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Product Manager Second-Round Interview Questions

During the Product Manager job application process, second-round interview calls are usually with the director of Product Management. They are the hiring managers, and will likely your boss when you get the job. The questions you answer in the second-round interview can make or break your chances. Here are the most important areas to focus on as you answer.

Second-Round Interview Strategies

Control the Conversation

Control the second-round interview by breaking the cadence of question and answer. The hardest part about this interview portion is controlling the pace of conversation.

Remember, these are hiring managers, but that doesn’t mean they manage the hiring. It just means that they make the final decision on whether or not to hire. They are not professional recruiters and it’s likely that they do not have a bank of questions to ask. There will likely be awkward pauses, times where one of you rambles, and just general miscommunication.

The idea here is to control that miscommunication. Don’t turn the interview into an interrogation! You need to turn it into a conversation. Comment on different parts of the answer and pose the same questions back to them. Keep the interviewer engaged.

Gather Information

Find out what the company is doing during the second-round interview: you’ll need to know that information for later interviews. When you ask them questions about their products, it means that you have committed a level of competency and you’re checking whether or not the company is a good fit for you.

In other words, you are checking if the interviewer knows what they are doing for their job. You have to understand that they need you. Note that this also communicates confidence and competency to the interviewer.

If you made it to the second round, they’re evaluating you on multiple levels, including your skillset and interest in the role. The best questions that you can ask are questions about successes and wins as well as difficulties and changes in the organization.

How to Answer Second-Round Interview Questions

Many of the first and second round calls start with “Tell me about yourself” or “Walk me through your background.” Here’s how to answer that tricky question, along with other popular second-round interview questions.

Tell Me About Yourself

  • The examples you give must be focused on your responsibilities as a Product Manager.
  • Think about specific examples where you were in a somewhat agile testing environment, or when you were dealing with a designer. It might not have to be a UX designer, but a designer of a specific system or an engineer. These are specific personas that exist in all sorts of organizations, not just in software companies.

When Was a Time You Owned a Product End-to-End?

  • Variations of this question include:
    • What’s a day in the life of {YOU} as a Product Manager?
    • Walk me through your product development lifecycle
  • The best way to answer these questions is to ask questions yourself. Start your answer by saying that “It depends on the product,” or “It depends on how you define what the product is.”
  • Answering this way shows that you have the breadth and depth of dealing with multiple products and features.
  • Then give examples in your background where you addressed product development in your background.
  • When you’re giving specific examples- let’s say three products that you owned, either peripherally or directly. Dive deeper into each one and explore the example you think has the most relevance to the product development lifecycle.

Here’s some more detail on what to pay attention to while answering product development lifecycle questions in a second-round interview.

How Much of the Product Development Lifecycle Can you Cover?

Cover the key stakeholders, the key pain points, any testing that you did and then release. The level of detail you give on each will depend on the Product Manager that interviews you because a lot of these Product Managers come from different backgrounds.

So if they are a customer account manager or a customer success background, they are probably going to ask you for details about how you prioritize customer pain points. But if they have an engineering background they will be more likely to ask you to walk them through a time when the engineering deadline was pushed back. What did you do with that difficult engineer?

When in Doubt, Work with an Interview Coach

If you’re struggling to convert second-round interviews into the final stages, interview coaches like the ones at Product Gym can help you develop a strategic approach to improve your numbers.

Interview coaches provide a range of services to help you navigate the gruelling Product Manager interview process as an aspiring or first-time Product Manager. Some of these services are tangible and easy to unpack, like reviewing your case study presentations before you submit them and providing pieces of strategic advice when it comes to final-round interview questions and salary negotiation.

But product management interview coaches can also help you in more hard-to-describe ways. For example, an interview coach might help you recognize red flags in the interview and navigate which companies you do and don’t want to pursue based on culture fit. They can also help you build your confidence, crush imposter syndrome, and develop a growth mindset. Our goal is to help our members land a Product Manager job they love, and succeed in their day-to-day as a PM. All in all, an interview coach will help ensure you make the absolute best impression possible on your interviewer.

Want to learn more about product management interview coaching? Get more details about the Product Gym Program and book a call with us to get started.