In Agile project management approaches like Scrum, the role of the product owner is fundamental to deliver value to the customer. The product owner role has high responsibility and requires many different skills. In a series of posts titled “Thoughts about hiring Product Owners”, Viktor Cessan discusses some product owner hiring anti-patterns and shares some tips and questions that could help improve your product owner hiring experience.
Viktor Cessan starts by discussing two important aspects of the product owner hiring approach: the organizations’ ability to grow Product Owners and the team empathy towards customers. Assessing these two perspectives can help you decide if you should rather hire an experienced product owner for the potential of growth of the individual. He gives some tips on how to examine these two perspectives and visualize them in a product owner hiring quadrant. Additional perspectives can be also be used for the product owner hiring process. Viktor Cessan also shares some product owner hiring anti-patterns like not taking enough time to recruit the right person.
In the second post of this series, Viktor Cessan proposes a list of questions that could be used in a product owner hiring interview. Some of the questions explore the understanding of and experience from the product owner role, other the potential in learning the product owner role. There is also a list of questions about the candidate potential in gaining customer empathy and technical awareness. These questions are open-ended and meant to create a conversation. The third part discusses how to evaluate the candidates with work samples and through auditions.
Here are some examples of questions:
* How do you prioritize between defects, new features, technical debt, and learning activities (e.g. hypothesis validation)?
* Why are short feedback cycles important in product discovery and product delivery?
* What can you as a Product Owner do when technical debt is slowing your team down?
* Tell me about a time when you failed to engage or include the organisation in the work you and your team was doing, and what happened.
As a conclusion about this discussion about hiring product owner for a Scrum team, it might be important to remember what Viktor Cessan writes at the beginning of the article “previous experience from the role” and with “many years of experience from their specific technical solution” or product but that’s looking for a needle in a haystack (wishful thinking), prone to bias because eventually, and instead of waiting for this unique person to come along, you select the person you liked the most, and you risk hiring someone poorly matched to your needs and conditions.”
You can read the original series of post from on https://www.viktorcessan.com/thoughts-about-hiring-product-owners-part-1/, https://www.viktorcessan.com/thoughts-about-hiring-product-owners-part-2/ and https://www.viktorcessan.com/thoughts-about-hiring-product-owners-part-3/. They are also grouped as a single article on http://www.methodsandtools.com/archive/hiringproductowner.php