15 Product Manager Interview Questions to Help You Prepare

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn common questions employers use to identify the skills of candidates. To ace the interview, prepare for these 15 product manager interview questions.

[Featured image] A male, wearing a brown sweater and glasses, is preparing for an interview as a product manager.

Interviews give product managers the opportunity to highlight their skills, talent, and experience to prospective employers. Critical to the creation, execution, and evaluation of new or improved products or features, product managers are responsible for developing new ideas, creating a strategy for product manufacturing, and determining if improvements can be made. Unsurprisingly, then, employers use interviews to better understand how product managers would perform critical job functions, which will greatly impact their future business. Hiring managers will likely want to see that you're a strategic, skilled, and creative leader with a passion for helping customers and maneuvering challenging situations. 

In this article, you'll review 15 common product manager interview questions and explore strategies for answering each one. Whether you're just entering the field or are a many year veteran of the industry, practicing these questions will help you to confidently enter your next interview.

1. What do you think is the main role of a product manager?

Employers ask this question to understand how you see the role, in order to identify whether your vision of the position aligns with their own. As a result, employers use this as a way of gauging how realistic your expectations are – and to subtly tease out how you might be as a product manager.

How to answer:

Start by quickly outlining the basics of the role. Explain your knowledge about the position's responsibilities, starting with brainstorming for new products or improvements and moving through the process of production and success. Employers may want to know what you value the most. This could be the design process, planning strategy, managing a team, or analyzing data to see how the product could improve. There's no wrong answer if you've researched the position.

2. What's appealing about becoming a product manager at this company? 

Employers ask this question because they want to see how much you know about the company and whether your interests align with their own. At the same time, they also want to see if you'd be enthusiastic about working there and on their products.

How to answer:

Start by demonstrating an in-depth understanding of the company, mentioning the leadership team, how they stand within the industry, and an overview of your favorite product offerings. It’s suggested to pivot to where they're focused: the target audience. As a product manager, your role will include meeting the needs of the company’s customers. Connect your answers with your passion for their mission and customers.   

3. What would your ideal day as a product manager look like? 

Hiring managers like this question because it gives them a glimpse into the ideal working culture of their applicants. As a result, though, this positive question can easily underscore the role’s pain points, so be careful to focus on your favorite parts of being a product manager rather than the most potentially negative qualities. 

How to answer:

Share your favorite aspects of the job, whether it's brainstorming for a product design, overseeing a development plan, launching the product, or pouring over the customer reviews. Keep it light and positive, focusing on concrete details that can give your interviewer a glimpse into your work approach.

4. What changes would you suggest for our main product?

Product managers consistently seek new paths for improvement to meet the needs of the company's customers. As a result, hiring managers like to ask this question, so they can gain a sense of the kind of ideas you might bring to the table if you were hired.

How to answer:

Your answer should show that you’ve studied their product line by describing why their main product has already been successful if that's the case. Discuss what doesn't need to change before getting into a critical review. When sharing any ideas for improvement, connect your suggestions with their customer's pain points. If you don't see room for improvement, be honest and explain why you feel the product is perfect as is. Let them see your creativity and practical reasoning behind your ideas. 

5. Tell us how you'll incorporate data into your role.

Product managers must be comfortable with data analysis since it’s used to understand customer response to a new or improved product. Interviewers ask this question, consequently, because they want to hear about your technical skills and strategic thought process.

How to answer:

Data is used to analyze whether the company has maximized its return on its investment (ROI) of the product. Employers want to see what metrics should be used and how you’ll determine a positive or negative change in that metric. Discuss different metrics—Meta’s Saved Items list, Instagram comments, email list sign-up statistics, and customer interviews—and explain your plan to track and respond appropriately.

6. How do you know if a product is well designed?

Hiring managers ask this question because they want to have a better understanding of your design ethos and thought process. As a product manager, you'll be tasked with shepherding a product from conceptualization to roll-out, so the judgement you use throughout each step of the process is critical – and employers want to know if they can trust you with such a critical role.

How to answer:

Start by talking about the customer since they determine whether the product is designed well. A product is successful when it meets a customer's needs; your experience helps determine that. Share what top product managers look for in terms of excellent design.

