Why Do Hiring Managers Ask About My Failures
Lets clear up a common misconception about why hiring managers ask the failure question as part of the product manager interview.
Hiring managers arent asking this question to make you appear weak. Theres no power dynamic at play here.
After all, if the hiring manager has already invested so much time into you to bring you into the interview, theyre already invested in your success.
If they were really out to get you, they wouldnt have even interviewed you in the first place.
The key thing to keep in mind about product management is that product managers are also products. So, we need to understand the pain points of our customers – and here, our customer is the hiring manager.
Why is it that hiring managers ask the failure question? What pain do they have, and how does this question help them solve their pain?
Product managers fail all the time – its just part of the job. And, given that product is multiplicative, failures have resonating downstream impacts within the hiring organization.
So, the hiring manager is looking for antifragility.
What is antifragility? It means that you get stronger with every failure, rather than weaker with every failure.
Hiring managers need to ensure that their organizations become more and more robust and resilient over time.
If they bring someone who will crumble under failure, that crumbling will spread like a disease across the organization.
So, hiring managers want to see that you have the humility to admit mistakes.
Behavioral Questions For Product Manager Interviews
Apart from the screening and technical questions, the interviewers will also ask you behavioral questions. Answers to these questions help them o understand how youd act in various work related situations. They help them to understand your personality and attitude to work, and they can often decide the winner in an interview. To typical behavioral questions belong:
- Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
- Tell us about a time when you went above and beyond.
- Give an example of a time you showed initiative at work.
- Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
- Tell me about a time you had to comply with a policy or procedure that you did not agree with.
- When you worked on multiple projects , how did you prioritize?
- Describe a conflict you had with your colleague.
- Describe a time when you did not know how to solve a problem. What did you do?
- Tell me about a time when you were overwhelmed with work.
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Tell Me Of A Time When You Failed At A Project
Questions PurposeThey want to gauge the level of your PM maturity and your honesty. Honesty is critical to being a PM. If you are not honest, then you are not trustworthy and they will not place an entire developer team and a critical project in your untrustworthy hands.
How to AnswerEvery PM under the sun has failed at a project and the interviewer knows that. The best answer isnt about the failure itself, its about the lessons learned. A mature PM will have done a solid analysis/retro on any failure they experienced and have strong lessons-learned to take to the next project. So when answering this question, outline the failure so they have the context but spend most of the time explaining what you learned from it. Bonus points if you can connect those learnings to the new jobs challenges.
Dont be afraid of that failure, embrace it and be excited to tell them what you learned from it.
How Would You Explain Technical Challenges To Market
In order to explain the technical challenges to market-oriented teams like sales and marketing, I would
Discuss insights about the user segment, demand for product, Innovation and business goals.
Share data with concerned teams and define demands, resources, and limitations.
Keep all stakeholders in the loop for all development and include their suggestions for effective decision making.
What Activity Would You Prefer To Skip As A Product Manager
This question helps you evaluate whether a candidate’s values align with your organization’s culture. For example, if your organization encourages extensive research, look for a candidate that is happy to research your target audience and competitors. What to look for in an answer:
- Communication skills
“Documenting everything is an aspect I think product managers would like to skip. Of course, it’s an important process, but I enjoy working with developers and the marketing team more. In my previous role, I created time every day for product documentation and that helped me to track my activities.”
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How Do You Feel About Ityour Current Solution A Feature The Price
I try to be empathetic when Im asking questions and try to get inside the head of my customer. Asking how they feel about their current solution, the price, or whatever is a great way to open up some insights. Of course, this is not a question that you simply ask right off the bat, but is rather after youve established rapport. And how you listen to the answer is just as important.
List Of Product Manager Interview Questions: Behavioral
The purpose behind behavioral questions is to see how job candidates handled past situations, since similar situations may arise in the future. For this type of Product Manager interview questions, use a specific example, explain the steps you took, and share the outcome and results.
When asked for examples of conflict with more senior employees, be honest but make sure you ultimately speak in only a positive way about any colleagues, current or ex. Interviewers will be on the lookout for any signs of a difficult or stubborn personality, and any red flags here could be disqualifying.
