Search This Blog

Monday, November 21, 2011

Interviewing a Product Manager

Abstracts from an interview of a candidate for the post of product manager. Feel like hiring him, though not after my manager gave me staring looks on this candidate. Interesting interview conversation though.

Your experience is largely into Project Management. What convinced you to change your career path?
Yes – I have done project management for 8 years now and I happened to visit product camp in Bangalore, I guess it’s called pcampblr after which I thought it was good to be in something less pressing job. So I requested my VP and they agreed to move me to Product Management department. So for over last one year or more I am doing product management for the same product that I managed as Project Manager.

Interesting , though not fully convinced. And you are liking the job?
Yes – I am.

How different is it from project management?
Well somewhat. As project manager I was involved in full deliverable cycle, now I just author requirements, explain them to engineering and then I am busy attending customer calls and sales calls and escalation calls.

So you do not actually participate in engineering process?
Occasionally I join bug reviews and answer mails from engineering.

What’s the most interesting part of your profile?
I learned this at pcamp that product managers are owner of product something like CEO of product line they manage. I like to be a CEO someday and really feel I am one right now for my product line.

Interesting and what is one thing that you would like to change about product management?
I read lot on Product Management on web, blogs to be precise. Really feel that the role of product manager is not understood by people across the community.

Oh! Wow. Which blogs do you read?
Many, I remember few though.,, blackbolt, the rich mironov and few more.

And what’s so confusing about the job?
I see many people drawing the circles overlapping like that in Venn-diagram, circles are marked sales, executive, engineering and the overlapping area is Product Management. And then there are circles which has Engineering, UX team and marketing and overlapping areas is Product Management. Are product managers just in those overlapping areas? I thing we have our own circle, part of which is overlapped with engineering, part with sales, part with strategy and part with project management. We are lot more than those overlapping areas.

Interesting thoughts. Let me understand how do you prioritize features and bugs for engineering? How does your prioritization matrix looks like?
Nothing rocket science in it. Do what sales and customer support is most cribbing for, rest designing matrix and putting weights against each item is like waste of time. Actually we never get a chance to think so much. On most occasions sales people would have already committed something on behalf of the organizations and then all department heads come running to us and I am left with no option but to get that feature or bug fix deliver in current release or worst case in patch release. It never goes to next release, all project planning does not hold good here.

I thought you wanted to be a CEO and learn how to negotiate on such critical things.
As a CEO I would rather prefer to focus more on business strategy, board of directors and mergers rather worry about what features goes in when. I thing I am doing right by not putting lots of time on which feature and when.

Good. So why are you looking for a change now? You are just little over a year’s experience in Product Management, maybe you may want to continue and get some real good insight of the role and then plan to move on.
I guess it will not help. Product managers job is great and if I stay back I will just repeat my experience. I rather move on and understand different products and business models before applying for a CEO’s post. Staying for long on a job as product manager will not help me grow faster, after all release after release its same stuff.

Great. Have you worked in agile methodology.
Yes and I like agile.

What’s the best part of agile?
I do bare minimal paper work, attend scrums as and when required which allows me to focus on customer care and sales meet, where I spend my most time. Agile really makes me free of unwanted silly documentation. Beyond this, it’s just another way of saying engineers, ‘Please deliver it fast and good’.

Good. Do you have any questions for me.
None. I always have answers to questions and never let any question remain open for long for others to answer.

Thanks for your time. We will get back to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment