Interview Prep

Learn how to prep for PM interviews

Overview

PM interviews tend to have a combination of product managers and partner members. It’s not unusual to be interviewed by a PM, an engineer, a designer, a data scientist, or a business partner like a general manager. If you’re interviewing at an established company with a large product organization, then your panel is likely to consist primarily of product managers. If you’re interviewing at a company that has a small product organization, then your panel is likely to be very cross-functional. Regardless of who is interviewing you, the main point of assessments will be either a product capability or a generalist skill.


Product Capability Questions

Product capability questions are often open-ended. They are designed to test your approach and thinking by giving you hypothetical scenarios. Successfully answering these questions requires both practice and experience to speak to.

Product Thinking

To prep for product thinking questions, always take the time to research the company and use the product (if you can). Have prepared answers for general products by exploring apps and thinking about them from a product perspective. It is a common mistake to answer these types of questions using your personal opinion. Although these questions tend to be somewhat misleadingly phrased to seemingly ask for your opinion, they are not seeking it. The correct way to answer is to think from product principles and give an answer that can be backed up by product rationale.

  • What is your favorite product and why?
  • What is your least favorite product? How would you improve it?
  • What is one thing you would change about our product?
  • Design a product/feature for our company
  • How would you measure success for your feature?

Communication

To prep for communication questions, practice constructing logical and thoughtful answers. Questions will vary a lot - so memorizing ahead of time is unlikely to be that helpful. Instead, practice being concise in your communication and clearly demonstrating that you can get your point across clearly.

  • How would you handle an unhappy customer?
  • What do you think our main value proposition is?
  • Why would you make a good product manager?
  • Why do you want to work at this company?

Indirect Leadership

To prep for indirect leadership questions, practice explaining a process for a solution. If the process is not clear, then it’s very hard for the interviewer to look for the nuanced hints that indicate you have this ability.

  • What do you do when there’s a disagreement over a feature?
  • How do you get engineers/designers to work with you?

Judgment

To prep for judgment questions, practice defining criteria for making decisions. It not uncommon for the interviewer to push back on your answers. Practice going with the flow, taking in new information, and either updating or clarifying your point. If the interviewer gives you some push back, then he or she is often trying to lead you somewhere or is trying to tease out something specific. Follow along and try to get to the same point.

  • How would you prioritize between building a new feature or fixing a bug?
  • How do you determine if your product was successful?

Execution

To prep for execution questions, practice describing your experience with a logical flow and brevity. Going overboard and talking for 10 minutes about something you did is not ideal. Being too brief and not providing any logical rational will make the answer unsatisfactory.

  • Tell me about a product you successfully launched. How did you do it?
  • Tell me aobut an unsuccessful product you worked on. What would you do differently?

Generalist Skill Questions

Generalist skill questions are often close-ended. They are designed to assess if you have basic knowledge of something. They tend to center around the generalist skills: technology, analytics, ux design, operations, and strategy.

  • What is A/B testing?
  • What metrics do you think are important for our product?
  • What is agile? Have you done it?
  • What is a product manager?
  • Who are our users?
  • Who are the main competitors in our space?
  • Do you follow this space? What do you find interesting?
  • How does (some technology) work at a high level?

Occassionally, you may be asked to do a market sizing question or a brain teaser. These questions are artifacts from consulting. They are generally going out of fashion, but it’s possible you might still get one especially if you see any ex-consultants on your interview panel. There is a lot of material on how to prep for these - just run a search and do some practice.

Come Up with Questions

It’s crucial to also come up with a list of good questions to show your interviewers that you are intellectually curious and motivated to solve product problems. The more product-focused your questions are, the better. The best questions demonstrate your understanding of the product. Try to think from the interviewer’s pespective. What are they working on? What kind of challenges do they face?


Checklist

Action Items
✅ Prep for product capability questions
✅ Prep for generalist skills questions
✅ Come up with product questions

Pursuing Product Management

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