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Five Mistakes When Hiring Multiple Product Leaders

Calendar icon 6th July 2022

By Matt Smyth. Matt is an Associate Director at Zeren and is a member of our Product hiring team in London.

Hiring Product leaders is tough. Hiring a team of them is tougher.


Your organisation could be going through a period of growth, and you need feet on the ground.


Perhaps you’re going through a transformation and the Product culture needs a new lease of life?


Or maybe you’re in the unfortunate situation where several colleagues have decided to move on at the same time, leaving a leadership gap.


I’ve seen a few mistakes made when hiring multiple Heads of Products, Product Directors, and VP Products. Here’s a few to watch out for…



1. Long Interview Process


In general, if you can’t gauge talent, passion, experience, and suitability for a Head of Product or Product Director role in 3 stages you’re taking too long. Candidates shouldn’t be waiting much more than a week between stages.


Make sure your colleagues assisting with interviews are available and have time in the diaries set out with for interviews to be booked in to avoid unnecessary delays. It’s better if the time is set and blocked out then not used than losing momentum and maybe a losing strong candidate. Have the most relevant senior person ready and available for final stages to deliver the big sell.


2. Forcing a Candidate to Engage a Certain Role


A candidate may be a clear match for to the ‘difficult to fill’ vacancy you have in mind, but if they’re good and you’ve got multiple roles to fill let the candidate choose which they would be most interested in. Give them time outside of interview processes to explain the differences and opportunities with all. Talent is short in this market, and you want the strongest talent in your business in the role that is most exciting to them.


3. Not Being Honest About Stakeholders


With all PM roles, there’s going to be stakeholders to manage. Some of the most forward thinking, lowest attrition Product-led businesses have senior stakeholders who add value and bring out the best in their product, design, and tech teams. With one client of mine, one Senior Leadership Team member is so customer focused, all decisions are made for the good of the customer which is to the detriment of business revenue. This brand however is one of the most trusted brands in the world because of this. But as a Product Management leader joining, they need to know what they are getting into and the challenges the team currently face.


Be honest, tell them how you work around this and how they will be involved in if it’s part of a transformation process. Don’t let them find out on Glassdoor or once they join.


4. Including a Task or Presentation


It will put candidates off and you’ll likely end up progressing candidates who are good at doing presentations when you should spend more time talking about leadership skills. Comparing different candidates task responses added new levels of complexity. Ask better questions!


5. Progressing Inflexible Candidates


If you’re hiring multiple Product leaders at once and the business is going through a period of change or growth, there’s usually a need for speed. Make sure you are progressing candidates who will thrive in a dynamic environment. You’ll want leaders in your organisation who can help develop a culture of dynamism, rather than an individual who isn’t going to thrive in an unstructured environment. Let them know that things change and find out how they lead in these sorts of situations.



Zeren exists to empower the world’s change makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.


We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment firm with teams and offices in San Francisco, Houston, New York, London, Berlin and Frankfurt.


We partner with both high growth, VC/PE backed businesses and ambitious Corporate brands placing senior leaders, building exceptional teams, or providing critical interim and consulting talent.