Revealing Product Manager Interview Questions
Hiring product managers is one of the most challenging and essential tasks for product team leaders. Unfortunately, theres no perfect template for an ideal PM candidate its about finding the best fit among a sea of unicorns by asking the right product manager interview questions.
The diversity of backgrounds in product manager applicants increases the level of difficulty in making a good hire. Moreover, product manager roles and job descriptions also vary wildly from one organization to the next. The combination of both of those elements makes an effective product manager a challenging position to fill. For example, sometimes you need a technical whiz, or someone with marketing chops, while other opportunities demand deep experience in a particular industry.
Since a cookie-cutter approach wont fly, hiring managers need a solid handle on their specific PM role requirements. They must then determine if a candidate will be a good fit from a few brief interactions.
Get it right, and youve added an invaluable asset to your product team that lifts the product to new levels. However, if you get it wrong, then schedules slip, prioritization falters, and your reputation is at risk.
So how do you make sure youre hiring the right person? Its all about asking the right questions.
Q: What Do You Think Makes A Well
Although thats a subjective question, some organizations have strong opinions about it. To answer in a way that will enhance your chances of securing the job, you should research the organization before the interview and find its core mission and vision.
Both will give you an insight into the purposes, goals, and values of your potential future employer.
Therefore, you will be able to answer the question meaningfully.
For example, if the company is eco-friendly, a well-designed product should be simple, sustainable, and environmentally friendly in both the production process and afterward.
It will consist of integrating environmental protection criteria at each phase: from conception and development to transport and recycling.
What Is It About Our Product That You Would Change
This goes back to the importance of preparation and judging the candidates ability to perform under pressure.
Recruiters should look for candidates who can take a good product and turn it into a great product, and not just create something mediocre.
If theyre able to suggest some new promising product features during the interview, they already have one foot inside the door.
At the very least, they should have some fresh ideas for new product features for any of their favorite products .
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Sample Questions: Solving Challenges And The Big Picture
- What was one of your more challenging problems to solve when integrating a new application or solution?
- How do you determine if a company should build, partner with, or buy an application or solution?
- What is the Gartner Magic Quadrant, and why is it important for many software vendors?
Organizations expect product managers to effectively overcome roadblocks and challenges come prepared with stories of how you solved crises and issues at your previous organizations. In addition, product managers should come to the interview with knowledge of the organizations industry, technology, and applications if youre hired, youll be expected to hit the ground running.
Many hiring managers and recruiters prefer candidates with certifications that prove their management abilities, such as PMP or ITIL. Thats not required in all jobs, but candidates must show up with a narrative that demonstrates their effectiveness at managing teams and making critical decisions about strategy.
Many companies are in industries with stringent regulations, so keep an eye on those. Product managers should be able to explain the impact of GDPR, or other similar regulations, on todays products and services, Coburn said.
Skills That Pm Interviewers Look For
The product manager role is one that requires a very broad set of skills, hence the variety of question types that we’ve outlined above.
Firstly, there are the the hard skills required for PMs to be able to contribute at each stage of the product development lifecycle. These include:
a) Strategy skills to identify and plan the product opportunity
b) Design skills to design the product
c) Engineering skills to build the product
d) Digital marketing skills to launch the product
e) Data analytics skills to assess the product success and iterate
On the other hand, to make best use of these technical skills at every stage of the product lifecycle, a PM also needs excellent soft skills, above all leadership, communication and organization.
As you’d expect, the question types we’ve gone through in the sections above are clearly designed to test you on these technical and soft skills. The only skillset you might not face specific questions on is “digital marketing skills”, but it’s a topic that you might want to touch on when you’re answering a question on product strategy, for example.
If you’d like to dig a little deeper into the skills required to be a PM, we’ve done so here.
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How Would You Improve
This can be a tricky question, but this is where your research and familiarity with the interviewers company will come in handy. While the interviewer is trying to understand your PM thought process, they also want to determine a) your understanding of their companys products, b) what you think of the company, and c) how adept are you at providing feedback to potential product stakeholders .. Praising the strong product elements, while offering some well-thought out suggestions for improvement with associated reasoning, shows the interviewer that you have done your research and are confident in sharing your expertise.
