If you've got upcoming PM interviews, you need to prep. This post will help you kick-start that process.
While product management interviews attempt to simulate the role, they're are - at best - still a simulation. And, as a result, it's important that you understand the exact skill sets your interviewers will be looking for, the types of questions that may be asked and how to best respond.
Below, we'll introduce you to common interview questions for PM roles at top companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and more. We've categorized the questions into different skill set buckets and put our tips for how to prep best below.
Let's start with the "classic" PM interview questions.
Without doubt, if you're going through PM interviews at multiple companies, one of these questions will almost certainly come up at some point.
Example: How does the internet work?
Example: Design a refridgerator for the blind
Example: What's your favorite product and why?
This the "fun" category. If you're going into PM, you're likely excited about owning a roadmap, defining a product vision and deciding on what to build (or not).
This class of interview question is all about putting you in the feature-building driver seat and letting you decide what to build and make the case for it.
NOTE: Every company has their own terminology. Google calls these "product sense" questions, while Facebook prefers the term "product design."
Example: Pick any Google product and tell me how you'd improve it. (Check this post for more Google specific PM interview questions).
Example: How would you design a new to-do list app?
Example: Pick your favorite social network and design a new social video offering for it.
If approaching these questions is intimidating, check out the advice and tips from ex-Google PM and RocketBlocks coach, Allen Yang. And to see a Facebook PM answer one of these questions live, check out the mock interview video below:
"Rocketblocks was essential in my PM internship prep. The Drills section allowed me to practice a variety of different questions...without which I could not have landed multiple internship offers. -- Anurag Ojha, Google Product Manager
These questions are designed to test a PM candidate's facility with data-driven thinking.
Interviewers use these questions to understand how you'll prioritize investigations, evaluate the success of feature launches and think about the business generally.
NOTE: Again, many companies refer to these questions differently. Facebook calls these "product execution" while Google often calls them "analytics." Since many companies model their PM interview processes on either G or FB, they tend to use one term or the other.
Example: What metrics would you use to measure the success of a new feature launch?
Example: Daily active users (DAU) is down 5% WoW - how would you figure out what's going on? (Facebook loves to ask these type of questions - see this post for a deep dive on FB PM interviews).
Example: How would you determine whether a user sign-up flow is working well or not?
If problem solving on the fly like this makes you nervous, RocketBlocks Expert and ex-Google PM Allen Yang has advice on how to approach analytics & metrics oriented questions. And to see a Microsoft PM answer one of these questions live, check out the mock interview video below:
Since being a PM involves day-to-day collaboration with engineers, speaking the language is important.
While most PMs will never write a line of code in their daily jobs, companies assess PM skills to ensure that candidates will be able to successfully communicate with their technical counterparts.
NOTE: There is a lot of variation in how heavily companies screen technical skills. Some companies like Google prefer technical candidates (e.g., CS majors) while others, like Facebook, have explicitly stated that technical skills aren't tested. Most companies are in the middle - they'll test a little bit but won't go overboard asking you to design an algo or explain a hash table.
Example: Twitter is considering launching a "scheduled" tweet, what parts of the tech stack would need updates to support this?
Example: Explain what an API is and how it works to someone who isn't technical.
Example: Walk me through the process of how LinkedIn loads your personalized news feed.
Approaching technical questions can be intimidating - especially if you don't have a CS or technical degree. Allen Yang, a non-technical ex-Google PM, wrote a great technical interview post.
Example: How many photos are uploaded to Instagram in any given day?
Example: How many search queries are run on Amazon.com each day?
Example: Estimate the market size for online photo printing in the US.
Behavioral interview questions pop up in every from process - from Google and Facebook to start-ups just coming out of YC.
If there is any true constant in PM interviews, it's the presence of behavioral questions. Here are a few *super* common examples that come up frequently.
Example: Tell me about a time you disagreed with your colleague and how you resolved it?
Example: Tell me about a time you navigated ambiguity successfully.
Example: Tell me about a time where you successfully led a team to an important milestone.
To go deep on behavioral interview prep, figure out how to tell your story, structure your answers and really make them hit with impact, check out the behavioral interview prep module.
In addition to standard interview questions, many companies give PM candidates homework assignments as well.
A standard homework assignment presents a product problem (e.g., "Explain how you'd solve for X problem we're facing..."), a suggested time commitment (e.g., "Spend no more than 6 hours...") and comes with some associated information - this can range from everything to a full blown data pack to a handful of bullet points about what to consider and think about.
The goal of the HW assignments is often three-fold:
For a deep dive on HW assignments, check out this post I wrote which shows a sample Uber PM HW assignment, my approach to it (including sample slides) and my recommendations on how to approach these exercises.
The too long, don't read (TLDR) is this: the best route is to do targeted practice on interview questions in each skill area above.
Interviewing is a game. And while the game is designed to simulate the job and, importantly, test the skills you'll need on the job, demonstrating those skills in a condensed, intense and anxiety-ridden 30 minute interview is tough.
Thus, the best way to shine is targeted practice on each of the key interview skill areas. Rather than aiming to "be good at cases," you want to become excellent at answering questions in each skill area (e.g., product sense, analytics, technical).
RocketBlocks is custom built to help you interview prep - and land your offer.
Specifically, the key ways:
"I'm starting today as Product Manager at LendingClub. New role, new company. I'm very excited. I spent all my recruiting process working on RocketBlocks and this REALLY helped get through the process, which was totally new for me. Thank you. You have built something amazing, lifechanging. -- Lourdes Amayo, Lending Club Product Manager