Examples of behavioral interview questions are:
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Evaluating Skill: Top Product Manager Interview Question
Walk me through a successful major project you were heavily involved in, and tell me about your role throughout the project.
Followed up by
If you were to change anything about the project, what would you have done differently and why?
With this question the interviewer gets to hear about the candidates past experience in a chosen high quality example it better be a good example! This skill evaluation question lets the interviewer deep dive into the example about the candidates displayed competencies, e.g. collaboration, communication, detail orientation, user science, etc. By selecting an example in the candidates history instead of a forward-looking imaginary test case, the candidate shows what she actually did instead of what she could hypothetically do in an interview question and what points she chooses to bring up.
This historical example has limitations especially the companys and product organizations setup and the candidates earlier career maturity. Thats why the follow up question is important can she imagine a different way of solving the problem? Is the candidate aware of best practices of collaborating, getting details right, performing tests, understanding users, etc. and reflective about opportunities for growth and improvement?
Other ways product leaders ask this question:
What Is A Poorly
Any product that does not fulfill its purpose and leaves the user dissatisfied is a poorly designed product.
For e.g. ABC company launched a mobile phone with an alphabetically ordered keypad.
The phone was a major flop as mobile users are habitual of using QWERTY keypads. This led to constant confusion while texting, making it uncomfortable to use.
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Do You Like To Divide And Conquer
While many feature prioritization methods key off group work and collaboration, the DACI decision-making framework is a great fit for a busy team that wants to delegate to subject matter experts. It helps organizations break projects down into smaller bites and assign various steps to different individuals. This way, organizations can reach decisions quickly without sacrificing input and approval from the folks that matter most.
The strict process will streamline product decisions and spread the burden out across the organization. But for it to work well the Driver must stay on top of things to ensure the process doesnt stall out on anyones overburdened plate or overflowing inbox. Its also not the most inclusive framework, which may not play well in organizations where everyone is used to offering their two cents on things.
Were Preparing To Roll Out The Successor To Our Best
Interviewers are looking to test your technical and soft skills with this question. Make sure your answer contains:
- An understanding of consumer trends
- A grasp of the target audience
- Viable solutions
Example answer:Budget-conscious users make up around 30% of your customer base, so I would lower the price to make it more accessible to that demographic. The new product launch will appeal to users that value owning the newest, best and most advanced technology.
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What Do You Think Is The Biggest Challenge Product Managers Face
This question assesses whether a candidate understands the challenges product managers have to deal with. A good candidate would explain how they manage these issues successfully. What to look for in an answer:
- Effective communication skills
- Understanding of product management challenges
- Strategies to overcome the challenge
“I think the biggest challenge product managers face is the temptation to be reactive instead of proactive. From my experience, having goals for your product is just as important as keeping customers happy. I make sure I consider every factor that may affect a product to stay in control and plan for emergencies.”
What Aspect Of Working As A Product Manager Is The Most Exciting In Your Opinion
This question may seem innocuous, but it isnt. It lets the hiring manager learn some important details, including how passionate you are about your role and what about the job motivates you.
There isnt technically a right or wrong answer, so you can speak a bit from the heart. Just make sure you keep your response relevant and, if possible, highlight your enjoyment of specific skills to make your answer particularly meaningful.
The most exciting part of being a product manager is supporting the creation of something that will improve the lives of customers. When that happens, you know your diligence paid off, that your market research was on target, and that the quality of the product and customer experience remained a priority throughout. Theres no greater reward then releasing something amazing into the world, and creating that kind of positive change is a big part of why I enjoy working as a product manager.
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Q 10 What Would You Do If The Organization Changes Its Goals Mid
Answer: While the situation is adverse, it will not be the first time a company has to switch strategies between a program. Your answer to the program manager interview question should go along the lines of:
In case the organization shifts its focus mid-way, the entire program management team should consider how they started it all. The initial agreement must have been undertaken based on other strategies and objectives.
Any fluctuation or shift from the new strategies should be unconsidered until the completion. Until the next program, new guidelines should be prepared and complied with. Such deviations should be done within the organization and not with the clients. Any requests made by the client should be executed while other activities can wait until the completion.