For example, if you were discussing an app, you might say Many aspects of this product are exemplary, such as its intuitive design and ease of use. To further enhance it, Id recommend making sharing functionality more agnostic so as to seamlessly work with a broader range of social media platforms given the potential issues with Meta in Europe and the likely ripple effect that VR will have on emerging social media. This refinement will complement the products countless strengths and position it well for the future.
Remember, this is a chance to market yourself too. Be sure to answer this question in a way that highlights your knowledge and insights, while also reflecting back your alignment with this companys core values.
How Would You Improve Our Product
The interviewer wants to see if you researched the company’s products and if there’s any value you can add to their company. Be sure to first appreciate the existing product design before giving your ideas on how to improve it. Make sure your answer:
Offers an explanation
Gives analysis of the existing product features
Example:’I’d start by understanding the current product features and design, and then analyse what areas can be improved. I’d talk to stakeholders and customers to see what they think of the existing product and the new ideas I hope to implement. The next step would be to implement my ideas, keeping in mind the cost implications and marketing strategy.’
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Behavioural Questions For A Product Manager
Your interviewer will want to know how you approach and handle situations. They’ll want to know if you can work under pressure with examples of how you’ve handled past situations. For these questions, be sure to highlight the steps you took to manage the situations and if you’re yet to face such a challenge, explain how you can face it if it arises in the future.
Tell me about a wrong decision you made and how you handled the outcome.
Describe a challenging scenario you’ve encountered as a product manager.
Describe a time when you had conflicting ideas with a manager or a team member.
How do you interact with customers?
Describe a time when you had to deal with a challenging customer.
Describe a time you had different product ideas from your team and how you decided on which one to implement.
Can you think of a time when your superior changed your project priorities? How did you handle the new project?
Talk about a time you had to motivate your team.
Do You Have Any Experience Managing A Team
Again a recruiter may choose to ask this question right in the beginning.
While managing a team is a huge plus, its certainly not a prerequisite.
If the candidate has ample experience in their field, impressive knowledge, and a proven track record, it doesnt matter if they never got the opportunity to supervise a team.
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How To Practice Product Design Questions
With a lot to cover, its best to take a systematic approach to make the most of your practice time.
Below youll find links to free resources and four introductory steps that you can take to prepare for product design questions.
Alternatively, if youre looking to save time and follow a more guided approach on your overall interview preparation, we recommend signing up to the product manager interview course. The course includes lessons on how to answer all question types, examples of high-quality answers, mock interview videos, and more than 300 practice questions.
The 10 Most Frequently Asked Product Manager Interview Questions
These are the types of questions you can most likely expect in your PM interview.
Given the scope of the role, product management interviews consist of many different types of questions, many of them being open-ended or complex.
Hiring managers at major tech companies want PMs that are intelligent, adaptable, quick on their feet, highly motivated, and capable of working with cross-functional teams. The interview process for this role is designed to better understand your working style overall.
Many PM questions will focus on evaluating these and many other traits.
While it’s next to impossible to predict exactly what questions you’ll be asked, you can get the gist from studying what’s been asked in the past.
- product vision, product strategy,
- passion for product management,
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What Product Management Strategy Or Tactics Will You Undertake While Launching A New Product
Launching a new product is one of the biggest milestones in a product managers career. A product manager undertakes different strategies or tactics to ensure a successful product launch. Therefore, whenever a hiring manager asks about the product management strategy undertaken while launching a product, dont give a general answer. Instead, focus on comprehensively defining timeline, progress tracking, team effort, etc. You can also mention about different product launch strategies that won accolades.
Ask Clarifying Questions To Understand The Problem
Don’t make the mistake of diving into the question head first.
Before going any further, be sure to ask questions. Even if the question seems simple or easy, you should always ask your interviewer some clarifying questions.
This way, you can gauge the most important aspects of the question or determine what your interviewer expects out of your answer.
For instance, some questions you can ask your interviewer are:
- Is this product targeting a specific set of users or customers?
- Which platforms are used by our targeted users?
- Is this product being launched internationally or domestically?
