product manager intern interview questions

As a Product Manager tasked with finding the right intern for your team, you need to make sure that you ask the right questions in the interview. It is important to dig deeper and assess the competency, knowledge and potential of the candidate you are interviewing. Product management interns are expected to be passionate, ambitious and have strong technical skills. The questions you ask in an interview should serve as an indicator of whether or not the candidate is a good fit for the role. To ensure you are as prepared as possible for the interview, here are some questions to consider asking your product manager intern candidates.

11 Revealing Product Manager Interview Questions
  • What does a product manager do? …
  • Why do you want this job, and how does it fit your overall career trajectory? …
  • How would you figure it out…? …
  • How do you determine what customers want and need? …
  • Tell me about a time you had trouble building consensus and how you overcame it.

How to Get a Product Management Internship – Tips and Tricks

8 Product Manager Interview Questions and Answers

What technical skill do you have that sets you apart as a product manager?

You likely want a product manager who is especially good at something, whether it is data collection, interactive prototyping, coding, analytics or another area. This question ensures that your teams remain well-balanced.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Example of a useful skill
  • How it has helped in the past
  • Results obtained from the skill

How do you manage a new product launch? What tactics, strategies and processes do you use?

You want a candidate who launches a product with teamwork and a schedule in mind. A candidate who replies in generalities is one to approach with caution.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Team effort
  • Mention of timeline
  • How progress is tracked

We’re about to roll out the successor to our most well-known product. How would you position the legacy product so that it continues to sell well?

With this question, you get to see the candidate’s thought process and how technical and soft skills are combined.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Practical solution
  • Knowledge of consumer practices
  • Understanding of targeted consumers

How do you determine which features you should add to your product?

Product managers should have extensive knowledge of their users’ needs to design features and products that appeal most to their customers. The most effective way for them to come up with features that will benefit users is to have a strategy for researching their users and determining their needs. Look for a candidate who provides a clear strategy for studying user insights and applying them to their feature and updates list.

The candidate’s answer should emphasize:

  • Research and analytical skills
  • Familiarity of common frameworks to determine users’ needs
  • a well-defined plan for incorporating feedback and data into their updates and new features

An answer to this question could look like this:

What would you improve about our product?

This is another question that examines how well the candidate knows your company. You want to bring aboard professionals who took the time to learn about your product(s) and who can think critically about it.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Pros of the execution/example of something that succeeded
  • Something that didn’t go well
  • Logical answer

How would you describe our product to someone who wanted something similar, only $20 cheaper?

This question checks that the candidate has researched your products and knows enough to speak about them with familiarity. It also gives you real-time insight into the candidate’s communication and prioritization skills.
What to look for in an answer:

  • User testimonials
  • Specific product features
  • Cost-benefit overview

How do you know when a product is designed well?

Not everyone agrees on what good product design means. Maybe your company prioritizes some factors over others, and your candidate should be on the same page.
What to look for in an answer:

  • Fit with your priorities
  • Logical answer
  • Explanation of the why

Take a typical day in your life as a product manager. What’s something you would perhaps prefer to skip?

The question checks that your values align with those of your candidate. For example, if your company prioritizes teamwork but the candidate names collaboration as something to skip, that could be an issue.
What to look for in an answer:

  • A true answer, no “there is nothing to skip”
  • Supporting details
  • Cultural fit

The 10 Most Important Product Manager Interview Questions

In a Product Management interview, you can anticipate being asked a pretty wide range of inquiries. However, you’ll typically be questioned about some of the things listed below:

  • What do you see as a Product Manager’s main role within product development?
  • How do you stay user-focused?
  • What main changes would you make to [our product]?
  • How do you see your career developing in the next 5 years?
  • Tell us about a time you used data to influence an important stakeholder.
  • Tell us about a time you faced failure and how you bounced back.
  • How would you improve your favorite product?
  • What’s your approach to prioritizing tasks?
  • Why do you want to work at [our company]?
  • Why do you want to be/what do you love about being a Product Manager?
  • As you progress through the interview process, different questions will be asked that will depend on the position, the company, and the sector.