The answer you find for the program management interview question could be different, but try to keep the basics akin to this one.
What Do You See As A Product Managers Main Role Within Product Development
Why theyre asking: Product Management is not a well-defined role across company lines. Each organization has a slightly different approach to development, and so they have a different view of Product Management and its role.
On top of that, each individual Product Manager builds their craft in a slightly different way. You might start out doing PM one way at the start of your career, and then have developed a completely different set of frameworks and techniques by the end.
An interviewer will ask you your approaches to PM, and how you see the roles place within development, to make sure that youre on the same wavelength.
What they want to know: Every interview takes place on the basis that there is a need to be filled within a company, and the interviewee has the potential to fill that need. When youre asked what do you see as a Product Managers main role within product development?, the interviewer wants to know that you both see that need in the same way.
They want to know what you see as a PMs main responsibilities, the level of authority they have, and how far the buck stops with the PM in your opinion. If in doubt, quote the old PM adage with great responsibility, comes no power.
Q 8 What Is The Role Of Technology In Program Management
Answer: Since the program manager interview question is asked to know your market awareness, you need to prepare an answer like:
Technology’s role in program management mostly revolves around establishing an effective chain of communication. Communication is a crucial ingredient for success in a functional domain
Therefore, a program manager needs to utilize the latest IoT and cloud program management tools to enhance the firm’s routine proceedings. With such tools, every team member can monitor the program’s progress in real-time, allowing everyone to be on the same page.
How Do You Prioritize Tasks On A Project
Task management is important. Theres going to be more work in a day than can be accomplished, so any good project manager is going to have to determine what is crucial and what could be left undone if necessary. It will prove interesting and informative to see how the candidate makes these time management and task management decisions.
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What Do Companies Look For In A New Product Manager
Before we dive into questions, its important to get inside your interviewers head. What are they looking for?
Aside from intellect, smarts, the power to adapt, think and act on their feet? They want a person who is motivated to do the job, can work with different teams and has the ability to prioritize features that they already know users are looking for. A Product Manager has to be resilient, strategic and insightful. Which means the hiring company will ask a multitude of questions to figure out if you are the one.
Here is the ultimate list of questions you can expect to be asked in a Product Management interview. Get ready to nail the interview!
How Would You Explain Our Product To Someone Interested In Something Similar Only $20 Cheaper
The interviewer is checking to see if you researched the company and its products, and they want to know that youre familiar enough to offer thoughtful insight. They are also testing your communication skills. Your answer should include:
- Product features
- Customer testimonials
- An overview of the cost-benefit
Example answer:The product may be $20 more, but youre getting $50 worth of additional features. And thats without putting a monetary value on the time and frustration that this product will save you. This product connects to all of your devices, and customers say that they love being able to control it from anywhere, even on vacation. They have also remarked that they rarely have to reach out to customer support for assistance with a problem.
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How Important Is Competitive Analysis To You As A Product Manager
Companies typically have competitors and an important duty of a product manager is to deliver competitive products. A good candidate would define competitive analysis and explain its importance in a product’s life cycle. What to look for in an answer:
- Experience conducting competitive analysis
- Understanding of the importance of competitive analysis
- Effective communication skills
“I think competitive analysis is an important aspect of product management. In my last previous roles, I analyzed an organization’s software to determine areas we could improve. I found that we could increase our page loading time to have a competitive advantage. Analyzing our competitor’s products also helped us discover better marketing strategies and reach more users.”
What Was Your Biggest Success
Questions PurposeThis question is a trap! It looks like a blank cheque to brag about yourself, but its not. Its not your biggest success theyre after its the biggest success youve delivered for the customer they want to hear about. Do you see the distinction?
How to AnswerDont talk about how amazing you are. That should come out organically in your answer. Tell the story about the pain you were trying to solve and its dire consequences for the user. Tell them about how your team collaboratively worked together to come up with a solution and how that solution solved that pain. Be proud of the team. Be proud of their efforts. And be proud of the positive change you made in the customers life. Thats the best kind of answer. It lets them know you are collaborative, driven, and passionate for the customer. Anything is else bragging, which puts your perceived importance above the team and the customer, which is not good.
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