Product Engineers are changing the face of the product development domain. They are a step up from full-stack engineers and a level away from product developers. Simply put, product engineers are not plain coders; they code keeping user experience in mind. They not only understand technical stacks but also understand product design. You could call them “jack of all trades.”
Do you get frustrated when your app’s features don’t reflect your vision? You had a perfect idea, precise product specs, technical resources, and tools, so what went wrong?
You missed the critical link between the design board and the market. You envisioned a product. You conveyed your idea to your designer. He communicated required technical specs to your engineer, who started coding. Where’s the collaboration? Where’s a continuous improvement? Consequently, you have a product that neither delivers ROI nor garners user acceptance.
Why Do you Need Product Engineers
If you have engineers who solve problems using code and product managers who take care of product features, why do you need product engineers? They are the critical bridge between design and development teams. By fostering two-way communication, product engineers ease friction between cross-functional teams.
They code but with end products in perspective. Whenever presented with a coding opportunity, product-minded engineers evaluate how the code will impact the end product. More importantly, they think about user experience and business goals. They balance product specs with technical demands. The result is a product that meets market needs and business objectives- a win-win situation for all teams involved.
You need a change in mindset here. Having product engineers in your team will create a pragmatic work culture with everyone striving towards building a winning product.
How to Recruit Good Product Engineers
Product engineers need to have a blend of coding skills, analytical thinking, and business knowledge. A bit of creativity is a bonus. Plus, they have to be efficient managers and smooth talkers.
Step 1: Build a Job Description
Outline the proficiencies you desire in your potential product engineers. List their role and skillset categorically.
A sample job description could be:
Product engineers will play a pivotal role throughout the development cycle, right from conception to testing. An astute understanding of market trends is necessary for the candidate.
They need to be aligned with user expectations in a relevant niche. Once product specs are made, they will evaluate specs against market needs and re-align strategy to satisfy budget, time, and market constraints.
Product engineers will also have the responsibility to generate technical documentation and support material before a product is launched. They have to perform prototype testing for functionality, intuitiveness, and market appeal.
Add-on responsibilities can be assistance in the manufacturing process and guidance in packaging and marketing the product.
Step 2: Interview Candidates
Go in for a structured interview instead of a generic banter with candidates. Have multiple screening rounds spread across different days? Screen at least two candidates per day so that you can eliminate unsuitable people early. This will save you lots of wasted effort and time.
Divide the evaluation questions into:
Career goal and inspiration
Academic and professional background
Product-based thinking skill
Take time to weigh each candidate. You need an all-rounder who will impact your future products in a big way. Determine a candidate’s worth after analyzing his capabilities carefully. Have a ballpark figure in mind and leave room for negotiation.
Sample screening questions can be:
Define our company’s vision and values.
Why do you want to join us?
What interests you in product development?
Explain the layers of full-stack.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of database procedures?
If a product designer lists five desirable features at the end product (give the features), how will you prioritize them?
Which setup do you prefer- MVC or some other?
What’s the use of the front-end framework?
How do you gather user feedback?
How important to you is product testing?
What team structure do you prefer- full-stacked or layered?
How can we scale our teams?
What makes a good mentor?
Invite questions from the candidate. Indulge in a discussion if opinions on a question vary widely. Try to gauge the person’s mindset and affinity. Are they concerned only about employee benefits? Do they have genuine concern about delivering classy products? How can they add value to your team?
Your recruiter’s job would include the following:
Study candidates’ body language: Make a note of how confident and composed a candidate is. Since this isn’t an entry-level job, you’d expect experienced candidates to not get nervous during interviews.
Don’t do passive listening: Listen actively to answers. Jot down your doubts and allow the candidate to clarify or rectify their answers. Reflect on previous answers. Also, refer to them in connected questions. This will show how genuinely a candidate is answering.
Make notes while interviewing: Prepare a checklist of must-haves and good-to-haves. Write down your observations succinctly. Highlight each candidate’s unique capability and its impact on the product development process. Summarize the interview answers into brief points. Read back answers to the interviewee and ask if you’ve understood them correctly. By doing this, you can avoid miscommunication.
Give instant feedback: If you find an answer unsatisfactory, call it out immediately. Let the interviewee explain their viewpoint. Once the evaluation is over, don’t leave the candidates in a lurch. Communicate the next steps clearly. Don’t hesitate to end the interview early if you find a mismatch between your expectations and the candidate’s capabilities.
At iView Labs, we consider recruitment as a vital building block of team building and product delivery. We invest time and energy into it. You can do the same. To save bandwidth, delegate interviewing and screening responsibilities to experienced product managers. Brief them before so that they know what to look for in a candidate. Let them add to the questions and rounds since they are more in touch with the actual development process.
Let us know how you recruit product engineers. We would be glad to assist you with more helpful resources and free consultation.
If you are looking to build a web, mobile or a cloud product, you can avail of a round of discussion with iView Labs’ tech team. Our developers and project team are always here to help and suggest what is required and necessary for your products.