By the end of this guide, you'll understand which parts of product management interviews you feel confident in and which areas need improvement.
We wrote this PM interview question guide with the help of 30+ PM, APM, and behavioral interview coaches at startups and FAANG+ companies. It's designed for junior and senior product management candidates, from APMs to directors of products.
Top PM Interview Questions
Expect these questions, or variations of them, in your PM interview at startups and big tech companies.
"One of the biggest challenges for product managers (PMs) is tackling large, open-ended problems and developing a plan. For example: "How do we improve our conversion rate (CVR)?" or "What can we do to lower our churn?"
In the real world, answering these questions is tricky because of how many ways to solve these problems exist.
PM interview questions tend to be broad and open-ended for a reason. They want to challenge your readiness to think through complex problems. In the real world, this thinking saves teams weeks of work by not wasting time searching for every possible solution.
The most successful candidates use a structured framework and stick to it throughout the interview." - Dobri D
Dobri Dobrev is a CTO, co-founder, and senior product manager with 10 years of experience at Google, Yahoo, and more. Get coached by Dobri Dobrev
Q1: Favorite Product
"What's your favorite product?" is one of the most common analytical interview questions you'll hear. In fact, you should prepare to answer it in every PM interview you have.
Sample Mock Interview
This example expands on the classic "favorite product" question by asking a follow-up, "How would you improve your favorite product?"
The favorite product discussed is Marco Polo, a mobile app that allows users to send videos to friends and stay connected.
Distinguish the app from other social media platforms. Mention that it includes one-on-one interactions, authenticity, and convenience.
Focus on potential customer segments for the app, including college students, young adults, working professionals, and parents. Pain points for these segments include isolation, Zoom fatigue, and budget constraints due to COVID-19.
One potential solution to increase engagement is integrating prompt cards like Gottman Cards, which could be tailored to a user's interests and help facilitate meaningful conversations.
Personalizing and tailoring prompts to a user's interests could help overcome potential criticisms of the feature feeling forced or unnatural.
Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers for computers and phones. There are many types of users and I consider myself to be a power user. I know everything there is to know about the product and use it to its fullest potential, including using add-ons, having more than one profile, and more.
Users who browse on the Internet are mainly looking for a web browser that's quick and efficient to use. Finding relevant content and a smooth experience are critical to any web browser's success.
Before Chrome, the most-used browser options were Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer (IE). These browsers had basic features but weren't customizable or advanced enough to satisfy users' needs. They also lacked innovation and didn't deliver the efficient experiences users wanted.
Google Chrome came into the market and focused on personalization above all else. This, in turn, paid dividends because it also created more efficient and relevant web browser use.
Chrome added three things that created a better experience: Profiles, Quick searching, and a Power homepage.
Chrome users could log in to their Gmail accounts to quickly collect relevant data on their usage behavior. This allows Chrome to create a more personalized experience by recommending sites based on past behaviors.
Another great feature they added was a quick search on the URL bar. Google leveraged its core product, the Google Search engine, to allow Chrome users to search the web directly from the URL search box. This lowered the friction to search—one of the core functions of Internet users. Lastly, they added a personalized home page with your most visited sites already on their homepage. This feature saves users time by increasing navigational efficiency.
Chrome is fantastic, but I'd add vertical tab displays to improve it. Similar to how Slack has channels listed vertically, adding this feature would improve the multi-tab experience.
Specifically, it would allow for clearer distinguishing between tabs at high volumes rather than squishing the width of each tab where they're no longer distinguishable.
My favorite product is Google Chrome—Google's web browser. Before Chrome, web browsers only fulfilled one function: searching the web. Chrome created a more personalized experience that enhanced the web viewing experience. If I could improve it, I'd add vertical tab displays.
Don't be afraid of popular products. Popular products, like Google Chrome, are popular for a reason. If something popular is genuinely your favorite, don't shy away. Come up with a compelling reason why it's your favorite product.
