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Interview Questions You Should and Shouldn't Ask Product Managers

2224 words Read time 10:48

Here are some interview questions related to product management that should and should not be asked in an interview. These questions are apt as interview questions related to Product Managers, both for an interviewer or interviewee. I would recommend you don't pick all of these, of course. But this should give you some insight when thinking through future interviews and act as a resource.

The ‘should ask’ question examples – for interviewer.

Introduction and Technical Background

These questions are aimed to get some information about the interviewee, their education and experience.

1. What makes you fit for the job?
2. Explain how your technical background is going to help in product management.
3. What’s a challenging aspect of engineering?
4. Tell us one reason why we should not hire you.
5. What aspect of product management do you find the least interesting?
6. Have you ever struggled to get your point across to the team?
7. Have you let down your team at any point in time?
8. Cite an incident where you influenced someone.
9. Are you detail-oriented or result-oriented?

Strategic

These questions help analyze the brainstorming and planning skills of the interviewee.

1. Sell me this broken pen.
2. Propose a strategy to promote Tinder in India.
3. How can you optimize collaboration between the design and marketing team?
4. What features can you add to our product?
5. What did you do to overcome a failed product feedback?
6. Propose a strategy to control market demand.
7. How would you design a chair?
8. How would you improve our product?
9. How will you adapt our product to a new market?
10. Can the company perform even better in the current scenario? How?
11. How would you determine the price of a fashion accessory?
12. How would you go about designing an app for children’s’ education?
Reasoning and Approach
These questions invoke thinking and urge the interviewee to express their opinions. 1. How do you explain Product Management to a 5-year old?
2. Is market fluctuation good or bad? Why?
3. What factors sales more - features or pricing? Why?
4. When can you term a product to be successful?
5. How much does the public bus transport cost the state?
6. Rank them in order of their importance - execution, creativity, strategy, growth.
7. What is one of the worst things about the market?
8. What would you do – invest high on high revenue short-term product or spend low on low revenue long-term product?
9. What makes the market?
10. How many footballs will fit into a bus?
11. Can you predict product failure? If yes, how?
12. What has more value – a successful product or a successful product after failure?
13. Is competition a necessity or a by-product?
14. Is our product going to fail in the future? If yes, how? If no, why?
15. Is consensus always a good thing?
16. What breaks a team?
17. I assign you a project and ask for an estimate, which I accept. Halfway through the project, you realize you’ve underestimated by a lot, and it will take three times as long as you told me. What do you do?
18. I assign you a project with a deadline that both you and I know is impossible, but I tell you our investors have demanded we meet the deadline or they will cut off our funding, and the company will close. What do you do?
19. How many gas station are there in the county?
20. Are you the smartest person you know?
21. How big is the room where we are seated right now?
22. Where do you see the industry in ten years?
23. What factors indicate a well-designed product?
24. What factors indicate a successful product?
25. A Boeing 747 is full of jelly beans; how will you empty it?
26. Have you used our product? If yes, what’s your opinion about the product? If no, why?
27. There was a technical problem in the office. Explain how will you go about to solve it.
28. You have 15 horses that run various speeds. You own a racetrack on which you can race the horses, and this track holds a maximum of 5 horses per race. If you have no stopwatch or other means of telling exactly how fast the horses are, how many races would you need to run between the horses to be sure which horses are first, second, and third fastest?
29. How are you going to deal with a team member who does not work and doesn’t get along with anyone?
30. If you had to recommend one of our products to a friend, which one would you choose and why?
31. How many times a day do the clock’s hands overlap?
32. What is the number of geysers sold per year in the UK?
33. You have the opportunity to create two products from scratch but are constrained by time and resources to build only one. How would you decide which product to build? General Information, Experience and Vision.
These questions are set to put the interviewee’s vision and experience to test while them as a part of the company.
1. Highlight the difference between leadership and management?
2. How ideation differs from conceptualization?
3. What factors contribute to a product to be successful?
4. What have you learned about ideation till now?
5. What is our source of revenue?
6. What trending topic has you on your toes right now?
7. Give a single account of your management skills
8. What was the last problem that you helped resolve?
9. Share some info about a project that you are proud to have worked on previously.
10. Cite your biggest product management mistake.
11. How do you decide what to build?
12. How do you say NO to people?
13. What would be the most effective method to involve customers in the development process?
14. How do you interact with customers/users?
15. Tell me about a project completed under your guidance.
16. What are the recent industry trends?
17. Tell us about one of the best ideas you had.
18. What’s the difference between leading and supervising?
19. What’s the most significant difference between engineering and product management?
20. What makes a customer buy a product?
21. How much do you rely on data to make key development decisions?
22. What contributes to the failure of a product during its development phase?
23. What is the least exciting aspect of product management and why?
24. How can you align your team to complete the task in hand within the deadline?
25. Where do you see the company in four years? Eight years?
26. Have you ever been let down by your team?
27. Suggest a new feature for Pinterest.

