Interview Questions for Product Managers

Several months ago I spent a lot of time interviewing potential Product Manager and Lead Product Managers to head up a product team. Listed below are some common interview questions along with some that I hand crafted for the particular PM jobs being advertised at the time. There are no right or wrong answers for most of the questions. The purpose is to find out how a person will operate under different scenarios. I hope these questions will help any one who is preparing for a job interview as a product manager or going for a promotion to a Senior, Lead or Head of product Management position. Periodically I’ll post possible answers or should I say possible thought processes that your future employer could be looking for.

      1. Where do you see yourself in three to five years time?
      2. see Where will the product manager be in 3 years time? for my thoughts on how you could answer this question.

      3. Why do you want this job?

      4. What’s your greatest achievement to date?

      5. How do you see the web (or the market space your in) 3 years from now?
        Read Where do you see your product in two years time? for two mini case study answers.

      6. How would handle a senior business stakeholder that demands more than you can deliver with in a certain timeframe?
        # One thing not to do is to exercise your freedom of speech - but to think of all the possible options - read Interview answer to questions regarding demands on development resource for an outline answer to this interview question.
      7. You, and your team, were involved in a successful launch of a new product that exceeded business expectations during its first phase - what would you do?
        # Read Interview Question: How Do Product Managers Handle Success? for a suggested answer.

      8. What is more important to you: being liked or being respected? Why?
      9. How do you handle stress? Read Product Managers need to reduce and handle stress
      10. See link above for tips on handling this type of interview question.

      11. Do you believe in processes? Is there ever a time when you think it’s acceptable to break an agreed process?
      12. Read: 7 things the Product Manager needs to consider when bypassing processes

      13. How do you keep up with new and emerging technologies and how do you access and get to understand their usefulness to your product range? see: How do Product Managers Keep up with Technology? for a suggested anwer and how others have Product Managers have answered this question.
      14. Tell me about a project you have run or a product you have managed through its life cycle? Read How do you demonstrate that you can manage products for my thoughts on this question.

      15. What would you do if you went to a high level business meeting with directors the CEO and other senior stakeholders… viewed a power point presentation on a new (on-line) product. The presentation concluded by annoucing that we aim to launch this new product in two months time?
        Read How Product Managers can push back at an interview for a suggested answer.


      1. These are great questions, but most of them seem geared more toward general employee/manager functions than they do specific to PM. Granted, a top-notch PM will need to be able to handle many of the issues that you ask about in your questions, but what about asking specific questions around PM topics such as balancing release priorities or getting buy-in for a new product or managing the expectations of internal groups such as Sales and Services?

        I'm not criticizing your list, just wondering how you capture information about the candidates' PM domain experience.

      2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      3. Hi Ivan,

        Thank you for your comments – I do see your points – there are a few questions that I ask that do lead into the points your making – one of which is usually the opening question: “Tell me a bout a project or product you have managed” . The points you raised usually get tackled during this part of the discussion when I tend
        to intervene with“how did you ….” --- “What if….” --- “Why did you …” "Tell me more about...". Drilling down in this fashion tends to get the natural answers out of the candidate which are set in the context of what they have actually done rather than what they have read before the interview. See my blog post 'Being up
        front during an interview'
        and the associated comments.
        Hope that helps


      4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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      7. This is an extremely useful article. I'm going for a manager-level interview in Product Management tomorrow, and some of these tips helped me put my thoughts in perspective. Thank you.

      8. Hi

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      9. Thanks for this helpful stuff. This gives bright understanding.

        Interview Questions

      10. Hi Derek,

        I work at Cisco and I'm in charge of hiring PM's, most of the time (they ask me to hire custodians too....whatever to keep my job! LOL). I just wanted to let you know that I use your template and it is very respected at Cisco. Keep up the great work and I want to thank you for the collaborative webpage you've created. I look forward in reading your other topics.


      11. Hi Landon - thanks for the feedback - good to hear that Cisco like what I've done and are putting to good use.


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