Why The Product Manager Interview Questions Matter
Many people approach an interview with a lets just see how it goes attitude. They think they can get a sense of the person and their fit for the role regardless of which direction the conversation may go.
Entering an interview unprepared is just as bad for the interviewer as the interviewee. You may luck into a deep and diverse discussion that provides a great sense of the candidate, but you may also have many uncomfortable minutes of silence when you struggle to come up with the next question.
And theres no assurance the dialogue will cover all the pertinent points unless the interviewer makes a concerted effort to get there. Thats why every interview should include the most relevant topics to ensure everythings covered.
While the specifics of the role and the candidates background may dictate which of these to include and which to skip, heres a set of basic categories of questions youll likely want to touch on:
- Strategic thinking
- Product management experience
- Other relevant experience
Dont worry that this will lead to a disjointed interview. Multitasking and context switching is essential to the job. If the interviewee cant hop from one area to another easily in an interview, theyre likely to struggle with that on the job. Now, lets review the eleven product manager interview questions to reveal whether a candidate is a good fit for your position.
Additional Technical Product Manager Interview Questions
|How do you define market opportunity in a business plan?|
|To build your product roadmap, what inputs do you use?|
|What is a product you cant live without? How would you improve it?|
|Please explain how you managed the roadmap for a product in the past.|
|Define machine learning.|
|Have you attained a product management certification?|
Focus On People & Culture
Throughout the interview process, do your best to root out whether or not your candidates truly fit with the stated versus the unspoken culture and dynamic of your organization. Are they really a match for your team size and stage of your company? Dont rely only on their resume to tell you this dig in to see if that enterprise experience was a good fit and if theyre looking to repeat it, or if they learned something about themselves that suggests they are better suited for a smaller growth-stage organization.
- Tell me about your management style for direct reports, as well as those accountable through a matrixed organization.
- If you were building a product organization from scratch , what is your ideal size and composition of the team?
- Based on your experience, where do you think product management is optimally situated in the organization? Why?
- Tell me about your relationship with sales, customer support, and engineering at your last company.
- What have you learned about your leadership style strengths or weaknesses and how do you plan to use that insight in your next role?
- Can you teach someone to be a good product manager? How?
- How do you teach someone to say no effectively?
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Example Question: What Is Your Favorite Website And How Would You Improve It
In product management, sometimes its best to follow frameworks. The candidate can explain why they think something needs improvement and how they would do it.
This question can be answered by following these four steps:
A great answer to this question is something such as:
Dont laugh, but my favorite website is . They have great content with tips and tricks of the trade from experts. One thing thats missing though is a way to connect with other product managers. I would suggest they find a way to facilitate comments and build a community to increase engagement and let us all learn from each other. If that was a success, they could even offer a premier tier with direct access to top product managers or monthly meet-ups to generate additional revenue.
Other typical analytical competency questions are:
- How would you improve Netflix?
- How would you increase the adoption of high-speed internet in rural areas?
- Lets say you were charged with developing a new product for Amazon. What metrics would you use to measure success?
- How do you decide what is the right price for a product?
Questions To Ask About The Team
Fitting into your team is crucial as a Product Manager. These are the people you will be supervising and taking supervision from, brainstorming with, striving to meet goals with, and so much more. Whatever information you can uncover from questions to ask during the Product Manager interview process can help you decide whether you want to work with them.
Learn more about your prospective team by asking:
Question : Which Products Do You Love
This question provides you a little peek behind the shiny veneer candidates who are cloaking themselves in during the interview process. An exact answer will reveal something about what matters to them and what draws their attention. Keep in mind that something vanilla and obvious signals a lack of depth and creativity.
Besides just getting to know them as a person, its also a glimpse of what they appreciate as product professionals. Do they gravitate to generic products they use every day? Or are they more enthusiastic for brilliant technical or design solutions to tough challenges?
Their mentioned solutions truly energize the ideal candidate. Saying products that ingeniously yet quickly improve the lives of their customers while boasting a solid business model is critical. You have another opportunity to evaluate their storytelling skills.
What Have We Missed
This list of 15 product manager interview questions is a great start, but wed love to hear from you. What are your favorite product management questions? Chime in on the comment thread below!
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Questions To Ask About Company Culture
Company culture can be the make or break of your time as a Product Manager at the company, so its important to get a good feel of it. Is the office a more start-up culture kind of place, or the more traditional buttoned-up conservative environment?
Find out about this with questions such as:
How Do You Stay Up
Product management is an evolving discipline that is exploding in popularity.
The product manager candidates answer to this question will tell you:
- How well they know the industry. Do they easily rattle off their favorite educational sources?
- How self-motivated they are. Product managers need to have enough curiosity and drive to stay on top of industry changes.
Look for your product manager candidate to name a few different information sources and discuss how they use each to grow their skillset.
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How Would You Prioritize Product Development When You Have Two Important Things To Do But Can Only Do One
I would divide the tasks in the first level and second-level priority keeping in mind the urgency, time it will consume and Return of Investment .
I would also adopt a systematic process for assigning time and resources for product development at hand so that the backlog can be cleared at the earliest.
What Do Employers Look For In A Product Manager
A hiring manager looks for prospective product managers that know how to solve problems. So a strong product management candidate knows their KPIs and metrics, collaborates with cross-functional teams, and develops product strategy to serve the companys customers and product vision.
Product managers deal with ambiguous and novel challenges. Naturally, theyre curious and ask a lot of questionsthe right questionsto ship the product toward completion. Their day-to-day responsibilities include coordinating the release path and product lifecycle. Companies need agile product managers who understand both the technical and design requirements of their products.
Can you lead product team meetings to drive product planning and development? Do you have methods to plan your time intentionally? Are you comfortable with saying no to out-of-scope requests?
