How to become a product manager (2022 guide)

Product Manager Interview Questions

BrainStation’s Product Manager career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative career in product management. Find out the most common interview questions for product management jobs.

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In order to ace a Product Manager interview, you need to be prepared for a range of interview questions. Although the hiring process will be different from one company to the next, you can expect that Hiring Managers will be looking to understand who you are as a candidate, your experience as a Product Manager, and what you can bring to their team.

You want to make sure that you are the right fit for the role, so there are a few steps you can take to get ready for your Product Manager interview process.

  • Research the company and have a thorough understanding of its product/service. Employers may ask how you would improve their products.
  • Review the results of your past work. Consider your accomplishments as a Product Manager and make notes about how many people used your product, the revenue you

You will be asked about your past experience, and employers will be eager to learn about the impact of your work.

The best way to prepare for your Product Manager interview is to practice, practice, practice.

Create an action plan and ask a friend or peer to do a mock interview with you and go over potential questions.

If possible, find an experienced Product Manager to go over interview questions with you. This will set you up for success, and help you prepare answers, no matter the type of question.

To help you with your interview preparation, we have compiled a list of questions you may encounter in Product Manager interviews, as well as some questions and answers to help you stand out as a product management candidate.

Common Skills-Based Product Manager Interview Questions

Often referred to as a Mini-CEO, Product Managers are responsible for a wide variety of tasks, from understanding users to coordinating teams. To see whether you have the necessary experience for the role, a Hiring Manager will ask questions about your work and your understanding of product management practices.

Since product management sits at the intersection of business, technology, and design, questions in this category should be viewed as an opportunity for a PM to show a holistic understanding of their job and how their work contributes to companies’ overall goals.

Here are two examples of skills-based Product Manager interview questions and how to answer them:

Question: Pretend you’re talking to a stranger. How would you explain product management?

Answer: Product Managers make strategic, creative, and data-driven product decisions, conducting user research and market analysis to help lead a product team to create unique and attractive products that meet customers’ needs and ultimately help a company meet its business goals.

In addition to supplying a simply worded explanation of what product management is, it’s also worth treating this similar to strategy questions and including a bit more of your philosophy on the value that a product management team can bring by carefully steering products from the ideation and product design phase through launch.

Question: Please explain your approach to monitoring performance and success?

Answer: Product questions like this one should be looked at as an opportunity both to show the process you use for evaluating the success of your products, as well as a chance to brag about the success of some of your past products.

Talk about how you define relevant KPIs for each product and project you work on, then carefully monitor them whether you’re evaluating based on:

  • The number of users
  • Revenue
  • Funnel
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Testing results

In your interviews, you should also mention the analytics tools, user research strategies, and other tactics you employ to build an understanding of how your products are being received and used.

Emphasize your attention to detail and adaptability in adjusting on the fly to boost lagging performance, as well as your dedication to data-driven decision-making.

Additional Skills-Based Product Management-Interview Questions:

What was your most successful product as Product Manager?
How do you conduct user research? How often do you conduct research?
What’s your approach to develop product strategy?
From conception to launch, explain your approach for managing product features.
What makes a successful product launch?
What criteria do you use to evaluate if a product is well-designed?
Take one of our products. How would you redesign that product?
Where do you find inspiration for a product vision?
What’s your approach to a new product launch? What techniques, strategies and processes do you use for a product launch?
In your last job, how did you interact with your users?
How do you integrate new features into an existing product roadmap?
How do you approach gathering feedback from users? How does that feedback shape your product roadmap and timeline?
What’s your approach for evaluating if users are satisfied with your product?
What are the qualities of a great Product Manager?

Common Technical Product Manager Interview Questions

Product Managers will need to understand technical concepts and translate them to non-technical audiences. You may already know how to communicate these concepts to someone on your team, but how would you explain something technical to someone else?

The purpose of this type of interview question is to assess your product management knowledge and how well you can communicate your understanding.

Here are two examples of technical Product Manager interview questions and how to answer them:

Question: Explain the key to a good user interface.

Answer: Simplicity and functionality are both crucial to a good user interface. They should be intuitive to use and navigate, with a consistent look and feel.

This question type could be a good opportunity for you to bring in a real-life example or two.

Try showcase a product that you think has a particularly attractive and functional interface (you could even consider showing your own work here) and another that you think doesn’t work (along with an idea or two to improve it).

Question: Do you have any technical skills that set you apart from other Product Managers?

Answer: Different companies require different levels of technical know-how from their PMs – it’s often said that Google, for instance, prefers Product Managers who have learned to code like a Software Engineer.

Before your interview, jot down all the programming languages you feel you’ve mastered, along with other areas of technical strength. Also, keep in mind that your interviewer might not come from a technical background, so be prepared to provide a layman’s translation for how those skills could bring value in a Product Manager job role.

Additional Technical Product Manager Interview Questions

How do you define market opportunity in a business plan?
To build your product roadmap, what inputs do you use?
What is a product you can’t live without? How would you improve it?
Please explain how you managed the roadmap for a product in the past.
Define machine learning.
Define recursion.
Has a technical solution designed by you or your team ever become a commercial product?
What are the important elements of a competitive analysis?
Explain the difference between C++ and Java.
Have you attained a product management certification?

Common Personal Product Manager Interview Questions: Personal

During the interview, employers are assessing how well a candidate would fit in with their company. The purpose behind these personal questions is for an employer to get to know a candidate better and learn about their work habits, passions, and interests.

