What are frequently asked questions in Product Management interviews?

Product manager interviews are one of the toughest interviews to crack, not just because of the time taken to interview (some interviews take more than 3 months) but also because of the number of stakeholders involved in the process. Only after getting a go-ahead from the heads of Engineering, Design, Sales and Marketing, among others, will a candidate be rolled out an offer. 

As you can see, it’s not uncommon for Product Management (PM) interviews to stretch from anywhere between 1 month to 3 months and beyond. 

In this blog, we aim to provide you with context on questions that you can expect to be asked in a PM interview.

Most PM interviews are divided into 5 main categories:

  • Strategy
  • Design
  • Technical
  • Analytical
  • Behavioral

The Strategy Round:

Product Strategy, SWOT Analysis, using the MECE framework for segmenting customers are some of the few things that you can expect to be asked. While answering these questions, it’s important to consider the entire life cycle of the product and not optimize for short-term gains. In short, answer questions like a Management Consultant from a McKinsey or a BCG.

Questions:

  • How would you scale a bootstrapped startup so that the growth resembles that of a VC-funded startup?
  • Why do you think Microsoft bought LinkedIn?
  • What was the strategy behind Oracle buying a 12.5% stake in TikTok?
  • Should Google enter the streaming space?
  • If you were a PM at Nintendo and you’re mandated to launch a new kind of gaming experience in 2021, how would you go about it?

The Design Round:

Product design, product improvement, favorite product, Basic UX principles are some of the few topics in which you’ll be asked questions. If you’re interviewing for a B2C company, then this round holds a lot of importance in your candidature. This round assesses your creativity, customer empathy, and your ability to use a structured approach to design products.

Questions:

  • Design an ATM machine for blind people.
  • How would you improve Google Maps?
  • Which product do you think has the best design?
  • Talk about your favorite product that’s not an app or a website
  • Assume Facebook is bloated with unnecessary features. What features would you retire?

The Technical Round:

Algorithms, System Architecture, Data models, APIs, Writing basic SQL queries are a few topics that you should be well-versed in. In companies like Google and Facebook, Product Managers are expected to have technical expertise and it’s important for you to understand technical concepts, and be able to explain them to others in a simple manner. Understanding the limitations and capabilities of code is a good starting point. 

  • What’s the difference between a mark-up language, scripting language and a programming language?
  • How would you describe APIs to a 10-year old?
  • What happens when you open your browser, add your search query on Google and hit search?
  • What’s the tech stack you’d used to build a basic CRM software?
  • What are the use cases of Python?

The Analytical Round:

Definition of metrics, tracking metrics, guesstimates are some of the sure-shot questions. For guesstimates, use either the top-down or bottom-up approach depending on the question. Think through first principles to break down complex problems into smaller ones and then start to solve them. 

Questions: 

  • There’s been a 15% drop in usage of LinkedIn Groups — how do you fix it?
  • How many plates break in one year in Bangalore?
  • Is Retention a good metric to track on dating apps? If no, what’s another metric that can be tracked?
  • How would you measure the success of a new feature that’s useful only for a small segment of your users?
  • What is Air Asia’s weekly revenue for Mumbai-to-Delhi leg?

The Behavioral Round:

This round will put your inter-personal and communication skills to the test. You’d be asked questions on challenges you faced and how you overcame them, how you overcame product failures and questions on handling cross-functional teams. It’s basically a test for your culture fit with the organization and a test of EQ. Answer questions keeping these in mind.

Questions: 

  • Have you applied judgment to a decision when data was not available? How did that decision affect your product?
  • What’s your most significant accomplishment? Why was it significant?
  • How do you resolve conflicts while dealing with cross-functional teams?
  • What made you become a Product Manager?
  • Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?

To know you can crack PM interviews with 1:1 mentoring from senior product executives, check out this Product Management course.

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