10 common product manager interview questions (w/ answers)

Every job interview is a daunting experience. If you’re nervous this is a good sign, it means you actually care about getting the job.

I've been interviewed and interviewed candidates many times over the years and there are similar themes that pop up again and again for most product management interviews.

The later stages might require take-home assignments or presentations but in the early stages at least here are some questions and example answers to guide you on your way.

Considering you’re taking this time to prep I’m sure you’ll do great!

10 common product manager interview questions:

  1. Can you walk us through your product development process?
  2. How do you prioritize features in a product roadmap?
  3. Can you give an example of a successful product launch?
  4. Can you discuss a time when you had to navigate a difficult stakeholder or team member?
  5. Can you describe a situation where you had to make a trade-off between short-term and long-term product goals?
  6. How do you use data and analytics to inform your product decisions?
  7. How do you evaluate and decide to discontinue a product?
  8. Can you discuss a time when you had to manage a remote or distributed product team?
  9. How do you keep your team motivated and engaged during the product development process?
  10. Tell me about a product you like and what you’d change about it?

Can you walk us through your product development process?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?
This question is about getting insight into how you approach product management in general. It's a good overview question and way to settle into the discussion.

It will also give some context to the interviewer of what kind of experience you have and if you would be a good fit with the current development process for the company you're interviewing with.

Sample Answer:
Sure thing, my product development process typically includes the following steps:

I start with idea generation. I gather ideas for new products or features. These may come from a variety of sources such as customer feedback, market research, reviewing the backlog or internal brainstorming sessions.

Next I’d conduct some feasibility analysis. This would be to assess the viability of the product idea, taking into account factors such as market demand, technical feasibility, and resources required as well as the potential impact the feature may have towards our given targets.

Next I’d work with stakeholders to define a product vision and strategy, which includes identifying the target user, defining the product's key features and benefits, and setting goals and objectives.

Then create a product roadmap that outlines the high-level plan for the product, including key milestones and deliverables, and helps to align everyone on the same strategy. I’d, of course, try to get as much input as possible from the development and design teams on this.

Then we’d enter the design and prototyping phase. We’d develop wireframes, mockups, and prototypes to visualize the product and test it with users.

Perhaps using tools such as usertesting.com or similar. I’m familiar with many of these tools so I’m sure I could use whatever tools you already use.

After that I’d work closely with the development team to ensure that the product is built as expected, and that it meets the requirements of the users and the business. Testing is conducted at different stages of development, such as unit testing, integration testing and user testing.

Once the product is ready for release, I’d coordinate the launch and ensure that all necessary resources are in place, such as support and marketing materials. Many of this would likely be done in parallel with the development process.

I’d also gather feedback after the launch and use it to improve the product but that’s a whole other process in itself.

Depending on the feature we might AB test it. If we were, this would be decided even before the feature would be built and incorporated into the dev and release plans.

Once live, I’d monitor the product performance using the agreed upon key performance indicators, gather feedback, and use data to iterate and improve the product.

This is a flexible process and usually isn’t as linear as I make it out to be. The process should be tailored to the specific needs of the product and the organization, but in general that’s how I’d approach it.

How do you prioritize features in a product roadmap?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?
Prioritizing is one of the most important skills for any PM or PO.

So this question is all about seeing how you approach prioritization and balancing this with longer term plans.

It can also be used as a way to see if your previous experience is more on product manager side or the product owner side of things.

Not sure the difference? Check out guide here: What are the key differences between a product manager and product owner?

Sample Answer:
There are many strategies I use to help with this. Depending on the context I would use what’s most appropriate but generally speaking:

I would firstly clearly define the business and user goals. Having this provides a clear roadmap for the product, and it helps me align the features and priorities of the product with the overall goals of the organization.

What are the company and team goals? Understanding this would help define the roadmap.

I’d also gather feedback and requirements from stakeholders, including users, customers, and internal teams, which helps me understand the needs and pain points of the different groups of people who will be using the product.

Techniques such as a SWOT analysis can help. Likewise I could use a framework such as MoSCoW (Must have, Should have, Could have, Won't have) or Kano Model (Basic, Performance, Excitement) to prioritize features based on their level of importance and urgency.