7. If a redesign of a product is needed, how would you coordinate it?

This question is about your workplace skills and your ability to strategize within a team. Even junior-level product managers must handle project coordination and have leadership qualities, so use this question as an opportunity to highlight your teamwork and process-think abilities. 

How to answer:

Take your interviewer step-by-step through the redesign process. Start with defining a vision for the redesign using market analysis. You'll then need to use effective communication skills for delegating responsibilities among specialists on your team. Explain how you’ll get the stakeholders to agree and move forward for a better customer experience. 

8. What major challenge will our product department face in the next 12 to 24 months?

All employers want forward-thinking employees, and that's especially true for product managers. This question allows you to highlight your understanding of the industry and any competitive analysis research you've conducted.

How to answer:

It's likely the employer is looking for any trends you've found through your industry research. Discuss the competition and where you see customer preferences and desires in a year. Utilize this chance to place yourself within the company, strategizing dynamic, systematic improvements. Let them see how you're ready to be a member of an evolving team.

Read more: Competitive Product: Definition + How to Analyze One

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9. What's more important: getting a product done on time or getting a product done as planned?

Product managers must juggle the responsibilities of getting products launched according to schedule while having the products meet their design goals. Your interviewer wants to know if you consider deadlines or quality more important. At the same time, they're also testing how flexible or inflexible you are.

How to answer:

Both! A product isn't done if it isn't done as planned, and it's crucial to work within the structures of the company to launch products customers will love. Describe how you will create customer journey maps, roadmaps for your team, and an appropriate overview during the development process. Show how you keep your specialists on track with smaller deadlines and quality control mechanisms.

10. How would you describe our product to a customer?

Employers want you to demonstrate clear communication skills and ability to market to theirs customers. They're also looking to see how you well you understand their product, because a clear grasp of their product is critical to doing the best possible job.

How to answer:

You'll want to connect with the customer's pain points, explain directly how the product can help, and share any quick features that will make them want to learn more. The more you practice answering, the easier it will be during your interview.

11. What aspects of being a product manager do you find most rewarding?

This question is another opportunity to discuss product management from a big-picture perspective. Especially at smaller start-ups, you'll work closely with the people conducting the interview. Be personable and share what motivates you every day. 

How to answer:

Highlight your strengths. Discuss why you're good at balancing the user experience, technical issues, and business-focused decisions. Provide an example of a time during your career when you were successful. Mention how you supported your team during the process and any specific metrics showing how the company benefited.

12. What aspects of the job do you find challenging?

Employers know every candidate will have strengths and weaknesses and they use this question to better understand what yours are. While pretending you're perfect is tempting, the reality is that no one is, so it's best to be honest – while also being strategic.

How to answer:

When responding to this question, make sure to highlight your challenge as well as a solution for it. For example, if you're a go-getter who can get inpatient when projects are delayed, then note that you're starting to build-in more realistic expectations throughout the process. Whatever you say, though, make sure to pair the challenge with a proactive response to how you are working through it now.

13. If people disagree over a product's most important feature, how would you handle it?

Product managers must be strong leaders and decision-makers to develop products as envisioned. How you make decisions will define you as a leader, so employers ask this question to get a better idea of how you would respond to this common workplace occurence.

How to answer:

Discuss how you can use your mediation skills with your team so they can work through the problem rather than have a top-down decision. Disagreement often seeps into emotion, so describe how you can use specific metrics to determine the best direction.

14. What's your strategy for working with engineers and designers? 

Product managers, especially in larger firms, will work with a wide range of specialists. With this interview question, they're asking about how you handle different types of different personalities and positions.

How to answer:

Show your prospective employer that you’re respectful to your team of different professionals. This means you can have a hands-off approach that allows everyone to feel empowered in their roles. As a leader, you'll need to build the confidence and abilities of the people you work with. Share how you plan to communicate in a way that supports everyone.

15. What do you need from the executive team to be successful in this job?

If the company has an executive team interested in product management work, they'll want to support you. But, they won't know what you need to succeed unless you tell them, so use this question as an opportunity to tell them.

How to answer:

Always close your interview positively, so answer this question as if you're already on the team. Keep in mind what the company needs; this may include a budget for online training programs for members of the product team or regular meeting opportunities for strategies and goals. Sometimes, asking for a discussion is enough. Talk about how your goal as the product manager is to work collaboratively to help both the company and its customers find success. 

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