If nothing comes to mind, you can always ask: So, youre asking me to _____. Is that right?
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How Technical Pm Answers Are Assessed
Technical PM questions assess a candidate’s:
- critical thinking skills,
- experience with various software tools,
- ability to define product features,
- general comfort operating under technical constraints.
There are many different technical questions you could be asked during your PM interviews. Usually, they are very open-ended or abstract.
Typically, they will be based on product design questions. The interviewer will ask you to dive deeper into the technical aspect of the design.
Don’t think that technical PM questions are the same thing as coding questions.
Can You Provide An Example Of A Time When You Earned Buy
Product managers have a lot of informed opinions about what direction a product should go in, as they should! But just because they know something is best for the user doesnt mean everyone else is automatically on board. Its part of the product managers job to earn buy-in for their ideas across the company.
The product manager candidates answer to this question will tell you:
- How capable their are in the face of diverse opinions. Do they tell a tale of conviction and triumph? Or do they stumble to think of a time they were able to get their team on the same page?
- If they leverage specific techniques and tools to earn buy-in . Can you see their preferences fitting into your organization and culture?
- How solid their interpersonal skills are. Do they strong-arm individuals into agreeing with them? Or do they listen and explain their position?
Look for a product manager candidate who strikes a good balance between caring and confidence.
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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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In Your Opinion What Are The Features Of A Good Product Design
While you may have your subjective opinion of what constitutes a good product design, the interviewers asking this question may be more interested in finding out if you share their company’s aesthetic sense. You do not necessarily have to be in complete agreement, but it is important to demonstrate your willingness to adapt your ideas. In product design, it is essential to take the client’s views into account.
Example:”I prefer elegant and scalable product designs I can keep simple and easy to use. I also like them to come in simple, eco-friendly packaging. That said, I work for a client’s brief, and it is necessary to design according to their requirements. Even though it is always possible to incorporate changes, it is ultimately the client’s decision.”
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What Improvements Would You Make To The Design Of Our Product
Product managers often oversee the visual and functional design aspects of a company’s product. With this question, interviewers want to determine how you evaluate a particular product’s features and design and detail potential solutions to issues. They may provide you with a product’s basic specifications but refrain from offering more details unless you ask pointed questions. This helps them understand what questions you believe are important when determining effective product designs.
Example:”I think we could focus on ensuring the design is mobile-friendly to target a younger demographic. The desktop app looks beautiful, but I’m having difficulty with the overall flow of the mobile application. Designing a new menu item and layout, we could hold testing trials to determine whether a younger audience responds well to the new design. However, to fully analyze this product, I’d need to know what the target market is and whether there has been any customer feedback.”
Technical Product Management Questions
Chances are, you may not be asked any technical PM interview questions. They have become much less common these days. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to answer them, should the need arise!
- How would you handle negative user feedback about YouTube, and how might you address it with the engineering team?
- What are the top 3 technology trends that will change the landscapes in the next decade?
- How would you explain cloud computing to your grandmother?
- How does Google Maps compute ETA?
- What happens when you navigate to a website?
- How would you diagnose a connection issue with Instagram?
- Why is Gmail search slower than Google search?
The reason these questions don’t show up us often is because the role of PM has shifted. Product managers use their time to condust user research and develop product strategy.
Much of the heavy lifting and software development is passed to engineering teams. However, some product teams may ask that you bring technical skills to the table.
Google, for example, is known for requiring more technical experience than many other companies.
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Product Strategy Interview Questions
Like product design interview questions, strategy questions are another critical component of the product manager interview.
- Amazon is launching free storage for photos. If you’re a Google PM for Photos, what would you do?Watch an expert answer to this interview question here.
- How would you monetize Facebook Dating?
The 10 Most Important Product Manager Interview Questions
The types of questions you can expect to be asked in a Product Management interview are pretty vast and varied. But in general, youll probably be asked some of the following:
Questions will vary depending on the role, the company, and the industry, and the types of questions youll be asked will change as you move through the interview process.
Thats a lot of preparing to do! So here weve laid out every single type of question you could possibly be asking in a Product Management interview
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