Talk about improvements.How would you make this product better if you were the PM? This shows empathy for the user experience and not settling for the way things are.
Mention differentiation.This product is your favorite, but what about its competitors? How does it stack up to other similar products in the space?
Find something you're genuinely passionate about to use in your answer. Your interviewer wants to see you light up when you discuss this product, not an answer you rehearsed.
Have an arguable thesis about your favorite product. Why is your opinion about this product different or unique? This helps you focus on more specific answers about popular products we all use.
Inject your personality. This is your time to show what excites you about product management and well-made products. You can bring this passion and excitement to your new job.
Q2: Improve Instagram Stories
"How would you improve Instagram stories?" is an example of a product design question.
Sample Mock Interview
Address the pain points of the primary target audience, Gen Z users. This includes being unable to connect with close friends as much as before, lower usage and stickiness, and potential loss in revenue.
The way forward is personalized content, better integration, and improved mobile experience. Collaborating on stories that capture special events and prompting users to create, view, and share more stories is critical to maintaining user engagement and stickiness.
Pay attention to user segmentation, the number of users viewing stories, and their engagement levels in commenting, reacting, and sharing with others.
When launching new features, think outside the box, stay informed of current events and the competitive landscape, and consider shock value to avoid putting off users.
Instagram already has a large user base, so the team should focus on enabling new features to keep users excited and coming back more often rather than acquiring more people.
Facebook (Meta) strives to connect users and provide a fantastic experience through interactions with friends, so this feature should be designed with that vision in mind.
We should focus on Content Creators as our customer segment. They are highly active, looking for new ways to impress their friends and provide the potential for virality.
We can brainstorm solutions and prioritize one, such as an augmented reality (AR) feature where users can "wish" they were somewhere and post a story with their own image superimposed on a public image of that location.
Examples: - This could be tied to the existing avatar feature for added fun. - Celebrities/influencers can be leveraged to promote the feature.
Success metrics should include the following:
- Acquisition: Number of users creating and watching these stories.
- Engagement: Number of times users create and watch these new AR-powered Instagram stories.
- Retention: Frequency of users returning to create and watch stories daily or weekly.
First, identify user segments and their pain points. Then brainstorm ideas and create a product vision that prioritizes features for those users.
Describe a user interacting with the product to illustrate your vision.
Highlight tradeoffs to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the product.
Talk about key performance indicators (KPIs) and what success looks like.
Option 1: I could automate part of a process that would reduce a client's nine hours of manual work to one hour.
Option 2: I could fully automate the end-to-end process, which would take four weeks to develop but could be used for everyone moving forward.
The process was to change a bank customer's contact preferences to paper mailings if their emails bounced more than three times. Currently, the process is manual.
It includes extracting bounced emails from a reporting tool, tracking the customers, changing their paperless preferences, and creating a notice with a given message.
This process takes up an entire day, so the operations team asked me to prioritize automating it.
I discussed the requirements with the lead developers and operations manager. After some effort versus impact analysis or return on investment (ROI), I found two options.
Option 1 was a short-term solution. It involved less effort but would take a week to develop. This option would continue existing practices at the organization. It would save development time and let us continue rolling out mobile app improvements. However, our email marketing wanted to start sending more emails to customers this year. Naturally, that would increase the bounce rate of emails and put more customers at risk of not receiving our notices.
Option 2 was a long-term solution with higher impact and scalability, but it took more effort and four weeks of development.
Option 2 had a higher ROI, so it was the winner. I ensured it met the operations team's objectives and got their go-ahead.
Option 2 delayed updates to our mobile application. This slowed other product marketing and marketing teams from getting the data they needed for future campaigns.
However, the upside of fixing this process allowed us to run campaigns more smoothly."
Detail the process.Set the stage for your interviewer. What position did you hold, what problem were you facing, and what options did you have to fix it.
Use KPIs. Mention how clear KPIs helped you decide which option to choose. Knowing how to act on data, even in times of uncertainty, is invaluable.
