Traps To Avoid In Your Product Management Interview

Product Management Dec 4, 2019

A product management interview can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. There is often a great deal of variance in how tech companies conduct these interviews, from the questions they ask to the things they're looking for. This can present candidates with many challenges and pitfalls to avoid.

Every tech company has its own stylistic leadership preferences, stemming from how they have evolved and grown over time. For instance, Amazon famously has fourteen leadership principles that they look for in their product management candidates. To identify these, they will typically ask lots of behavioral questions. In contrast, Facebook cares deeply about three key skillset areas for their product managers.

When you’re interviewing at a company for a product management role, depending on the size of the company, you’re going to need to demonstrate a different level of product specific knowledge. You need to be reasonably familiar with the products that these companies offer. The interviewers won’t expect you to have in-depth technical knowledge on the products, however, the smaller tech companies will want to gauge your interest in their particular field.

Here are three traps to avoid in your product management interview.

1. Failing To Explain Why

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.

2. Unable To Recognize 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, identifying 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?

Depending on their business model, tech companies can have varying metrics on which they’re measured. 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 between the various metrics, and be sure to review Exponent’s lesson on how to answer metric-based questions.

3. Haven’t Studied The User Experience

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

You should try to get your hands on the tech company’s products prior to the interview. This will help you gain a sense of the user experience. In a product management interview, you will typically be asked for your thoughts on 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.

For many, product management interviews can feel like a minefield. At Exponent, we offer a range of free online courses to help you ace your next product management interview. Explore our courses today!


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