    There’s a lot of preparation to do, so we’ve listed every type of question you might ask during a Product Management interview here.

    Additional Skills-Based Product Management-Interview Questions:

    What was your most successful product as Product Manager?
    How do you conduct user research? How often do you conduct research?
    What’s your approach to develop product strategy?
    From conception to launch, explain your approach for managing product features.
    What makes a successful product launch?
    What criteria do you use to evaluate if a product is well-designed?
    Take one of our products. How would you redesign that product?
    Where do you find inspiration for a product vision?
    What’s your approach to a new product launch? What techniques, strategies and processes do you use for a product launch?
    In your last job, how did you interact with your users?
    How do you integrate new features into an existing product roadmap?
    How do you approach gathering feedback from users? How does that feedback shape your product roadmap and timeline?
    What’s your approach for evaluating if users are satisfied with your product?
    What are the qualities of a great Product Manager?

    Toptal sourced essential questions that the best product managers can answer. Driven from our community, we encourage experts to submit questions and offer feedback.

    What role does the product management team play in sales enablement, please?

    An adept product manager will accept responsibility for the product or service’s success. They will devote time to educating sales, systems engineering, and marketing resources, and they will be aware of the demands placed on the marketing and sales departments. A good product manager will be able to explain how they support sales enablement. Pay attention to the crucial actions that support or propel the subsequent actions.

    Sales Effectiveness

  • Sales onboarding: Tools, processes, contacts, references, online resources—the materials that will get a new sales team up to speed with your new product or service
  • Sales training and workshops: Professional sales training for inside and outside sales; training incentives, certifications, customer communications training (customer success); center of excellence training
  • Training library: Online quick video training (internal and external sourced)
  • Coaching and recognition: “Buddy” programs for new sales professionals; inside campaigns (posters, contests, quarterly reviews, sales meetings)
  • Spiffs and contests: Programs to incentivize deal acceleration
  • Sales Efficiency

  • Sales journey roadmap: Engagement plan and account plan support
  • Process streamlining: Eliminate “order closure” roadblocks; simplify onboarding
  • Order finalization: RFP/RFI response boilerplates, proposal templates, FAQs, exception management
  • Sales repeatability: “Look alike” customer case studies
  • Customer Engagement

  • Demo systems and executive briefing center (EBC) management: Logistics and customer experience; visual representation (videos, posters, catering, décor, etc.)
  • Major account support (MVPs and VIPs): Processes and direct account support for major accounts
  • Segments and vertical markets specialization: Content (messaging) and product adjustments for specific verticals (e.g., healthcare, finance, public sector)
  • Online buying experience and online customer management: Blogs, social, chat, online support, etc.
  • Customer interactions: Release description documents (RDDs), bulletins, notices, support, white papers, technical white papers, speaking engagements, events and tradeshows, thought leadership programs
  • Channel programs: Supporting htird-party channel organizations (sell thru, sell with, embed relationships)
  • Marketing Effectiveness

  • Resource management: Documentation, people, demos, EBCs, executive engagements
  • Deal desk support: Supporting the exceptions and negotiations for customer deals
  • Sales scripts and vertical playbooks: Ensuring the messaging is factual and represents the product and/or company direction
  • Prospect qualification identification: Support in identifying high-value prospects
  • Your candidate has proven they have practical experience working in a functional product management role if they can describe at least three of these key areas. Strong candidates will concentrate on the needs, requirements, and feedback gathering in collaboration with the sales and marketing teams in their responses. They will discuss their experiences using KPIs such as revenues, clients, customer lifetime value, time to revenue, conversion (prospect to customer) rates, and other financial metrics. 2 .

    Have you ever had to shoulder the responsibility for your team’s failures because they let you down?

