Top 50 Product Manager Interview Questions [2022 Guide]

Product Management Jan 11, 2022
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The role of product management is inherently multidisciplinary, with PMs sitting at the center of many related activities. For this reason, product managers are often called "mini-CEOs."

The 10 Most Frequently Asked Product Manager Interview Questions

These are the types of questions you can most likely expect in your PM interview.

  1. What's your favorite product and why? View Answer
  2. Tell me about a time you had to make a decision to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. View Answer
  3. How would you improve Instagram Stories? View Answer
  4. Tell me about a time you made a mistake. View Answer
  5. Should Google go into the ride sharing market?
  6. Tell me about a time you disagreed with someone. How did you resolve it?
  7. Facebook newsfeed usage is down 10%. What would you do to address this problem?
  8. Tell me about a time when you dealt with a technical challenge.
  9. Why do you want to work as a product manager?
  10. Estimate the number of restaurants in San Francisco.
  11. BONUS: Why do you want to work at Google, Amazon, Apple, etc?

Given the scope of the role, product management interviews consist of many different types of questions, many of them being open-ended or complex.

Hiring managers at major tech companies want PMs that are intelligent, adaptable, quick on their feet, highly motivated, and capable of working with cross-functional teams. The interview process for this role is designed to better understand your working style overall.

Many PM questions will focus on evaluating these and many other traits.

While it's next to impossible to predict exactly what questions you'll be asked, you can get the gist from studying what's been asked in the past.

To help you prepare, we've compiled this list of the top 50 product manager interview questions and answers.

Table of contents:

We've curated these questions from actual interviews our members have had.

Our exhaustive list includes Facebook product manager interview questions, Google product management interview questions, Amazon product management interview questions, and more! So, let's get to it!

Product Design Interview Questions

First and foremost, the most fundamental product manager questions concern product design. They're the bread and butter of PM interviews.

Not only that, they tend to be the most fun to answer!

How Product Design Answers are Assessed

Product design questions assess a candidate's:

  • creativity,
  • knowledge of user-centric design principles,
  • understanding of industry-wide trends,
  • product vision, product strategy,
  • passion for product management,

The best way to prepare for these questions is with practice! Developing product vision isn't something that happens over night. It takes time to become an experienced product manager who can think on their feet.

Although this part of the product manager interview is centered primarily around creativity, don't make the mistake of thinking you can't develop your creative abilities with practice!

Not only that, during the interviews themselves, you can use the SCAMPER method for creative thinking to help you answer product design questions.

Estimation Interview Questions

Some of the most commonly asked estimation questions include:

Many Big Tech companies are notorious for their grueling "estimation" product manager interview questions.

These kinds of interview questions are also known as Fermi Problems.

While companies like Google especially are famous for their estimation questions and tough interview process, they are going out of style and being asked less and less in tech interviews.

The reason? They're not always the best way to assess product managers and their ability to lead. They do very little to accurately portray the day-to-day work of a product management team.

Nevertheless, this does not mean you should not be prepared to answer them during your product manager interviews, just in case.

Behavioral Interview Questions

As you can imagine, product manager interviews consist of many behavioral questions.

These interview questions are less about technical knowledge and more about how well you'll work on a product management team.

Here are some of the best examples of behavioral questions you can expect:

  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake. Watch an expert answer this question.
  • Tell me about a time you raised the bar. Watch an expert answer this question.
  • Tell me about a time you handled a difficult stakeholder.
  • Tell me about a time when you solved a complex problem and how you went about it.
  • What was your biggest failure as a product manager?
  • Tell me about a decision you made based on your instincts.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with someone. How did you resolve it, and what did you learn?
  • Tell me about a time you solved pain points for customers. Watch an expert answer this question.
  • Tell me about a time you convinced someone to change their minds.

Behavioral interview questions are part of the interview process that's meant to assess your past behavior and performance in your previous jobs.

They are also focused on determining if a candidate can fit in with the company culture. Do you have good communication skills that can help team members succeed?

When it comes to product management interviews, you will be asked many "tell me about a time" interview questions.

These are less focused on your technical knowledge or skills, but rather your ability to work with a team and solve problems. These skills are imperative in the field of product management!

