In interviews with prospective product managers, senior product managers and entrepreneurs look for specific skills, talents, and experience.
A product manager oversees the creation, execution, and evaluation of a new or improved version of a product available for sale on the marketplace. These professionals develop new ideas, create a strategy for product manufacturing, and determine if improvements can be made.
This role may include responsibilities that vary by industry and company mission, but the technical and workplace skills will remain the same. Hiring managers may want to see that you're a strategic, skilled, and creative leader with a passion for helping customers and if you can prioritize challenging situations.
Here are the 15 questions you may be asked during a project manager interview:
Since there's no degree for product management at most universities, you'll need to know what the role entails. Employers use this as a way of gauging how realistic your expectations are.
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.
Use this question as an opportunity to show your knowledge of the company. They may want to know what it is about them that interests you.
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.
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.
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.
Product managers consistently seek new paths for improvement to meet the needs of the company's customers. Come prepared with fresh ideas.
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. Let them see your creativity and practical reasoning behind your ideas.
Product managers must be comfortable with data analysis since it’s used to understand customer response to a new or improved product. Interviewers want to hear about your technical skills and your strategic process.
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.
Here, your prospective employer wants to ensure you know the position.
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. Advancing Women in Tech offers a Real-World Specialization in Product Management on Coursera, includes interviews with experienced and seasoned product managers.
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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.
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.
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 research regarding the competitive analysis.
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.
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.
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.
Employers want you to demonstrate clear communication skills and an ability to market to the customer.
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.
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.
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.
Employers know every candidate will have strengths and weaknesses. While pretending you're perfect is tempting, no one is, be honest—and strategic.
Whatever you are struggling with (this could be anything from brainstorming new ideas to handling workplace problems among team members), provide a solution for how you can improve.
Product managers must be strong leaders and decision-makers to develop products as envisioned. How you make decisions will define you as a leader.
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.
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 personalities.
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.
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. Now's your chance.
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.
Brush up your interview skills to land your next program manager role. On Coursera, consider this Successful Interviewing course covering how to approach salary expectations, research the market, and make a positive first impression.
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