24 Frequently Asked Product Manager Interview Questions and Answers
1. Why do you want to become a product manager?
Answer: Focus on your enthusiasm for the product level company. Tell them how your skills, abilities and experience make you a good candidate for the job of a PM. Alternatively you also have the option to speak about the particular ideas you are having, suggesting how you’d help them to improve their products or design new ones.
One way or another they should hear some enthusiasm in your voice to believe that you really want the job. If you have had the same position in the past you can say that you’d like to continue your professional career in the same field and believe that your past experience will help you to do a great job in their company.
2. What characterizes a good product manager?
Answer: You can talk about your ability to understand the market, to think one step ahead (or even a few steps ahead), to understand the needs of the customers and an ability to transform these needs to a particular product design and marketing plan, the technical skills required for the job and so on. Show them that you know what it takes to become a great product manager and ensure them that you have the skills required for it.
3. Tell us something about your experience.
Answer: Focus on your latest projects, what you have designed and how it helped your former employers/clients. Show us the value your work has brought to the people who paid for it. That is the key–to show the value, to show us the reason why we should hire you. If you apply for your first job, you can speak about the projects you’ve done at school or about anything else that is relevant for the job.
4. Why did you decide to apply for a job in our company and not somewhere else?
Answer: Show them that you did your homework, that you know what they do in the company and have a clear reason why you applied for a job with them. You can tell them that you like their product range, the professionalism of their designs or simply the working environment they have at place.
To compliment them for something they do in a company is a great answer to this question. Alternatively you can refer to a professional recommendation or any other reason that motivated you to apply for their offer.
5. When managing the product, how do you manage the expectations of internal groups just like sales and services?
Answer:Tell them that you prefer a close interaction with other departments. Tell them that you always try to get feedback from other people, that you understand product manager is not a standalone unit. Describe how you plan to communicate your plans and ideas to your colleagues.
Of course, sales may have their word on the design or on a marketing plan. The same can be said about every department in the company. Good product manager is the one who is always eager to hear the feedback of their colleagues.
6. What do you consider the right time to release the product?
Answer: Some people believe that the product should not be released until they reach perfection, until all beta tests have been completed and everything works without the slightest chance of a failure. The competitors do not sleep, however. Other companies also work and design new products and they can sometimes act faster and secure the coveted first place on a market with the new product. Bearing this in mind, you should think carefully about the industry and decide about a good answer to this question.
7. Tell us something about the life cycle of the product.
Answer: In this they are testing your theoretical knowledge with the question. You should be having the prior knowledge about the life cycle. If you have managed some products before you can explain the life cycle on a particular product, demonstrating that you understand the theory in practice.
8. Imagine that the demand has exceeded your production capacity in the initial phase. What would you do?
Answer: Good product manager would never let the customers waiting unless they had doubts about the quality of the product and expected the demand to drop. You can say that you would outsource the production or do anything else to keep the dice rolling.
9. If you come across a software company and they don’t have a product manager what would you say to them to convince them that they need one?
Answer: This lets you know about where they think the value they deliver sits. They’ll tell you all about what’s being missed by not having a PM and this will focus on the skills that they have and would bring to the role.
10. Where do your skills lie as a product manager?
Answer: This is also an opportunity to identify on which end of the product spectrum they sit. If they’re all about ‘working through the requirements and giving detailed user stories’ then you’ve got a processor whereas if they talk about ‘measuring usage and developing tests’ then you’ve got an analyzer.
11. Why does your current product exist?
Answer: If they say something like ‘we have appointment booking systems for managing bookings for retailers’ or whether they say ‘retailers want to get customers to commit to visit their store and to direct traffic into non-peak times’ you know whether they’re thinking about value, needs, systems etc… You’ll also get a good idea of how good they are at selling their ideas.
