Top 10 interview questions to ask a prospective Product Manager


Interviewing is not easy. Interviewing “product people” is easier than most interviews because there is a certain spark and passion that is noticed almost straight away. And you can’t fake passion.
abstract image of colours on black background

Interviewing is not easy. Interviewing “product people” is easier than most interviews because there is a certain spark and passion that is noticed almost straight away. And you can’t fake passion.

However when you interviewing multiple people who have this spark (and most long term product people have it) makes it hard to compare them.

For this reason we have put together the top Product manager interview questions that have helped us over the years.

1. Can you explain what a Product Manager does to someone who hasn’t heard of this role before?

Go in with a heavy hitter right out of the gate. This sounds like an easy question but that’s the beauty of this one. It’s a question we often get asked especially from larger traditional businesses who class Product management and Project management as the same thing.

2. How do you determine what customers want?

Answers to this one should include talking to them, looking at data, observing them and even looking at what competitors are doing. Being able to pre-empt what they want before they even know they want it is a fine art and data will help the most in driving this.

3. How would you prioritise:

  1. Adding a new feature your No. 1 customer has requested
  2. Fixing a UX problem that generates lots of support calls
  3. Adding an enhancement your top salesperson needs to close deals?
  4. Adding functionality that your main competitor already has?

I always like it when people have a stab at answering this as it shows they have understood the scenarios and are going head first, it should be preempted with a prioritisation processes that needs to be followed similar to RICE but also nodding to the realities of organisation that just ‘need stuff done’ which happens.

4. What was your biggest mistake as a product manager?

The beauty of this question is that it makes people vulnerable and will likely catch them unaware. It will take a second to gather their thoughts and come up with an answer. I think accountability of the Product role is so important and this question will give you good insight into empathy from experience.

5. Have you ever been in a situation where your team has let you down and you’ve had to take the blame?

Such an important part of the role is driving efficiencies in the team and setting realistic sprint goals. In a way they need to be a shield for the team and take the ultimate responsibility for the outcome.

6. How do you gain credibility from the development/engineering teams as a new product manager?

This will give you some good insight into how the Product Manager interacts with the software team. Everyone has different styles but gaining some “street cred” doesn’t happen overnight and you need to ultimately gain respect from the team in order for them to work the most efficiently with you.

7. If I spoke to your coworkers, what is one word they would use to describe you?

A good one to gauge the responses. It’s pretty obvious when someone is lying in this question so suggest you pause after their first response and wait for the next comments to flow.

8. What is your favourite Digital product

This will give you a good idea of the types of sites they like.

9. What resources do you use to obtain product management knowledge?

Passionate people spend time outside of working learning and researching new things. This will ensure that the candidate is focused on their own self-development.

10. What differentiates you as a product manager?

Product is so integral to building successful applications and you need to ensure that the person in the role has a “spark”. This question is helpful when interviewing many people who have similar skills and experience.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
Let's talk about your product.