Communicating what you will bring to the team culture and product role will show your potential employer the positive impact youll make on the company.
Read about the top product management certifications!
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Questions To Ask About The Company
In this stage, you want to sound energetic, engaged, and enthused about the company. You should also take this as an opportunity to fill in any gaps in the information you garnered during your research.
Learn more about the company by asking:
Hiring A Vp Of Product Here Are The Questions To Ask
So youve decided its time to hire a product leader: congratulations! If this is a new role, you may not have a true sense of what qualities, experience, or skills are needed to hire successfully for this critical position. Even if this is a backfill hire, the state of executive talent in the product space has been evolving quickly, and the person youre hiring now is coming from a very different talent pool than existed even 1824 months ago. Here are some things to think about and ask a candidate during your interview process.
Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years
This one is off the list of standard interview questions for all roles, but that doesnt make it any less important as a product manager interview question.
The product manager candidates answer will tell you:
- Their priorities. Are they driven and career-focused? Or do they have aspirations outside of work that make them more well-rounded?
- If they are good at planning. If they cant plan for their own future, its likely they wont be able to plan well for the future of your product.
Try not to focus too much on whether their answer specifically mentions your company. Theyre still in the interview process, so its possible they are trying to stay realistic.
Tell Me About Yourself
As straightforward as it is, this is one of the most critical questions to prepare for. Youll hear it in literally every product manager job interview you take probably in every job interview in general.
This question is an excellent opportunity to offer the recruiter snippets of stories youd like to share during the interview. Treat it as your opportunity to make a first impression and spark the recruiters interest, not as just an icebreaker.
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Pick Your Favorite Questions To Ask During The Product Manager Interview
While the list above is extensive enough to have you asking questions all through your introductory call, keep in mind that it shouldnt be an interrogation. Picking questions to ask during a Product Manager interview should provoke natural discussions rather than rigid question-answer situations.
Also, dont be afraid to ask some of them as the interview moves along: you dont have to save all your questions for the end of the interview. Research and practice them before your interviews and you should be good to go!
Looking for more guidance on how to tackle the gruelling Product Manager interview process? Our in-house team of career coaches are offering free 20-minute sessions to help you out. Schedule afree career coaching session with our in-house team of Product Manager Recruiters to learn how we can help you ace your interviews and clinch that dream Product Manager job.
What To Expect From A Product Manager Job Interview Process
Most product manager job interviews are at least two weeks long. Most companies organize their interview process in five stages:
- On-site interviews
The phone screens purpose is to filter the candidates to select who has the minimum product management requirements to perform the job. These short interviews are held by human resources team members. This person will ask general questions about your background and your expectations for the job.
If you seem to be the right fit, you will go through a video interview likely with your potential manager on the job. At this stage, the interviewer will look for more job-specific knowledge besides general background questions.
The next phase of the interview process tends to be an assignment. The intent of this assignment is to evaluate your ability to materialize requests and deliver high-quality projects within a deadline.
If your assignment meets the standards that the team is looking for, you get the chance to spend a few hours at the companys office to be interviewed by a few people. This phase is the most decisive part of the process. During these interviews, you will be asked every sort of question from basic background questions to complex technical questions.
And guess what? The more prepared you are, the better your chances to demonstrate confidence in your answers.
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Product Management Skills And Experience Interview Questions
The interviewer will want to understand how your past product management experience will translate into the new position. Expect to discuss common product management topics, such as setting strategy, creating product roadmaps, managing releases, gathering ideas, and defining features.
Prepare answers to the following questions so you can effectively describe your experience:
How would you explain product management to a stranger?
Tell me about the product you own.
Who are the customers? How big is the customer base?
What type of customer research do you conduct and how often?
How do you develop product strategy?
What inputs do you use to build your roadmap?
How do you plan releases? What development methodology does your company follow?
How often do you launch new features?
Where do ideas for new features come from? How do you decide which ones to build?
Take me through how you manage a feature from conception to launch.
Tell me about the most successful product have managed. What made it so successful?
Describe one of your failures. Why do you think it failed? What would you do differently?
How do you know if a product launch is successful?
Can you share a lesson from your last product launch?
Types Of Product Leadership Interview Questions And How To Answer Them
Interviewing for a product leadership role can be a daunting task, but hitting the mark when answering questions can be made easier with the right tools to hand.
To help you better prepare, we have identified 3 types of product leadership interview questions you might get asked, outlined what the interviewer is looking for in each instance and how you might structure your answers.
For clarity, this advice is aimed at those who are at the second stage of an interview process and who are interviewing for a Head / Director of Product role in a larger, more established organization. However, thatâs not to say that some of it may be relevant for others!
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How Do You Decide On The Price Of A Product
To determine the price of a product, I would choose an effective pricing strategy to make it cost-effective.
I would assess the market and target audience followed by a research on the pricing structure of competitors.
3 important inclusions here would be:
Variable costs- Cost of goods sold, Production, Packaging, marketing costs and shipping. Fixed Costs- unavoidable expenses like rent, electricity, salaries of employees, etc. Profit margin- The profit company aims to make per unit.
Which Game Of Thrones Character Best Impersonates Your Approach To Product Management
This one comes directly from my own life. Theres most likely no wrong answer.
I am not, nor have ever been versed in GoT, so when asked this question at the end of an interview, I simply replied using a Lord of the Rings analogy.
In the end, if the goal was to assess a cultural fit, we were probably not the best match. But Middle Earth is vast and the Fellowship is always in need of more PMs.
Pro tip: Either navigate the mythology you are provided with, or pick one you are comfortable with.
Super pro tip: On my best days at work, I do a mean impersonation.
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