This helps me to focus on the features that are most critical and will have the greatest impact on the user's experience.

I would also consider the feasibility of each feature, such as development time, resource availability and technical complexity, as well as the dependencies between features.

I would incorporate these complexities into the roadmap. For example, if a certain feature is dependent on another team before we can begin I’d need to check their capacity as well.

I’d regularly review the roadmap and adjust it as needed, taking into account new information, feedback, and changing priorities.

This helps me to ensure that the product remains aligned with the business and user goals and stays on track. I would set up a recurring meeting with the relevant stakeholders to review the roadmap to ensure everything is still aligned in terms of business goals.

Doing most of these would help me prioritize a roadmap effectively.

Can you give an example of a successful product launch?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?
This question is your opportunity to talk about a project or feature you're the most proud of.

For the interviewer they will most likely view the product launch you discuss in your answer as the upper limit of your experience.

So maybe you've only worked on small feature releases vs someone who released a new app from scratch.

Generally, here I would advise to talk about your biggest project here and don't be afraid to talk about what went well and what went wrong (but crucially include what you learned from this).

Sample Answer:
Yes, thankfully I have had the opportunity to be a part of several successful product launches.

One example that comes to mind was a mobile app that was developed to improve communication and coordination among the different departments in the company I was working in at the time.

The app was designed to be user-friendly and easy to navigate, and it featured a variety of tools and features to support collaboration and increase productivity. Essentially trying to bring all the different tools we use into one place.

It was just for internal use so that made things a bit easier but the impact it could have on the company was still great.

To launch the product, we took the following steps:

We conducted thorough market research to understand the needs of the target users. We reviewed 3rd party apps that provided a similar functionality and assessed what suited our needs best. This helped us to identify key features that we needed to include in the app.

Once we had a basic prototype we tested the app with a small group of users to gather feedback and make necessary improvements, this helped us to make sure that the app was working correctly, and that it met the users needs.

We would repeat this step iteratively with each new milestone to ensure we were building the right stuff.

We developed a comms plan with HR and the company's comms team. This helped to create awareness and excitement among the target users.

We developed training materials and tutorials to help our colleagues understand how to use the app, and offered training sessions to ensure that the users were comfortable with the app.We also used these training sessions as opportunities to gather any feedback.

We provided ongoing technical support, and implemented a feedback mechanism to gather user feedback, this helped us to quickly fix any issues that may arise, and to make improvements.

The launch was a great success and the app was very well received by the whole company.

The app quickly became an essential tool for communication and coordination, leading to improved productivity and employee satisfaction.

For me, the key takeaway from this launch was the importance of testing the product with users, and providing clear and comprehensive support, all of which helped ensure the success of the product launch.

Can you discuss a time when you had to navigate a difficult stakeholder or team member?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?

This question is to understand your people management skills and how you approach conflict resolution.

A key skill for PMs is managing up and across.

So make sure you have some examples of how you have been able to do this throughout your career.

Sample Answer:
Sure, I think it’s inevitable that something like this occurs.

One example was when I was leading a product development team and I had a team member who was resistant to change and new ideas.

They were resistant to any new ideas or changes that were being proposed and were unwilling to consider any suggestions from the team or stakeholders.

At the time the company as a whole was changing its whole process and way of doing things. Transitioning from a more Scrum methodology to a Scrum-ban and Kanban approach.

This person was resistant to even try any of the new suggestions.

To navigate this situation, I took the following steps:

I made sure to communicate with the team member and understand their perspective and reasons for their resistance.

I made sure to listen actively and validate their concerns, even if I didn't agree with them, so that they know that their thoughts and opinions were being heard.

I was transparent with them and the team about the reasons for the proposed changes, and the potential benefits and drawbacks of each option.

I also highlighted the point that every change we make is just being trialed. We would continue to track the same team metrics we always had and see what impact the changes made.

I made sure to involve them in the decision-making process, by seeking their input, and giving them the opportunity to be a part of the team's decision.

I encouraged cooperation and collaboration by highlighting how their input and experience could benefit the project and the team as a whole.

