Meeting of a product management team, we can see glasses on a table, and people in shirts writing something on the papers in front of them. We can not see faces of the managers.Product Manager belongs to the most prestigious positions in any corporation.

To get it in an interview, however, you will have to demonstrate a variety of skills and abilities.

You will have to answer screening, behavioral and technical questions, demonstrating your knowledge of the field, right attitude to work, and your motivation.

On the top of that, you will have to convince the interviewers that you have a good understanding for their industry, for their product range, for the market trends, and for their business in general.

Let’s have a look at the questions they will use in an interview with you, and a short hint on how you can answer each question.

 

Common questions for product manager interview

1. Why do you want to become a product manager?

Focus on your enthusiasm for the product range of the company. Tell them how your skills, abilities, and experience make from you a good candidate for the job of a PM.

Alternatively you can speak about particular ideas you have, suggesting how you’d help them to improve their products, or design new ones. One way or another, they should hear some enthusiasm in your voice to believe that you really want the job.

If you have had the same position in the past, you can say that you’d like to continue your professional career in the same field, and believe that your past experience will help you to do a great job in their company.

 

2. What characterize a good product manager?

You can talk about an ability to understand the market, to think one step ahead (or even a few steps ahead), to understand the needs of the customers and an ability to transform these needs to a particular product design and marketing plan, the technical skills required for the job, and so on.

Show them that you know what it takes to become a great product manager, and ensure them that you have the skills (or work hard to have them).

 

3. Tell us something about your experience.

Product manager shakes hand with the hiring manager. We can not see the faces on the picture, just hands and bodies.Focus on your latest projects, what you have designed, and how it helped your former employers/clients.

Show us the value your work has brought to the people who paid for the work. That is the key–to show the value, to show us the reason why we should hire you.

If you apply for your first job (highly unlikely in this field but not impossible), you can speak about the projects you’ve done at school, or about anything else that is relevant for the job.

 

4. Why did you decide to apply for a job in our company, and not somewhere else?

Show them that you did your homework, that you know what they do in the company, and have a clear reason why you applied for a job with them.

You can tell them that you like their product range, the professionalism of their designs, or simply the working environment they have at place.

To compliment them for something they do in a company is a great answer to this question. Alternatively you can refer to a professional recommendation, or any other reason that motivated you to apply for their offer (good location of the place, good traffic connection, career growth options, etc).

 

5. When managing the product, how do you manage the expectations of internal groups, just like sales and services?

Tell them that you prefer a close interaction with other departments. Tell them that you always try to get feedback from other people, that you understand that product manager is not a standalone unit. Describe how you plan to communicate your plans and ideas with your colleagues.

Of course, sales may have their word on the design, or on a marketing plan. The same can be said about every department in the company. Good product manager is always eager to hear the feedback of their colleagues.

 

Technical questions and a short case study

6. What do you consider the right time to release the product?

Some people believe that the product should not be released until they reach perfection, until all beta tests have been completed and everything works without the slightest chance of a failure.

The competitors do not sleep, however. Other companies also work and design new products, and they can sometimes act faster, and secure the coveted first place on a market with the new product.

Bearing this in mind, you should think carefully about the industry, and decide about a good answer to this question.

 

7. Tell us something bout the life cycle of the product.

They are testing your theoretical knowledge with the question. You should know the life cycle, and if you don’t, check Wikipedia to learn more about it :).

If you have managed some products before, you can explain the life cycle on a particular product, demonstrating that you understand the theory in practice.

 

Panel interview, three young interviewers, two women and one man, and one job candidate, a man. All of them look happy with the way the interview goes so far. 8. Imagine that the demand has exceeded your production capacity in the initial phase. What would you do?

Good product manager would never let the customers waiting, unless they had doubts about the quality of the product, and expected the demand to drop.

You can say that you would outsource the production, or do anything else to keep the dice rolling.

 

9. Imagine that your mobile phone is a brand new product in the market – a first phone with a digital camera (funny imagination right now). You have limited budget for advertising the product, let’s say one million dollars. What steps would you take to successfully launch this product with the budget?

A short case study is a great way of assessing your readiness for the job. Do you think systematically? Can you decide independently? Do you know what you would do in an unknown situation?

Interviewers try to understand all of it while listening to your answer.

Case studies will vary from one interview to another. Most of the time they will relate to the products of the company.

 

Behavioral questions

Apart from the screening and technical questions, the interviewers will also ask you behavioral questions. 

Answers to these questions help them o understand how you’d act in various work related situations. They help them to understand your personality and attitude to work.

To typical behavioral questions belong:

  • Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over?Panel interview, three HR managers and one job candidate. People are smiling
  • Describe a difficult decision you had to make in your professional career. How did making this decision affect you?
  • Describe a time when you experienced a conflict of your personal and professional interests. How did you get over it?
  • Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
  • Describe a conflict you had with your colleague. Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service (for the customer, for the colleague).
  • ….

 

If you find these questions difficult, you should have a look at our Interview Success Package. There you will find multiple brilliant answers to all tough behavioral questions, and many other things that will help you to quickly learn how to ace your interview for a product manager job… Thank you for checking it out!

 

Other articles to read

  • Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication?
  • What are your salary expectations? – Learn how to present your salary expectations in an interview, and get what you deserve.
  • Work portfolio for an interview – Learn how to prepare a selection of your best works, and how to use it to show the interviewers the value you can bring to their team. Especially useful for product managers.