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Communicate or Bust

A Simple, consistent, and scaleable predictor of strong communication.

You've done a great job to define your new product manager. You've outlined just what is missing on your team and needed to get to the next level.

I've looked at hundreds of product roles, and if you are like them, you have:

  • Great Communicator
  • Strong Collaborator

These are in the top 5 priorities for just about every PM role. You can focus here early in your interview process, and if candidates don't do well I suggest moving on.

Communicate or bust!

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Question: "Can you tell me about a time when you had to effectively communicate a complex idea or solution to a cross-functional team or to a customer? How did you approach the situation and what was the outcome?"

Ask 1 follow-up question. For example, if the candidate uses data to solve an issue, ask where they got the data and if they feel it's reliable. This can uncover depth of knowledge versus interview prep and will help score the candidate on key communication attributes,

These questions allow candidates to show ability to understand and simplify complex ideas, engage others, drive results - and showcase communication.

Score the candidate: 1-5 (5 is fantastic):

  • Active listening - they are fully present and listen to understand. They might paraphrase or ask questions.
  • Clear and concise - they chose words deliberately, are to the point and easy to understand.
  • Confidence - they elicit trust and belief.
  • Adaptability - they roll with your follow up question, and can adjust their communication style to be more technical or complex.
  • Storytelling - they engage you. They are easy to follow, making connections to the product and people. They share anecdotes, elicit emption, or show creativity.

Focusing on one Question allows you to more easily compare across candidates. Maybe, after scoring each of the bullets, if a candidate doesn't get 17 points or more they don't move on? Or, you focus your next interview on the top 3 scorers!