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Product management is an exciting opportunity that requires a range of skills, and acing a product manager interview is your first step to getting this exciting job.
Product managers need to juggle different aspects of a product’s development and launch, and beyond. They need to maximize the company’s investment by balancing goals and cost, developing marketing strategies, and understanding the technology involved in development. They also focus on user experience, incorporating things like design and feedback.
All these elements are sure to come up in the product manager interview.
Product managers are indispensable to any company, which is why pm interview questions can be such a challenge.
Product managers follow the life of a product, and at times manage a large team. There are bound to be problems with any product, so interviewers will ask specific product manager questions to determine that you can minimize issues and maximize profit.
Brands rely on consumer experience, and a product manager’s attention to detail could support a popular product and bring in substantial income for their company. Interviewers will be selective, so it’s important to thoroughly prepare for your product manager interview.
Since product management requires different abilities, product manager interview questions will cover topics in more than one area. Here are some specific skills that a company will look for during the product manager interview.
Management skills will come up often in pm interview questions. A product manager has to manage the development, launch and maintenance of a product, as well as the entire team responsible for each step. Employers will look for someone who is good at planning, decision-making, and communicating, so give examples of your experience with those skills during the product manager interview.
A product manager is the head of a team of people, some of whom are on the development and technology side, some in marketing, and some in user experience. Leadership will definitely be a focus of some product manager questions, so take that opportunity to discuss any time you led a project or a team and emphasize your leadership skills.
In a product manager interview, interviewers will look for someone good at organizing and understanding information. Product managers receive feedback from multiple streams, like marketing and development, that they need to organize into meaningful information.
Chances are, you’ve used analytical skills daily to solve problems and can use professional examples in your product manager interview to demonstrate critical thinking. Describe how you gathered information and carefully considered different angles and approaches to the data.
Product managers might run into problems like malfunctioning technology, user complaints, inadequate budget, and staff issues. Managers, therefore, need to be very good at troubleshooting and solving issues quickly and effectively, and the pm interview questions will reflect that.
When you prepare for your product manager interview, think about times in your personal and professional life when you solved problems. It may have been an interpersonal issue, like a disgruntled customer. Maybe it was something simpler, like a last-minute change to a deadline or goal. In the product manager interview, give an example in detail and be sure to describe your critical thinking process and how you came to a solution.
Since product managers work with an entire team of people, communication skills will inevitably come up in the product manager interview. Soft skills like empathy and approachability are important, but you also need to communicate information effectively and directly, without causing confusion for your team.
In a product manager interview, you can discuss one or two times when your effective communication made a big difference at work. Unless you work alone, you likely need to send emails or speak to your coworkers regularly to get certain tasks done, and you can use this as examples to answer pm interview questions.
When a product is in development, circumstances change frequently. A product manager needs to be adaptable to cope with these changes and setbacks as they happen. Pm interview questions will focus on flexibility to see if you can adjust to a changing situation and excel in a product management role.
In a product manager interview, you can describe times when you encountered professional or personal setbacks and how you adjusted accordingly. Perhaps your current position has changed over time, and you’ve been able to keep up with new demands. Or maybe you had a goal that you later realized was unattainable. Describe how you coped with those changes in the product manager interview.
It’s hard to prepare for a product manager interview, since questions will likely cover a range of topics. Here are some examples of product manager interview questions and answers.
Q: What excites you most about product management?
General PM interview questions will be about universal product manager duties, skills and qualities. This question gets to the heart of why you’ve applied for the position and whether you would be a good fit.
Sample Answer: Product management excites me because I enjoy being in a leadership position, especially on big projects. Product management gives me an opportunity to lead an entire team towards a shared vision, and I think that can be personally very rewarding.
Here are some other examples of general pm interview questions:
Q: How will you approach a technical problem you don’t understand?
Technical pm interview questions are designed to explore your technical skills as it relates to their product. In this part of the product manager interview, an interviewer will be looking to hear about your technical background. This question is meant to judge how you would respond to problems and whether you would consult other opinions.
Sample Answer: The first step would be to consult with the engineering and design team, to get clear about the gaps in my knowledge. The technical team lead would be a good person to seek advice from, and I would work closely with them to reach a meaningful solution.
Here are some more technical product manager interview questions:
Q: How do you decide between two different consumer products?
Product sense interview questions focus on your awareness of the market, or the user needs for this specific product. This pm interview question might come up to assess how well you know and relate to your target consumers. To prepare for this product manager interview question, think about your own personal needs whenever you are purchasing a new product.
Sample Answer: The first thing I look at is the price, and I want to know if it meets or exceeds my budget. But I also look carefully at product reviews. I find reviews to be more and more valuable as I make decisions about what to buy for myself or my family. I feel I can trust other consumers about their experience.
Here are four more examples of product sense interview questions:
Q: How would you decide who to market this product to?
These product manager interview questions might be specific to the product and company, or they could be used to get a general sense of your critical thinking skills. This pm interview question is used to judge whether you have thought about the target user’s needs and whether you have strong market research strategies.
Sample Answer: I would use market analysis to identify trends and demographics. But the first thing I would look at is the consumers who use our existing products, as I’d want to clarify how we are already meeting their needs and values. I would also research the competition, not only to see what they are providing but also to identify gaps in the market.
Here are a few more strategy questions that could come up in a product manager interview:
Q: How do you decide which tasks to prioritize at work?
Associate product manager interview questions will likely be more focused on the technical side of product management and knowledge about product development cycles. When you prepare for these types of pm interview questions, focus on specific technical skills you have to offer. This particular interview question for associate PMs is about your organization and time management skills.
Sample Answer: I start by arranging my daily tasks by deadlines, and the assignments with earlier dates get the most attention. I’m accustomed to changing priorities so I always leave myself extra time in the day to make room for urgent goals or problems. If I think a particular task will take longer than expected, I communicate with my manager about my projections as I work.
Here are some further examples of associate product manager interview questions:
Q: What will you do to keep your team on schedule?
Senior product manager interview questions will be more specific about your leadership, organization, and communication skills. This pm interview question will help the interviewer gauge your ability to organize your team and stick to deadlines.
Sample Answer: I would use weekly meetings to coordinate among the different team leads and decide which tasks should take priority. Communication is the most important part, and I’d want my leads to prepare a daily list of tasks for their team. I’ve used software in the past to keep everyone on track with deadline alerts.
Here are four more examples of senior product manager interview questions.
At the end of a product manager interview, it is commonplace for the interviewer to ask if you have any questions for them. Showing up to the interview with some well-prepared questions is key to cracking the product manager interview, since it shows you’ve done research and are thinking critically about this position. These questions should be something that didn’t come up in the product manager interview or in your research of the company.
3 examples of questions to ask in a product manager interview:
Product managers have a variety of skills and responsibilities, and product manager interview questions will likely cover a wide range. The best way to excel in a product manager interview is preparation.
Think about how you can demonstrate skills like leadership, communication, and flexibility in your product manager interview. Prepare some concrete examples of times you’ve used your skills and finish your pm interview with some questions for the interviewer.
Although product manager interview questions are meant to be challenging, the reward of managing a valuable product is worth the time and preparation it takes to outdo the interview.
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--- Originally written by Tiffany Quinn ---