Pro Tips to Hire a Product Development Manager
Hiring & recruiting developers

Here’s How You Hire a Product Development Manager

Ihor Shcherbinin
VP of Recruiting at DistantJob - - - 3 min. to read

Product Development Managers play a pivotal role in the lifecycle of products, from their initial conception to their launch and subsequent evolution based on market feedback. While they typically operate within clearly defined objectives related to product development, the nature of their role can vary significantly depending on the organizational context. So if you decide you need to hire one, Knowing where to start, what qualities to look for, and how to align this role with your company’s strategic objectives are fundamental.

In this article, you’ll learn how to hire a talented product development manager for your company from a recruiter’s experience.

The best way of knowing if you actually need a PDM is by defining what their role is.  

What does a Product Development Manager Do? 

A Product Development Manager (PDM) oversees the actual development and implementation of a product. The main duties of a PDM include translating the strategic vision into tangible product features, working closely with developers, and ensuring that the product development process aligns with the predetermined goals and timelines.

In practice, a PDM acts as a bridge between the product management and development teams. They coordinate with project managers, business analysts, and other stakeholders to ensure smooth progress and adherence to the product vision. This role is particularly critical in environments that do not fully adopt agile methodologies, where the separation of strategic and execution roles can be more pronounced.

What To Look For When Hiring a PDM

As experienced remote recruiters, we’ve concluded that many of the companies that come to us seeking our help to hire top international tech talent make similar mistakes when recruiting.

One of the most common mistakes is that they usually have an HR team that oversees the recruiting and selection process but have no idea about the role they are interviewing for or lack the technical knowledge to vet a candidate.

Hiring the wrong candidates costs you not only money but also time and energy. This is why it’s important to know exactly what type of candidate you’re looking for by taking a closer look into what they will be doing. Here are the main roles and responsibilities of a software manager:

1.  Ability to create a development strategy

An important part of a product dev manager’s role is working side by side with business managers, marketing teams, and other product stakeholders. This way, they identify the essential aspects the new software should have—or, if necessary, what the new product upgrade should have. They analyze the important variables by listening and considering all of these aspects. 

When developing a specific product, PDM makes an in-depth analysis of the audience they are trying to reach. A good PDM studies the market and also the competitors who have a similar goal. 

This way, after all these studies and analyzing the different variables, they are able to build a strong development strategy. 

2. Team management skills 

Since PDMs often lead cross-functional teams, including engineers, designers, and marketers, strong leadership skills are vital. They should be capable of motivating and directing teams, managing conflicts, and fostering a collaborative team environment.

3. Organization and timing

Besides completing projects on time, managers also carefully consider their next move. They can distinguish what truly matters and what doesn’t. For this, it is essential that they always have schedules with their process and their plan for the product. For a product release, they might need to coordinate with the marketing and PR department, for example, and keep their word on due dates. 

4. Project management

The candidate should demonstrate strong project management abilities, including setting timelines, managing resources, and ensuring that product development projects are completed on time and within budget.

For great product development, managers should constantly be in contact with other stakeholders, such as company managers, and with the other crucial areas.

5. Strategic Thinking and Vision

Candidates should show a clear understanding of how product development supports the overall business strategy. This includes being able to articulate how the products they develop will help achieve company goals such as increasing market share, improving customer satisfaction, or driving innovation.

Assess the performance of product development managers by reviewing their previous successes.

Ask about their experience and skills in creating effective product roadmaps that reflect both short-term objectives and long-term goals. This includes balancing quick wins with strategic bets that may take longer to develop but promise greater returns.

6. Cultural Add

Assess how the candidate’s unique background, experiences, or skills could enhance and diversify your company’s culture. This includes considering how they could bring new perspectives, drive innovation, and contribute to a more dynamic and inclusive workplace environment.

By looking for a “cultural add” alongside the traditional skills and qualifications, you can build a team that not only meets the current standards but also brings in fresh ideas and approaches that propel innovation and adaptability in your company.

7. Distinguish Between PM and PDM Roles

This step helps to prevent overlap and ensures that you know what you need for your business.

Use this distinction to refine your recruitment strategy, ensuring that job advertisements, interviews, and evaluations are appropriately targeted to attract the right candidates for the role you need. Here’s a clear explanation of each role:

Project Managers vs Project Development Managers

Project managers tend to be divided into two categories: project development managers and project managers. Is there a difference, or is it just to add fancy titles?

While the roles of a project manager and a product development manager overlap in some areas, they primarily differ in their core responsibilities and focus areas within an organization. The key difference between the two is that project managers have a broad focus on completing a project successfully, while product development managers focus specifically on the creation and lifecycle of a product.

Project Manager

A project manager is primarily responsible for overseeing specific projects from initiation through completion. This role involves:

  • Planning and Defining Scope: They work on planning the project’s goals, timeline, and resources needed.
  • Activity Planning and Sequencing: They are involved in breaking down the project into tasks and scheduling them effectively.
  • Resource Planning: Ensuring the project has the necessary resources, including personnel, technology, and budget.
  • Executing Tasks: Managing the project team’s activities to ensure adherence to the timeline and project scope.
  • Monitoring and Reporting Progress: Regularly updating stakeholders on the progress of the project against the planned schedule and budget.
  • Risk Management: Identifying potential risks and implementing strategies to mitigate them.

Product Development Manager

A product development manager focuses more specifically on the lifecycle of a particular product from conception to market release. This role encompasses:

  • Product Vision and Strategy: They collaborate closely with product managers to align the product development with business goals.
  • Feature Design and Development Oversight: Overseeing the design and development of new product features.
  • Cross-functional Team Leadership: Leading teams that often include designers, engineers, and other specialists to develop new products.
  • Market and Consumer Research: Incorporating market research to understand consumer needs and competitive positioning.
  • Quality Assurance and Testing: Ensuring the product meets the required quality standards before it goes to market.
  • Product Launch and Iteration: Managing the rollout of new products and iterating based on feedback.


If you’ve been reading us for a while, you know how proud remote work ambassadors we are. We know the benefits of having distributed teams and speak the truth to those still unsure about hiring remote employees. Hiring IT talent, whether remote or not, always comes with its challenges. In this case, rather than just analyzing what the software engineering manager’s requirements are, the main skills and abilities, it’s equally important to hire for culture. Whether you want someone to take over a specific project, or manage a team, never take the recruiting processes for granted.

Our advice is to have a reliable recruitment team that has the knowledge to look for software managers in the right places and do great technical interviews, knowing what to ask. If you think building a recruiting team like that requires many resources and time, you can always seek a better and faster solution. We are a remote recruitment agency specializing in hiring remote talent. You only need to contact us, tell us the characteristics your dream candidate must have, and in two weeks, voilá, you’ll be welcoming your new software manager to the team. 

Ihor Shcherbinin

Ihor, is the VP of Recruiting at DistantJob. He specializes in sourcing and placing top remote developers for North American companies. His expertise covers the entire recruiting cycle, from pinpointing job needs to finalizing hires. Known for his skill in remote staffing solutions and offshore team integration, Ihor excels in matching the best tech talents with U.S. organizations. His approach to virtual developer hiring is marked by insightful candidate selection and strategic offer negotiation, ensuring the right fit for every role.

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