You have been working towards starting your product management career. Networking has finally paid off! You’ve landed a product manager interview call. You’ve got limited time and you want to make the most of it. How do you go about it?
You’ll need to know the different stages of the interview process, type of questions to expect and how to be well prepared for them.
In this blog we will focus on the type of questions that make up the different interviews. This is based on actual candidate interviews in technology companies like Google, Amazon, Salesforce, eBay, HP, Dell, to name a few.
Questions can be divided into five different categories.
The goal of these questions is to explore behaviour you have shown in the past. And if it aligns with what the company needs. To answer behavioural questions you need an good understanding of the company’s:
These are unique to every company. Hence what might be a good answer for one might not be so good for the other! You have to put in the time and effort to customise your answers for each.
Let’s look at behavioural questions asked during different stages of the interview process:
1.What is your biggest strength? Give an example of how you’ve used it in the past.
2.What is your biggest weakness? Give an example of how it has affected your work in the past.
3.Describe a time you disagreed with your manager. What was it about? What was the outcome?
4.Have you had disagreements with co-workers in the past? How did you handle it?
5.Describe a time you did something that was different from your regular work.
6.Tell us about a time when your idea was rejected? How did you take it?
7.Product Managers need to Say “No” to a lot of ideas. Tell me about a time when this created an issue. What did you do?
8.How have you used data to convince people to go a different route?
9.What values are important to you and why?
10.Tell me about a time you showed leadership skills in your work?
11.Do you excel as an individual contributor or team player? Share a professional experience with us to highlight it.
Situational questions explore how a candidate will behave in hypothetical situations. Your interviewer will give you a scenario and ask you how you will act in that situation and what you will do. These situations are not random. You are most likely to face them if you end up working for the company. Your past experience might not highlight the skills needed to handle them. The company wants to know your thought process and the skills that will surface when the hypothetical becomes a reality in the future.
Here are examples of some situational questions:
1.Your manager disagrees with you on the success metrics for a project. What will you do in this situation?
2.Your team is racing to meet the deadline of big product release. Everyone is on their nerves. In one of the product demo meetings you had an argument with a developer. There was disagreement on the acceptance criteria of a user story. What will you do?
3.You need to put one of your reportees on a performance improvement plan. How will you have the conversation?
4.One of your big product releases is delayed. Everyone is pointing fingers at each other. The developers are saying that the requirements were not clear. The designers are saying that user experience was changed without their consent. As a product manager you are saying that the developers and QA did not surface the issues fast enough. How will you manage this situation?
5.One of the sales executives has complained to your manager about you. They believe that you do not communicate well with peers. You do not give a clear response to ideas they submit. What will you do?
Take Home Assignment Questions
Product Managers spend a lot of time writing requirements, talking to customers and analysing feedback. The goal of the take home assignment is to find:
1.How you apply Product Management Concepts in your work
2.Use data to drive your analysis
3.Structure your research
4.Present your recommendation to stakeholders
Our Product management Interview format blog touches on this topic as well. We will expand and add more questions here:
Common Take Home Assignment Questions for Product Managers
1.Our customer are facing a problem with one of our products. We have identified the idea to solve the problem. How will you take this idea from start to finish?
2.We have three features competing for the same development resources. How will you prioritise which one to build first?
3.List down three ideas on how you can improve the listening experience on Spotify? Which one will you build? What will the first version of the feature look like?
4.You are the product manager for Amazon checkout page. Data tells you that the checkout completion rate has reduce in the past four weeks. What will you do?
5.Signup form completion rate is very low compared to industry standards. Come up with a plan to improve it.
Some companies will give you detailed information while others might keep it open-ended.
Product Management Take Home Assignment Example walks through an example solution in detail and also gives you a free downloadable template for you to get started.
Let’s make it clear. You do not need to have advanced technical knowledge to become a product manager. Previous coding experience or an engineering background is not something that’s required. Some products might need you to have technical knowledge but that’s more of an exception than a rule. For example- A B2B company which builds technical products for developers. You can argue that not having a technical background rids you of bias and makes for better products. But I’ve seen such companies prefer candidates with prior technical backgrounds. This is based on my personal experience. Yours might differ!
There is no reason to worry if you have a non-technical background. Having a basic understanding of the following is all you need:
1.What frontend technologies were your products built on?
2.What was used to build the backend of your site/software?
3.Which technology frameworks and languages did your engineering team use?
4.Did you work ON cloud or ON-Premise solutions?
5.What was the deployment process for your products?
6.What is an API? How will you describe it in layman terms
7.Does your company has a public API? Who owns the roadmap for it.
8.Which third party integrations were used in your platform?
The technical questions are often not direct. They come to the fore as part of the overall discussion.
A lot of other questions don’t fit in any of the above. So we have grouped them under “general” questions. These help surface:
1.Motivation behind your application
2.Your product management foundations.
3.Hard skills you have acquired over a period of time.
List of general product management questions:
1.Why did you apply for this role?
2.What do you think makes you a good fit?
3.Walk through your resume and highlight relevant experience.
4.What software development methodologies have you used in your work?
5.What is your opinion of agile development? Does it always work?
6.Are you familiar with Kanban?
7.Do you like working in a structured team that is process oriented? Or in a team that’s making decisions on the fly?
8.What does SCRUM mean to you?
9.How do you work with engineers?
10.How do you work with product designers?
11.Do you run stand-ups for your team? How are they? Do you see any scope of improvement in them
12.Have you managed product managers and designers?
13.Give an example of how you would take something from an idea stage to final release?
14.Which tools do you use to analyse data?
Hopefully this list will help you in your preparation and get you closer to your goal! Best of luck. Reach out to us if you have any questions.