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What are some interview questions for product managers?

The purpose of a job interview is to determine if a role is the right fit for a candidate. Of course, there is a general vetting process to determine if a candidate has the necessary skills, experience, and personality traits to thrive. But there are some specific questions you can expect to be asked if you apply for the role of a product manager.

Product managers set the strategy and roadmap for a product and they define feature requirements that meet customer demands. So, the required skills for product managers span from strategic to tactical. The best product managers also share certain personality traits. They are committed, curious, and passionate. Leadership skills are needed to inspire others around a shared vision.

If you are interviewing for a product management position at a high-growth or innovation-focused company, expect a tough interview process. The hiring manager will ask questions that cover a broad range of topics — from learning who you are to gauging your technical knowledge, business sense, and decision-making abilities.

This guide includes some of the most common questions that product managers are asked during interviews. But you should also be prepared to answer some more unusual questions that are intended to see how well you respond to unexpected scenarios.

General background

Most interviews start with some general questions. The purpose of these questions is for the interviewer to learn more about you and why you applied for the product management position.

Here are some potential questions you might encounter:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How did you hear about this role?
  • What interests you about this role?
  • What are you looking for in a new position?
  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What do you like most/least about your current job?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What are your career goals?

Product management skills and experience

The interviewer will want to understand how your past product management experience will translate into the new position. Expect to discuss common product management topics, such as setting strategy, creating product roadmaps, managing releases, gathering ideas, and defining features.

Prepare answers to the following questions so you can effectively describe your experience:

  • How would you explain product management to a stranger?
  • Tell me about the product(s) you own.
  • Who are the customers? How big is the customer base?
  • What type of customer research do you conduct and how often?
  • How do you develop product strategy?
  • What inputs do you use to build your roadmap?
  • How do you plan releases? What development methodology does your company follow?
  • How often do you launch new features?
  • Where do ideas for new features come from? How do you decide which ones to build?
  • Take me through how you manage a feature from conception to launch.
  • Tell me about the most successful product have managed. What made it so successful?
  • Describe one of your failures. Why do you think it failed? What would you do differently?
  • How do you know if a product launch is successful?
  • Can you share a lesson from your last product launch?

Leadership skills

Successful product managers must be skilled at leading a cross-functional team. This requires the ability to make decisions, influence other people, and unite teams (such as engineering, marketing, sales, and support) around a common vision and goals. Here are a few examples of interview questions that explore your leadership skills:

  • What types of people do you like to work with?
  • Tell me how you motivate other people?
  • What makes you really angry?
  • How frequently do you meet with cross-functional teams?
  • Tell me about a project that required you to influence people that did not report to you.
  • If I spoke to your coworkers, what is one word they would use to describe you?
  • Tell me about a time when something went wrong at work and you took control.
  • Have you ever had a disagreement with a teammate? What was the outcome?
  • How do you communicate with executive leadership?
  • Describe a time when you used data to make a decision.
  • How would you describe your leadership style?
  • Who do you respect most for their leadership ability and why?

Asking questions

At the end of the interview, you will often be asked, “What questions do you have for me?” This is your opportunity to demonstrate curiosity and gather insights — so you can determine if this is a job you really want.

Here are some questions you can ask to learn more about the company and the role you are applying for:

  • What is the strategic vision for this product?
  • How do you develop your product roadmap?
  • How does product management work with executive leadership?
  • What type of customer research do you conduct and how often?
  • What do your customers say they love most (and least) about the product?
  • How are releases managed?
  • How often are new features released?
  • What is the best thing about being a product manager here?
  • What is the hardest thing about being a product manager here?
  • How do you onboard new product managers?

Interview tips

Use this guide to help you answer some of the most common interview questions. But remember that no matter how well you prepare, you will likely encounter unexpected or unusual questions.

Whatever questions you receive, take time to think through your answer and, if needed, ask for clarification. Many questions do not have a right or wrong answer. The interviewer will want to see that you are thinking through the question in a logical way. And if you do not have an answer, ask if you can come back to the question later in the interview or describe how you would go about finding out the answer.

Best of luck in your interview.

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