As a scale-up business grows, it becomes increasingly important to hire a Director of Product to lead the development and delivery of products that meet the needs of the market. The role of the Director of Product is critical to the success of any organisation, as they are responsible for ensuring that the company is producing products that meet customer needs and drive revenue growth.
In this guide, we will discuss what a Director of Product is, when to hire one, and how to assess a candidate for this role.
What is a Director of Product?
A Director of Product is a senior-level executive responsible for overseeing the development, launch, and success of products within an organisation. They are responsible for ensuring that the products align with the company’s vision, mission, and goals, and that they meet the needs of the target market.
When hiring a Director of Product, key skills to look for include strategic thinking, leadership, communication, analytical skills, and technical expertise.
Key responsibilities include:
- Developing and executing a product strategy that aligns with the company’s vision and goals.
- Conducting market research to identify customer needs and market trends.
- Collaborating with cross-functional teams, including engineering, design, and marketing, to develop and launch products.
- Defining product requirements and creating product roadmaps.
- Ensuring that products meet quality standards and regulatory requirements.
- Analysing product performance and making data-driven decisions to optimise product offerings.
When should I hire a Director of Product?
For a scale-up business, the right time to hire a Director of Product is when the company has a product or a suite of products that are gaining traction in the market, and the company is looking to scale. Typically, a scale-up business will have a headcount of 50-100 employees and will have raised a significant amount of funding (Series B or later) before hiring a Director. At this stage, the company is looking to accelerate growth and needs an experienced product leader to drive product development and strategy.
10 step process to hiring a Director of Product?
1. Introduction to the Director of Product role
– Definition of responsibilities
– Understanding the impact you need the candidate to have on the business
Assessing company needs
– Identifying the specific requirements and goals of your business
– Analysing the existing product management team and identifying any skill gaps.
– Determining the desired qualifications, experience, and expertise needed
Defining the job description
- Crafting a compelling job description that accurately reflects your company’s needs
- Outlining the key responsibilities, required skills, and qualifications
- Clearly communicating the company’s culture, values, and vision
– Exploring different channels to find potential Director candidates, including exec search firms, job boards, professional networks, industry-specific platforms and personal connections for referrals.
Evaluating CVs and portfolios
– Identifying essential skills and experiences in Director of Product resumes
– Assessing the quality of previous work, achievements, and measurable outcomes
– Identifying candidates with a track record of successful product launches
– Structuring interviews to assess technical skills, leadership abilities, and strategic thinking
– Asking behavioural and situational questions to evaluate decision-making and problem-solving capabilities.
– Involving relevant stakeholders in the interview process.
– Evaluating candidates’ alignment with your company’s values, mission, and culture.
– Considering the candidate’s leadership style and ability to collaborate with cross-functional teams.
– Contacting references provided by candidates to validate their experience
– Gain insights into the candidate’s performance and work ethic
– Verifying the candidate’s ability to drive product strategy and deliver results
Making the decision
– Consolidating feedback from all interviewers and stakeholders involved
– Weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate
– Selecting the best-fit candidate who aligns with your company’s vision and requirements
– Developing a comprehensive onboarding plan to set the new employee up for success.
– Aligning expectations, goals, and objectives between the new hire and the company
– Providing necessary resources, support, and mentorship during the initial period
Where to start the recruitment process
Once it’s clear that it’s the right time to hire, the next question is where to start with the recruitment process.
Hiring a senior position is a critical process that requires careful consideration and planning. There are several ways to approach this, but one of the most effective ways is to engage an executive search firm. An executive search firm has the expertise and resources to help identify, evaluate, and attract top talent for the Director of Product role. The benefits of engaging an executive search firm include access to a broader pool of candidates, a streamlined recruitment process, and a higher likelihood of finding a candidate who meets the company’s specific needs.
In our guide, we recommend the best 6 executive search recruitment agencies in London, all with specific functional expertise.
Develop internal talent
Consider whether there is someone within your existing product team who could step up to Director level. This approach has clear advantages and is a much easier step for your business to make. However, be careful not to take this step simply because it is easier – it is important to ensure that the right people are in the right jobs for the long-term growth of your product and business.
Job boards such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Reed, and CV Library are useful places to advertise your job specification and attract potential candidates. However, this approach rarely works for C-level or senior positions. To attract the best candidates in the market, you will likely need to actively seek out both active and passive candidates – those who are currently working at competitors and are not actively applying for roles on job sites.
One effective approach to hiring a Director of Product is to grow your network on LinkedIn and engage with potential candidates through the platform. However, this can be time-consuming and require significant effort, such as investing in a LinkedIn recruiter license or joining a dedicated Product Management group on LinkedIn.
Alternatively, you could engage a headhunter to help you approach candidates through LinkedIn. From our experience, candidates at senior levels often expect to be approached by a head-hunter rather than directly from the hiring company, especially if the company is a competitor. Using a headhunter can offer a level of confidentiality and trust that candidates may not feel when engaging directly with a business.
Many recruiters spend years building strong relationships with a large network of high-potential individuals from their specialism, meaning they likely have an extensive talent pool that can be tapped into at any time which enables them to get a shortlist of top-tier candidates sent over to you very quickly.
Director of Product interview questions
When considering how to assess candidates for the role of Director of Product, companies should bear in mind the following considerations:
- Think about the company’s values and culture. Develop questions that can help assess whether the candidate’s values and work style align with the company’s culture.
- Consider the specific challenges and opportunities that the Director will face in their role. Develop questions that can help assess the candidate’s ability to handle these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities.
- Consider the importance of soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and relationship-building in the role. Develop questions that can help assess these skills.
- Develop questions that require candidates to think critically and creatively about product development, such as how they would approach a particular product challenge or how they would prioritise product features.
- Consider including a task or exercise as part of the interview process, such as a product case study or a problem-solving exercise, to help assess the candidate’s ability to apply their skills and knowledge to real-world scenarios.
Director of Product interview assessment
When assessing a Director of Product at interview, it’s important to evaluate their skills, experience, and fit for the company culture. Here are three assessment tasks that can be used during the interview process:
Provide the candidate with a product development challenge that the company is facing and ask them to walk through their approach to addressing it. This will provide insight into the candidate’s problem-solving skills, strategic thinking, and ability to collaborate with cross-functional teams.
Ask the candidate to develop a product roadmap for a hypothetical product. This will provide insight into the candidate’s ability to translate customer needs into a product strategy, their understanding of the product development process, and their communication skills.
Behavioural interview questions
Ask the candidate behavioural interview questions that assess their leadership skills, ability to work in a fast-paced environment, and how they handle difficult situations. This will provide insight into the candidate’s fit for the company culture and their ability to lead a team.
If you are looking to hire a Director of Product but need some further guidance and advice, contact us today