Monday, April 15, 2024

Software Engineer Interview With Product Manager

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What Qualities Make A Product Great

Technical Product Manager Interview: How to Prep for a Technical Interview with a Software Engineer

This question is a favorite among recruiters whenever they’re scouting for product managers. This is because the answer to this question provides them with insight into how you view product design and development from a general standpoint. It also lets them know more about the possible design features and modifications that you may implement in their own products. Most of all, this product manager interview question is one of those that will tell a recruiter how much you know about creating great products.

For that reason, prospective product managers need to respond to this question with utmost precision. Granted, there is no hard and fast rule to design a great product. After all, each product is different and will have its own unique set of features.

However, when responding to this question, you must state that there are universal elements that characterize products that perform well. A product must:

  • Have a unique value proposition.
  • Solve a problem experienced by a given target market.
  • Be simple and easy to understand.
  • Allow users to leverage it in an efficient and effective way.

Learn The Question Types

The questions you’ll be asked in PM interviews can be boiled down into five broad question types. Below you’ll find a break-down of these five question types, showing their frequency of use at the four leading tech companies.

Note: the below numbers come from a previous analysis we conducted using interview data from

If you’re not familiar with these question types, don’t worry, we have plenty of examples later in this article that should help to make things more clear. But first, you may know of some other product manager interview questions that you don’t see in the image above. For example, estimation, algorithm, or metric change questions.

We actually consider these other questions to be sub-types of the five question types mentioned above. Here’s a detailed break-down:

Using the information above, you should be able to identify the question types that are most relevant for your situation. This will help you to be more strategic with your preparation.

Now, you’re going to have 2 main options for how to proceed:

  • You can do general preparation for PM interviews
  • You can focus on preparing for a specific company
  • If you want to do general preparation for PM interviews , then you can continue on to step 3 below to begin practicing with some example questions.

    And, if you’re not sure exactly what you want to do, then continue on to step 3 below. It never hurts to start thinking about some practice questions!

    Engineering Manager Interview Questions

    To help you prepare for your interview with engineering managers, Ive pulled together the guide below. First, well discuss what an engineering manager looks for in a product manager. Once we understand what engineering managers are about from product managers, well then dive into the kinds of questions that you should expect to see. Finally, well provide best practices around how to respond to these kinds of questions.

    So lets dive in.

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    Know Your Choice Company

    Tech companies have a wide range of criteria and distinct leveling factors for evaluating candidates, inevitably evolving with changing times. Therefore, it is important to gather as much information as possible about a company, its values, vision, evaluating attributes, and hiring process. This will help you prepare accordingly to a companyâs expectations from you.

    For instance, Google seeks candidates who can contribute progressively to their vision which is centered on innovation. Furthermore, their interview process is highly technical, and candidates are expected to solve complex coding problems.

    Generally, interview processes at FAANG companies are focused on testing your knowledge of Data Structures and System Design apart from getting a sense of your coding skills. Interview rounds typically involve a phone call with a recruiter, a technical phone interview, and onsite interviews.

    What If You Have No Previous Experience With Engineers

    How to study for software engineering interview: A step by step guide ...

    Heres how you should craft your story about your work if you never had any experience working with Software Engineers:

  • Write out what do you do at your job. Make sure that it is as detailed as possible and include who you work with, what you do, when you do it, and whether or not the cadence of your work changes daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
  • Figure out who are your Engineers in your day-to-day and how you interact with them. Whats their persona like? Do they build an application, or are they supporting a product that is already in use? In summary, you should figure out what they do to fit with the engineering persona?
  • Define your relationship by listing out the challenges you have with them. Many people think that they cant answer this question because they never worked with an Engineering team. Thats not necessarily true if you focus on one level of abstraction removed from what the software engineer is responsible for. Write out and define the relationship you have with those people that are responsible for the final deliverable.
  • Write out the specific resolution that happened when you interact with these types of people. So, is there a particular story to tell? Was there a specific challenge? Focus on what that resolution was and what that story was to make sure that you highlight yourself and the software engineer for that specific story.
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    How To Answer Engineering Questions: The Persona Of An Engineer

    The first strategy to formulating winning answers to engineering questions is to think about the persona of a Software Engineer. What do they do in a startup or a large company?

    Engineers are the ones that build the final deliverable. They are not involved in the strategic part of the products development, but they are the ones that deal with the how. They have to figure out what has to be built and shipped to the user.

    Engineers are the ones that are responsible for the final execution of the work. They are getting those requirements from other people and people who need clarity on how to execute.

    Think about these people, their roles, how you interact with them, and the type of relationship with them in your professional life. This will help you get started with figuring out their persona.

