"What's your favorite product and why?"
This is possibly one of the most popular product interview questions. And it tests a candidate on multiple fronts of product thinking - product sense, execution, and sometimes even estimation. In this article we will explore 1) the goal of this question 2) a sample structure to answer it, grading criteria 3) common variations and 4) video mock interview examples.
Below, you'll see example answers for two products - Uber & Blinklist - these were sourced from Himankini Shah, who is currently leading the strategic vision for a portfolio of recruiting products at Meta. Prior to this, she worked as a Senior Technical PM at Amazon.
In my opinion, there are two main reasons why this question is asked so often and is so popular. The first is assessing if you display product sense - can you see beyond the lens of a day-to-day user and actually talk about what makes that product tick? What makes it special? What does it do and not do well? The second is having a reference point. A person is more likely to have an intelligent conversation about a thing they use often and know a lot about, especially in a high-stress environment such as an interview. Centering a question around a topic that the candidate is familiar with allows them to think more critically about the product and have more insightful conversations around it. This is especially helpful for folks who are trying to break into product management while still developing their product intuition.
Before focusing on how to answer the question, let’s refresh on what we mean by a product or a service. Given a market that consists of existing and potential customers with underserved needs, a product is an offering that meets a subset of those needs for a particular customer segment of that market. A product is said to have product-market fit, if it meets those underserved needs better than the existing alternatives (competition). A lot of time when you’re answering a favorite product question, the interviewer will expect you to convey why, in your opinion, the product has product market fit i.e. why it meets a specific need for you and why it does it better than its competitors.
Keeping this in mind, let’s approach on how one can structure their thoughts while answering this question.
This is where you introduce the product. Pick a product that you think is interesting and you use often. It is imperative that you can convey your passion for this product (it is your favorite product after all!). State the key value proposition (user goal) of this product.
EXAMPLE #1: “My favorite product is Robinhood. Robinhood is an app that allows users to trade stocks, options and other forms of securities. It also has great educational content and newsletters that allow novice investors like me to learn the fundamentals of financial investing. It has become my one stop shop for all things related to investments.”
EXAMPLE #2: “Uber is a platform where those who drive and deliver can connect with riders, eaters, and restaurants. The rider sends the request for a cab and is accepted by the available driver in the nearby premises.When a nearby driver accepts your request, the app displays an estimated time of arrival for the driver heading to your pickup location.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
EXAMPLE #3: “My favorite product is Blinkist. Blinkist is a book-summarizing subscription service. It is a platform that gathers key insights from nonfiction books to read or listen to in an easy-to-understand, 5-15 minute summary form. Each book has its own ‘blink’. Blinkist is available on both mobile and desktop.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
The deep-dive should segue from the product introduction. Once you’ve established the core goal of the product you should then proceed to state the underserved needs that this product solves for you. Another way to think about this is to think about the features of the product that you use the most and why they matter to you. Be sure to mention what you love about these features and what is so cool about them.
EXAMPLE #1: “What I love about Robinhood is the intuitiveness of its UX no matter which device I access it from. The other feature that I really like is the easy to use search feature. I can search for a company stock by using its ticker name or the company name. The search will immediately show you a bunch of pertinent results and you can usually find your intended company in the top 3 results. Finally, the checkout experience is really simple as well, I can select the number of shares I want to buy, or the amount of money I want to invest and checkout. All of this just works and I can access this experience from my desktop or my phone. The app seems cater made for the rookie investor.”
EXAMPLE #2: “Uber reduces the pain of finding a cab on the go on the streets. It also eliminates the need for calling the cabs. With Uber, you also do not have to worry about the cost of travel as it provides a price estimate for each trip. Uber also provides various payment modes and cabs of different sizes based on rider’s needs. It also provides an emergency SOS service and shareability of ride details to ensure safety of riders.If the driver cancels the ride, the app automatically books again without the need for booking again by the rider. The rider can see his real-time journey in the map and also the app informs the rider about the waiting time for pick up and estimated time of arrival thus reducing the curiosity. The selection of the shortest path to the destination which reduces the fare and journey time for the rider.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
EXAMPLE #3: “Blinkist is designed for those who are struggling to find time to finish non-fiction books; Each book is summarized into key blinks and can be listened to in 15 mins. Users can listen to the book when they are doing other things/ chores, driving, or just taking a break. Users can find recommended bestsellers and new interesting books on blinkist and learn from them. When I am done reading the books, they would recommend more similar options or other categories I am interested in. And those are my reasons why I love this product.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
Describe the competitive scenario for this product. Who are its key competitors (Facebook’s key competitors are TikTok, Snap, and Twitter)? You can also talk about substitutes for this products (example a book is a substitute for a movie). Be sure to mention what these competing offerings lack. There’s a reason your favorite product is meeting your needs better than the competitors and you should mention that here.
