So, do you have any questions for us? You’re at the tail-end of the interview and are positive you’ve handled the grilling when your interviewer asks this question as if to conclude. It may seem like an innocuous question brought up by the by, but the way you handle this part of the interview may well determine whether you move forward in the interview process — or even if you get the Product Manager job. Needless to say, having some questions to ask during the Product Manager interview can help you nail this part of the interview.
People often prepare to answer the questions they are asked, but it’s just as important to go in with some questions to ask employers during an interview of your own. What do you want to find out about the position, company, or team you will be working with? The right questions to ask interviewers will give you the answers you need while making you more memorable to the Hiring Manager.
What are some of the best questions to ask during product manager interviews? We’ve put together this guide to help you cover all your bases — right from the first interviewing round.
What Are Interviewers Looking For?
In a Product Manager interview, you should impress the interviewer. But it can be tough to do. People often prepare to answer the questions they are asked, but it’s just as important to go in with some questions to ask employers during an interview of your own. To leave a great impression with the interview questions you pose, keep in mind why you are being interviewed in the first place. A company is hiring because they have a problem or unmet need.
Your role as an applicant and prospective is to comprehend those problems and unmet needs, then solve them. A company hiring for Product Managers is more concerned with whether an applicant can comprehend and solve the problem than with whether an applicant is qualified for the position. The main factor that separates successful candidates from the rest of the bunch is that they have an availabe solution. Or if they don’t, they look to be ready to prepare one. At the very least, they displays a solid interest in the company and the company’s unmet needs. Ultimately, in a PM interview, the focus is always on the company hiring, not the applicant!
To display this concern or interest, you have to ask smart, detailed questions. Demonstrate that you have done research on the company, are interested in working for them, and want to help with or lead a solution project.
Why Prep Questions to Ask During Product Manager Interviews?
Keep in mind that your questions should never be generic. You should genuinely want to learn more about the position you are hoping to fill and the work you will be doing. Product management is a world of its own just as the company you hope to work for has its own unique processes and challenges.
Asking questions can boost your chances of landing a role because:
- It shows your interest in the role and company. You are so invested that you have made the effort to do your research. This demonstrates a willingness to put in effort on the job.
- It positions you as a qualified candidate. Asking the right questions displays your expertise as a Product Manager, whether it’s probing for insights on the product roadmap or the company process. One of the key things a Product Manager does is to narrow down on the problem and fulfill user expectations. Thus, they must have a knack for knowing which questions to ask.
- It helps you uncover more about the company and role. Not only are questions to as interviewers a great way to gain insight into the company, they also give you an opportunity to cover points you forgot to touch on during the interview. You might even uncover subjects your interviewer is passionate about. This could open up an interesting and memorable discussion.
- It shows your interest and attention to detail. Relevant questions demonstrate your level of interest in both the role you are interviewing for and the recruiter. Showing that you listened and paid attention to small details makes a great impression on your interviewer.
- You get to vet the company too. Interviews are a two-way street, meaning that while you are being interviewed to find out whether you are suitable for a position, you should also make a point of finding out whether the job is suitable for you. This is your chance: What do you want to know about the position? The company? The department? The team?
- It’s a learning opportunity. The insights you gain from questions to ask at the end of an interview will be valuable in future, whether you get the job or continue with your job search.
How to Prep Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview
While having a good list of questions is a great place to start, it is often the little details that will set them apart. For example, a question like, “Tell me about the company process.” is general and uninformed. But consider this one which is essentially asking the same thing: “What goals are the company focused on and how do the current processes support that?”
See the difference?
It’s important to remember that the goal is not to sound smart by complicating questions. Rather, you should be smart about digging up responses from your interviewer. In this case, the latter question could uncover everything from the typical day to company culture. The questions to ask interviewers that you prep could even give you insight into company funding.
So how do you uncover this “secret sauce”? A few tried and tested approaches can help:
#1: Carry Out a Product Deep Dive
As any Product Manager knows, the best way to learn about a product is to use it. Using the company’s product intensively is a great way to generate relevant questions because you not only put yourself in the customer’s shoes, you also get a greater understanding of it as a PM
Find potential or current users to interview if you can’t use the product yourself. Whatever you do, endeavor to gain a greater understanding from a user’s standpoint.
#2: Model the Business and User Engagement
Another way to get more information than what general research would yield is to build a model of the product.
- How does it make money?
- Is it the flagship product? (In the case of companies with multiple products.)
- How do customers engage with it?
Doing this will reveal gaps in your understanding of the product, which provides you with pertinent questions to ask.
#3: Think Like an Investor
Anyone putting their money into a venture will always look beyond the front-facing side of a business. They will want to know less about the visible characteristics and open up the books to see how a company really operates. This is similar to the Product Manager’s ideal mindset.
Putting on an investor’s hat is a sure way to think up questions about the company, the team you will be working with, and their goals. Ask yourself at the end of your assessment: Do you know enough about the company to decide whether you would invest your money in it — or otherwise?