    Heres a Google job posting excerpt for a Software Engineering position to guide you further on understanding the persona of an Engineer:

    When Writing Your Own Database Server What Should You Consider

    Most of the time software engineers use data stores especially those working on backend applications. Do they understand the underlying factors of the application? How would they write an application like MongoDB or MySQL?

    This type of open-ended question tests the bounds of a software engineer interviewees knowledge and could lead to a discussion of database principles such as file storage, sharding, threading, query optimizers, the big four NoSQL types, indexing, and others.

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    How Do You Align The Technical Team With The Product Vision And Overarching Goals Of The Company

    Some recruiters might reserve this question for a technical product manager interview. However, most product manager interviewers tend to include this question in their interview process since it is more people management-related as opposed to technical.

    With that in mind, the question invites candidates to touch on the strategies they use to unify the technical team with product strategy.

    The nature of the question implies that fluid communication and frequent follow-ups will be crucial in this phase.

    Candidates should refer to the importance of conducting as many meetings as necessary. In doing so, they must mention how important it is to sensitize the technical team and orient them on the product vision as well as the companys overarching goals.

    The best candidates will also speak to the passive and active resistance that the technical team will display either before or during the development phase. You must mention how your meetings will help to reduce any type of resistance. Be sure to indicate that you will conduct ad-hoc meetings as needed in order to resolve specific concerns that one or more team members may have.

    Here are some more technical product management-related questions that recruiters can ask:

    3. Talk me through how you would write an algorithm to recommend friends to add.

    4. Explain how you would write an algorithm to recommend contacts to add.

    5. Describe how you would write an algorithm to recommend articles to a user.

    What Are The Top 3 Technology Trends That Will Change The Landscapes In The Next Decade

    Product Manager Interview with an Engineering Manager Tips & Best Practices

    A product management candidate could answer this product manager question something like this:

    “I see three main trends in technology that have and will continue to shape the landscape in the coming years.

    These are:

    • The Internet of Things
    • Cloud Computing

    First and foremost, the most important technology trend of the next decade will undoubtedly be Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

    Companies are increasingly using artificial intelligence in nearly every domain, and machines’ ability to effectively learn will continue to transform almost everything in tech and beyond.

    Secondly, the market for the Internet of Things, or “smart” devices, is exploding and will continue to do so well into the next decade. Combined with the previously mentioned advances in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things will produce substantial transformations in many domains.

    Finally, cloud computing has already produced remarkable technological transformations and will continue to do so. Primarily, cloud computing has made it easier for more people and companies to access and use data in ways that used to be prohibitively expensive.”

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    What Are You Looking For In This Job

    This is also an important question, as you want to know why they are looking for a new job and why they applied to your particular company. Did they do research about your company? Try to find out what they know about your companys mission, what your values are, and what your company culture is like.

    If they did not do research about your company and are simply looking for a new job because they need the money, they might not end up being a good fit for your team. You want to make sure that their values align with your own and that they will be dedicated to your mission.

    You want to hire a software engineer who is passionate about your values and goals and wants to help you reach them.

    What Does A Product Manager Do

    Before we dig in, product management and project management are different. Sometimes youâll see the abbreviation âPMâ used for both, but these are two different practices. When we use PM, we are referring to product management. Now, letâs jump in.

    At a high level, product managers are responsible for identifying customer needs , to help tech companies build products their customers will love. One of our customers, Atlassian describes the role as follows, âA product manager is the person who identifies the customer need and the larger business objectives that a product or feature will fulfill, articulates what success looks like for a product and rallies a team to turn that vision into a reality.â

    In other words, product managers are responsible for determining what to build and justifying why it matters and how it will benefit customers. They handle the mapping between the software and the product itself while trying to gain the largest return on investment. Product managers work cross-functionally amongst many stakeholders, including developers, engineers, sales, marketing, legal, and customers. Product managers work with stakeholders in meetings, make product decisions, and seek input from others to inform the product direction and deliverables.

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    Research The Interview Process For Companies

    Each company has its own process for interviewing candidates and evaluates candidates along different core values, so do your homework! If you understand the mission and core values of the companies you’re applying to, you’ll not only understand more about the company’s culture and goals, you’ll also be better prepared to demonstrate those values and principles during the interview. We’ve put together an extensive catalog of interview guides that give you an inside look at the interview process and criteria for most tech companies. Here are a few examples:

    • Google emphasizes technical competence in their interviews and often asks system design questions.
    • interviewers tend to ask about your people skillslike ability to manage conflict or dealing with difficult team members.

    Check out our full list of company interview guides here:

    How Do You Manage A New Product Launch What Tactics Strategies And Processes Do You Use

    Security Insider Interview Series: John McArthur, Senior Product ...