This question type is an opportunity to show your passion for the company you’re applying for while also giving some insight into who you are as a person and why you’ve chosen the PM career path.

Personal questions that interviewers may ask a Product Manager include:

Question: Think back to a product idea of yours that didn’t come out as intended. Where did you go wrong, and what would you do differently?

Answer: As a Product Manager, you need to be a critical thinker. You have to know how to monitor performance and pivot on a dime, how to test and evaluate your design ideas, and how to conduct a thorough and unbiased post-mortem.

This question is an opportunity to show that you are capable of handling criticism and taking a clear-eyed critical look at your own work. It’s also a chance to show that you take ownership of your mistakes and don’t shift the blame to others. But you still want to make sure the project you choose to discuss wasn’t a total disaster.

Instead, provide an example of when you realized through some form of analytic reflection that your initial concept wouldn’t work and you made changes on the fly to fix it.

Additional Personal Product Manager Interview Questions

Tell us about yourself.
What aspects of the product management process excite you?
Why should we hire you?
Why do you want to work at our company?
What do you do for fun?
Where do you see your career in five years?
To be successful in a product management role, what do you need from your manager?
As a Product Manager, how do you define success?
Please tell us about the best idea you’ve ever had as a Product Manager? How about the worst?
What interests you about a product management role?
What is your top quality as a Product Manager?

Common Situational Product Manager Interview Questions

Leadership and communication are two essential skills for all Product Managers.

Most PMs sit at the head of design and development teams, and all Product Managers have to collaborate with a diverse roster of stakeholders with different job responsibilities, specialties, and goals.

Leadership and communication are crucial intangible skills for Product Managers to get different teams working together in an organized, purposeful goal toward a common purpose.

To get a sense of whether you have these soft skills, questions to ask for interviewers include:

Question: Do you recall working on a project that required you to influence people that did not report to you?

Answer: It’s pretty commonplace for PMs to work with more senior employees, from Program Manager categories right up to CEOs and top company leadership.

It’s a priority for any PM to know how to achieve stakeholder alignment and not only get engineers and development teams on the same page, but also gather buy-in from senior business leadership.

Specific examples will always be a good idea when answering a question like this. Feel free to boast a little about your experience working alongside top-level decision-makers!

Try to provide concrete strategies for how you influence them, whether it’s creating attractive data visualizations to illustrate your point, delving into user research, or other tactics.

Additional Situational Product Manager Interview Questions

Please recall a situation when a project went wrong. How did you regain control?
Please recall a situation in which you disagreed with a teammate. How did you resolve the conflict?
What is your leadership style or philosophy?
Do you have any experience trying to build or motivate a team?
What’s your approach to communicate your product strategy?
How do you communicate and gain buy-in on your roadmap from other team members?
Is consensus always your goal?
What’s your approach to dealing with customers and users?
Is there a difference between leadership and management?
As a new Product Manager, how do you establish yourself with development/engineering teams?

Common Behavioral Product Manager Interview Questions

The purpose behind behavioral questions is to see how job candidates handled past situations, since similar situations may arise in the future.

For this type of Product Manager interview questions, use a specific example, explain the steps you took, and share the outcome and results.

When asked for examples of conflict with more senior employees, be honest but make sure you ultimately speak in only a positive way about any colleagues, current or ex. Interviewers will be on the lookout for any signs of a difficult or stubborn personality, and any red flags here could be disqualifying.

Here is an example of a behavioral interview question for a Product Manager job:

Question: Describe a scenario that required you to say no to an idea or project.

Answer: Product Managers guide products from ideation to launch, and that means they’re involved in a great number of decisions – and brainstorming sessions. So if you’ve been in the job for any amount of time, you’ll likely have a long list of suggestions, concepts, and even projects that you’ve had to shoot down as being ineffective, unrealistic, or unoriginal.

The key in answering this question in an interview, however, is showing that you can be tactful and encouraging even in saying no. Show that you can be flexible and open-minded.

Additional Behavioral Product Manager Interview Questions

Have you ever failed as a Product Manager? What happened and what did you take away from the situation?
Please describe a situation in which you made a mistake. How did you handle it?
Please describe a time when making data-driven decisions helped you find success?
Do you recall a time you made a decision without the use of data?
Please try to recall a situation in which you had to say no to an idea or project.
What’s the most challenging problem you’ve faced as a Product Manager?
How do you motivate your team?
Have you ever experienced a conflict with a manager or team member?
Have you ever had to make a difficult decision while considering the input from many different sources (customers, stakeholders, team members). How did you make your decision?
How do you make difficult decisions around determining your priorities?

Advanced Product Manager Interview Questions

Examples of Product Manager interview questions that some of the top tech companies (including Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft) ask candidates include:

Think of a product you used today. What did you like about using it? What would you change?
Think of a product you hate to use. How would you improve it?
Please give an example of a tech trend to watch.
Give us your view on leadership. What makes a strong leader?
Think back to a time when you had a difficult problem to solve. How did you tackle it?
Have you ever made an unpopular decision on the job? What happened?
What innovation are you most proud of?
Think back to an example of a professional failure. What did you learn?
Explain your approach for improving X product?
Explain your approach to design X product for Y people?
Think of a real-world example of a competitive move a company has made recently. Give us your opinion on the move.
Define the concept of “protocol.”
What is typical page load time distribution on desktop, and how does it compare to mobile?
Choose any digital app or product. What would you do to improve it?
What’s your approach to optimizing the production process on a production chain?
What’s your approach to motivating users to return to use an app every single day?