Case study

These questions have concentrated information and conditions to help the interviewer examine interviewee’s problem-solving skills when faced with specific limitations.

1. How can Rich Energy beat the likes of Red Bull and Monster Energy?
2. What does Amazon lack?
3. What made Facebook so popular?
4. What are the three long-term challenges facing our business?
5. What is the marketing strategy of Apple?
6. How can Snapchat expand in Asian countries?
7. How is the Kors-Versace deal going to benefit Versace?

Questions you 'should' ask — for interviewee.

General questions

These questions are aimed at the interviewer by the interviewee to know more about the company, its mission and functioning structure, and also the job at the offer.

1. What is the company’s mission?
2. Why is the position available?
3. What kind of role do you want me to play? The idea box? Guide? Supervisor?
4. How much does the company concentrate on team development?
5. How is this role responsible for the growth of the company?
6. What are your expectations of me for the first three to six months?
7. How do you handle the faults made by beginners?
8. How do you communicate with the customers?
9. What is the team structure within the management?
10. Where do you think the areas of opportunities lie?
11. How is the roadmap or strategy communicated to the teams within the organization?
12. What are the input factors that go into the development of product strategy?
13. What are the KPIs used to measure performance and success? Who sets them?
14. What are some of the challenges the company faced during the product development?
15. How does the company recognize success and measure it?
16. How did the company handle past failures?
17. How is the information communicated between the teams involved?
18. How does a product manager contribute to business development?
19. How much are the other groups involved in the development process?
20. What types of metrics are tracked and during which phases?
21. What methods and indicators you refer to get the information you need to make decisions?
22. Who are your biggest competitors?
23. How do your competitors affect your product decisions?
24. Elaborate the challenges faced when writing direction for engineers.
25. How do you prioritize features?

The ‘shouldn’t ask’ questions.

Don't ask questions about visual design or code language preferences

Visual design preferences of anyone bar the customer is pointless. So, including questions about visual choices in an interview should be the least of concerns. Instead focus on the creativity or brain-teasing questions to help gauge their thinking skills in the relevant field, i.e. product development.

Just like visual design preferences, knowing one’s coding language preference won’t benefit much. Every coding language comes with its pros and cons. However, one thing that remains common is the final result, i.e. user experience. Customers only care about the product, not its inner workings. So, avoid preference queries to have a compelling interview.

Don't ask generic, open-ended questions

Generic, open-ended questions talk about a broader sense. Although the point of an interview is to know the interviewee as a whole, putting out open-ended questions won’t aid in filtering out the strengths and weaknesses. Effective interviews are to the point, concentrating solely on a specific aspect and gauging it. Provide particular requirements and constraints to contain them within the So, questions like ‘What have you built?’ should be reworded as ‘Which of your project best highlights your managerial/technical ability?’

Avoid loaded questions and questions which blend into other disciplines

For example, a Product Manager doesn't have to be an amazing designer. That's the product designers role. But it should be said that the Product Manager knows how to interact with designers in an efficient way and knows how to produce results from that collaboration. Aim your questions at trying to understand that perspective. Also, realize that there's no one size fits all when it comes to the questions. The best thing you can do is look at experience levels which are unique, as they will be more enlightening than having someone who has been in a particular discipline for many years.

These were some of the questions that intend to demonstrate some aspects of a Product Manager interview in the perspective of both interviewers and interviewees.

Sources:

https://www.productplan.com/questions-product-manager-ask-interview/
http://irfanebrahim.com/2015/10/25/the-questions-you-should-ask-when-interviewing-for-product-manager-role/
https://www.productschool.com/blog/interview/the-ultimate-list-product-manager-interview-questions/
https://www.kennorton.com/essays/productmanager.html
https://blog.ellenchisa.com/an-intro-to-pm-interviewing-a7b2e730cfbc
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-brain-teasing-questions-to-ask-when-interviewing-it-professionals/

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