12. Tell me about how the specification for a new feature gets briefed in to the team that is to build it.
Answer: You want to know if your PM is someone who can stand up in front of a development team and sell the feature to the team that’s going to build it. Getting the best out of the development team is generally required for them to have a good understanding of not just what they’re building, but also why they’re building it. PMs should have the ability to give this understanding and also talk about end goals, not just read through a list of solutions.
13. How would you make a product better?
Answer: This question is made for testing the product mangers creativity, quantitative objectiveness, critical thinking and strategy alignment process. This question can also take several forms in the present era.
For answering this question you should define the channels and drivers that are capturing the areas of improvement. Following are the three channels/drivers that are good indicators for gathering information for improving a product.
You should listen to what the customer has to say about the product.
Product Usage Analytics
Analytics that provide indicators of user interaction with the product which also helps in making the product more useful.
Business Strategy Alignment
Understanding the short term and long term strategic objectives of the business is a key driver to areas of improvement and addition of new features to a product which helps in making the product more useful.
Once you end up defining the primary drivers that direct the areas of improvement for the product, the next step is exercising the creativity and coming up with innovative use cases and solutions that align with the drivers. Creatively come up with new ideas that will be addressing the primary drivers in the areas of improvement. This may include refining existing features, adding new offerings, exploring several a-typical use cases, evaluating and prioritizing feature sets, brainstorming etc.
This is one of the most creative parts of the product manager’s role, but it must be directed by the parameters defined in Step 1.
Prune the use cases and solutions and then develop a feature set for the shortlisted solutions. This part involves critical thinking and also prioritization based on the primary drivers of the product.
Define metrics and product improvement goals over the defined time period for quantitatively measuring the performance and business alignment of the feature set. This is to ensure that you can measure the impact of a particular feature set is as intended and aligns with the overall product improvement drivers i.e. customer feedback, user interaction with product, business strategy alignment.
14. How do you prioritize new features within a product?
Answer: This question is made for testing the product manager strategy alignment and critical thinking. It can take up the several forms in the present era.
One must start by first getting a clear understanding of the business strategic vision and also the business OKRs which means Objectives and Key Results.
E.g. the business OKR might be to increase the subscription revenue within a product by 3% over the next 6 months.
Once you have become successful in getting a clear understanding of the OKRs, brainstorm with the project stakeholders to define initiatives that align with the OKRs. These initiatives might be feature sets or they might be mini products offerings themselves.
E.g. Facebook live feature within Facebook, or Face book marketplace.
Prioritize the project initiatives that align with the OKRs using some defined scoring methodology based on ROI.
To define the ROI scoring methodology first identify and define metrics around the positive impacts of the initiative e.g. increased user engagement percentage, compliance requirement, frequency of use etc.
Then identify and define the effort required to implement e.g. estimated person-day cost, leveraging existing platforms, reusing open source libraries, partnering with key strategic partners etc. Using this methodology of prioritization you will now have a clear quantitative basis of comparison between the various project initiatives which will allow you to effectively prioritize the project initiatives i.e. feature set or mini product.
15. How do you measure the success of a new product feature?
Answer: This question is made to see if the product manager can quantitatively assess and articulate the metrics which will define success of a product feature or a mini-product.
One must be able to identify and define the intended goals of the features. Identify the key OKRs and the goals of the product. One must be able to deeply understand the product feature set and also be able to assess the unintended impacts of the feature. One must be able to identify if the product consists of different feature sets that collectively and separately address a particular OKR.
Evaluate if the product meets the intended goals. Identify the product usage metrics e.g. frequency of use, level of adoption, level of engagement etc. and then correlate them with the goals and objectives metrics of the product.
E.g. Did the 20% increase in the level of engagement correlate to the intended 2% conversion ratio?
While the question that is listed above may be the typically presented during a product manager interview but there is great value in Product Managers asking themselves these questions periodically as they continue in developing the product roadmap in their current role?
16. Tell me about a time when you had to educate yourself on a new type of user/customer. What did you learn and how did you learn to make it possible?
