The common misconception about product manager job interviews is that they are hard. I believe it’s the opposite. They just take practice and persistence. And it’s through those practices that you will really learn how to think and operate like a product manager. I am hoping that this website will give you what you need to prepare for your job interviews and have a better career.
This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to prepare for a product manager job interview. I should, however, say that it usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to master the interviews and be fully prepared in acing them.
I’ve learned throughout my career that preparing for product manager interviews is a marathon, not a sprint. You start small and continue growing steadily. At times, it gets so frustrating to remember the structure of the answers that are expected from you or to think on your toes and come up with ‘out of the box’ ideas on how to improve a product or service that seems ‘already perfect’ (e.g. How would you improve Google Maps?), but once you go through enough exercises, you’ll realize that the interviews and take-home cases are easy to do as long as you stick to the structure and mindset that’s expected of you during the interviews.
Below is your guide on how to use this website to prepare for product manager job interviews
. Both existing and soon to become product managers are welcome to use this guide:
1. Pick one category.
PM job interviews consist of multiple rounds, each of which covers one or multiple of the following categories:
- Product Improvement
- Product Design
- Product Launch
You have to be prepared to do well in all of the above categories in order to excel in the whole interview process.
During your interview preparation process, it’s best to focus your energy on improving your interview skills one category at a time. Once you get comfortable with your interview skills in one category, you can move on to the next one.
I personally like the following order as it slowly moves up from the easiest to the hardest:
Estimation → Metrics → Product Improvement → Product Design → Product Launch → Problem-Solving → Strategy
There is no hard rule on which category to start with. Pick the one that resonates with you the most. For me, as a PM with an engineering background, estimation questions were the easiest to crack. They gave me the confidence and inspiration I needed to go through the rest of the preparation.
2. Read the product manager interview guide.
I’ve prepared a few product manager interview guides
to help you learn about the expected structure of a good answer to an interview question for each of the categories listed above.
These interview guides will give you the structure you need in answering any interview question. It will take practice and perhaps multiple times of review of the articles to remember how to answer a particular question.
3. Review questions and answers.
There are over 200 product manager interview questions
on this website. Some of them have multiple answers and feedback from the members. Spend time into reading the questions, answers, and feedback. This step helps you see how PMs take various approaches to answering a question, while the good ones all follow the same format and structure.
Pay close attention to which answers get the highest number of likes in the community. The feedback people post generally hints at the reason they are good answers. What’s interesting about this step is that after reading a few questions and answers, you’ll soon realize that while the content of the good answers might be different, they all follow the format and structures described in the product manager interview guides.
4. Appreciate an interviewer's criteria of a good answer.
This is the step where you give feedback to other members' answers by providing your opinion/input in the form of comment to the answers. This step helps you see how interviewers think and teaches you to become good at noticing when your own answers do not follow the expected structure of a good answer.
When sharing feedback, you must keep the interview guides in mind. My favorite format for sharing feedback is what I call the “heart, brain, heart” structure, where you start with highlighting what the other member has done well, then describe 3 to 5 specific areas of improvement, and finally wrap up with some positive vibes if applicable (e.g. “great work!”).
5. Post answers to questions.
This is the step where you will be forcing yourself to follow the guides to answer interview questions. And the members of the community are good judges on how well you are doing in sticking to the structure of the answers while expressing your unique analytical and creative skills via the content of the answers.
You will notice that it is easier to post answers to questions that have already been answered. If you prefer to answer questions with existing answers first, then do that. But as soon as you feel comfortable with answering these questions, put your interview skills into real test by answering questions that have not been answered yet. These questions are generally harder to answer because you have to start from scratch, but they represent the realities of a job interview a lot more than a question which answer has already been provided. Chances are that during your interview, you will be asked a question you have never practiced before and you will need to be able to come up with an answer right away.
Continue posting answers and sharing feedback until you reach a point where you realize that your answers are receiving very positive comments and feedback from other members of the community, which is an indication that you have learned to answer the questions properly.
Note: To keep the contents of this website clean and keep the spammers away, first answers on the website must be approved by a moderator before they are published.
6. Shift focus to a new category (repeat steps 1 to 5).
Once you feel comfortable that you can do well with the questions in the category and have posted a couple of answers that other members upvote and submit positive feedback for, move to the next category and repeat steps 1 to 5.
It is easy to forget the structure and format of a good answer to an interview question. That’s why it is important that after you sharpen your skills in one category, you continue practicing your skills to keep honing them while at the same time focusing most of your time in other categories. It is a good idea to answer a question and post feedback to an answer of a category you are familiar with once every few days to stay on the edge and be ready for an interview, while you start gaining the knowledge in another category.
To be informed of latest job interview questions that are posted on this website, follow the website’s Twitter
If you have any questions or feedback, send me an email