6 Red Flags on a Product Manager Job Offer

Dr Bart Jaworski
3 min readNov 28, 2023

Do you fear that the “Product Manager” position you are applying for may not be what it is labeled to be? Here are my 6 red flags that would prevent me from applying. The 4th one is really crushing:

1) “You will lead the development team”
While this is not a red flag, it can force you into at least asking what this leading implies during the interview process. It can be correctly interpreted as negotiating with the dev team the right sprint goals and working together towards a better product. I can also mean an expectation of being a tech leader which a Product Manager is not.

2) “You will be responsible for timely”
A classic red flag showing how a company confuses product and project managers. Of course, it’s not like a PM is outside a space-time continuum, but if something is not delivered on time, this should not be a PM’s fault, nor competence to ensure that in the first place, scope and estimations are locked.

3) “You will choose the right technology”
A more direct, negative version of point one. You can be a tech leader if you are hired as a technical product manager. Otherwise, you might find yourself being asked to do then you signed up for, It will be especially difficult without the right tech background.

4) “You will execute the roadmap provided by higher management”
Already being told you have no decision power and you are basically a project manager. Being a product manager is about discovering the right solution, not delivering features that someone ordered you to create. This is another sign of project/product manager confusion.

5) “You will be delivering new features”
Ok, this is a yellow flag — I’d much more deliver solutions to problems and meet company goals/OKRs rather than be closed in a limited expectation of “delivering new features”. However, this might simply be an oversimplification!

6) “You will lead development, marketing, client support, (…), and others”
Being a Product Manager is really challenging and takes a lot of time. You will certainly not have time to perform those other functions. This may only fly in a small, few-people start-up where everyone is all hands on…

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Dr Bart Jaworski

I am a senior Product Manager at Microsoft. My online courses have helped thousands to develop their Product Management careers. I would like to help you too!