Ideas on TPM skills assessment and interview process

Does anyone have any tried-and-true ways to vet TPM skills / capabilities? Looking for ideas on TPM skills assessment and interview process / framework.
We’re hiring a first TPM for our Team and not a single person on the team has hired for that role before, so you know we need help. Any guidance - would be much appreciated!


I can tell you first of all what not to do. Don’t make a TPM your Agile project manager - that’s what a Scrum master does. With regards to a TPM, it depends on what Domain you want them in for: data platform? DevOps? Security? APIs?


TPMs focus on highly technical products and have those considerations up front, like API products. Whereas user or consumer focused PMs are perhaps less “technical”, Technical PMs need to fully understand the technologies they are building for.
Make sure that the domain fits the role, otherwise there may be a misunderstanding as to what a TPM is/does.
At the end of the day, a product manager is a product manager, and there’s the same set level of skills. A technical PM just has a technical background and understands the considerations behind the technology being used/built.


As a possibly high-value signal: all the best TPMs I know are great at talking/communicating with engineering teams and conveying requirements. A test where they are expected to describe requirements and potential pitfalls as if they were communicating with such a team would feel like a an appropriate test to me .

@PriyaVarma interesting. i actually worked with TPMs that seconded as scrum masters before and thought it was a pretty good solution for organizing team’s work, being the champion of momentum, but also understanding how to convey tech requirements. could you elaborate a little more on what the pitfalls are? i’m really curious about what issues i have NOT been a witness to, when that role’s holding both responsibilities. TIA :pray:

@Nathan We’re still relatively small and not divided into domains. we were hoping the TPM can support all our squads in helping break down work and translating some of the product requirements into tech requirements. also - big focus on addressing a mountain of tech debt, which will be enabling for many of our projects in the next year. is that a bad idea you’d say?

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@Heather Generally a TPM really wants to use their domain expertise, whether it’s ML, APIs, or something else. If the bulk of their duties fall under coordinating projects, making sure products ship on time, and running scrums, they will quickly get bored.

Feels like it’s important to clarify, especially based on what @Nathan called out, are you hiring a technical project / program / product manager? As it could influence the skills assessment and interview process @heatherkurtz

Hmm… interesting @Ana, think we haven’t at all defined this or frankly the difference the distinctions would mean for our team. More homework :muscle:

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