Product Manager belongs to 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 ask you, and a short hint on how you can answer the questions.
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.
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).
Tell us something about your experience.
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.
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).
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 in the company. Describe how you plan to communicate your plans and ideas with your colleagues.
Of course, sales may have their word when it comes to design, or tje 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.
* Do not forget to read also: Guide on how to overcome interview nerves.
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.
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 ball rolling. Another idea is talking about moving the resources from other, less successful products.
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 to assess 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 for product manager interviews
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, and they can often decide the winner in an interview. 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?
- Tell us about a time when you went above and beyond.
- Give an example of a time you showed initiative at work.
- Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
- Tell me about a time you had to comply with a policy or procedure that you did not agree with.
- When you worked on multiple projects (products), how did you prioritize?
- Describe a conflict you had with your colleague.
- Describe a time when you did not know how to solve a problem. What did you do?
- Tell me about a time when you were overwhelmed with work.
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* You can also download the full list of questions in a one-page long .PDF document, to practice your answers anytime later:
- How to dress for an interview – Every detail matters in a competitive job market. Choose the right clothes and succeed.
- 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.