Published On : December 06, 2010
You made it through screening, and you've been invited to an interview. Congratulations are in order, as the time and attention you put into your resume and cover letter have obviously been worth the effort. But it isn't time to celebrate yet, as you're going to have to show your prowess in yet another way Â– providing stellar answers to the product manager interview questions that'll be thrown your way.
While it's important to show confidence, the more important quality you'll need for success is good preparation. Thinking ahead about potential responses to common interview questions such as, "why are you the best candidate for the job?" and, "where do you see yourself career-wise in three years?" is a good place to start. But you'll also want to anticipate specific product manager interview questions that you'll be tasked with. The following will consider some of the most common of these, and some sample responses that you can leverage during your interview.
5 Product Manager Interview Questions & Answers
1. Can you tell us what low-level experience you have that lends itself well to the high-level position you're interested in?
At my first tech gig I worked as a QA intern. I was tasked with doing both exploratory and automated testing of API kits. After my senior year of college, I started my first full-time position as a DBA, and I held that role for three years. Since then, I've done freelancing gigs, mostly related to the testing and documentation of custom database-driven applications. In preparing for this interview, I was reading up on your company's product, and thanks to my foundation with databases and SQL, I feel I already have a good understanding of how it works.
2. How would you go about building a lateral relationship with a key remote department head?
I'd start out by asking him or her about their job, asking specifically what I can do to provide support. I'd follow through by helping in whatever way that was suggested or that I see fit, and continue to work together until I need to request something from their end. I'd keep communication regular, but at the same time only contact the other party when I really needed it. If possible, I'd make arrangements to meet in person during my first year of employment.
3. When an important decision needs to be made and key players have differing opinions, how would you proceed?
That can be tricky. The key is really focusing on what the pros, cons and customer reaction would be for each decision. I also like to keep in mind that a decision doesn't usually need to be made during the course of a single meeting. If there's time, I'd study the market and meet again with more information to either promote or park some of the ideas. For me, there needs to be a business justification as to why we're adding or deprecating features, rather than "this would be cool, fun or impressive."
4. You won't have any direct reports but will be responsible for an important product. How will you motivate product teams to do the work outlined?
As a PM, my role would be exactly that Â– planning and organizing the work that others will do. Product management is similar to project management in that way. It's true that these teams should see the PM as their go-to person rather than another boss. Each contributor already has a boss, and shouldn't be taking orders from two different managers. So my relationship with the manager of each team is key, and at times that may involve a "manager's meeting" to hash things out.
5. Do you mind telling us about your strategy for customer engagement.
Customers, for me, are number one. There's no reason to create a product if there aren't customers to use it. Users come on board when they're sold on a product that solves a problem for them. If they, for example, start using another tool that solves the same problem that ours does, they may no longer need us. That's why it's important to stay in touch with both customers and the marketplace. I take every feature request seriously. Even if it's from a single user, it may be representative of the sentiments of other customers who haven't spoken up yet. I also like to be proactive by engaging customers both online and in-person.