A product manager’s role is at the intersection of strategy, design, technology, implementation, delivery and stakeholder management.
While the questions in a product manager interview may take several forms, they can all be abstracted to the following five main underlying questions.
The approach to answering these important questions is a good indicator of the product managers ability to effectively structure, articulate, organize, and quantify their thought process.
Before answering this question make sure that you are intimately familiar with your favorite product. Your favorite product could be
Start by articulating the objective of the product.
Define how the product seamlessly accomplishes its objectives, and provides the user with a frictionless and intuitive way to achieve the desired objectives.
Define 1–3 features of the product that absolutely delight the user and provide a great experience.
Compare the product with competitors and alternatives and describe what the products does better, and areas where the product can learn and improve.
This question can take several forms.
The central idea behind this question is whether you can articulate the criteria by which you evaluate good design.
Define the general set of criteria for what makes a good design.
Align the design of the product with the intended audience and use cases. Define the intended audience and intended use cases, as the product design must be optimized for these scenarios.
Describe two competing products and evaluate their design models based on criteria set in Step 1 and Step 2.
This question is meant to test the product mangers creativity, quantitative objectiveness, critical thinking and strategy alignment process. This question can take several forms,
Define the channels and drivers that capture the areas of improvement. Typically the following three channels/drivers are good indicators of gather information to improve a product.
Once you have defined the primary drivers that direct the areas of improvement for the product, the next step involves exercising creativity and coming up with innovative use cases and solutions that align with the drivers.
Creatively come up with ideas that will address the primary drivers in the areas of improvement. This may include refining existing features, adding new offerings, exploring several a-typical use cases, evaluating and prioritizing feature sets, brainstorming etc.
This is the most creative part of the product managers role, but must be directed by the parameters defined in Step 1.
Prune the use cases and solutions, and develop a feature set for the shortlisted solutions.
This part involves critical thinking and also prioritization based on the primary drivers of the product.
Define metrics and product improvement goals over the defined time period, to quantitatively measure the performance and business alignment of the feature set.
This is to ensure that you can measure if the impact of a particular feature set is as intended and aligns with the overall product improvement drivers i.e. customer feedback, user interaction with product, business strategy alignment.
This question test is meant to test the product manager strategy alignment and critical thinking and can take the following forms,
Start by first getting a clear understanding of the business strategic vision, and the business OKRs i.e. Objectives and Key Results.
eg. The business OKR might be to increase the subscription revenue within a product by 3% over the next 6 months.
Once you have a clear understanding of the OKRs, brainstorm with the project stakeholders to define initiatives that align with the OKRs.
These initiative might be feature sets, or they might be mini products offerings themselves. eg. Facebook live feature within Facebook, or Facebook marketplace.
Prioritize the project initiatives that align with the OKRs using some defined scoring methodology based on ROI.
To define the ROI scoring methodology first identify and define metrics around the positive impacts of the initiative eg. increased user engagement percentage, compliance requirement, feature most often requested by user, frequency of use etc.
Then identify and define the effort required to implement eg. estimated person-day cost, leveraging existing platforms, reusing open source libraries, partnering with key strategic partners (eg. a payment gateway) etc.
Using this methodology of prioritization you will now have a clear quantitative basis of comparison between the various project initiatives, which will allow you to effectively prioritize the project initiatives i.e. feature set or mini product.
This question tests to see if the product manager can quantitatively assess and articulate the metrics that define success of a product feature or a mini-product.
Identify and define the intended goals of the features.
Identify the key OKRs and the goals of the product. Deeply understand the product feature set and also assess the unintended impacts of the feature. Identify if the product consisted of different feature sets, that collectively and separately addressed a particular OKR.
Evaluate if the product met the intended goals.
Identify the product usage metrics eg. frequency of use, level of adoption, level of engagement etc. and then correlate them with the goals and objectives metrics of the product.
eg. did the 20% increase in the level of engagement correlate to the intended 2% conversion ratio? etc.
While the questions listed above may be the typically presented during a product manager interview, there is great value in Product Managers asking themselves these questions periodically as they continue to develop the product roadmap in their current role.
The structured methodology of approaching the possible answers will serve as an invaluable guideline in aligning and re-centering focus around the product, customer and business strategy alignment.
Hopefully this post has provided you some insightful guidelines and ideas to approach your next Product Management role.
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