Product Strategy Interview Questions

Like product design interview questions, strategy questions are another critical component of the product manager interview.

Facebook product manager answers a product strategy question.

How Your Product Strategy Answer is Assessed

This part of the interview investigates an aspiring PM's capacity to follow the competitive landscapes their products are involved in.

Product strategy also consists of thinking about and making decisions regarding high-level product direction.

As such, you can expect these kinds of product management interview questions to be very business-focused.

You may be asked to explain your thoughts on:

  • competitive analysis,
  • market analysis,
  • product roadmaps.

Strong PM candidates must have strategic knowledge of their products and the company they are a part of.

This is because PMs are ultimately responsible for making product decisions regarding market opportunities/threats.

Analytical Interview Questions

Generally speaking, Analytical and Execution product manager interview questions are grouped together. But there are subtle differences between the two.

Google PM answers an analytical product management interview question.

Both kinds of questions are left-brain-type exercises.

This means they are concerned with reasoning with metrics and critical thinking about more abstract product problems. You'll demonstrate your technical knowledge on listening to user feedback or fixing bugs.

How Analytical Answers Are Assessed

In most cases, PM candidates will be asked these questions to assess their experience and competence with:

Execution Interview Questions

Execution product manager interview questions relate to Analytical interview questions.

Some examples of execution interview questions include:

However, as the name suggests, Execution questions are concerned with product execution and the shipping of products. They'll test your technical know-how and ability to explain technical concepts.

Specifically, they are an attempt to discern whether or not a candidate has the ability to smoothly and efficiently develop and launch products.

How Product Execution Answers are Assessed

These kinds of interview questions have a large scope.

More than anything, your job in these interviews is to get the interviewer on the same page as you.

Explain product management concepts that you may take for granted and make it easy to follow your thought process.

You can expect each of them to assess your:

  • attention to detail,
  • your knowledge of the tech industry,
  • the shipping of products,
  • and general technical knowledge.

Technical Product Management Questions

Chances are, you may not be asked any technical PM interview questions. They have become much less common these days. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared to answer them, should the need arise!

  • How would you handle negative user feedback about YouTube, and how might you address it with the engineering team?
  • What are the top 3 technology trends that will change the landscapes in the next decade?
  • How would you explain cloud computing to your grandmother?
  • How does Google Maps compute ETA?
  • What happens when you navigate to a website?
  • How would you diagnose a connection issue with Instagram?
  • Why is Gmail search slower than Google search?

The reason these questions don't show up us often is because the role of PM has shifted. Product managers use their time to condust user research and develop product strategy.

Much of the heavy lifting and software development is passed to engineering teams. However, some product teams may ask that you bring technical skills to the table.

Google, for example, is known for requiring more technical experience than many other companies.

How Technical PM Answers are Assessed

Technical PM questions assess a candidate's:

  • critical thinking skills,
  • analytical thinking,
  • experience with various software tools,
  • ability to define product features,
  • general comfort operating under technical constraints.

There are many different technical questions you could be asked during your PM interviews. Usually, they are very open-ended or abstract.

Typically, they will be based on product design questions. The interviewer will ask you to dive deeper into the technical aspect of the design.

Don't think that technical PM questions are the same thing as coding questions.

How to Answer Product Manager Interview Questions

While you would be in pretty good shape if you review these 50 product manager questions, there is no doubt that you will be asked several interview questions not found on this list.

Have no fear!

No matter the question, every great answer in the PM interview will follow the same general format.

Just follow these seven steps during your interview, and you will be in a great place to ace every question that comes your way.

Take Notes While Your Interviewer Asks the Question

This is a crucial step before you answer a product management interview question. As the interviewer asks your interview question or lays out the parameters and constraints, be sure to actively listen to them.

Make notes of the critical points as they do so.

This part of the interview process may feel redundant if you already know how to answer a question. But slowing down and showing that you can listen to directions and process information effectively is equally valuable.

Take the time to get on the same page as your interviewer.

Ask Clarifying Questions to Understand the Problem

Don't make the mistake of diving into the question head first.