#4: Double Down on Your Expertise and Experience
Thinking about your previous roles, in product or otherwise, and drawing parallels to the products and processes of the current company is another way to get more curious. For example, you might spot developments that created difficulty for your product team in the past, but which the company you are interviewing for seems to have solved. How did they do it? This is your chance to find out.
Using the above tactics in your research should give you the ability to customize the below questions to ask interviewers to their unique context.
So let’s get into it.
The Best Questions to Ask During a Product Manager Interview
Here are 44 questions to ask during the interview (don’t wait until the very end to bring these out). Each one designed to help you determine the company’s unmet needs, their reasons for hiring, and ultimately what value you can bring as a Product Manager. This is all information you need to better answer their questions and show them you’re the best fit for the role. Not all of these questions will be applicable to every company. However, most questions will apply to the hiring company’s current situation.
- When we say internal, which stakeholder are we talking about? Who and where are all the stakeholders in the company?
- What are some of the current tools built by your team?
- What are some of the 3rd party tools used by customer service?
- Why are you hiring for this role? What’s the initiative?
- How does the digital and email marketing cohorts work? What’s the dynamic with marketing? How much data and communication is happening between those cohorts and the Product Management team?
- What kind of data points are we working with?
- What is the content marketing strategy?
- How are we targeting new consumers?
- What does the company’s idea boards look like? How is it different from a service like Pinterest?
- Is this project’s goal to launch a new product or improve an existing one?
- What was the thought process behind rebranding the product?
- Is the product a mobile or desktop app? Is there plans to launch a version compatible with both mobile and desktop?
- Which product are you seeing the highest conversion rate with its consumers?
- What analytics are your team using?
- Whats the user acquisition strategy? What has the been the most effective strategy? What is the churn rate of the product?
- Are there plans for a web to mobile transition?
- What’s the current bottleneck for the product? Is it a need to improve or automate the process or is it a need to prioritize improving features or come up with new features and/or strategies?
- What is the reason(s) for users to undownload our app?
- What are our target user base’ demographic groups?
- Have your company considered an a la carte model?
- Can I see the product’s data in the first 90 days of launching to the public?
- What data sources are you using to pull all this data you analyze?
- What are the return rates for a user? Does a user post a review multiple times?
- Have we thought of a referral program?
- What is the company’s SEO initiatives?
- How do you get people to write reviews?
- How is the company’s various team dynamics?
- Is there an API? What about a tech stack?
- What product will this role be for?
- Talk to me about the chatbot initiatives for your product?
- What do you charge for your product? If it’s free, how do you earn funding?
- I imagine there’s an internal dashboard for customers to view KPIs, right?
- What are some of the challenges you guys are having in attracting new users/consumers? What can be improved about the accessibility of the product?
- How do you create brand awareness and separate your product from your rivals?
- Who are the stakeholders involved?
- This role sounds like more of a project manager role. What kind of interaction does the Product Manager have with clients? Does the Product Manager groom the backlog?
- How big is the Product Manager team?
- Is there any travel involved?
- Can you walk me through a typical product life cycle?
- How has the new change in leadership affected the product vision?
- What sort of customization do you give clients?
- How many different APIs and databases do you guys tap into to make a decision that quick? Did you guys develop a proprietary scoring algorithm?
- Whats next on the product roadmap?
- Are there partnerships in play with other companies? What field are those companies in, and how do they help?
The Best Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview
When you want to learn about the company in terms of fit, culture, salary — or anything else that might affect your decision — there are sets of questions you can ask at each interview round.
The recruiting cycle for Product Managers is often carried out in four rounds: The first round involves an interview with the internal product management recruiter. If you ace this interview, you’re likely going to speak with a Hiring Manager in the second round.
As you can imagine, both of these people will have different objectives and the interviews will be different. Thus, we’ve arranged the questions you should ask into these two categories: questions to ask interviewers during the first round, and questions to ask a product manager in your second interview.
First Round Questions to Ask During Product Manager Interviews
The first round call with the internal product management recruiter will operate much like a checklist. They are going to ask you to talk about yourself, how you transitioned into product management or how you currently perform product responsibilities, why you are leaving, and what you are looking for in your next role.
To prepare your questions for this first round, you need to do research on the company. Specifically, look for sources that answer these questions:
- Does this company have a suite of software products or one core product that fuels the business?
- Did they just get a recent round of funding so that they’re looking to hire product managers?
- If so, what type of product managers? B2B, B2C, E-commerce, or a Product Manager to build internal tools?
- Who are their customers, end-users, and more specifically, how do they make money?
- What is their monetization strategy?
- Who are their competitors, either directly or complementary to their services?
Remember to think like a Product Manager when you are going through these sources so that you can generate relevant topics around the following questions.
Questions To Ask About the Company
In this stage, you want to sound energetic, engaged, and enthused about the company. You should also take this as an opportunity to fill in any gaps in the information you garnered during your research.
