Product managers wear many different hats within a company. And that means the interview questions they get will vary quite a bit!
This list of product management interview questions will help you get prepared and make a great impression.
1. What does a product manager do?
While it seems silly, interviewers ask this product manager interview question to ensure you fully understand the position and everything it entails. Product managers have complex jobs, and they want to know that you’re ready for the challenge.
Organizational needs can also differ from one employer to the next. A question like this allows the hiring manager to gauge what you bring and understand your past experiences.
The best way to answer this question is to discuss the position and your experience in this field. Review the job description and focus on the relevant skills you have. Highlight your qualifications and connect the dots to show you’re the right person for this job.
2. How would you improve our product?
Interviewers love to use this question to put you on the spot. It’s similar to the cliche “Sell me this pen” question you see in movies. Believe it or not, this question unveils a great deal about your potential.
Hiring managers want to learn about your thought processes and see you in action. A big part of this job is to create and improve products that meet the customers’ needs while serving the business objective. Asking you to suggest improvements to an existing product is a way for employers to see how you’d perform if given the opportunity.
It also shows whether or not you did your research. Always research the company and its products before your interview. Learn everything you can about what the company does and what types of products it develops.
Another reason they ask this question is to see your problem-solving logic in action. How you answer the question shows your understanding of the improvement-making process and that you understand how to evaluate situations.
Use that knowledge to ask questions and suggest practical improvements. Focus on asking about the larger market needs and customer expectations so you can make recommendations that align with the market and the business. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you should think of compelling improvements to prove you’re ready to sink into this job.
3. What’s your process for figuring out what customers want?
Part of being a product manager is having your ear on the ground of what customers want and need from a product. This position is the bridge that connects consumers to the company.
This product management interview question is designed to gain more insight into your approach to learning about customers. Interviewers want to know how you connect with real people and what processes you use to gather relevant information that benefits the company.
Ideally, you should discuss multiple methods you’ve employed. It’s best to bring up numerous approaches to show that you have well-rounded strategies that help you ascertain as much information as possible.
Provide real-world examples of how your methods helped you and your former employers succeed.
4. What sort of career trajectory do you see for yourself over the next 5 years?
This question is becoming more popular for interviews in any position. The days of having for-life employees are over, and companies understand that most candidates have a long-term career path they want to take.
This question aims to understand how this role fits your larger plans.
No company wants to bring on a product manager who views the job as a temporary stepping stone. They want people who can grow with the company and will stick around for longer than a few years.
Keep that in mind when answering. Avoid saying anything that implies you want to advance your career beyond this position in only a few short years. The best approach is to say that you want to gain experience, learn, and hone your skills as you continue to serve the company.
5. What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make as a product manager?
Product managers must be confident decision-makers. This job isn’t easy, and you sometimes have to make more complex decisions than a simple yes or no. Sometimes, your decisions will affect many people or change the entire direction of a product launch, resulting in big ramifications for the company.
When you answer this question, recognize the importance of analysis. You want to show the hiring manager that you understand the weight of decision-making in this position and don’t take it lightly. Emphasize your ability to research, analyze, and commit to the right decision for the company.
If you can provide real-world examples, do so. Show how your decision-making benefitted previous employers.
Here’s a question that can throw you for a loop. It’s a popular question interviewers ask, regardless of the position. What’s its goal? To understand your motivations and ensure that you’ve done your homework.
Companies want to hire people who understand the organization’s mission and want to actively contribute to its success.
When answering, you should bring facts about the organization you learned during your research. What initially attracted you to this position? What do you hope to accomplish?
Talk about the company and why you believe this is the job for you.
Being a product manager involves wearing many hats. This position is not about sitting in an office all day and doing the same thing for eight hours. Every day is different, and you’re constantly juggling several tasks.
Interviewers ask about your task prioritization to learn about your approach. They want you to understand how to manage your time and get everything done without sacrificing quality.
Sometimes, you must put some tasks on the back burner while prioritizing something more pressing. How do you decide to do that?
Your answer to this product management interview question should be well-detailed and thought-out. Discuss your approach to time management and emphasize your ability to distinguish high-priority tasks. Talk about how you choose what to focus on and why you use your methods.
8. Tell me about a time when you failed as a product manager and what you learned.
This question uncovers several details about your potential to fill this role successfully.