    The communications surrounding “fault” are always handled by a qualified product manager. “In a team effort, they would ultimately bear responsibility for the delay, accepting blame and needing to draw lessons from the situation to improve future estimates and commitments. The product manager should start corrective action if the delay was due to negligence or a lack of expertise. It’s crucial to conduct a root cause analysis for the delay, and this should be a component of every continuous improvement project. When speaking with your candidate about this, pay attention to the business strategy for resolving slipups. 3 .

    How can a project manager and a product manager be distinguished from one another?

    A project manager will direct daily activities at each meeting, be very specific about who is doing what, and be in charge of meeting commitments on time and within budget. Although they will behave more like business owners and be accountable for the success or failure of the product or service on the market, product managers are also in charge of delivery.

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    Product managers frequently have to handle personnel conflicts or issues. Can you give an example of a time when you had to handle a personnel problem?

    Listen for empathy and a willingness to listen. While they may have great talents in some areas, some people are simply not a fit, and they may need to reevaluate their career objectives. They might have coordinated with the direct manager if it wasn’t a direct report. The product manager must control the situation and implement the necessary adjustments to get the team back on track.

    Performance improvement plans, or PIPs, may have been created by an experienced product manager and monitored and reviewed with the employee on a weekly or monthly basis. In larger enterprises, this might have included human resources. Termination or reassignment may have been required. Examine the outcome and how they were able to handle this kind of situation. Pay attention for actions the team can take to get back on track. 5 .

    What was your most successful product as product manager?

    You are seeking the qualitative and quantitative indicators that can pinpoint a capable product manager. A professional product manager will be able to point to simplify their achievements in terms that relate to business results, such as what were the revenues or user count, over what period, and what was the value that they achieved.

    For instance, they should be able to translate complex technological innovations into business values. It makes sense to respond, “Our team developed and patented a complex machine learning algorithm to predict traffic volumes.” But this has not provided the “So what?” answer. “Our team developed and patented a sophisticated machine learning algorithm to forecast traffic volumes, resulting in a 30% reduction in traffic congestion and a 15% reduction in traffic accidents.” Investigate the project’s specifics to ensure that they were leading it rather than just being a team member. 6 .

    How do you define market opportunity in a business plan?

    A skilled product manager will be able to explain market opportunity in a variety of ways, including the overall market value. The term “total addressable market” (TAM) refers to the total value of what consumers will spend overall on similar solutions in the present and the future.

    When discussing market size, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is frequently mentioned as an indicator of how quickly the market is expanding. The portion of that total value that would be available to a product manager, which represents their potential market share (or addressable market), should also be able to be described. This value may be shown as a share of the market or as a dollar amount. 7 .

    What are the indications that it’s time to make compromises in order to launch the product? What would you compromise on?

    A seasoned product manager will anticipate that they won’t meet their deadlines. When testing is ineffective, when sprints are not finishing on time, or when UX design is lagging, it might be obvious.

    An expert product manager will look into various options to meet their deadline. Explore some of the potential actions they took:

  • Did they reduce functionality to a minimum for the first release?
  • Did they re-prioritize their roadmap?
  • Did they move ahead without an MVP?
  • Did they soft-launch with selected customers and announce full commercial launch for a later date?
  • They must be able to describe how they discovered the issue and the steps they took to close the gap. Listen for the impact on sales, marketing, and support. Verify that the decisions were typically ancillary changes that did not affect the core of the product in order to confirm how they communicated the changes to manage the impact. 8 .

    How would you define “low-hanging fruit” in the context of product management?

    Low-hanging fruit in the context of product management frequently refers to a quick success. This could be a target market that is in desperate need of a solution or it could be an enhancement to a feature or functionality that will result in exponential revenue growth. Examine how a candidate for product management might be aware of market changes that might suddenly present a chance for dramatic changes in outcomes.

    Gaining 80% of the value with 20% of the effort is the 80/20 rule in this situation. Alternately, you could focus on 80% of the market while treating the 20% of outliers as exceptions. 9 .

