How to Answer Every Product Manager Interview Question

I frequently get asked by prospective students, “what if the company I am interviewing for asks me this question? Have you been asked this question before?” There are only two outcomes: either they have or they have not been asked this question before.

Whether or not you have been asked this question, you need to conduct your Product Management job hunt as if you are the product. Many of these questions are rooted in the fear of losing out on the company you are so in love with. I get it, nobody wants to work at an uninspiring workplace but you also shouldn’t try to fight Mike Tyson for your first professional bout, swim against Michael Phelps on your first professional race, and nor should you be interviewing with Google or your dream job before you have AB tested your responses to the point where you are pitch perfect.

Most of my consultations at Product Gym consists of people who have already been defeated in the interview process and are working with us to make their last stand in this fight. After a careful examination of their strategy, I always come to the conclusion that people conduct their job hunt as if they are playing American Sniper, when they should really be playing the numbers game.

These are some of the mistakes that applicants make during the interview process:

  • Typical Product Management job applicants operate without a clear roadmap on how to achieve their objective.
  • They don’t know what KPIs they need to target for their job hunt.
  • Their resumes, LinkedIn, and cover letters are not branded for a Product Manager role and often are not optimized for recruiting software that talent managers utilize to sort and sift through resumes.
  • They have no clear strategy on how to systematically generate interviews, so they spend their time networking, developing more skills, and hoping.
  • They dread applying, are never consistent when they apply, and when they do decide to do so, they spend a ridiculous amount of time customizing their resume, LinkedIn, and cover letter just to not hear back from the company.
  • When companies do respond they have absolutely no idea how to prep for these interviews.
  • They are equally stressed out when companies move them forward from one round to another (because they have absolutely no idea why they are moving forward) and when they get rejected (because feedback from the company is seldom provided as to why you were actually rejected in the first place).
  • They become frustrated, defeated, and doubtful.
  • They start to question many aspects of their lives, including if Product Management is for them or not.

How did this happen?

  • Because you targeted companies that you were interested in working first without considering that other people want to work there as bad as you do.
  • You didn’t take the time to consider what this company, team, or product needed (what are their unmet needs), instead you got high off your own pipedream.
  • You positioned yourself to fail, because you set the highest expectations for yourself without giving yourself a place to land.

Ask yourself this right now:

is that how you would launch a product or start a business?

 

What you should have done was start small so you could manage reasonable expectations, gather feedback and momentum, and rack up confidence. You should have targeted the companies that you didn’t care for. It doesn’t make sense for you to target Google, Facebook, Spotify, or your “dream” company before doing some research as to what questions you might receive.

We find in our research here at Product Gym that students are asked no more than 40 questions in the Product Management interview process. It takes time to gather what those questions are, but you should take the time to research before going in guns blazing just to get carried out in a box.

When applicants don’t do the research, what ends up happening is that too many people apply to their dream companies, just to get rejected and emotionally massacred to the point where they lower their expectations so below ground level where they end up just settling.

Think about it, you had an insane idea for a restaurant or food product. If you can’t sell out at your local farmers market (and you might just want to try out a few locations), please do not cash out your 401K or take a loan to drop real money on a location or even food truck. Don’t do it!

So how do you answer every Product Management interview question?

Figure out what your most frequently asked interview questions are. This is no different than a product launch, you want to hear what your end users and customers have to say. The stakeholders in the interview process are your end users and customers. What they have to say absolutely matters.

Too many candidates conduct their job hunt selfishly prioritizing their needs over that of the company they are interviewing with. This is a flawed way of thinking. Product Management is all about putting the needs of others first. Sorry to ruin it for y’all that are thinking this is the COOLEST job since being an astronaut. Product Managers spend 80 to 100 hours of their week giving other people what they want and fighting to meet the unmet needs of the market before the competition does. This is true for the people they serve outside their company, as well as the stakeholders they work with internally. I understand that you are trying to satisfy your unmet needs (that you aren’t getting for your current career) and that is why you are on this job hunt; but this job has nothing to do with you. It’s all about the company you interview with.

 

To get a list of the most frequently asked Product Management interview questions, please schedule a call with Product Gym today to see how we can help you product manage your job hunt right now.

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