First, it allows you to own up to your mistakes. That’s a big deal in a position like this. Interviewers want to see that you’re not afraid to admit your faults and talk about missteps.
Secondly, the question shows off your critical thinking. When you discuss a failure, you’re analyzing the situation and figuring out where things went wrong. That’s a valuable trait to have in this line of work.
Choose a moment from your past that taught you valuable lessons. It’s best to avoid monumental mistakes that cost your former employer dearly. Instead, choose moments that helped you grow as a product manager.
Discuss the failure, what led to that experience, and what you learned. Lean into the lessons from that experience and how it helped you become a more successful product manager.
9. What’s your approach to building rapport with a development team when you’re new to a company?
If you’re offered the job, you’ll enter an established work environment with brand-new colleagues and a new team to lead. How do you plan on navigating the inherent challenges of that situation?
Product managers are leaders. They need to build rapport with their teams before they can lead them to success. However, making a bad first impression or not taking steps to get to know your team can lead to disaster, or an unpleasant working environment.
When answering this product management interview question, mention how you develop trust and build rapport. You can mention team-building exercises you like, talk about performance reviews to learn what everyone brings to the table, etc. The key is to use examples of real situations where you’ve been successful in building a strong working relationship with people.
10. Tell me about one of your favorite products and how you’d improve it.
Here’s a fun question that provides tons of insight to interviewers and hiring managers.
Everyone has products they love, and the people who work to develop them have a hard time looking past their work to find areas of improvement. When you answer this question, you show you can think critically despite your adoration for a particular product.
Your response will also highlight what you value most in a product. For example, recommending changes to usability indicates that you’re all about the customer experience.
Answer honestly and get as detailed as you can. The more comprehensive your response, the better your skills look to interviewers.
11. Tell me about a time when you had to shut down a product and how you approached it.
At some point, pretty much all products come to an end. For many companies, it’s the product manager’s job to make that decision and ensure a smooth transition when a product reaches the end of its life.
This product management interview question is about practicality, decision-making, and operational procedures. Interviewers want to hear about it all and learn how you approach end-of-life processes.
Talk about how you decide to shut down a product or service. Then, discuss how you prepare various departments for the change. Go over customer migration plans, timelines, end-of-life support, and all the key decisions you must make.
Be methodical and go over the steps you take to prove that you can effectively shut down products in a way that doesn’t harm your company.
12. What do you plan on doing in the first 90 days if you’re hired to work here?
Your first 90 days on the job are the most crucial. Interviewers want to learn about what you plan to do if they hire you as a product manager. Why? It shows what you value most and uncovers your work style.
How you answer this question is important! You don’t want to be too heavy-handed or hesitant to do your job. It’s a balancing act.
If you mention that you want to switch things around and push for product changes, it gives the impression that your ego governs your decision-making. Instead, focus on learning about people, processes, and technology, and how you’ll adjust.
The best answers to this question revolve around learning more about the company and its products while getting to know processes and people.
13. Share a time when you used data to get the buy-in from a stakeholder.
Data plays a big part in being a successful product manager. You’ll utilize data and metrics in this role to make critical decisions. Furthermore, you’ll use hard data to prove your decision-making to stakeholders.
With this question, your goal is to prove that you understand how to take advantage of data. Detail how you gather facts and build a strong case. Provide real-world examples whenever possible.
Talk about past experiences that required you to build presentations or create something based on data. Focus on your successful data-driven cases and how they created a positive outcome.
14. What do you think are the most important parts of a competitive analysis?
Competitive analysis is figuring out who your competition is, what they have to offer, and how your product can deliver something better to potential customers. Product managers often perform competitive analysis alongside consumer research to better gauge how their company’s product stands against the competition.
There are two parts of the competitive analysis process that you should discuss in your answer.
The first involves identifying your product’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This internal information helps your company develop the right positioning statement for various departments.
The second part is a direct feature-to-feature comparison where you identify how your product is similar to the competition’s. It’s about figuring out how to improve to bridge the gap and create a more appealing product for the masses.
15. How does the product management team facilitate sales enablement?
Sales enablement is about supporting sales and marketing teams, helping them succeed and close deals. Product managers should take time to educate the sales department on the product and provide various teams with all the support materials they need.
There are many ways to answer this product management interview question, but the best approach is to discuss what you would do to facilitate sales enablement. That can include steps you’ll take to get newly onboarded sales professionals up to speed, training sessions to teach teams about the product, support materials you would provide, etc.