    What are the hottest technological trends right now, and why are they significant?

    A qualified product manager will be knowledgeable about current market trends. Keep an eye out for blockchain, analytics, augmented reality, virtual reality, and the expansion of audio interactions across all platforms. Inquire about the potential effects they may have on specific people as they spread and pay attention to automation, predictive analytics, and process automation. Learn how they keep up with trends and how they might incorporate advancements into the products they are bringing to market. 10 .

    What are the important elements of a competitive analysis?

    An expert product manager will divide a competitive analysis question into two sections. The first section is the SWOT analysis, which will be used by the company internally to create compelling positioning statements for the sales and systems engineering teams. It ought to go over the rival’s business and technical aspects. For instance, if a prospective customer and you are having a “maturity and risk” conversation, you can bring up the company’s financial instability.

    A second, more thorough technical analysis would compare each feature in turn, highlighting any shortcomings the rival may have. It ought to be truthful and presented in a polished, non-slanderous manner. This could entail downloading the competing app and using it yourself, or calling their customer service lines to see how they perform. Frequently, businesses will hire a third party to carry out these comparisons in order to represent an objective evaluation.

    Pay attention to whether your prospective product management hire is knowledgeable about both the business and technical aspects of a competitive analysis. 11 .

    Can you describe how GDPR affects current goods and services?

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), one of the strictest regulations (equal to the complexity of HIPAA), lays out very strict guidelines for how data relating to personally identifiable information (PII) must be handled for any client in the European Union. The potential cost of fines for non-compliance is in the tens of millions of dollars.

    A skilled product manager will understand precisely what constitutes PII data as well as the most important considerations for data management. Pay close attention to the manner in which data is collected, what constitutes personally identifiable information (PII), and the right to be forgotten. This final clause implies that all data must be removed from all active and inactive archives, which can have complicated repercussions for machine learning and historical analytics programs.

    The product manager should also be aware that if they are not compliant, they may be in violation of the GDPR if they operate, market, or advertise in the EU. Investigate their awareness of the risks in the context of online commerce where apps can be downloaded from anywhere. 12 .

    What are the main difficulties in an end-of-life (EOL) process and what has your experience been with shutting down a product or service been?

    A qualified product manager should be able to outline the essential steps of the EOL process, which include:

  • EOL decision-making: What drives the decision to EOL?
  • Sales notifications: How to prepare Sales for an EOL situation with their customers
  • Customer migration plans: What alternatives are possible, how can they migrate?
  • Returns, rebates, upsell policies: Are there alternatives? What would the financials look like?
  • End of life, end of support, end of availability: The timing of stopping selling, stopping availability, and stopping support
  • Contracting: For large customer and/or channel notifications and meeting any contractual obligations as it may relate to notification periods, service-level agreements (SLAs), and penalties
  • Find out if they have the expertise to make the choice and handle the complexity without endangering the reputation of the business or losing important clients.

    They need to understand the risk/reward analysis and be concerned about how the EOL might impact future sales or lead to litigation. 13 .

    How did you handle the decision that was the hardest for you to make as a product manager?

    Product managers must make strong complex decisions. You’re looking for the research that was done, the analysis that went into the decision, and the outcome or impact that resulted from the decision. Recognizing that a recommendation will affect many people and the company as a whole leads to a difficult decision. It might be a personnel choice or a fundamental shift in the direction of the product.

    Making difficult choices requires persuading many people of your point of view. Pay attention to the procedure that was used to obtain the business’s approval before moving forward with the decision. 14 .

    Can you give an example of a situation where you failed as a product manager and what you took away from it?

    You’re looking for someone with experience. Any product manager who is unable to criticize a choice or outcome that falls under their purview should be challenged. The lessons are crucial because they show whether a person has improved after considering the experience.

    The kind of failure they experienced should have had a significant impact on the final product or service that they were developing. Keep an eye out for any admissions that the customer wasn’t properly identified or that the product or service was released too early for the market.

