Product manager interview questions vary depending on the position and the product, but like the ol’ classic, “tell me about yourself”, you can count on your interviewer asking you The Favorite Product question: “What is your favorite product, and why?”
Get it right, and you’ve aced a good part of your interview. Sounds like a lot of weight for a seemingly casual question, but an insightful, articulate answer will set you apart as an astute product manager who’s up to the task.
How do you answer this question successfully? Here’s what our instructors and interview coaches recommend.
What Are Interviewers Looking for When They Ask This Question?
This question is a staple in product manager interviews because the interviewer is genuinely interested in the products you enjoy using and whether you understand what makes users love them.
The way you answer it will help the interviewer assess:
Your Understanding of Product Design
Solid knowledge of your favorite product from a product design perspective shows your prospective employer that you know what makes an excellent product. What makes this product loved by users like you? What qualities and features fulfill your needs and what is lacking? They want to see if you can discern the answers to questions like these.
Your favorite product exists in a wide ecosystem complete with competitors. Your interviewer wants to see if you are knowledgeable about competitor alternatives and if you can identify what sets it apart from the rest.
Articulation and Structure
Articulating all the above points and answering the question in an organized way demonstrates good communication skills and the ability to provide clear and constructive feedback. This is vital when working with a team.
What Product Should You Choose to Talk About?
Don’t just blurt out the first thing that came to mind, or the app you were using just before you stepped into the interview room. Instead, prepare your answer ahead of time.
You want to talk about a product that the interviewer is familiar with, so they have some context to your answers. You will have a more positive response if your interviewer can follow along, and even relate, to your points.
In the same breath, it’s best to avoid very niche products: a thorough description of your favorite gaming app could be riveting to your fellow gamers, but your points — and passion — will be lost on anyone who has not picked up a console since their teens. If you do choose an obscure product, make sure to walk your interviewer through what it is and how it works before launching into your answer.
On the other hand, going for a popular product could make your answer seem cliché and bland. The interviewer has likely heard a million different takes on the pros and cons of products like Uber or the iPhone. What should you pick? You should talk about a product that you understand well and have done a critical evaluation of.
That being said, choose a product you genuinely love. Personally connecting with a product allows you to gain unique insights into its features and usability. Your enthusiasm and passion will also help you give a more compelling answer.
Before settling on a product for your answer, list all the things you use often that you love. These can be of different uses and across all mediums — it could be the bike you ride to work or an app you have on your phone. There’s no shortage of products out there.
How to Prep For This Question
You may love to talk about all of the products you listed above, but to make a good answer great, ensure you have plenty of things you can discuss under the following questions:
- What is it and what does it do?
- Who are the users of the product?
- What are the users’ needs?
- How does this product solve those needs?
- Who are its competitors?
- What are its shortcomings and how would you make it better?
Come up with clear answers for the above while being as concise as possible. Your interviewer will likely have other candidates to interview, so prepare short yet memorable answers. Be careful not to approach the product as a consumer would: you should explain what you like about the product from a PM’s perspective.
Lastly, don’t tell interviewers what you think they want to hear. Show them that you’re driven by the challenges of product management and design with your own ideas and opinions.
Favorite Product question aside, don’t forget to prep for the actual interview:
- Get familiar with the product manager interview process. From the applications to onsite interviews, know what to expect for both general elements and the company you are applying to.
- Learn the common questions and prepare for them. Like the topic at hand, there are several questions interviewers like to ask to span: Strategy, design, technical aspects, analysis, and user behavior.
- Prepare and practice how you’re going to answer the questions. Mock interviews in realistic interview conditions go a long way in getting you comfortable on the D-Day.
How to Answer the Question
As with many interview questions, it’s less about getting the right answer, and more about showing you have a firm understanding of the topic and proving your competence. The best way to do this is by following a process that allows you to put across your thoughts most articulately. Following a strategy also allows you to put your most suitable responses first and stops you from rambling.
Structuring Your Answer
Figuring out what you’re going to say ahead of time is helpful for your confidence, but at the end of the day, an overly structured answer isn’t a great way to make you or the interviewer comfortable. Use this outline to prep what you want to say, but don’t overthink it. Remember: it’s a conversation.
On the flip side, many candidates immediately launch into listing all the features of their product and go on and on until the interviewer shows disinterest. This waters down the impact your answer could have, and as mentioned before, it’s a failed opportunity to display your communication skills. Having an outline established can help you make sure you get all your points across clearly and efficiently, without rambling.
1: Introduce Your Answer
Start by answering honestly in a conversational way: “I love X, because…” You want to introduce your product in an engaging and compelling way: don’t be afraid to include some real-life context to your experience with the product. For example, do you use Upwork a lot and have some personal experience with it? That can be the product you talk about, and your personal experience can make for an interesting and conversational introduction.
2: The Product
Once you’ve answered simply “My favorite product is…” you can now launch into the details:
- What does it do?
- Who is it designed for?
- What makes it great?
3: The User
Highlight the top three traits of the product when answering the following questions:
- How does the product solve the user’s problem?
- What qualities or features delight the user?
- Are users attached to the product? If so, why?
Remember that for the sake of this question, you are the user. After all, you’re having a conversation about what you’ve just stated is something you love.
Explore the competition or alternatives.
- What are the alternatives and how do they compare to your product?
- What sets your product apart from the competition and why do users prefer it?
You can choose to include this in your answer or not, but be aware that it is a common follow-up question.
- What would you change or add to the product?
- How would you improve its metrics? E.g, customer engagement, loyalty, and retention.
There’s no shortage of possible topics to explore in your answer. But the above structure helps to make sure you hit on the main points your answer should cover.
Ace the Interview, Get the Job
Ultimately, this PM interview question is a way for your interviewer to gauge your understanding of product design and user awareness. It is an essential element to getting ahead in the interview process.
Want to learn more from our expert instructors? Check out our free online training for tips on resumes, case studies, acing the PM interview, and more! We’re here to help you get the job of your dreams. You got this!