Chp 2 – Product Management Interview Questions – About Me & Behavioral

If you’ll analyze any interview for Product Management role, you’ll find question falling into following broad categories –

  •  ‘About me’ Questions
  • Behavioral Questions
  • Estimate Questions
  • Business Case / Strategy Questions
  • Product Questions
  • Coding Questions (few companies expect)

‘About me’ Questions

There’s whole range of questions that one can ask about you. However, let’s focus on the list of questions that comes up often.

“Tell me About Yourself.”

This is a kick-off question which sets the tone for the interview.

Do:

  •   Be mindful of the time you speak. 1-2 minutes is a good time to answer.
  •   Practice the pitch (as this is where you’ll be judged for your communication skills).
  •   Highlight most interesting or relevant experiences.
  •   Discuss any hobby or activities that you indulge into that may be related to the job. Example, you might want to tell about how you make investments while applying to a Consumer Fin-Tech Startup.
  •   Show passion and pride in your past experience
  •   Your story should be a connecting and cohesive story

Don’t

  •   Don’t just list off your accomplishments. This might come out as boastful.
  •   Don’t get overly Technical.
  •   Don’t speak in an abstract way. Example, saying you did customer research. You could add what you learned from customer research and how you did it.
  •   Don’t be boring.
“Why are you thinking to move into Product Management?” Or “Why are you leaving your current job?”

Being honest is the best way to answer the question. Following answers would guide you on how to frame your replies. –

“I’ve got a great experience working on <project name> in my current firm. However, after <n> years, I feel my learning has slowed down a bit. The space isn’t growing that much. I thought it’s good time to take on a new challenge.”

“I’ve worked deeply with enterprise teams. I want to move closer to the consumer space.”

“As a <current role> for <n> years, I’ve acquired deep technology/design/customer and leadership experience. I want to take those skills to move more into the product domain.”

Besides, there could be personal reasons as well.

Don’ts

  • Never complain about your current role or current company.
  • Never say that you want to leave your current job due to salary.
  • Do not say that you are bored with the current job.
Why do you want to work in <company you are applying>?

Your answer should align to –

  1. Relevant skill or experience that can be directly consumed in the role you’re applying for
  2. Passion for the product – For example, for an education startup, you can point out how you find the current education system broken and that the company is trying to solve a problem which is much needed.
  3. Research about the company (products, blogs, conference) and point relevant insights (example a blog on how the company uses data for making product decisions) that aligns with your application.

Other questions to consider while preparing for interview are –

What are your strengths and weakness?
Why should we hire you?
What are your goals? Or Where do you want to see yourself in <n> years?

Behavioral Questions

Behavioral Questions are the most important part of PM interview. These are the questions on how you have handled certain work-related situations.
It lets the hiring company find out if the candidate has:
– The required competency for the job
– Really done things he claims
– Made impact in previous firm(s)
– Good communication skills

Example of a behavioral question –

“Tell me about a time when you knew your team was not moving in the right direction and you had to convince your team to do what you felt was right.”

The behavioral questions should be answered using STAR technique:

Situation – Describe the background context.
Task – Describe your responsibilities that you had in the described situation.
Action – Describe the action that “you” took. (Focus on what you did rather than what your team did)
Result – Describe the outcome of the action.

You should avoid overwhelming your interviewer with unnecessary details and should try to speak in bullets.

There are 6 key areas of Behavioral questions –
Success
Challenges
Mistakes or Failures
Teamwork
Leadership & Influence
Conflict Resolution

You can use following sheet template to prepare for behavioral interview –

Success

Success for you might be anything. A time when you conquered a big challenge, overcame failure or led a team to success.
What is important is to define why you count it as a success.
It might be the huge impact, or it was a hard problem to crack or simply because it was something totally out of your comfort zone.
Sample Question:
What do you count as your greatest achievement?
Tell me a time when you used an innovative technique to solve a problem?
Check the full list of questions here.

Challenges

These are questions where interviewer wants to understand how you solve a problem. You could come up with problems related to –
– Resource or information constraint
– Conflicting Incentives
– Ethical dilemmas
– Inability to meet expectations
Sample Question:
Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision using insufficient data?
Check the full list of questions here.

Mistakes or Failures

The interviewer wants to check –
Whether you’ve truly failed? – You should be humble to accept your failures.
How you handle failure? – How do you rectify those mistakes and avoid them in future?
Sample Question:
Tell me about a time when you were disappointed with your decision?
Check the full list of questions here.

Teamwork

Teamwork questions assess an applicant’s interpersonal skills.
Sample Question:
Tell me about a time when you mentored or helped your colleague?
Check the full list of questions here.

Leadership & Influence

A Product Manager is a leadership role where one has to influence multiple stakeholders to take right decisions. This is why questions around Leadership is quite common during PM interview.
You could use instances when:
– Were a good role model and developed trust and credibility
– Influenced/Led a team to conclusion using data or a framework
– Gathered support from key stakeholders/executives
– Addressed underlying incentives of different team members
Sample Question:
Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision?
Check the full list of questions here.

You could refer to a detailed list of Behavioral Questions here – http://www.hsu.edu/Career/completelistofbehavioral.pdf

Previous Chapter –
Path to become a Product Manager

Next Chapters –
Guide on How to answer Product Questions
Guide on How to approach Case-based & Market Sizing Questions

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