16. Tell me the main differences between a project manager and a product manager.
Project managers and product managers have skin in the game but do very different things. Interviewers ask this question to ensure that you understand the clear differences between these roles and know your responsibilities.
The best way to answer is to boil everything down to what these two roles do.
A project manager is someone who oversees the day-to-day operations of a project. They keep things running smoothly, ensuring that the project comes to a close on time and within budget.
Meanwhile, a product manager is responsible for the success or failure of the product. They make important decisions, acting as one of the top-tier leaders. Product managers typically work alongside project managers to ensure that the day-to-day activities contribute to the bigger picture.
17. What do you like about being a product manager?
This interview question for product managers is a unique way to learn about your motivations.
Of course, someone who’s naturally passionate about the job they do is more inclined to succeed. If you care about this line of work, your motivations go beyond money. That’s what hiring managers love to hear.
When answering, talk about what you enjoy most about this job and how much it satisfies you. Discuss what facets you can’t wait to do and why you entered this field.
18. How do you define and identify market opportunities?
Knowing how to identify market opportunities can pave the way to great ideas. It’s about knowing how to stand out in a crowded market and finding ways to boost the company’s bottom line.
There are many ways to talk about market opportunities. To impress the interviewer and hiring manager, focus on hard data.
You can refer to the total addressable market that highlights the current and future value of potential opportunities worth pursuing. Another option is to discuss the compound annual growth rate (CAGR). This figure represents how quickly a market opportunity grows and builds a case for why your company should enter it.
19. How do you communicate your product strategy?
Good communication is a critical piece of the puzzle for product managers. It’s not enough to present a vision. While well-built cases can be convincing, the best way to discuss your strategies is with data-centric evidence.
Communicating is a key part of this role; you must show that you’re comfortable discussing your strategies. Stick to a systematic approach and proven communication tactics. That can include large public forums, data-driven presentations, and more.
20. Tell me about a successful product you managed.
Here’s where you get to show off your skills and achievements.
Hiring managers love to hear about success stories. It’s a chance to learn more about your skills and approaches while giving them a taste of what you might bring to the company.
Choose your biggest successes and talk about how you achieved positive results. Discuss your processes, what steps you took to make your vision a reality, and the amazing outcome that came after.
Stick to a specific example that you can walk the interview through using your STAR story.
21. How do you define and track how successful a product is?
Another aspect of being a product manager is defining and measuring success. You must know where your product stands to make decisions that further your company’s success.
There are many ways to define and track success. However, the best approach is to develop a strong set of key performance indicators you can monitor over the short and long term.
Good KPIs you can talk about include sales, revenue, onboarding times, customer retention, number of users, and more. What KPIs you use depends on the type of product you have.
Consider explaining how you choose the right KPIs to monitor and what you do to measure success post-launch.
22. How do you handle personnel issues or conflicts?
While your main job as a product manager revolves around the product or service you launch, you’ll also have to deal with team dynamics. Conflicts and personnel issues can arise in any job. Even teams that operate like well-oiled machines are not immune to drama.
It’s your job to keep the team running smoothly and tap into every person’s skills.
When you answer this product management interview question, talk about how you improve employee performance. Mention doing recurring one-on-one reviews, listening to your team’s needs, and actively helping them reach their full potential. Then, discuss what steps you take to resolve team conflicts.
Draw from a real-world experience and lay out a concrete plan you use to get your team back on track.
23. When do you know it’s time to cut back on certain features in order to meet a deadline?
Sometimes, you can’t include every feature without missing a deadline. That’s the nature of product development and management. As a product manager, you must know when to scale back and prioritize a successful launch.
With this question, interviewers aim to learn more about your processes. They want to know how you recognize issues early on and make those tough decisions to keep things on track.
There are many steps you can take before cutting back features. For example, you can reprioritize the roadmap, reduce the functionality and hold off on other features for post-launch updates, or do a soft launch.
Explain how you consider your options and what you do to make a decision that will benefit the company without negatively impacting a release.
These common interview questions for product managers cover a lot of surface area and allow hiring managers to get an idea of what you’ll bring to a company. So it’s important to be ready to answer each of them!
Work through this list a few times before your interview, and you’ll be able to stand out from the crowd.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.