You are usually wondering about a certain kind of Product Management interview questions: the ones they will ask you. And yet, it is important to keep in mind the sort of inquiries you could make about a future position. Mostly, because a job interview is stressful enough. It is lready quite difficult to focus on your answers and try to provide an accurate but also positive portrayal of your achievements.
But you must try. And we are here to help.
In this post, we will first look at why: what are the reasons that justify spending time thinking about PM interview questions? Then, we will look at thehow: when should you be raising your concerns? Finally, we will explain
Why Be Ready to Ask Questions at a Product Management Interview
Obviously, you should be ready for anything at a Product Management interview. Questionnaires, challenging questions, group scenarios… But time is finite and you can only work so much on each exercise. It is important to justify your time: you will be extremely busy memorizing your resume and absorbing as much as possible from the company website.
These are the reasons why asking questions at a Product Management interview makes sense:
- You show respect for your interviewer. This is a very basic point. If your questions are relevant, you are showing that you listened and cared enough about your conversation to seek to learn more from your recruiter.
- You can highlight what is important for you. From a strategic point of view, your questions reveal as much as your answers. They frame those elements you care about and are hopefully sought by your future company.
- It gives you a chance to discuss something you forgot. It is possible that you missed a couple of really good points that you were meant to say during the interview. Not to worry: asking questions gives you a chance to resurface a theme you feel particularly strong about.
- It helps you focus. Thinking about what you are going to ask will help you pay attention to the exchange with the interviewer; rather than remaining a passive listener.
- It fits your future role. Product Managers are supposed to be good at asking the right questions. This is what guides Product Discovery and Development.
- It helps you make a decision. Unknown information about conditions, such as location, schedules, salaries, perks… will generate uncertainty. Better to diplomatically clarify them with your questions.
- You become more memorable. A candidate who sits down and answers questions as expected. A candidate who listens, picks interesting points up and asks questions. Who do you think will be remembered more easily?
- It helps you relax. Turning a one-sided interview into an insightful conversation about the position and the company will help you feel more comfortable.
How to Ask Questions at a Product Management Interview
This is not as straightforward as it seems. REMEMBER: you are there to listen and answer. There are only a few moments when you will have the chance to intervene, and they usually come at the end. This is the classic: “Do you have any questions?” that a lot of people struggle with. But, before that, you have supposedly taken care of effectively answering your interviewers’ questions. There is a lot of information online on how to do so.
There are two main ways to do this: targeted and open questions.
Now, let’s imagine that you have indeed been prompted by your interviewer to ask him or her a question. One good way of formulating it is to build a targeted question like this:
You said that [previous piece of information]. In the past, I have [a relevant past experience]. Can you tell me if [what matters to you] + [is valued, present or respected] here?
Let’s unpack why this targeted structure helps you.
- In the first set of brackets, you are showing that you respect the interviewer and the process enough to pick something up and ask about it.
- In the second set, you have a great opportunity to include something from your background. That is, if you feel that previous questions did not allow you to specify something in particular, take this chance to discuss how you used to volunteer, or took training courses. You can also refer to a methodology, like Agile, or a tool, like Trello, that you know how to apply and could be useful for this position.
- The third set is simple: you rephrasing what you just mentioned. Whether it is bonding bowling sessions with the team, a gym membership or weekly all-hands meetings, you can re-state your interests.
- The fourth set combines with the former: depending on whether you want to know about a perk, a methodology, a tool, an activity… you should emphasize with verbs like “apply”, “celebrate”, “respect”, etc. It is really a contextual step.
An alternative way of building more open questions is the following:
What is [the career path/corporate training/the sense of community] like in this company?
This is the formula most people are used to seeing. You might think that open questions are a bit limited in terms of interacting and revealing helpful information about yourself. Mostly, you are seeking to know more about your (hopefully) future place of employment. At the same time, you are also sending a message about what matters to you with the type of questions that you are asking. Certain companies are famed, for example, for the bonding and networking opportunities that they offer. Asking about those provides your interviewer an opportunity to speak in positive terms, generating a nice vibe in the room.
Also, never forget that your interviewer’s answer is usually followed by the following:
Did I answer your question/Is this what you wanted to know/Does this clarify your point?
Exactly! You are given another opportunity to answer something. This is where being extra attentive pays off. If you were able to create an interesting dynamic, you can top it off by adding information about your background. For instance:
Yes, I am happy to hear that. I am actually very involved in local volunteering initiatives and I like to hear that you care about things that matter to me.
Let’s finish this article with examples of useful questions belonging to both categories.
Questions to Ask in a Product Management Interview
Do you have a suitable example to add to the list? Drop us a line!
Questions to highlight your position awareness
These questions are meant to emphasize that you know what you are applying for. It might seem absurd to have to do so, but many applicants today fail to show that during the interview.
- I heard that this is the first time that you are expanding the product team. What was the main factor involved in this decision?
- I saw on the news that you are launching a new product this Fall. How will this affect the team in terms of future expansion?
- I quite like that you have several office locations. Is there a chance to work from different offices?
- Your latest web redesign looks great. Why did you decide to display your cloud services on the home?
- The office looks amazing. I noticed that you have a spacious eating area. Do you usually have lunch together?
Questions to highlight your background
These inquiries require an honest disposition: you could sound like you are trying too hard to impose your favorite topic of conversation. Try a subtle approach like the questions below.
- On the vacancy description, you mentioned that you work with the latest tools. In my company, we used JIRA to design our workflows. Do you know what the current product team is using?
- During our chat, it was clear that the company cares a lot about environmental causes. I have volunteered with my local conservation group for some years, is this one of the areas you are involved in?
- You have an office in France. I speak French at an intermediate level, are there any chances to interact with the team over there?
- I see on your social media page that users are more and more interested in offering an open trial. I have experience with early releases, is this something the product team will be working on soon?
- I am very used to organizing workshops with former colleagues. Would I be able to join your annual conference as a contributor?
Questions to clarify opportunities
These questions are a little bit more self-serving, but important nevertheless. You should learn as much as possible about a position before you take it. Short of discussing money or holidays, these are some example questions:
- What does a typical career path look like here?
- Many of my former colleagues have become friends. Do you run any sort of team-bonding activities?
- Are there any opportunities for corporate training?
- Do you have any structured systems to reward team and individual performance?
- How much cross-communication is there between departments?
Questions to show commitment
These questions might seem insignificant or even useless, but they can be your final chance to express how happy you are of being considered for the position.
- What do you think matters most to do a good job here?
- What are the best things, in your opinion, about working here?
- What kind of background is more common here?
- Are there any “unofficial” perks that come from working with you?
- What are the next steps in the recruitment process?
You should by now have enough tools to build or be able to improvise your own questions. Check out how to build a CV that gets to the interview, and learn which questions you should prepare for.