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How to prepare for a product manager interview

You landed a product manager interview. Congratulations. All your efforts to apply and craft a winning resume have brought you closer to getting a new role, which is no simple feat. Now, it is on to the next phase — preparing for the interview itself.

No two product management roles are the same — neither are the interviews. It can be difficult to know exactly what to expect. Companies tend to approach individual product management interviews differently depending on their strategy, industry, company size, culture, chosen methodologies, and product type. One thing you can probably count on is for the process to be challenging and last several rounds.

While interview styles vary, all companies are searching for curious and dedicated people to hire. When you can let those qualities shine — bolstered by your knowledge, experience, and preparation — you will feel confident in doing your best in each conversation.

This guide includes expert tips to help you prepare for your next product manager interview, plus free templates for getting started right away. Use the job interview template in Aha! software to take notes and practice your answers to common product manager interview questions as you read through the tips below.

Prepare with the product manager job interview template — try it free.

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And remember — an interview goes two ways. It is as much about evaluating the company, team, and position as it is about showing you are the right person for the job. This is your opportunity to learn all you need, so you can decide whether or not to accept an offer.

You can jump ahead to each tip here:

  1. Research deeply

  2. Align your experience

  3. Look inward

  4. Get familiar with typical questions

  5. Prep your questions for the interviewer

  6. Practice with mock interviews

  7. Get out your notebook

  8. Prep a whiteboard

  9. Find the right mindset

  10. Keep track of each interview

Plus, download the product manager interview tracker template.

10 product manager interview tips

Before diving into preparations, it is worth noting the two main types of interviews you may encounter — behavioral and case-style. Behavioral are the most common while case interviews are mainly used by large enterprises for early-round screening. Here are some quick definitions:

Behavioral interviews

Product manager interview questions often center on your background, prior job experience, and how you have used your skills to succeed in the past.

Case-style interviews

These questions test your creative thinking and problem solving by asking how you would approach a specific, often imaginary, scenario.

Both types have their benefits. But behavioral interviews are often given more weight because they draw from real-world experience. For example, we prefer to conduct behavioral interviews for product roles at Aha! — we believe past performance is an excellent indicator of future behavior. We also find that behavioral questions keep conversations grounded in real examples rather than hypotheticals.

The tips in this guide are geared primarily towards behavioral interviews. However, many of them apply broadly and should help you study for case-style interviews, too.

Now, let's start prepping. Your product manager interview is scheduled on the calendar — here is how to get ready:

1. Research deeply

Start by researching the company, their product or portfolio, and the people you will be speaking to during the interview process. Seek to understand the problems they want to solve.

As you collect nuggets of information, pay attention to what you discover about their customers and competitors, and even which technologies they use to build and support their products. This can help frame your responses to interview questions.

For example, knowing whether their product is B2B or B2C can help you give a more relevant response on developing product strategy — because the way organizations serve these markets will differ. Some companies might even ask how you would improve their products (similar to a miniature case-style interview). Research is the surest way to find the biggest hints.

The company website, blog, and support channels are great places to look for this kind of information. You can also try reading through the organization's most recent go-to-market launches or sign up for a free trial for a first-hand look at what they offer.

This image shows the Aha! knowledge base: a collection of support articles for users of Aha! software.

2. Align your experience

Closely examine the job description of the role you applied for — then consider which of your skills and experiences are the most pertinent. That way you can anticipate the questions you may be asked and have ideas ready to go.

This exercise is especially valuable if you are breaking into entry-level product management roles or transitioning from another discipline. For example, if you are early in your career, you may want to highlight product-related coursework or certifications. Or if you are an engineer making a career switch, talk about how your unique perspective of development will help you make thoughtful decisions as a product manager.

Bonus tip — quantifiable results and accomplishments are always more impactful than a laundry list of projects you worked on.

Related: OKR templates

3. Look inward

Once you have thoroughly researched the company and product manager role, it is good to take a pause for introspection. Most interviewers will ask some variation of the same question: "Why do you want to work here?"

A vague reply about "seeking new opportunities" is unlikely to inspire. And interviewers certainly do not want to hear your grudges against past employers. Rather, this is a moment to demonstrate your values. Think of your goals for the role and convey them with passion. Delve into what you hope to learn. Product management is demanding by nature and requires boldness to succeed — you want to demonstrate that you are invested from the start.

