The Ultimate Guide to Product Manager Interview Questions

Great product management isn't easy

Great product managers score off the charts in listening, learning, leading, analyzing, anticipating and re-imagining. Among other things.

How do you interview for that?

Get it wrong and your new hire might be shifting your business into neutral. Or worse yet, reverse.

Problem is, there are no standard best practices for interviewing product managers.

You might have developed your own approach. But is it coordinated with the rest of the interview team? Or does each interviewer ask his or her personal favorite questions?

Are you sure your team is covering all the key areas with enough depth?

Or are you rolling the dice?

Hiring with Confidence and Speed

The goal of this interview guide is to provide you with a structured framework to help your team hire product managers with confidence and speed.

This guide’s focus is on the first round interview only. It does not focus on the phone screen, the second round of interviews, or questions of cultural fit.

A significant difference in our approach is that we recommend your first round consist of 4 very different interviews with a candidate:

  1. The Product Management Case Interview: 45-60 minutes
  2. The Analytical & Cognitive Skills Interview: 45- 60 minutes
  3. The Leadership & Communication Skills Interview: 45-60 minutes
  4. The Most Significant Accomplishments (Resume Review) Interview: 45-60 minutes

Instead of trying to use your interviews to make individual yes/no decisions, use the interviews to collect information. Once the interviews are done, get the interview team together, share the information, and make an assessment as a group.

You can make this much easier if you record and transcribe your interviews. Most new mobile phones do great audio/video recordings, and Speechpad is a service that will take your audio or video file and return a high quality transcription.

How is this different from what most companies do?

Most companies do a first round of 3-4 interviews, but each interview is similar in structure and focus. The interview questions asked are largely up to each interviewer, and there is little or no coordination between interviewers.

Why do we recommend a different approach?

It is simply not possible to address everything needed to excel in a product management role in one 45-60 minute interview. It’s also not realistic to subject candidates to extremely long interview processes. In a tight job market for top talent, great candidates won’t have the patience.

The coordinated team approach we recommend allows each candidate decision to be made with up to 4 times as much data. It also ensures balanced coverage across all key areas.

In the alternative/classic approach, each interviewer decides individually using only his or her 45-60 minutes of data. And since interview questions are not coordinated, there is a high risk that some key areas are never addressed.

What are the benefits of our approach?

  1. Confidence: Assured coverage of all areas critical to the job.
  2. Objectivity: Information sharing and group assessment increases quality of decisions.
  3. Decision Speed: Coordination means less need for many rounds of interviews.
  4. Transparency: How else do you know if people on your team are good interviewers?
  5. Recruitment: A comprehensive approach gives top talent confidence in your company.

Learn more about each of the four recommended product manager interviews:

  1. The Product Management Case Interview
  2. The Analytical & Cognitive Skills Interview
  3. The Leadership & Communication Skills Interview
  4. The Most Significant Accomplishments (Resume Review) Interview

 



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Andy Jagoe About Andy Jagoe

Andy is the founder of Venturegrit and has 20 years of experience founding, funding, and leading venture funded startups. More about Andy's background. You can also find Andy on LinkedIn and AngelList.

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Comments

  1. Alexandre Oliveira says:

    Yes I’m interesting in an ebook.
    Thanks

    • I would appreciate a copy of the ebook of questions and answers. Always open to suggestions for improvement!!

  2. j quick says:

    Ebook, please…

  3. Jon Abbe says:

    Very helpful series of articles. I would be very interested in an ebook. Thanks.

  4. Very helpful advises. Can I have a copy of the ebook?

  5. This is very helpful. Can I have an access to the ebook ?

  6. Very helpful article! Most companies tend to do either one of the four styles which makes it hard to assess the full breadth of skills required for a PM role. An ebook would be awesome, thanks!

    • Andy Jagoe Andy Jagoe says:

      Thanks for the comment, Irene. There is no ebook yet, but if there is enough interest and I put one together I will certainly let you know.

  7. One of the most comprehensive and thorough frameworks that I have seen. Thanks for sharing this. Yes, I would love to have the ebook. I hope there is enough interest for you to put one together.