Answer: I’m looking for thoughtfulness, strategy, and rigor in the answer. I want to see that understanding users is valued and that the candidate took complete ownership of that challenge. And that they are willing to walk through walls to understand those customers goals and needs. A red flag answer would be something like: “We have user personas so I just used those” or “We have a research department and they talk to the users.
17. What motivates you for work day to day? What motivates you when you think about the next 5 to 10 years?
Answer: This is an open-ended question that can provide many insights into a candidate. Do they have something driving them? Are they ambitious? Are they pragmatic? Are they thoughtful? How do they think about balancing the near vs. long term? Is their motivation in line with our motivation as a company? Do they structure their answer well? This isn’t the type of question you can study to answer well (like how many golf balls can you fit in a 747?).
I look for:
● Genuine answers
● Structured, non-rambling answers
● Examples of how their past experience influences them today
● Ambition balanced with pragmatism
● A sense of purpose
● A lifelong learner mentality
● A sense of ownership
● Alignment with the role
18. Walk me through a complicated new feature or product that they’ve recently worked on, taking me through the process from initial idea through launch.
Answer: The answer to this question can go in all sorts of interesting directions but I look for a number of different things in the candidate’s response. First, can the candidate explain a complicated subject in a structured way that’s easy to understand?
Effective communication is a key skill for a product manager. What part of the process do they focus on – the business objectives, getting feedback from customers, working with engineering, the launch, etc.?
This often reveals not only their experience but different product management responsibilities they really enjoy doing. Last, I look for how they talk about their role and accomplishments within the context of the team.
19. Tell me about a specific time you were working with a colleague or customer and they weren’t communicating the reason behind their request, just the end feature. What tactics did you employ to dig deeper to uncover the real meaning of their request? What was the eventual outcome?
Answer: This is an important question because being problem-focused (vs. solution-focused) is really important task for a Product Manager. I also like the phrasing of this question because it allows people to highlight transferable skills: this is an experience a lot of people can have and how they respond to it can say a lot about how they think through problems.
What we look for in an answer: We like to see that candidates are communicating with the requester to dig into the root of the challenge and how they came to make the request. It’s also great to hear that candidates are actively collaborating to come to a compromise or solution rather than rejecting a challenge’s original request. A good answer might sound like:
“I sat down with them and had a conversation with them through what was the challenge they were facing and why they wanted that specific request. We went through it and it turned out that what they really wanted wasn’t X, but to help them do Y. They didn’t think Z was possible so they asked for X because they figured we would say yes to that. After talking through it through, we settled on how something we were already working on could address this same need.”
20. Tell me about a hobby of yours. Give me a product idea that would fit in that area and explain how it could disrupt or assist the current products in the landscape.
Answer: I like this question because it helps me learn a lot about the person as well as how they think. One of the most important things I look for is a person’s ability to empathize with their user. If the candidate can truly put themselves in the shoes of the person they are serving and prioritize those needs, I’m pretty impressed.
Also, I always pay attention to how the candidate speaks about other people in general—whether stakeholders or teammates. This helps me assess leadership skills. Oftentimes, candidates can focus so much on the abstract problem that they forget to factor in the most challenging part—getting the rest of the team bought in.
21. Imagine I’m calling an engineer who you worked closely with at your last job. What three words or phrases would they use to describe what you’re like a product manager?
Answer: The redirection to asking colleagues makes them think more objectively about their strengths/weaknesses. The candidate almost always provides 3 positive qualities or strengths dedicated to understand customer needs.
I will then ask them to dive deeper into one of the 3 answers they’ve provided, usually focusing on the vaguest response.
Then I say to them, “Let’s pretend I’m calling that same colleague above. What is one area they’d say you could be better at or need improvement on?” I then ask them to explain that one a bit more with a real example.
22. Explain a time that you met opposition in your approach or prioritization to a project. How did you navigate through it?
Answer: Here I’m looking for a couple of things.
