product testers and quality analysts to make sure the product passes customer expectations.
Once all the boxes have been checked for the best possible iteration of the product, the role of the product manager becomes more of a supporting role to the marketing or advertising team. At this point, the product manager should utilize their observational skills and provide feedback or data necessary for improvements or necessary changes to the product.
The ability to scrutinize details and find errors is also invaluable and recruiters should look for this in individuals interested in the position of a product manager.
Once the product passes its alpha and beta tests, it’s ready to move into mass production. Similar to the product creation phase, the manager will work closely with industrial engineers and budget analysts on how to best mass-produce the output. A dedicated team of quality analysts will be assigned to make sure the outputs are consistent.
Product managers will be responsible for the pricing. They will work with finance departments to set the pricing. Product designers essentially take on the role of entrepreneurs at this stage, making sure the pricing helps drive profits upwards while still remaining competitive and appealing to consumers.
Product managers should possess good negotiation skills to be able to understand how pricing affects demand in the consumer market.
The Best Skills A Product Manager Should Possess
In a nutshell, these are skills recruiters or interviewers should specifically look for in a project manager:
- Conflict resolution
- Team management and collaboration
- Attention to Detail
- Critical Thinking
- Negotiation and Persuasion
- Entrepreneurial Mindset
There may be some other skills to consider such as creativity, which comes in handy during the product ideation stage. This is only useful if the design team cannot voice out their opinions on what product to develop, and the product manager is left alone to make the decision. An ability to maintain calm under pressure is also a “soft” skill product managers should possess.