EXAMPLE #1: “Before Robinhood, I used to use Charles Schwab for my investment needs. As a beginner I found the UI very intimidating and needed about a week of understanding how to use the website before I could make my first investment! Schwab also doesn’t have a very powerful mobile companion app - it removes most of the features from the desktop website. Schwab seemed to be a product targeted at experienced investors and had advanced features and analysis such investors would require. Robinhood on the other hand targets rookie retail investors and has thus made its whole experience as simple as possible.”
EXAMPLE #2: “Lyft and yellow cabs are some of the main competitors for Uber in US. All the features mentioned above are an improvement over the yellow cabs and addresses user painpoints not addressed by yellow cabs. Both apps (Uber and Lyft) are user-friendly and functional. Uber’s app appears to be more sleek and modern, with many features. Uber provides many more cab options compared to Lyft with better coverage across different regions. Uber has far more ride options than Lyft, giving drivers more earning potential. Riders can choose eco-friendly or luxury options on both apps, but Uber has variety. They also offer more services such as Ubereats etc. which are not available on Lyft.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
EXAMPLE #3: “StoryShots is one of the competitors for Blinkist. StoryShots presents book summary contents in all formats as in audio, read and video. But the video quality is low and limited. Books are presented with their original covers rather categorized. It doesn’t present focus to users which can easily distract users. The content on Blinkist belongs to blinkist and the focus is on the quality of content compared to its competitor StoryShots.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
No product is perfect, what are the areas of improvement you see in this product? This is basically a product design question at this point. State a few improvements, the goal of those improvements and who those improvements target.
EXAMPLE #1: “Robinhood does a great job of opening up financial access and making the process simple - but it offers fairly complex options trading. And, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up in trouble there. So the key improvement I’d like to see is embedded education on how to use options products. In particular, I think supporting education videos, quiz questions to validate understanding and quick tools to simulate outcomes based on various options trades would help a lot. To measure success, I’d measure engagement with these tools (e.g., video views, questions answered, % of new options traders engaging, % running simulations, etc.). Importantly, I’d also want to see if better education would reduce incoming support volume from people upset about trades they didn’t understand - that could be a huge win. The key risk here is that these tools negatively impact trade volume and, by extension, our revenue but I believe if done correctly this could be mitigated. It may even encourage more users to adopt options and boost revenue. I’m happy to go into more detail.”
NOTE: Since this isn’t a stand alone product design question, this level of detail here is good. But it’s nice that the candidate suggests that they are happy to provide more detail if the interviewer is interested. If prompted, this question could morph into a bigger product design exercise, which we cover here .
EXAMPLE #2: “The current Uber app doesn’t mention about the luggage size and weight the car can accommodate even though the car brand is mentioned since the rider doesn’t know the car’s luggage capacity. The current Uber app does not provide the timer for charging the cancellation fee once the cab is booked. A timer would let the rider keep informed the time within which he can cancel the ride. A speed monitor in the app which cautions the driver if he crosses the speed limits.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
EXAMPLE #3: “Blinkist should move towards podcast content. It will be good to have a curated podcast and learn from it alongside book summaries. As I listen to the podcast on how to improve your effectiveness at work, I was really inspired to share this podcast with my team and have a discussion around it. But there is not an easy way to share. Blinkist can add “share content with friends' feature to allow people to easily share with their friends and teams.. Meanwhile, blinkist can calculate how many times certain content is shared, and leverage the popularity to continue promoting on the platform to drive more engagement of that content. As the business, with the increasing need of curating content, blinkist can open the platform to more writers who are willing to contribute and get paid with their reward, which will help the platform to ensure the quality of content and encourage more writers to contribute, growing the business into the ecosystem.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
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Finally summarize the conversation you’ve just had in 4-5 key takeaways. Be careful not to ramble as the goal here is to make sure that you re-iterate the key insights from your conversation so that the interviewer remembers them.
EXAMPLE #1: “To recap, we talked about Robinhood being my favorite product. We discussed how its simple UI, powerful search features, and inter device operability make it an appealing investing platform for rookie investors. RH is simpler and catered squarely towards the new rookie investors, something the investing platform offerings before it lacked. Finally, we talked about improving the “XYZ” aspect of RH and how it could improve the overall user experience for a new user.”
EXAMPLE #2: “To recap, we talked about Uber being my favorite product. We discussed how its simple UI, innovativeness, and ease of use makes it an appealing product for users. Finally, we talked about improving some of the features around customer experience for the app.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
EXAMPLE #3: “In summary, Blinkist is my favorite app as it provides a simple, intuitive experience to consume information from books through quick summary form and helps drive more enthusiasm in listeners to learn more.” - Himankini Shah, PM at Meta
Here are the things an interviewer is looking for in your answer:
Because of its popularity, interviewers can ask the favorite product question in multiple ways. Here are a few sample variations -
Finally, if you're interested in seeing how a few PMs at top companies like Google, Microsoft and JP Morgan approach, check out the videos below.
Real interview questions. Sample answers from PM leaders at Google, Amazon and Facebook. Plus study sheets on key concepts.