1) What tools/approaches do you leverage to help make your argument? and
2) How do you handle confrontation?
Do you use data to drive alignment with stakeholders or are you a storyteller who is a customer centric decision maker? Are you able to adapt your argument based on the stakeholder you’re engaging with, knowing what will help leading them for aligning with your prioritization?
This is one of the most common challenges a product manager faces and each situation may be different but I’m confident you have faced some version of this and can speak to it from your own experience. Have a story that didn’t turn out so hot in the end? Great! Use it. Tell us what didn’t go well about it and what you’d change if you could go back! Being vulnerable and sharing examples of failures you’ve learned from is almost a sure fire way to get a hiring manager bought in on you.
It tells us that you’re mature, self-reflective and can take constructive feedback well. All key characteristics we look for in product leaders. The gem in this question is really how you approach confrontation. As product leaders, we are constantly challenged by engineers, stakeholders and other product managers, as such; we have to be comfortable dealing with confrontation.
Crucial Conversations is my secret weapon and I highly encourage every single person to read it multiple times in their lives. I usually have a copy on my desk as a constant reminder. The ability to be comfortable navigating through an uncomfortable discussion not only builds relationships, helps to resolve issues quickly and promotes self-esteem and confidence, but it is a great reflection of one’s maturity. When an applicant can tackle a difficult conversation with differing opinions successfully, it instills confidence that they can self manage.
23. How do you empathize with your stakeholders?
Answer: In addition to being incessantly curious and comfortable dealing with uncomfortable situations, I want to make sure that my product leaders know how to empathize. Can you get to the root of a problem and really help craft a solution that will delight the end user?
A favorite quote of mine is Henry Ford’s, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Product managers are often presented with solutions and we have to take the time to peel back the onion layers to truly understand the issue.
I’ll almost always ask this question in an interview, although I’ll often word it differently with the hope of getting a story or two out of it:
This is a great opportunity to pull in some experience examples where you were able to really understand the need your end user or stakeholder was asking for and craft a thoughtful solution that met their needs more than their ask for faster horses. A great product manager will be the one who is able in speaking to the stakeholder and/or end users when working with their engineering teams because they are so fully aware of the issue, workflows, process, product, etc.
Take the time to shadow the end user, sit with the stakeholder and ask deeper investigating questions until you are so fully entrenched in the ask that you could answer questions the same way a stakeholder would. You’ll be surprised how often you find that the users have come up with workarounds or have completely overlooked alternative solutions because of their own biases based on their day to day interactions. This amount of empathy can also directly impact your ability to align with stakeholders because it builds a stronger relationship and proves your genuine interest in creating a better world for your end users.
24. Which two adjectives would you use to best describe your ideal work environment?
Answer: How you answer will help us understand what your values are. What matters most to you and what drives you? Do you need a collaborative environment? Do you like the autonomy to figure things out on your own? Does being surrounded by curious or ambitious people help push you to be a better version of yourself? So much can be pulled from these two simple words but there is also something to be said about how you answer.
Do you simply say the two words and leave it at that or do you elaborate to explain? Do you ask if we’d like you to explain your reasoning and create an opportunity to have further discussion? One of my favorite responses was when someone said the two words. Paused to say she could explain more if I’d like but would be curious what my answers would be. This indicated that she could follow direction, was comfortable with a bit of ambiguity, knew how to navigate through the awkwardness I had laid out for her and cared about connecting and building relationships!
Many organization have changed their preference towards products than custom application development or transformation programs in recent years. Due to ever increasing demand for speed to go to market and cost savings influencing business owners to adopt products than custom solutions. This trend is only going to increase in years to come. Hence, product manager jobs are going to be one of high demand jobs in next few years.
If you are aspiring for career in Product management, or already working as a product manager and looking for a job change, then we suggest you to go through above 27 frequently asked Product Manager Interview Questions . You will have great advantage in your next job interview.