There’s a number of skills you need to master as a Product Manager. But one of the most difficult — depending on your experience — is product design. As an aspiring PM, you’re likely not a product design expert. So how should you answer product design interview questions?
While product design might sound like the job of a UX Designer or a User Researcher, it is the Product Manager who determines the customer pain points and finds what is missing in the market. The key to success for a Product Manager lies in empathy, and product design interview questions assess your ability to empathize.
How to Approach Product Design Interview Questions
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty behind answering product design questions, let’s cover some basics. Here are three key tips to ensure your interview goes smoothly:
1. Make Room to Maneuver
One mistake candidates often make when answering questions is boxing themselves within preset parameters. For instance, if you’re asked what your definition of Agile is, there’s a good chance it doesn’t perfectly match up with the interviewers.
One way to create room for you to maneuver is to lead off your answer with, “The first thing that comes to mind is…”
By using this opening, you create a small safety net for you to fall back on. After all, you’re not solidifying your point of view. You’re expressing the first thing you thought of when formulating a response.
If the interviewer does respond (if at all) with a drastically different definition, you have the flexibility to adapt your answer to fit their viewpoint.
2. Money is the End Goal
One of the biggest elephants in the room at a PM interview is money. Everyone skirts around the concept that the end goal of every product is to generate revenue. In the end, every company has more customers not converting than converting. When tailoring your responses to these common product design questions, take steps to ensure they always result in designing a profitable product.
3. Build Rapport
This tip may be harder to execute depending on your personality. But, at its core, an interview is two or more people having a conversation in an otherwise uncomfortable circumstance. Whether you use humor or well-timed questions of your own to break up the interrogation model (they ask a question, you answer), you eventually want to turn the interview into a dialogue.
The hope is that through this exchange, you’re planting the idea that you would be a good fit with the company’s culture.
The Most Common Product Design Interview Questions
While we don’t advocate depending only on one framework for responding to Product Manager interview questions, they can help you provide the groundwork for your response. We’ve provided a template for a response to each product design interview question and some pro tips to keep in mind. Here are the typical product design interview questions that you’ll come across:
1. How Do You Evaluate Product Designs?
“That really depends, I rely on the right KPIs and analytics tools to evaluate product designs. For example, we recently tracked XYZ, which resulted in higher conversion rates and user engagement. For that particular project we used either optimize Optimizely, Pendo, Mixpanel, or Google analytics.
What types of analytics do you guys use at your current company right now?”
The concept behind this response can be broken down into three components:
- Answer the question
- Provide an example
- Follow up with a relevant question
Leading off with “that really depends” and using the phrase “for that particular project” indicates that you’re not overly reliant on one particular tool.
2. What Would You Say Is the Difference Between UX and Product Design?
“Well, I would say that there are essentially two different roles, but there is a lot of overlap.
However, this overlap is becoming more commonplace as organizations are increasingly mixing the two roles.
It could be due to budget, but to the best of my knowledge, companies usually hired UX designers before they would hire a product designer, much like hiring a product manager before the product marketing manager.
How does your team differentiate UX and product design?”
Identify the role of the interviewer. They themselves may not have a clear understanding of the differences between the roles. Every company has varying definitions of product management, and you don’t want to lose them in the details.
3. What Is Your Definition of Design Thinking?
“When I think of design thinking, the first thing that comes to mind is methodology. Or better yet, a people-first approach to solving complex problems that satisfy the needs and wants of any given stakeholder”
As mentioned above, the phrase “the first thing that comes to mind is” is a Forgiveness Statement. Place a pause after the Forgiveness Statement, as it will allow you to better articulate your response, break up any monotony in your speech pattern, and mitigate any potential rambling.
4. How Do You Test Product Designs?
“I approach testing in a few different ways depending on what we’re trying to achieve. Recently, I led two projects on my team. I used X methodology to test for Y which resulted in Z. On my other project I used A methodology to test for B which resulted in C.
The most important thing I keep in mind when approaching testing is making sure product design is aligned with our business and/or marketing goals.”
- Leadoff with “Most recently” as this implies you’re not fixed on one particular method
- List at least two different methodologies to display flexibility
- Multivariate testing
- A/B testing
- Product design is always aligned with business goals
5. How Do You Use Your User Personas?
“I use my user personas throughout the product design process, because it helps me better understand how our customers look for, purchase, and use our products”
You have to always divert your questions towards meeting business goals. Every question provides you an opportunity to demonstrate that you can produce income-generating ideas.
6. What’s Your Approach to Developing User Personas?
“That’s a great question because I recently spearheaded a new initiative at my current company that accidentally helped us create three more user personas.
So what kind of CRM do you guys use?
Very cool! We use (XYZ CRM) and I recently took a look inside and realized that there were a lot of data points that we weren’t measuring before, and it took us 45 days to do the cleanup. Getting the sales team on board was a nightmare until they realized how much more commission they could be making!
The upside from this is that we bumped our original user personas from five up to eight!
We realized that we actually didn’t know our customers as well as we thought. While I can’t go into specifics, after the pandemic we noticed that there were three different customer bases that had a need for us and we weren’t doing a good enough job marketing or servicing them”
Note: Ensure you don’t reveal too much information about your current positions projects, but be prepared to answer as to why you’re leaving your current position.
- Every company can know their users better
- Every company cares about their financial bottom line
- Every company has more customers they’re not converting than they are converting
7. What’s Your Favorite Product?
“Wow, my friends and I were just talking about this. Have you heard of this dating app called XYZ? Literally, whenever the subject of how someone in my group found their girlfriend or boyfriend, it was through this app. The frustrating thing about most dating apps is that they’re either populated with low-quality people or suffer from a low quantity of people, but the worst thing is when you aren’t able to communicate with someone before you match with them. XYZ let’s me do that.”
- Avoid popular apps or products
- Be enthusiastic
- Choose an exciting product you can pitch
- Check out this post for a more in-depth look at answering this common interview question
Master Your Product Design Interview Questions and Answers
We understand how stressful interview questions — and prepping for them — can be. We’ve got your back when it comes to honing your answers: we’re tackling every kind of interview question type you need in our upcoming free events. Each event is a live webinar with a 30 minute Q&A session. RSVP today and bring your questions to get the best advice for your situation.
Do you prefer a more tailored, one-on-one conversation? Schedule a call with our in-house team for a free career coaching session, and find out how Product Gym can help you kick-start your PM career.