Learn more about the company by asking:
- Can you tell me more about the company’s founding?
- Are the original Founders still there?
- How large is the company?
- Where do you see this company in the next few years?
- What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?
- What are the current goals that the company is focused on?
- What type of employee tends to succeed here?
Questions to Ask About the Team
Fitting into your team is crucial as a Product Manager. These are the people you will be supervising and taking supervision from, brainstorming with, striving to meet goals with, and so much more. Whatever information you can uncover from questions to ask during the Product Manager interview process can help you decide whether you want to work with them.
Learn more about your prospective team by asking:
- How large is the product department?
- Is this a new position?
- How large is my working team?
- Who will I report to and who will I work with most closely?
- Do you expect to hire more people for the team?
- Which other departments will I be working with?
Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview About the Job
You want to learn as much as you can about the job before taking it. While you’ll get plenty of opportunities to get your questions answered in the second round, there are still some things you can ask to help you weigh their expectations and whether it meets your needs as well. Remember, this is not the time to ask about money or holidays.
Learn more about the job by asking:
- How long has this job posting been up and where are you in the job candidate search?
- Are there any opportunities for growth in this position?
- What does a typical career path look like here?
- How do you help your staff grow professionally?
- How do you evaluate success in this role?
Interview Questions to Ask Employers About Next Steps
Every organization has its own recruiting process, and it’s important to know what to expect going forward.
Learn more about the interview process by asking:
- What is your interviewing process like? How many rounds and with who?
- Are you looking to hire soon? How soon?
- Is there anything in my background that would make you hesitate in moving me forward in this application process?
- Is there anything else I can provide you with?
Second Round Questions to Ask During Product Manager Interviews
In this second round call, it is very likely that the next person you’ll be speaking with on the phone is the Hiring Manager. I.e, the person you will be reporting to if you get the job.
This is a Product Manager practicing with the company you are interviewing for and thus can offer a lot of insight into the position you might be taking up soon. Ask questions specifically about the product, the Hiring Manager who will be managing you, and ultimately the product you will be owning.
Questions to Ask About Company Culture
Company culture can be the make or break of your time as a Product Manager at the company, so it’s important to get a good feel of it. Is the office a more start-up culture kind of place, or the more traditional buttoned-up conservative environment?
Find out about this with questions such as:
- How would you describe the work environment at your company?
- Do people work collaboratively or independently?
- What’s the last team event that took place?
- Do you run any sort of team-bonding activities?
- Do you have any office traditions and what are your favorite?
- Do people typically hang out outside of work hours?
- What’s different about working here than anywhere else?
Questions to Ask a Product Manager to Gauge Fit
Like we mentioned before, you also want to evaluate whether a company is suitable for you. Your interviewer will likely wax lyrical about the perks of working there and the doors it will open for you, but you can get to the bottom of this with questions such as:
- What are the best things, in your opinion, about working here?
- Are there any “unofficial” perks that come from working with you?
- What kind of background is more common here?
- What do you think matters most to do a good job here?
- What does a typical career path look like here?
- Who was the last person to fill this position and why did they leave?
- What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
- What sort of budget would I be working with?
- Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change any time soon, and what happens if they do?
Questions About Professional Development
Now is the time to take a deep dive and learn from someone on the inside. In this round, the best questions to ask during product manager interviews include these examples:
- Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development?
- Would I be able to represent the company at industry events?
- How will I be trained?
- Where have successful employees in this position progressed to?
Questions to Demonstrate Your Skill and Impress the Interviewer
Lastly, you want to make sure you make a good impression on your interviewer. They are, after all, the person to decide who fills the position.
Use your research and details you learned from the first call with the recruiter to inform your questions so that they can be as specific as possible. Questions like this would look like:
- I learned through industry publication X that you are launching a new product in a few months. You must be in the final stages of development. What are some of the challenges you’re facing given the (mention specific situations, e.g, the Covid-19 pandemic)?
- Is this the first time you are expanding the product team? What was the main factor that brought this on?
- Your latest app redesign looks great. What user research informed the decision to display your services on the home page?
We can’t exactly write these out for you, but you get the drift. Remember our tips for prepping your questions to help you craft interesting questions to ask during the Product Manager interview that display your expertise.
Pick Your Favorite Questions to Ask During the Product Manager Interview
While the list above is extensive enough to have you asking questions all through your introductory call, keep in mind that it shouldn’t be an interrogation. Picking questions to ask during a Product Manager interview should provoke natural discussions rather than rigid question-answer situations.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask some of them as the interview moves along: you don’t have to save all your questions for the end of the interview. Research and practice them before your interviews and you should be good to go!
Looking for more guidance on how to tackle the gruelling Product Manager interview process? Our in-house team of career coaches are offering free 20-minute sessions to help you out. Schedule a free career coaching session with our in-house team of Product Manager Recruiters to learn how we can help you ace your interviews and clinch that dream Product Manager job.