By taking these steps, I was able to address the team member's concerns, bring them on board and gain their support, which helped to keep the project moving forward.

Looking to brush up on your communication skills? Check out these 12 examples of communication strategies for the workplace

Can you describe a situation where you had to make a trade-off between short-term and long-term product goals?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?
Similar to question 2, this is about seeing how you approach prioritization.

However, with this one I would try and include more examples from your previous roles.

This is another gauge for them to see how much experience you have as any PM with a few years experience will have made calls like this at some point.

Sample Answer:
Sure can. The team had initially proposed a solution that would have required a significant investment of time and resources to develop. However, we were sure it would have offered a substantial improvement in user experience and long-term value for the product.

However, as we got deeper into the development process, we realized that the release date for the app was rapidly approaching and we were at risk of not meeting it if we continued to pursue this solution.

In order to keep the project on track, we made the difficult decision to pivot and implement a simpler solution that could be developed and deployed quicker, but would not offer the same level of long-term value.

This was a clear trade-off between short-term goals (meeting the release date) and long-term goals (providing a superior user experience).

It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was ultimately the right one as it allowed us to meet our short-term goal of releasing the app on schedule.

Post-launch we were able to get the improved version of the feature on the roadmap and were able to release that too. Ensuring we eventually got the optimal UX for the feature out there.

How do you use data and analytics to inform your product decisions?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?
This one is simply to gauge your competent with using data to inform your decisions.

Use examples wherever possible.

I'd suggest talking about any tools you have used and don't be afraid to get into the weeds with actual numbers from real world examples.

Sample Answer:
Nearly every day I use data to inform my decisions.

First, I use data to understand user behavior and needs. For example, by analyzing usage data and user feedback, I can identify common pain points or areas where users are struggling with the product, and use this information to inform the development of new features or improvements.

If we see sharp drop-offs on a particular part of the user funnel then we know there is something we need to review.

Second, I use data to measure the success of the product and identify areas for improvement. By tracking KPIs such as user engagement, retention, and conversion rates, I can determine whether the product is meeting its goals and identify any areas that need attention.

Third, I use data to test and validate new product ideas and features. For example, I might use A/B testing to measure the effectiveness of different product designs or features and use this information to inform the development of the final version of the product.

Overall, data and analytics are critical, allowing me to make data-driven decisions that are based on a deep understanding of user behavior and needs, and provide a clear picture of the performance of the product and its future prospects.

How do you evaluate and decide to discontinue a product?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?
This question is to get an understanding of how analyze a problem and come to a consensus conclusion.

Not all PMs will have had to discontinue a product.

If you have talk through the specific examples and outline the rationales behind the decision to discontinue.

If you haven't, talk about how assess the viability of a product long term.

Sample Answer:
This is a challenging decision. One that requires a careful balance of business and user considerations. I typically follow this approach:

I usually start by analyzing the product's performance metrics, such as revenue, user engagement, and retention. If a product is not meeting its business goals, or if its revenue is not sufficient to justify its costs, it may be a candidate for discontinuation.

Then I would analyze market trends, competitive landscape and customer preferences, to determine if there's a shift in market that would affect the product negatively and would render it less desirable or irrelevant over time. If a product is no longer competitive in the market then this future increases its chances of being discontinued.

A big thing to consider is the impact that discontinuing a product would have on users.

For example, if discontinuing a product would cause significant inconvenience or disruption for a large number of users, it may not be the best decision, regardless of the product's business performance.

This could potentially have future impacts on brand perception and loyalty. So this also needs to be factored in.

If we do decide to discontinue a product, I plan the transition in such a way that is smooth and minimizes the impact on the users and stakeholders. Hopefully, by providing a replacement solution, and communicating the plan clearly in a timely manner.

Can you discuss a time when you had to manage a remote or distributed product team?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?
This is similar to Q4, intended to understand your people management skills but specifically through the lens of remote work.

This one has obviously become more common place since Covid.

Talk about your process for working remotely and emphasis how you maintain communication with distributed teams.

Sample Answer:
I have plenty of experience managing remote or distributed teams now. Especially since Covid!

One example was when I was leading a team working on a new project. The team was composed of individuals located in different parts of the country and working remotely.

