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Building a Product Team? Ask these 10 Questions

Updated: May 7

If you are thinking about building a product team you need to get crystal clear on these 10 questions:


10 questions to ask when you build a product team

1) What are the immediate goals of my startup?

It can be overwhelming to know who to hire to do what. But when you reflect on and understand what you aim to achieve in the short term, it can you narrow down the types of roles you prioritize in your Understanding what you aim to achieve in the short term can help you prioritize which roles are needed first.


If you are a product based business and have sales goals in the next six months then you might want to prioritize hiring a sales manager to create and execute your sales strategy. You might also want to hire a product manager to lead development of the product that is being sold. On the flip side, you might consider delaying the hiring of marketing specialists for things like SEO or content marketers, who would be less impactful at this point in the business’s growth. 


In this instance, the product and improvements to its features are necessary for sales, and thus prioritizing hires that enhance the product's appeal and functionality becomes essential. 


2) What skills are critical to achieving these goals?

Determine the specific technical, managerial, or creative skills essential to meet your startup’s objectives. Research companies in your niche or industry. Who are they hiring for, related to your business needs? How are the skill sets needed for certain roles being described in the market?


In our experience, these are some of the skills we find to be effective on product teams:


  • Technical skills in fields like software development, engineering, data analysis, product and instructional design, etc give your team a competitive edge

  • Project Management ability is crucial. You want to build a team that has impeccable time management and for these skills you are looking for candidates that have demonstrated ability to oversee projects from conception to completion, manage timelines, and ensure that milestones are met. Connecting back to technical skills, it helps when candidates have familiarity with project management tools like Asana, Jira, or Trello and are familiar with SCRUM and AGILE principles.

  • User Experience (UX) Design expertise is helpful for product teams that want to build with user-centered design principles. Skills in UX Design include proficiency in creating wireframes, prototypes, and conducting usability testing to ensure the product is intuitive and meets user needs.

  • Market Analysis skills are necessary for conducting market research, user interviews, competitor analysis, and understanding market trends. If you want your product team to ensure the product is well-positioned and meets market demands, then it is vital to hire candidates with data skills.

  • Strategic Thinking is often a skill that is overlooked in hiring. The ability to set long-term goals and define strategic approaches to achieve them is incredibly important to hire for when building a product team. This skill includes understanding the product’s role within the broader market and potential pivot points.

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills are vital for internal collaboration and external stakeholder engagement. This includes being able to clearly articulate the product vision, updates, and changes to different audiences. These skills are also extremely important in UX Design roles and any roles that interface with customers to ensure the highest degree of satisfaction.

  • Problem Solving, specifically the creative and analytical thinking to navigate and resolve issues, is a skill that turns a group of people into a powerhouse.

  • Adaptability and the ability to be agile is an important skill to consider when building your team. Being flexible and able to adjust plans based on feedback and changing circumstances is important in fast-paced startup environments.

3) Which roles will have the most direct impact on our product or service delivery?

Identify positions that will directly influence your core product or service, ensuring these roles are filled with competent individuals. This is related to question 1!


4) What gaps exist in my current team’s skill set?

Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of any existing team members to identify crucial gaps that new hires will need to fill. What has been working and why? What hasn't been working and why? Lean into your strengths and hire for your weaknesses


5) How do these roles fit into the long-term vision of the company?

Consider how each role will evolve as the company grows, ensuring that the roles you define now will scale with your business. While no plan is foolproof, having a long term hiring strategy will help you to navigate the path of growth as your business scales.


For example, if your long term vision is to be acquired, you will need to hire very differently than someone who is looking to build a legacy company or maintain long-term independence. Take your long term plans into consideration when building a hiring strategy.


6) Are there any roles that could be combined or require a cross-functional skill set?

In startups, where resources are often limited and agility is crucial, combining roles or seeking candidates with cross-functional skills can be a highly effective strategy. For example, you can think about hiring a marketing manager and content creator who both creates the marketing strategy and produces the content for it.

7) What is the budget for new hires, and how does it align with our funding or revenue goals?

Determine how much you can afford to spend on new hires, taking into account the expected ROI they bring in terms of driving business growth. Ask: Where is your company's financial health? How much revenue is forecasted? Are you in a funding stage that requires a certain kind of hiring and how much does fulfilling this requirement cost?

8) What cultural traits and soft skills are important for new team members to have?

Beyond technical skills, consider personality traits and soft skills that will contribute to a cohesive team dynamic and strong company culture. Consider the kind of culture you want to build for your company when determining the kind of soft skills you are looking to have across your teams. Will your organizational culture value curiosity, creativity, collaboration, etc?

9) How urgent are these hiring needs?

Prioritize roles based on urgency and importance. Instead of trying to build out an expansive team allocate resources and time to hiring your most urgent roles first. Things change very quickly in a startup environment, and so it is better to hire strategically and go for quality over quantity when building a product team.

10) Can any of these roles be part-time?

Decide if it makes sense to initially hire contractors or freelancers to fill certain roles, which can be a flexible and cost-effective solution while the business is still scaling.


Asking these questions will help you clarify the strategy you need to use when you want to build a product team. If you still find yourself needing support with figuring out your hiring needs, explore our startup resources that have been game changing for founders at a range of growth stages.





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