Deliver multiple solutions.Show your interviewer that you deliberated on multiple outcomes and that options were weighted methodically.
Understand the complexity and impact of the decision to be made. Then, communicate the situation and decision with the relevant parties in your example.
Prioritize long-lasting and trusting relationships with clients over short-term revenue gain. Use the STAR framework to structure answers to behavioral interview questions.
Product strategy questions test your ability to think strategically about a business and its market position.
Sample Mock Interview
Focus on providing a unique and authentic travel experience that makes Airbnb the top-of-mind service for users. Define what success looks like by identifying the problem that Airbnb is uniquely positioned to solve for customers.
Segment guests into high- and low-intent travelers and business versus leisure travelers. Then, target high-intent leisure travelers who actively book travel now.
Consider expanding the target market, but be mindful of maintaining Airbnb's core values of authenticity and uniqueness. Strategies to target low-intent travelers include making Airbnb more of a destination where people can learn about different travel areas, find inspiration, and make it more top of mind when they decide to book travel.
Next, redesign the listings page to feature host stories more prominently. Incorporate social and user-generated content to appeal to low-intent travelers.
Make the add-to-wishlist experience richer and more personalized. Consider expanding the Wishlist experience by restructuring how users interact with the listings page and creating a more immersive exploring experience.
Test new ideas with small experiments, such as a newsletter sent out to inactive users to highlight unique experiences on Airbnb and provide signals about where to invest more in an exploratory browsing experience.
Focus on being a principal thinker. Take the interviewer on a journey.
Invite feedback and conversation with your interviewer.
It's not about the specific answer but rather the approach and conversation.
Junior vs. Senior PM Candidates
Product Managers need leadership skills, no matter their seniority. Senior PMs empower others to do the hands-on work, focus on high-level tasks, and support the career development of their teammates. Junior PMs tend to focus on outputs, while Senior PMs focus on outcomes.
Product Managers need leadership skills, no matter their seniority. However, Senior PMs are usually in a higher leadership position in a team.
In your first PM role(s), you’ll conduct market research, work on product strategy, and collaborate with cross-functional teams.
Senior PMs empower others to do the hands-on work, focus on high-level tasks, and support the career development of their teammates.
They may also negotiate compensation and promotions and address internal conflicts.
Junior PMs tend to focus on outputs, while Senior PMs focus on outcomes. Senior PMs are more active in defining the desired outcome of a product or feature. They tend to work hands-on with users to identify areas for improvement.
Seniority comes from accumulated experience, not necessarily in a specific industry. For example, a Senior Engineer may have the skills to become a Senior Technical Product Manager. There is no one-size-fits-all ideal candidate. There are also plenty of examples of non-technical product managers.
There's no formula for how much experience you need to become a Senior PM. A PM with ten years of experience at a healthcare company may not be the best candidate if the role requires specific SaaS growth experience.
As a Junior PM, you must guide your team towards a common goal. You’ll likely have to do this without having the authority to give them orders.
You should build personal connections, empathize with your team's problems, and make decisions based on concrete data. When you’re more experienced, these parts of the role will feel like second nature.
As a senior PM, you’ll guide your team based on your findings. You’ll assign data analysts, junior PMs, and engineers to deliver on your clear product vision.
Product Design Questions
The most fundamental PM interview questions, first and foremost, focus on product design: user experience, interface design, customer journey mapping, and A/B testing.
Product design questions are the backbone of PM interviews. Not only that, but they're usually the most fun to answer.
In these interviews, your interviewer is looking for the following:
Usually, these questions are very open-ended or abstract.
Typically, they're based on product design questions. The interviewer will ask you to dive deeper into the technical aspect of the design.
Common Technical Interview Questions
How would you handle negative user feedback about YouTube, and how might you address it with the engineering team?
What are the top three 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 estimated time arrival (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?
Every great answer in the PM interview will follow the same general format, regardless of the question.
Always actively listen when the interviewer asks questions or outlines the parameters and constraints.
Make a note of the critical points as they go.
