The product manager role is one of the most interesting career prospects in 2022, for various reasons. The world of software is blooming and with new SaaS companies being launched every day, the demand is growing rapidly. When you also consider the fact that product managers are very well paid (over $100k annually on average), it’s no wonder that so many people want to work in a product role.
Like many companies out there, you’re probably looking to hire a product manager, but you have no idea where to get started. With such a new role and such a complicated skill set, you’re probably wondering how to even start the hiring process.
Or maybe you want to become a product manager yourself, and you’re wondering what the most common questions are so you can prepare yourself for the next interview.
Today, we’ll give you some help in the form of great product manager interview questions. Once you have a potential hire you can interview, these are your best starting points.
What to Look For in a New Product Manager?
As mentioned, the product manager role requires quite a mix of varied skills compared to most other roles in tech. And when you factor in that each product has its own requirements, the specific skill set can differ a lot from case to case.
However, there are some skills and personality traits that all product managers should have.
Technical skills - while product managers should not be developers, they should have some knowledge of code. This will make it easier to communicate with developers and understand the technical requirements of building a product.
Communication skills - a product marketer is a sort of a specialized project manager. Throughout the day, they have to communicate with customers, developers, marketers, designers, sales professionals, and more. Needless to say, they need to be a top-notch communicator.
Critical thinking and analytical skills - a product manager needs to quickly determine which product initiatives are worth your company’s time and align with the overall product vision.
Time management skills - not only do they have to manage their own time, but also the backlog and product roadmap and the entire workload of your team.
Research skills - a product manager needs to constantly be in the loop with the competitors - what they’re up to, what they released, and what customers are saying about them.
Leadership and initiative skills - your new product manager is in a position where they have to get buy-in from the management and the development/design/marketing teams. They need to be confident about the decisions they make and present them in a way that is convincing to others.
List of Product Manager Interview Questions
With the skills out of the way, here are some of the most important product manager interview questions, split up in different categories. You don’t have to ask all the questions in all the categories, but one question from each of the sections below would be a good idea.
Job Position Related Questions
If they’ve worked as a product manager before, this is time to ask them about the experience in their previous roles. Don’t worry if you don’t have any product experience yourself, as these questions make great starting points.
- What kind of products have you worked on before?
- What are some of the KPIs that you were responsible for?
- Who did you report to in your previous role?
- What’s your favorite way of doing customer research?
- What kind of methods and tools do you use for that type of customer research?
- How would you go about creating a product roadmap?
- How do you prioritize features in your backlog? What’s your favorite methodology?
- How do you do competitor research?
- What is your most successful product or product feature up to date?
- How do you align the often non-technical management team with the tech-focused departments such as developers and designers?
- What is the best way to ensure you follow your product vision at all times?
Technical Skills Related Questions
This part is a bit tricky if you don’t have development experience. In this case, it’s best to bring a developer or a CTO from your team to the interview just to make sure you’re getting the right answers.
- What development methodologies have you used in the past? Which is your favorite?
- What would you change about our product? (If they had a chance to use it)
- A customer reports a bug. What’s your typical workflow to solve this?
- All of our code is written in Java (or some other programming language) and you have no knowledge of it. How would you solve this problem?
- What metrics do you track to determine feature adoption?
- How do you go about managing product documentation?
- What steps do you take before and after a product release?
- What are your favorite tools for managing people and processes? Why?
- How would you explain what recursion is in the simplest way possible?
- How do you know if a feature or an aspect of your product has a poor user interface? What steps would you take to fix it?
Personal Related Questions
You want to learn a little bit more about the way your new product manager thinks and what they do outside of work. However, you don’t want to dig too deep into their personal lives as it’s just unprofessional. We recommend starting with:
- How do you unwind after a hard day at work?
- What’s your secret to finding work/life balance when working remotely?
- When you’re not thinking about product marketing, what’s your favorite hobby?
- If money was not an issue, what’s the one thing that you would out of sheer pleasure?
The questions you ask and the direction the interview goes depend on the candidate, what round of interviews they’re in and the general mood of the conversation.
Leadership and Communication-Related Questions
These questions will reveal what kind of communication style your candidate has and whether they would fit in well with your team.
- What is your preferred style of communication?
- Tell me a situation where something went wrong and how you handled it.
- Someone in your team makes a mistake. How do you approach the situation?
- How often do you have meetings with other departments?
- How often do you prefer reporting to someone from the management team?
- How would you describe yourself as a leader?
- How do you like others reporting to you? Which channels and frequency do you prefer?
Past Situations behavioral Related Questions
A lot of the workload in a product manager role comes down to handling situations and reacting quickly in a fast-paced environment.
- Your manager tells you to launch a feature next month despite it being planned for the upcoming quarter. How do you handle the situation?
- Your customers are requesting a feature that they think is valuable but it has no perspective for your business goals and it doesn’t align with your product vision. What do you do?
- You spent months working on a new feature and upon release, it doesn’t get picked up by the customers. How would you get them to use the feature more?
Product Manager Interview Questions Takeaways
While there are some questions that require a bit of technical knowledge, a good recruiter can handle most of these questions and determine whether the answers are good or not. In any case, you can get help with the more technical questions by asking someone from your dev team.
The most important thing to highlight would be that the personality traits and technical skills questions are equally important for this role. To hire the right product manager, you need someone who’s great at managing both tech and people.
Last but not least, your product manager will interact with customers as well, so make sure to hire someone who is extremely empathetic and has superb communication skills.
It may seem like finding a great product manager is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. In reality, there are plenty of candidates out there if you have the right kind of product that excites them to apply. These product manager questions are a great first step towards coming up with a strategy for your first product hire.
And if you’re looking for a tool to help you manage your product and communicate with your customers, why not try FeedBear? It will make your product manager’s job even easier and it comes with a free trial. Sign up today to get started!