A product roadmap is a plan of action. They show how a product or solution will evolve over time. Product Managers use these to outline future product functionality and decide if additional features could be released. In your job hunt, how you answer product roadmap interview questions will demonstrate your general knowledge as well as your creativity and vision.
Product Roadmap Interview Questions: What You Need to Know
Product roadmaps are important for many different reasons: they outline the priorities, vision, direction, and progress of a product over time. In addition, these roadmaps are used to collaborate with various teams across the organization to be on the same page about a product’s evolution. The short and long-term success of an organization is dependent on how well the products perform. Thus, these roadmaps aim to facilitate that.
Normally, product roadmap interview questions assess the candidate’s ability to execute the responsibilities for planning out delivery based on the fundamental business objectives. There are a variety of questions that an interviewer could ask you:
- What inputs do you use in your roadmap?
- How would you develop your roadmap?
- How do you prioritize when using a roadmap?
So, what skills can you demonstrate no matter what product roadmap interview questions you’re posed with? You want to demonstrate that you can work well under pressure, as well as how you prioritize. Here’s a framework to help you highlight those skills.
Product Roadmap Best Practices
Before you go ahead and create a product roadmap, there are a variety of best practices to keep in mind.
The problems you’re solving should align with the product roadmap
It’s a given, isn’t it? If your product roadmap isn’t showing the future of the product solving the user problem, then it’s not fulfilling its purpose. It’s the very first rule of the product roadmap. There needs to be an alignment of metrics: that of the users and that of the business.
The product roadmap should connect to the product vision
The product vision includes the product strategy, the metrics needed, and the product mission (what is the product aiming to achieve?) It’s essentially the same as a roadmap, seeking to communicate the organization’s plans for the envisioned future for the product. A high-level product vision featured in your roadmap can help everyone understand their role within the product’s success. That in turn allows them to make autonomous decisions surrounding their task. But including this in your roadmap ensures that you’re not making sacrifices for your long-term vision at the expense of short-term problems.
Ensure correct prioritization and communication
Many product managers will tell you that this is the most difficult part of producing a roadmap, mainly because you have to account for the many different stakeholder groups. There are many stakeholder groups that have an invested interest in the success of the product, so the product roadmap is a useful tool to explain how the future of the product will fulfil the aims of the individual group.
Try using a prioritization framework: This will help product teams and managers evaluate, estimate, and organize various initiatives that ensure the delivery of the most value and impact for the users.
Constantly back up and update the product roadmap with qualitative data
Product roadmaps are never intended to be static. As businesses and ecosystems shift constantly, so must the priorities of the product team and the product roadmap. Synthesizing qualitative data into actions for a product roadmap can be difficult, but you can ensure your roadmap is top quality by receiving constant feedback. By keeping a record of the various different channels of feedback, you can keep your roadmap relevant. You can pinpoint what information has become stale, and lose it.
How to Create a Roadmap
Now that we’ve covered the best practices that you need to prioritize when answering product roadmap interview questions, let’s get into a basic guide on how to create a product roadmap.
- Ask questions to understand the goal: As highlighted throughout this article, there is the significant importance of aligning the product roadmap to the overall business goals. Before answering your product roadmap interview questions, ensure you ask the interviewer what goals the product needs to meet.
- Setting relevant metrics: The keyword here is relevant. There is a plethora of metrics that you can choose from, but you need to ensure that they are specific, contextual and align with the user metrics. Without the relevant metrics, you cannot measure success and your roadmap will very quickly turn squishy. Be careful of vanity metrics; these are metrics that look great in a press release but don’t translate into meaningful business results. It can be a confusing process, however, this article provides advice on how to set appropriate metrics.
- Defining your customer: Your business cannot capture value unless you create value for your customers. The only way to do this is to identify the target customer. Defining a customer has a similar importance to metrics; if your definition is too broad, you’re not going to achieve your end goal for the product. There are many methods for segmenting customers, which are listed here.
Filling it out
- Prioritizing your features: If the strategy is the “why” then the features are the “what”. In this stage, it is vital to determine the minimum viable product: this is what features attract the early adopters and validate the product idea early in the product development cycle. Thus, find out what features will help achieve the overall strategy. In product roadmap interview questions, impress the interviewer with your plan to communicate the prioritization of features to the various teams working on the product.
- Creating a timeline: With all of these elements in mind, you need to provide the interviewer with estimations for when certain tasks within the product roadmap will be completed. Don’t get bogged down providing specific dates as you don’t want to shift the focus from the importance of tasks at hand. Still, it’s important to include estimations for the visualization of your tasks. So, how can you go about creating this timeline? Clue yourself up on Gantt Charts and how this helps you factor in the various different teams and their deadlines.
- Highlighting assumptions and revisiting questions: Validate your assumptions surrounding elements like inputs, resources, or time taken to complete. Product roadmap interview questions are no exception. This section also enables the interviewer to ask any questions they have about your product roadmap. And be warned, they’re going to have questions. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your versatility and ability to act under pressure. Demonstrate the trade-off you would make to make sure you’re achieving the modifications that the interviewer is asking you to make. E.g. If you don’t have the required funds for outsourcing certain elements of the product, how would you manage to do this in-house and what resources would you need for this.
So, What Next?
Obviously, product roadmap interview questions are only one element of a product manager interview process. To find out more about the interview process and get in-depth tips on how to be successful, check out our interview bible. Or if you’re struggling with the job-hunt, schedule a free call with one of our career coaches. We’d love to hear from you.