Spend some time getting to know your interviewer.
Ask Clarifying Questions
Always ask your interviewer clarifying questions, even if the question appears simple or straightforward.
This way, you can determine the most important things to focus on.
Some clarifying questions you can ask your interviewer are:
Is this product targeting a specific set of users or customers?
Which platforms are our target users using?
Is this product being released on a global or domestic scale?
If you can't think of anything, you can always ask, "So, you're asking me to...?" Is that correct?"
Stop and Think
Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before answering. Slow down and demonstrate that you can listen to directions and process information effectively.
You would be surprised what an extra 10–20 seconds of reflection can do for the quality of your interview answer.
They'd prefer you to take your time to organize your thoughts so that your answer is coherent and easy to follow.
As a PM, you'll need to act quickly. But not so quickly, you wouldn't have a few seconds to collect your thoughts.
Structure Your Answers
Provide a structure to your answer. Present this structure to your interviewer or hiring manager before diving in.
This is especially true if there's no right or wrong answer to a question.
This is also an excellent chance to sketch this structure on the whiteboard if one is available.
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 X, Y, and Z."
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 they can redirect you, if necessary.
Explain with Confidence
If you have one at your disposal, use the whiteboard as much as possible. Every good PM has a whiteboard, right?
Lastly, sit up straight and display confidence while answering. Don't forget to make eye contact, too.
Check-in with Your Interview
Given the complexity of PM interview questions, it's 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:
The interviewer presents concerned body language. If an interviewer changes posture or makes gestures, it can indicate that you're off track. Check in with the interviewer by asking if it's okay to move on to the next part: "I’ll now move on to the next portion of my answer. Is that okay?”
You realize your answer is wrong. Instead of getting nervous, the solution is to smoothly pivot by finding a way to redirect the answer. One way to do this is to say something like, "Let me rephrase that" or "Let me clarify my answer."
You forget your point. It's okay to ask for some more time by saying something like, "Can I have a moment to think through the rest of my answer?" This shows that you take the interview seriously and want to answer best.
Review and Summarize
Provide a brief summary of your answer.
This doesn't need to be in-depth. Give a 30-second overview of your answer.
Structure this brief summary the same way you did your original answer.
Pretend that your interviewer is a complete stranger. Break down complex topics into easily digestible pieces.
Don't explain what a smartphone 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, talk about things like:
What successful products have you launched as a PM, and the knowledge you gained?
How do you talk to users and conduct user research?
How would you implement and plan for new features in 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 PMs on your teams?
Pitfalls to Avoid
Your PM interview is emotional. Your head is probably buzzing with excitement and nervousness.
Think about these common pitfalls:
Not finding KPIs. The interviewers want to see that you’re ahead of the curve.
Identify the KPIs that revolve around the business. If you don’t know how the company measures success, how will you know what's best for the product?
While a subscription business focuses on user retention, an e-commerce business might look for repeat purchases.
Not using the product. Use the company’s product before the interview. Ask your interviewer for a free trial or beta access if it's behind a paywall.
You may be asked how the user interface or experience can be improved.
If you haven't checked out the product, you'll not only be stumped in the interview, but also leave a negative impression on your interviewers.
These are some of the most common questions about going through the product manager interview process.
How do I prepare for a PM interview?
Step 1: Research the company you're applying to. Learn the PM interview loop for that company.
Step 2:Choose one type of interview question 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. The STAR method = Situation (What was the situation?) T = Task (What goal were you working toward?) A = Action (What action did you take?) R = Result (What was the result of your action?).
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 PM interview comes down to three things:
Product Vision and Sense:How well can you envision future products to solve user pain points and needs?
Communication:Can you communicate your product ideas and vision to a product team and engineering team to execute?
Culture Fit:Do you align with the company's vision and the ethos of its workers?
Is product management a technical role?
Depending on the company, your product management role may be technical. Companies like Google encourage a solid technical and coding background to succeed in product management positions.
However, many companies don't require a technical background to lead technical teams.