One of the most challenging tasks in my job is recruiting and building out a team. Whenever I am asked to draft a job description, I ask myself these questions:

  • Does someone need to have 3 or 5 years of experience?  Does the sheer number of years really tell me how good they are coming into my team?
  • Does this person really need a Computer Science or Engineering undergrad, or someone who can earn respect from engineering to establish a great rapport?
  • Does this person even need to have domain knowledge for what I am looking for?

There are many things I don’t include in a job description that I look for in a product manager.

Are they naturally curious?  Do they try out new products & services? Are they early adopters or laggards in new technologies?

Do they have an opinion about good and bad design in products?

Do they demonstrate good judgement in past product decisions?  Are they able to defend their positions?

I don’t typically add these as job requirements or even “bonus” qualities.  They surface from a good conversation during interviews.  These are what I call “The Intangibles”.  When you find someone who meet these 3 criterias, consider hiring them.  Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter whether they meet any of the “official” qualifications.