Before going any further, be sure to ask questions. Even if the question seems simple or easy, you should always ask your interviewer some clarifying questions.

This way, you can gauge the most important aspects of the question or determine what your interviewer expects out of your answer.  

For instance, some questions you can ask your interviewer are:

  • Is this product targeting a specific set of users or customers?
  • Which platforms are used by our targeted users?
  • Is this product being launched internationally or domestically?

If nothing comes to mind, you can always ask: “So, you’re asking me to _____. Is that right?”

Stop and Think Before You Answer!

You may be tempted, especially given the pressure that comes with in-person interviews, to immediately dive right into your answer.

However, when it comes to PM interview questions, it is best to take a few moments to collect your thoughts beforehand.

You would be surprised what an extra 10-20 seconds of reflection can do for the quality of your interview answer. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your interviewer expects anything less either.

They'd prefer you take your time to organize your thoughts so that your answer is coherent and easy to follow.

As a product manager, you'll need to act quickly. But not so quickly that you wouldn't have a few seconds to collect your thoughts!

Structure Your Answer Clearly and Logically. Don't Cut Corners.

The next step is to provide a structure to your answer. You should always present this structure to your interviewer or hiring manager before diving in.

This is especially true if there is no right or wrong answer to a question!

This is the perfect chance to sketch this structure on the whiteboard if one is available to you.

Many PM questions can fit into a simple three-point structure.

For instance, you can begin your answer by saying something like: “Alright, I’m going to explore three possible products that fit your question and cover the tradeoffs of each. These three products are _____, _____, and _____.”

Other questions may require a more complex structure. Either way, giving your interviewer a structure beforehand allows them to get a good read on your answer so that they can redirect you if necessary.

Explain Your Answer

Now, you're ready to answer the question. Be sure to explain your thought process throughout.

It is also a good idea to use the whiteboard as much as possible, so long as you have one at your disposal. Every good product manager has a whiteboard, right?

Lastly, be sure to sit up straight and display confidence while providing your answer. Don't forget to make eye contact as you do so!

Check-in with Your Interviewer. Do They Have Questions?

Given the complexity of PM interview questions, it is not uncommon for interviewees to veer off-track.

That's why it is always a good idea to check in with the interviewer and pivot wherever necessary.

One mistake some new interviewees make is trying to prepare answers ahead of time.

Generally speaking, there are three common scenarios when it comes to necessary pivots. These are:

  • The interviewer presents concerned body language. Usually, if a candidate isn't on the right track, the interviewer will display some concerned or anxious body language. After all, they are only human. They may change their posture or make some sort of gesture. This may not always be the case, but these moments may be clues. Either way, it's always best to check in at these moments. You wouldn't need to say much more than: "I’ll now move on to the next portion of my answer. Is that okay?”
  • You realize your answer is wrong. Another frequent occurrence is the realization that your answer is incorrect or flawed while you're answering. This could feel very nerve-wracking or embarrassing, but don't worry, this happens all the time during PM interviews! The solution here is not to double down on your answer. Instead, find a way to smoothly pivot. For example, you can say something like: "Actually, after discussing this point and thinking of my experience as a product manager, I recognize that there are several flaws with my answer. I’d like to change my answer towards….”
  • You forget your point. Chances are, this is an unlikely scenario, but it does happen, especially given the nerves that come with interviewing. If you forget or lose your point midway through your answer, all you need to do is ask for some more time. Say something like: “Ok, I’ll need just a little more time to think through the second part of my question. Please give me a few moments.”

Review and Summarize Your Full Response

Last but not least, before you ultimately finish your interview question, provide a brief summary of your answer.

This doesn't need to be anything in-depth. Give a 30-second overview of your answer.

You should structure this brief summary in the same general way you did your answer.

Take it Slow. Explain Product Management to Someone You've Never Met.

One of the biggest hurdles candidates come up against is going too quickly in their answers.

Studying the answers to product manager interview questions may help you answer correctly in a technical sense. But if your interviewer is unable to follow your logic, they may not call you back!

While you can assume a basic level of technical knowledge when you start a job, it's not always good practice for an interview.