    They might have been attempting to compete in a crowded market where differentiation was difficult to discern or did not offer enough benefit. Other challenges might be internal to the company operations.

    Perhaps they underpriced it or the pricing model was overly complicated. Maybe the churn rates were too high if the solution was too complicated for onboarding. Perhaps they were unable to make the case for a solid business plan if there was no marketing and sales team to spread the word. 15 .

    How do you monitor performance and success?

    To understand their position, growth, progress, and success, a professional product manager will have a strong set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that they will track. Business metrics, product usage metrics, product development metrics, and product quality metrics are the four main categories to pay attention to. Listen for a solid selection of the following KPIs:

  • Revenues or bookings: Top-line dollars that have committed to in conjunction with the sales team
  • Funnel: Sales in process
  • Retention, attrition, churn, customer lifetime value: Track the movement or flow of customers
  • Customer counts: Current customer base
  • Velocity, time to revenue, onboarding times: Looking to accelerate revenue recognition and customer adoption
  • Margins, gross margins, costs of goods sold (COGS), and operational costs of goods sold (OCOGS): Understanding the cost basis on which to calculate profitability
  • Net promoter score (NPS) or customer satisfaction (CSAT): Subjective analysis of customer feedback
  • Number of users per feature or transaction volumes: Can track feature importance for prioritizing sprints, and can highlight value for marketing or competitive positioning
  • Time to execute: Records of time that functions take to perform, possibly indicating infrastructure or complex calculations which will result in customer complaints for poor performance
  • On-time delivery: Managing the roadmap and creating credibility—the integrity of the team will depend on delivering as expected, on-time
  • Team velocity: Monitoring team performance against sprint calculations using story points
  • Resource availability: Monitoring critical resource availability and planning appropriately for coverage
  • Support tickets and escalations: Monitoring the quality of the released product
  • Testing or QA: Monitoring the quality of the code going into test
  • Ask them what they did in response to discovering a KPI that was not moving in the desired direction as a follow-up. Pay attention for an action plan that includes logical root cause analysis and some inventive problem-solving to address an unexpected KPI.

    KPIs should be used by product managers to forecast growth, perhaps in their NetOps environments or in the hiring of additional resources to handle increased demand. Similarly, if the metrics for support and maintenance are declining, consider adjusting engineering resources as a suitable data-driven management decision. 16 .

    How can a new product manager establish credibility with the engineering and development teams?

    Product managers ought to feel at ease leading a team by jumping in. Keep an eye out for their capacity to pay attention and respect the team’s suggestions and opinions. Did they participate in a workshop or webinar session with the team to solicit feedback and new ideas as their initial method of interaction with them?

    They should set reasonable expectations for the business outside the team (sales, marketing, finance, operations, and support) and represent the team with honesty and integrity.

    From a technical standpoint, their capacity to evaluate suggestions and recommendations ought to be an accurate reflection of their technical familiarity with the environments. The team will look to the product manager to make decisions quickly, consider suggestions, and maintain confidence in their data-driven decisions.

    Pay attention for justifications that highlight their ability to make decisions, their communication abilities, and their regard for the group. They should demonstrate that credibility entails truthful, transparent communication and accomplishment of goals set forth. 17 .

    Please explain the “…ilities” — the essential components needed for a SaaS-based enterprise offering. For example, scalability would be one.

    Listen for functional descriptions of the following, primarily in the context of enterprise-grade offerings where a SaaS or cloud infrastructure element exists:

