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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. First, you’ll want to research the company and have a thorough understanding of its product/service. Employers may ask how you would improve their products. Next, you should 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 generated, the impact of your product, and make sure to include other metrics of success. 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.

List of Product Manager Interview Questions: Product Management-Related 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.

Interviewers may ask a candidate any of the following PM interview questions:

How would you explain product management to a stranger?

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 include 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.

How do you monitor performance and success?

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, or 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.

Here are some more product management-related interview questions: 

  • What was your most successful product as Product Manager?
  • What type of customer research do you conduct and how often?
  • How do you develop product strategy?
  • Take me through how you manage product features from conception to launch.
  • Tell me about the most successful product you have managed. What made it so successful?
  • How do you know if a product launch is successful?
  • How do you know if a product is well designed?
  • How would you redesign our product?
  • How would you come up with a product vision?
  • How do you manage a new product launch? What tactics, strategies and processes do you use?
  • How did you interact with your users in your previous job?
  • How would you fit new features into an existing product roadmap?
  • What was your process for gathering feedback from users? How did you use this feedback to shape your product roadmap and timeline?
  • How do you know if your users are satisfied with your product?
  • What do you believe are the qualities of a great Product Manager?

List of Product Manager Interview Questions: Technical Skills 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.

A few examples of questions interviewers may ask include:

What is the key to a good user interface?

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, showcasing 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).

What technical skills do you have that set you apart from other Product Managers?

Different companies require different levels of technical know-how from their PMs – it’s often said that Google, for instance, prefers Product Managers who can 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.

  • How do you define market opportunity in a business plan?
  • What inputs do you use to build your product roadmap?
  • What is a product you currently use every day? How would you improve it?
  • Talk me through how you managed the roadmap for a previous product.
  • Explain machine learning.
  • Explain recursion.
  • Can you provide an example where a technical solution you or your team designed became a commercial product?
  • What are the important elements of a competitive analysis?
  • What is the difference between C++ and Java?

List of Product Manager Interview Questions: Personal Questions

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:

Tell us about a product idea of yours that didn’t pan out. Where did you go wrong, and what would you do differently?

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.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What aspects of the product management process do you find the most exciting?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why do you want to work at XYZ Company?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What do you need from your manager to be successful in this role?
  • What does success as Product Manager look like to you?
  • What is one of the best ideas you’ve ever had?
  • What is one of the worst ideas you’ve ever had?
  • What interests you about this role?
  • What is your superpower as a Product Manager?

List of Product Manager Interview Questions: Leadership and Communication

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. It’s a crucial intangible skill for Product Managers to get all of those different people 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:

Tell me about a project that required you to influence people that did not report to you.

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.

  • Tell me about a project that required you to influence people that did not report to 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 would you describe your leadership style?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to build or motivate a team.
  • How do you communicate your product strategy?
  • How would you communicate your roadmap to another team?
  • Is consensus always a good thing?
  • What is the best way to work with customers and users?
  • What’s the difference between leadership and management?
  • How do you gain credibility from the development/engineering teams as a new Product Manager?

List of Product Manager Interview Questions: Behavioral

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.

Examples of behavioral interview questions are:

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

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.

Here are some additional examples of behavioral interview questions:

  • Can you describe a scenario as a Product Manager where you failed? What did you learn from it?
  • Tell me about a mistake you made and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a time you used data to make a decision.
  • Tell me about a time where you made a gut decision without the use of data.
  • Describe a scenario that required you to say no to an idea or project.
  • Tell me about the most challenging problem you’ve faced as a Product Manager.
  • Tell me about a time where you had to motivate your team.
  • Tell me about a time you had conflict with a team member or a manager.
  • Tell me about a time when you made a difficult decision with input from many different sources (customers, stakeholders, team members). What was the situation and how did you arrive at your decision?
  • Describe the last time you had to make a challenging decision when prioritizing.

List of Product Manager Interview Questions From Top Companies (Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft)

Examples of Product Manager interview questions that some of the top tech companies ask candidates include:

  • Pick a product that you used this morning and tell me why you like it.
  • Pick a product you hate and tell me how you would improve it.
  • Which tech trend are you following at the moment?
  • What is your take on leadership?
  • Tell me about a time you had a difficult problem to solve.
  • Tell me about an unpopular decision you made on the job.
  • Tell me about your greatest innovation.
  • What is something that you learned from a failure?
  • How would you improve X product?
  • How would you design X product for Y people?
  • Tell me about a competitive move by a company in the past six months and what you think about it.
  • Explain the concept of “protocol” to a four-year-old child using an ice cream store as an analogy.
  • Describe a typical page load time distribution on desktop. What about on mobile?
  • Pick an app or product. How would you improve it?
  • Take any production chain. How would you optimize the production process?
  • How would you motivate users to use an app every single day for a month?