    • Andy Jagoe Andy Jagoe says:

      Thanks for the comment, Pandith. And I appreciate your interest in the ebook. What specific areas would you be most interested in being expanded into an ebook?

      • Firstly, I would be very interested in the model answers. I’m sure I would learn a lot from your approach and thought process.

        Though this is intended as a baseline set of questions it be useful to know if you have any additional/specific questions based on maturity of product (early, growth, decline), based on market focus (B2B, B2C), and two-sided plays

        Also, what questions would you ask the company to get a “real” picture of the role definition, processes, what activities you will own (and work on) – especially since each company defines the function very differently.

  8. Shirish Kothari says:

    E-Book please

  9. Saravanan says:

    Yes. I am interested in getting the e-book

  10. Alice Chen says:

    Very helpful. Would like to get an e-book.

  11. Kaustubh Janave says:

    That is a great article. I am myself looking out for a Product Manager profile and very keen on knowing where I really stand in terms of fitment for the profile.

    I would appreciate if you could guide. All of them are asking for an ebook. Do you have one published?? I would be very interested in having one.

    Thank you!!

  12. This is awesome list of questions, would like to read the e book!

  13. Good article. I would also like the e-book

  14. Good set of articles. I would also like the e-book

  15. I am also interested in the ebook.

  16. Great questions. I’m interested in a ebook.

  17. need ebook!!!

  18. I would like an e-book please!

    Perhaps you could include examples of both model solutions encountered at a startup and at a corporation so we can compare and contrast the differences in approach.

    Thank you so much! Your posts are extremely helpful! 🙂

  19. Ken Madison says:

    Excellent thought provoking article. Product manager is perhaps the most critical role in a company and we all benefit by fully appreciating efforts required to hire the right person for this role.
    I am looking forward to accessing your eBook soon.

  20. Hello Andy,

    Request you for the Ebook.

    Rgds/D

  21. Great information and insight. I’m also intereted in the ebook if/once it is available (nice MVP work there 🙂

  22. yes please – would be interested in the ebook please

  23. Hey,

    Great series … Can you point me to the resources where can I have access to the ebook.

    Thanks in advance

    Regards,
    Silpa

  24. Can u please send me an eBook? Your advice is more than any interview books for me. Thank u so much.

  25. Hi – would like to see the ebook please

  26. christopher cheniae says:

    Requesting an ebook please.

    Best Regards

  27. Roshan Anand says:

    Please email me too

  28. Is this applicable to FMCG?

  29. Hi! Would like to request for the ebook 🙂 Thanks in advance!

  30. Great info. would like to request for an ebook, please!

  31. Sudhanshu says:

    May I too get a copy of eBook please!

  32. Would love an eBook…new to the area of Product management so would appreciate the guidance!

  33. Andy,

    Your approach aligns quite well to our interview and assessment philosophy at my company but provides some rigor and structure that we haven’t had. This does work and we’ve had tremendous success but I think we can improve. We follow Adler’s MSA style but haven’t been structured enough around having different roles asking different lines of questions though our assessment areas map directly to the four areas you outline. Could you share the eBook mentioned in the post.

    Thanks for the links to the videos as well. They are very helpful in reinforcing the points.

    Thanks,

    Ken

    • Andy Jagoe Andy Jagoe says:

      Hi Ken. I’m glad you found it useful. I have not put together an eBook yet, but it’s still possible I might do it in the future.

      Best

      Andy

  34. Hi Andy, Thank you for your articles on the Product Manager Hiring. Keep up the great work. Can you please email me the ebook you have compiled on this particular topic and any other related topics. Once again thank you and all the best for your future publishings.

    All is well.
    Rams

  35. This is very informative and provides a great structure. Can you please provide the ebook.

    Thanks,

  36. Too good !!!!

    Can you please provide the ebook?