  • Securability: The ability to protect/secure the environment; meet regulatory requirements, preparation for a high-availability (HA) or disaster recovery (DR) situation; and everything in between (authentication, access controls (RBAC, VBAC), data management, encryption, archiving); and compliance reporting—this can be driven from following a 5×9’s consideration (prevalent in the telco world) to meeting regulatory definitions (GDPR may be mentioned).
  • Scalability: The ability to manage peak performance and/or growth demands without impacting the production environment; managing any kind of migration, or cloud environment must not impact existing customers. This is a core requirement—especially necessary when dealing with high growth potential. This may also include multi-tenancy.
  • Reliability: Critical KPIs for uptime and performance—24/7/365 systems have to be working at peak performance, so peak load conditions must be planned, designed, and tested. Often, having a failover or backup strategy leveraging in-house or external cloud providers can support these situations.
  • Manageability: The ability to support customer/user policy controls/access to the systems and the network is critical, so consideration must be taken to simplify provisioning and management of entitlements to shorten the sales cycle and deal with change in the customer organization.
  • Billability: The system design must consider the potential for different billing meters—whether it be subscriber-based, usage-based, transaction-based, or via other meters. They must be able to be easily adjusted (from one meter to another) to capture usage counts. Reporting of usage must be simplified and automated for simplified revenue recognition and auditing purposes. Further, when there are layers of responsibility (e.g., vendor selling through channel to enterprise with employees that need access); then the structure of the meters (and security) must allow for distinct reporting and policy controls at each level.
  • In an office environment, a skilled product manager will be able to manage each of these factors. 18 .

    Why is the Gartner Magic Quadrant significant to many software vendors? What is it?

    An experienced product manager should be able to explain that Gartner is an analyst firm in the IT sector. Gartner has defined a methodology for identifying leaders, visionaries, niche players, and challengers in an industry. The ability for a company to have their product in a specific quadrant on the Gartner Magic Quadrant can have a dramatic market impact on revenues, and on acquiring investments. Explore whether they have experience in moving the position of a product on the Gartner Magic Quadrant, and if they have, how they accomplished it.

    These are only meant to be a guide because there are other aspects of interviews besides trying technical questions. Not all “A” candidates who are worth hiring will be able to respond to all of them, and responding to all of them does not guarantee an “A” candidate. Hiring is still ultimately a science, an art, and a lot of work.

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    Silicon Valley-based Connie Kwan is a storyteller and part-time chief product officer who works with B2B SaaS companies. Her 17 years of product leadership experience include Atlassian, MSFT, CY, and SPWR, as well as blockchain, cryptocurrency, digital health, and hard and software technology. Connies has served as a CPO for a number of businesses and counsels CEOs on becoming product-led Consider her as your ad hoc CPO and a resource for design, marketing, product, and engineering issues.

    Greg has nearly 20 years of experience launching digital enterprise products at IBM, Microsoft, and SAP. He is an accomplished product strategy consultant and trainer. He is also a world authority on delivering complex goods and services on an industrial scale.

    Laurens has six years of product experience, including feature definition and Agile development with engineering, as well as product sprint workshops (product design, road mapping). He primarily collaborates with businesses like Waymo and Google that create sophisticated technical systems. Self-driving, aerospace, mobility, climate, data science, and eCommerce are some of the industries he has worked in.

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    How do I prepare for a product manager internship interview?

    Know the details of the position. Research the company profile and history. Keep in mind that interviewers want you to be able to relate your responses to the company when they ask you questions. For instance, if a question asks about your strengths, you must explain how you would use those skills for the internship.

    What should I ask my product manager intern?

    Product Management Questions
    • What features of product management excite you the most?
    • Tell me about a time when you had to develop or inspire a group of people.
    • What do you imagine a product manager’s typical day to be like?
    • How do you think Product Managers interact with engineers?

    Why do you want to be a product manager intern?

    An excellent way to acquire the knowledge and experience required to succeed as a product manager is through an internship in product management. Working closely with knowledgeable product managers will teach you how to recognize issues and find solutions, create and release new products, and manage product portfolios.

    How do I become a product manager interview with no experience?

    Get familiar with the PM interview process. Learn the question types. Practice with example questions.

    5. Do mock interviews
    1. 5. 1 Practice by yourself. Practicing alone, in our opinion, is a fantastic way to get ready for PM interviews.
    2. 5.2 Practice with peers. …
    3. 5.3 Practice with experienced PM ex-interviewers.

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