    You want a candidate who launches a product with teamwork and a schedule in mind. A candidate who replies in generalities is one to approach with caution. What to look for in an answer:

    • Team effort
    • How progress is tracked


    I develop a launch plan based on input from teams such as support, testing and product management. I also seek advice from key stakeholders when setting a schedule with dates and deliverables. I hold weekly meetings as the launch date approaches to ensure everything is on track. I also check that were staying on track by continuing to design and market the product toward the right audience.

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    Software Engineering Interview Questions With Answers

    What should you expect in your first software engineering interview? That depends on the role youve applied for! Software engineering jobs tend to fall under two categories: domain-specific or general programming.

    If youre interviewing for a domain-specific role, expect the questions to center around the specific technology you specialize in, such as AWS or cloud infrastructure, or IoT. These highly-technical interviews will be very focused on the technology in question.

    For a general programming or web development role, the process is fundamentally different. These interviews evaluate your problem-solving ability as well as your coding proficiency, so recruiters are likely to ask questions ranging from the technical to the behavioral. Its this general sort of role that were focusing on for this article.

    In this blog post, weve compiled a list of 31 most common software engineering interview questions asked in a software engineering interview along with the best ways to answer them.

    Job Roles And Responsibilities

    If youâre still slightly unclear on the differences between the roles or want to understand how day-to-day responsibilities differ, look no further. We perused software engineer and product manager job descriptions and pulled together some of the most common duties for each role below.

    First, here are some examples of the types of tasks youâll find for software engineer roles:

    • Develops information systems by designing, developing, and implementing software solutions
    • Follows the software development lifecycle
    • Provides ongoing maintenance, support, and enhancements for existing systems and applications
    • Offers recommendations for continuous improvement
    • Works alongside other engineers to elevate technologies and develop best practices
    • Investigates problem areas in a timely manner

    As for the role and responsibilities of a product manager, here are some examples of the types of tasks youâll see:

    • Leads product development and strategy
    • Conducts market research to assess an organizationâs competition and positioning
    • Develops a business case for new products and improvements to existing products
    • Gathers, manages, and prioritizes requirements from the business and customers
    • Determines product pricing by reviewing market research data and sales costs to create the best return on investment
    • Identifies and manages new and existing partnerships across products

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    Tell Me About A Time When You’ve Handled A Conflict

    This question made up 9% of the reported engineering manager interview questions that we studied. As engineering managers must lead teams, interviewers want to know that youd be able to effectively manage the conflicts that inevitably arise when people are solving complex problems.

    Heres a quick example of how you could answer this question. For more information about answering behavioral questions like this one in tech interviews, take a look at this guide.

    The first time I ever had to lead a team, I was a lead software engineer at a fintech startup. It was growing rapidly, so we ended up adding five new engineers to my team over the course of a few months.

    One of my new engineers, Rob, told me during a one-on-one that he had a hard time working with another engineer, Ben. He explained that Ben was consistently rude and demeaning to him, to the extent that Rob was ready to change teams or even leave the company if it continued.

    With Robs permission, I brought this up with Ben in our next one-on-one. Ben admitted that he likes to joke around and tease his coworkers, but that none of it was ill-intended. I encouraged him to speak to Rob directly and apologize for the misunderstanding, and to discuss what kinds of jokes Rob would and would not be comfortable with in the future.

    Note that the answer above is well structured, focuses on the candidates actions , and highlights the lasting effect of their intervention .

    Q5 What Are The Roles And Responsibilities Of A Product Manager/business Analyst Through The Model Development Lifecycle

    Google Coding Interview With A Normal Software Engineer

    The following represents some of the key roles and responsibilities of a product manager/business analyst through the machine learning MDLC. These could also be taken as a job description of AI/machine learning product manager. The ability to answer these questions with clarity may most likely help you crack the interview.

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    What Is A Behavioral Interview At Google

    Google uses behavioral interviews to assess job candidates based on their past experiences. These questions typically start with Tell me about a time you and focus on soft skills such as: leadership, communication, teamwork, problem solving, etc.

    To round out your preparation, weve also included some resume, HR, and hypothetical questions such as what are your strengths and weaknesses? or how would you? in this article. As these are real questions that have been reported by past candidates, we want to make sure youre ready for anything.

    These questions will appear at every step of the and Google Cloud Platform, from the initial recruiter screen all the way through to the onsite interviews. They may even appear as icebreaker or transition questions during technical screens. The frequency and type of behavioral questions will vary per role, but be prepared for many.

    For more information on the process for a specific role, consult one of our comprehensive interview guides below:

    Now, what will your interviewers be looking out for?

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