What is wrong with PM hiring

Jul 2, 2024

Hiring is about finding your tribe.

It goes beyond checking the boxes on a job description. It's about finding a group that shares your values and work style.

In my pursuit of finding the next stint after Loopin, I had the opportunity to meet a few companies and interview for product roles. Here are some findings and spicy takes on PM hiring process:

Verbal charisma ≠ expected performance

Without a solid grasp on various industries, interviewers conflate confidence and communication skills with actual ability to drive impact. There is an over-reliance on templatized STAR responses shifting focus away from depth of knowledge, critical thinking abilities, and past achievements

Accountability is easy to fake, challenging to verify

Hard skills can be taught, but accountability can't. Most hiring managers struggle to assess this, often resorting to behavioral questions and rarely peeling back the layers to gauge their level of ownership and bias for action.

Risk-Averse and Process-Bound

Most HMs are nervous to break the rules and hesitant to diverge from standard hiring process. This behavior reflects a risk-averse, non-owner mentality, and impeding companies' ability to assess talent holistically.

Experimentation vs. Clarity

In a market flooded with job seekers, employers are not motivated to establish clear rubrics for evaluating candidates and prefer taking a comparative approach to finding the best option from the pool. This means roles go unfilled for longer and teams spend longer interviewing rather than building.

Contrarian thinking is dead

There's no shortage of PM content on the internet. Ideas conforming to those published by celeb PMs are considered the holy grail. Unfortunately, these ideas are analytical take on what worked well "in the past, in a specific context, for a specific company." This leaves little room for openly discussing unsolved problems without biases.

Hiring senior PM roles is high stakes. While minor hiccups are understandable, some of these are concerning patterns of systemic issues and require a deeper reflection on hiring processes.