Three Product Management Interview Questions You Must Be Able To Answer

Interview questions for Product Managers are a perennial favorite, and now that I’m interviewing for a new PM I figured it was time to share my favorites, too.

Hint: If you’re interviewing with me any time soon, READ THIS POST. But don’t copy my answers; that’s just lame.

“My favorite product is Masterpiece Optimus Prime, and here’s why…”

What’s your favorite product or service, and why?

If we’re talking technology, it’s my iPhone because it effectively resolves one of the banes of my existence: Location-based problems. From live driving directions to “where can I eat vegetarian food around here?”, this little device does it all, and does it elegantly and efficiently.

If we’re talking more generally, my favorite product is Masterpiece Optimus Prime. Despite all appearances, this is not a toy. Masterpiece Optimus Prime is imagination and childhood nostalgia crafted in die cast form — complete with rubber wheels, spring-loaded suspension, extensive articulation, and a removable Matrix of Leadership. By far, the best Transformers product ever made.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made as a product manager, and what did you learn from it?

I’ve written about this mistake before.

Suffice to say, I learned several valuable lessons from the experience including: When you apologize for a mistake, don’t try to lighten the mood, and never let internal politics over-rule your common sense, among other lessons.

What kind of phone do you use, and why?

Given my admission about the iPhone, this might seem like an Apple fanboy trap but it really isn’t.

For many people — especially those in technology — your mobile says something about you, and I want you to be able to tell me what yours says about you.

Which aspects about it do you like best, and why? If it’s a smartphone, which apps do you use the most? (If it’s not a smartphone, why not?) What model color did you choose (if you had a choice)?

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3 thoughts on “Three Product Management Interview Questions You Must Be Able To Answer

  1. Chris,

    Great post. I’m a bit more partial to the Hot Wheels Batmobile circa 1972, but that’s probably because it had a vaguely dangerous pop-out spinning blade.

    Here’s one more question for your list: “Whats the most important department for a product manager to be able to work closely with in order to ensure that your product will be a success?”

    It turns out that it’s a trick question — they are all important. But you had better have an answer and a reason otherwise you’ll look like a greenhorn…

    – Dr. Jim Anderson
    The Accidental PM

  2. That’s a great question, Jim! One of my friends who’s an engineering manager has a similar trick question where he asks the candidate to design a house which, it turns out, has ever-changing requirements. The goal of the exercise is to see how long it takes the candidate to ask, “What are all the requirements for this house?” I’ve been thinking a PM version of that could be interesting…

  3. You can ask them to sell a product and give them only the name of the product, nothing else, no other info. It seems a rather basic test, but it will take a while until people ask “Who do we sell to? Who is the customer?”.

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