Looking inward can also help you clarify the type of company you want to work for — so you know what to ask and listen for during your interview. Then you can find out if the opportunity truly aligns with your interests.

Related: The simple interview question you’re getting wrong

4. Get familiar with typical questions

Product manager interview questions vary but tend to cover similar themes like your general background, past experience, and cross-functional leadership skills. Our job interview template is a simple way to get familiar with these topics — it includes 45 practice questions and space to write out responses.

You can also try different product manager interview question frameworks to help formulate well-rounded answers:

DIGS

  • Dramatize the situation — emphasize the compelling details and craft a narrative.

  • Indicate the alternatives — explain how you arrived at the solution you chose.

  • Go through what you did — describe your efforts in detail.

  • Summarize your impact — show how your solution provided value to customers or the business.

Learn more about DIGS.

Rule of Threes

Offer examples, stories, and other responses in lists of three to make them more memorable and engaging.

STAR

  • Situation — describe the context.

  • Task explain your responsibility in the situation.

  • Action walk through your approach to solving the challenge.

  • Result share the outcomes or results of your actions.

5. Prep your questions for the interviewer

As a product manager, it will be your job to get fully immersed in the company strategy and lead the product team to greatness. You want to ensure that the organization and product itself are both things you feel driven to support.

Interviews are bidirectional. Your interview is a chance to get a glimpse of how the product development team works and if they truly uphold their values. Come with questions to ask your interviewers about leadership, process, and what it is really like to work there. Their responses can clue you in to whether there is mutual alignment.

As a plus, asking thoughtful questions like this demonstrates your curiosity — a core trait of excellent product managers.

Related: How to determine during your interview if a company lives their values

6. Practice with mock interviews

What works on paper does not always hold up when spoken aloud. It is always a good idea to practice your responses verbally — ideally with another person.

Try reaching out to product builders in your network. Ask if they would be willing to do a mock interview with you. More than likely, you will find folks who are happy to help and share their expertise. Welcome any feedback to help you improve.

7. Get out your notebook

Keep track of your thoughts — before, during, and after your interview. In addition to writing out answers to practice questions, it is smart to have a notebook handy while interviewing so you can:

  • Jot down the question being asked and provide an on-topic response.

  • Document any details the interviewer shares about the role, team, and product to review later.

  • Remember follow-up information so you know what to expect if you move forward.

A traditional paper notebook can help in a pinch. But if you are in the middle of multiple interview processes with several different companies, it is worth trying a digital notebook. That way everything is easily searchable and organized in one place.

8. Prep a whiteboard

During a product manager interview, you may be asked to work through a problem or exercise. If you have the opportunity to employ a visual aid like a whiteboard — take it.

Digital whiteboard diagrams can help you articulate abstract concepts in a way that others can clearly understand. Using an interactive tool like this can also highlight your creativity, critical thinking, and ideation — while making your responses more engaging for the interviewer.

Depending on the tool you use, some whiteboard templates can even aid in demonstrating your knowledge of product management concepts. For example, you could use a 2x2 matrix template to show how you might prioritize features to build. Guided templates can also help you be more purposeful in what you cover, so you can avoid trailing off into tangents.

Related: Explore product management whiteboard templates


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9. Find the right mindset

Breathe, meditate, hydrate. Explore ways to stay calm and confident throughout your interview. Mentally prepare that you might not ace every question. (And remember — that is okay.)

Product managers are no strangers to complex challenges. Your disposition alone can help you in landing the role. By showing that you can remain focused and collected in the face of adversity, you signal to the interviewer that you can handle the weighty responsibilities of the role.

Bonus tip — you do not need to respond to every question right away. It is always acceptable to say, "That is an interesting question, can you give me a moment to think through my answer?" before you start talking. Most interviewers would much rather hear a thoughtful response than the very first idea that comes to mind.

Related: Wanted: product manager with superb listening skills

10. Keep track of each interview

Thousands of product manager jobs are available, and the number grows every year. Opportunities abound — you may go through multiple interviews with many individuals before finding an organization that aligns well with your needs, interests, and values.

As you move through this process, keep track of interview dates and times, interviewer names and contact information, as well as the status of each interview. You can also note the specific questions you have for each interviewer — plus ideas for improvement when interviews do not go as well as you hoped. Download the free interview tracker Excel template below to get started.

Product manager interview tracker template

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With these tips in mind, you will be equipped to tackle any product manager interview with poise and courage. Embrace your unique set of talents and let them shine. Best of luck.

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