    Thanks

  37. ksrikrish says:

    Nice article. I am interested in the ebook.
    Thanks

  38. Great article. Here’s another on hiring the right Product Manager!
    http://thatproductguy.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/hiring-your-next-product-manager-interview-questions/

  39. Interesting read !! Could you please provide me access to the ebook?

  40. I am very much interested in ebook. thanks in advanced

  41. Hi Andy,

    Thank you for this wonderful article on Product Managers.
    This is really not only a guide to take interviews, infact for Product Managers to understand where they stand.
    I recently shifted to Product Manager role from being a Techie.. and this is kind of a very comprehensive list to know what Product Managers actual role is and qualities they should possess.
    Really Thanks… and yes.. I am interested in your ebook..
    All the best for your publications..

    Thanks,
    Sapna

  42. I would love to have ebook. Would appreciate if you could send one.

  43. Excellent article Andy… well written with supporting information/videos.
    I would be interested in the ebook… would make it handy to refer for any interview I take or give in future.
    Thanks & Regards
    Anupam

  44. Great article. Can you please provide the ebook?

  45. Great article. I’d really appreciate a copy of the ebook.

  46. Nidhi Arora says:

    Very interesting series. Would love to read the ebook. Please email me the ebook..

    Thanks.

  47. Hi Andy,

    This is great. Were you able to jot down everything in an e-book? If yes then please share.
    Thanks

    Ankit

  48. Utsav Sanghani says:

    Hi Andy,
    I loved your post. I would be glad if you could share an ebook on my email address.

    Thanks,
    Utsav

  49. Bhoomaiah says:

    Please provide me the ebook.

  50. Steve Guttman says:

    This is the best set of articles on interviewing product managers I’ve ever seen. The structure makes sense. The sections are sensible, direct and clearly written. The references are spot-on and provide additional insights. Great work! Thanks.

  51. I’m interested in e-book and anything that contains “before” and “after” results.

    What I have read so far seems spot-on so I’m on the “love to learn more” bandwagon!

  52. shani mashhood says:

    extremely insightful post – would you be able to send me the ebook please – am interviewing today

  53. I would love to have a copy of your eBook. I really enjoyed your article.

  54. Great article. Would love to have a copy of your ebook.

  55. Ajay M says:

    Great insights into detailed interview process for PM. I would like to have a copy of eBook.

    Thanks
    Ajay

  56. Ajay M says:

    Great insights into detailed interview process for PM. I would like to have a copy of eBook.

  57. Sandhya says:

    I would love a copy of your ebook. Thanks.

  58. Hello Andy,

    Great work! Your content helped me prepare for my APM interviews.
    If you are working on an e-book, I would love a copy of it. This is the best material I’ve come across so far.

    Thank you.

  59. Thanks for the article, please send a copy of the ebook.

  60. Yes,Its really great and I would love to have a copy of your ebook . Thanks. Rajesh

  61. Nice article!
    Can I have a copy of your ebook, please!

  62. Excellent article, can i have the access to ebook.

  63. Great stuff. Andy, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about what to cover in the 2nd round/final interviews, other than cultural fit. Thanks, Scott

  64. Yes, I would like a copy of your ebook please.

  65. Hi, great article. I’m interested in the ebook. Thank you!

  66. Ebook please.

  67. Good read, I would be happy to have a copy of the ebook. Thanks. Peter

  68. Gary Glover says:

    I would love to read the ebook, please send me a copy!

  69. I like it very much! would you mind email a copy of the ebook? I really need it for my interview this year….
    thank u very much!!!

  70. Jay Upadhyay says:

    Hello Andy,

    Great article and very informative site. This is very useful to people like me who wants to get into product management. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience.

    Can you please share a sample eBook to me please?

    Thank you.

  71. Hi Andy,

    Great article here.
    Would be highly interested in receiving the ebook for additional resources.
    Thanks in advance,

  72. Hey awesome set of articles. Would love to have the eBook.

  73. Wonderful and very useful.

    Can you pls email me the EBook . you can share a link so every can download it too if they want.

  74. Neha Bhayana says:

    Very useful. Can you pls mail me the ebook? Thanks for such a wonderful write-up

  75. Vaishali says:

    Could you please pass on ebook copy.

  76. Good read! I’m interested in the book.

  77. I would also be interested in an eBook.
    Thanks!

  78. Calvin Nguyen says:

    I’d love to have you’re ebook. Thanks

  79. cud u please send me the ebook

  80. I would also be interested in an eBook.
    Thanks!

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