That's why in your interview, you should pretend that your interviewer is a complete stranger. Break down complex topics into easily digestible pieces.

Obviously, don't explain what a smart phone is or why people use apps! But don't be afraid to explain your product philosophy and how you can make a product team great.

While you're answering questions, mention things like:

  • Successful products you've launched as a product manager and the knowledge you gained
  • How do you talk to users and conduct user research?
  • How would you implement and plan for new features into a product's roadmap?
  • How do you define a successful product launch?
  • What metrics do you use to determine if a product is working well?
  • How do you work with other product managers on your teams?

Product Manager Interview Pitfalls and Traps

Your product manager interview is emotional. Your head is probably buzzing with excitement and nervousness.

Every interview and company culture is different. Which is why it can feel daunting walking into an interview not knowing if you're prepared enough!

Failing To Explain Why You Made the Decisions You Did

When answering problem-solving questions, you need to be able to prove the logic behind your solutions through reasoning.

If you can’t do this, you will simply be stating solutions to problems without any justification.

Giving reasoning to your solution is the perfect way to close-off an answer to a problem-solving question.

Try to instinctively add reasoning to your answers, rather than wait for the interviewers to encourage you to delve deeper and explain further.

Not Finding the Key Performance Indicators

The interviewers want to see that you’re ahead of the curve.

You should aim to demonstrate your understanding of how this tech company measures success.

In other words, identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that revolve around the business.

If you don’t know how the company measures success, how will you know what is best for the product?

Whilst a subscription business will be focused on user retention, an e-commerce business might be looking for repeat purchases.

Think critically before coming into the interview about the tradeoffs and metrics.

You Haven’t Studied or Used the Product

It sounds simple, but is often forgotten. Use the company’s product!

You should try to get your hands on the company’s products prior to the interview. Ask for a free trial or beta access from your interviewer if its behind a paywall.

Studying the product will help inform how you see the user experience. In a product management interview, you may be asked how the user interface or user experience can be improved.

If you’ve failed to expose yourself to the product, you will not only be stumped in the interview, but also leave a negative impression on your interviewers!

Even if you've studied for weeks, not using the company's product won't look good!

Frequently Asked Questions about the Product Manager Interview Process

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about how to prepare for the PM interview.

How do I prepare for a product manager interview?

  • Step 1: Research the company you're applying to and learn the product manager interview loop for that company.
  • Step 2: Choose one type of interview questions for that role (product sense, behavioral, analytical, strategy, execution, technical, etc).
  • Step 3: Review the most common interview questions. Create stories from your resume to prepare for your interview. Practice using the STAR method to answer each question.
  • Step 4: Compare your answers to the most popular answers to interview questions from people who landed the job.
  • Step 5: Move between interview question categories and repeat.

What makes a good PM interview?

Ultimately, your product manager interview will come down to three things.

  1. Product Vision and Sense: How well are you able to envision future products to solve user pain points and needs?
  2. Communication: Can you communicate your product ideas and vision to a product team and engineering team to execute?
  3. Culture Fit: Do you align with the company's vision and the ethos of its workers?

Is Product Manager a Technical Role?

Depending on the company, your product management role may be technical. Companies like Google encourage a strong technical and coding background to succeed in their product management positions. However, many companies don't require a technical background to lead technical teams.

Is Product Management a Stressful Job?

Depending on your career goals, being a product manager can be stressful and exciting. If you need consistency in your daily routine, being a product manager may not be for you. Product managers thrive in environments where they have to adapt quickly to rapidly changing behaviors and user requests.

Land the Job with Exponent's Interview Prep Courses

Exponent has helped tens of thousands of product managers, technical product managers, program managers, and more land their dream jobs in tech.

💬 Study up on example PM interview questions

📚 Brush up on your strategy with a list of the best PM books

📖 Read through our company-specific Product Management interview guides

👯‍♂️ Practice your behavioral and product sense skills with our interview practice tool.

👨‍🎓 Take our complete Product Management interview course.

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Anthony Pellegrino

I'm Tony, a freelance journalist, writer, and content marketing strategist. I write about interview prep and career planning for Exponent, but I also write about climate change, tech, and, politics.

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