To manage this team effectively, I implemented several strategies:

I made sure to establish clear and regular communication channels, such as daily stand-up meetings, weekly team meetings and project updates, and made sure that everyone had access to all relevant documents and information.

To foster collaboration and a sense of teamwork among team members, I used online collaboration tools like Slack, and Zoom for both official and informal conversations and making sure everyone is on the same page.

I was very clear in my expectations, setting specific and measurable objectives. I made sure these were written down so they could be reviewed if I was offline.

We adopted an async first approach. Meaning there was no expectation that you would reply immediately. Generally, people would but this wasn’t the expectation which is important considering different time zones and the realities of remote work.

I believe having this expectation built trust with my team members and provided them with the autonomy and support needed to do their jobs effectively.

Looking for more tips on managing teams remotely? Check out these 15 of the best work-from-home tools for 2023

How do you keep your team motivated and engaged during the product development process?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?
Q4 is about conflict resolution within a team. This one is more about how do you go about building a team to reduce conflict in the first place.

Here you can talk about what processes you put in place to improve team morale and communication.

If you have specific examples of changes you've made that led to team improvments talk about them here.

Sample Answer:
Keeping a team motivated and engaged during the product development process is crucial to the success of a project.

I make sure that team members understand the product vision and how their work fits into it. I also set clear goals and objectives for the project and regularly update the team on progress and milestones.

It’s cliche but having the team understand the ‘Why’ is vital.

I strive to create an open and transparent work environment, where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns, and are aware of the progress of the project at all times.

Fostering a culture of psychological safety helps to promote a sense of ownership and accountability among team members.

I give my team autonomy and ownership over their work, and encourage them to take initiative and make decisions. This helps to promote a sense of engagement and investment in the project.

I recognize and reward the hard work of my team members, publicly acknowledge their contributions and celebrate successes.

I also make sure they receive regular and constructive feedback on their work, both positive and areas for improvement, to keep them motivated and engaged.

I try to create a positive and supportive team culture by promoting open communication, collaboration and respect among team members. This helps create a good work environment and makes team members excited to come to work and work together.

By implementing these strategies, I aim to create an environment where team members feel valued, supported and engaged, leading to higher motivation and better results.

Tell me about a product you like and what you’d change about it?

What is the interviewer actually looking for with this question?
This is a classic product management question.

With this interviewers want to see your strategic and analytical skills in action.

Try and pick a product your passionate about and know fairly well.

Go in-depth and try to tease both the positives and negatives of the product.

Sample Answer:
One product that I really like is the iPhone.

As a product manager and long time user, I appreciate the user-centered design and attention to detail that goes into each iteration of the product. The iPhone's clean and intuitive interface makes it easy for users of all ages and technical abilities to navigate and find the features they need.

However, if I were to change one thing about the iPhone, it would be to make it more modular and customizable.

For example, I would like to see a way for users to easily swap out their own batteries or upgrade storage capacity without having to go through a third-party repair shop.

Additionally, offering more options for users to customize their home screen layout, or allowing them to install third-party keyboard and launcher apps would give users more flexibility and control over their device.

Oh and I really wish they’d adopt a USB-C charging port.

Overall, while the iPhone is already a fantastic product, making it more modular and customizable would give users even more value and satisfaction with their purchase.

If I were a PM for Apple I would worry that brand backlash against these practices would be more detrimental in the long term than any short term savings the company makes at the moment.

It’s also looking increasingly likely that the EU and many US states are going to start imposing legislative changes to force Apple to allow some of these changes.

I think it makes more sense for them to be proactive than to wait for governments to force change upon them.

If they wait there is always a risk they’ll get caught out and lose access to a % of the market. And in that way lose their dominant market share position.

These are just some of the most common product manager interview questions.

It’s unlikely they’ll be worded exactly as they are here.

What’s important is to understand the general themes that will come up again and again: how you prioritize, how you work with a team, how you use data, a product you like.

Make sure you have a general answer with your own real-world examples for each of these.

Then in the interview you just need to identify what the general theme of each question is and go from there.

Now that you know you'll ace the interview check out these 10 tips for onboarding as a new product manager

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