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Spot the Best Product Manager for Your Team with our Interview Template

By 
Victoire Léveilley
 on 
January 8, 2024
Remote Works

You're selling a great product but haven't yet found the nugget to become your product manager? You're probably not alone, because recruiting the perfect product manager for your team is no easy task.

Unfortunately, there's no magic formula for directly finding the ideal product manager candidate. But we're confident that with our interview guide, you'll find the best fit for your company. You've come to the right place: we've got all the tips you need, and even a product manager interview template, to make your recruitment a success!

A product manager is a key employee of your organization, responsible for the development, strategy, and overall success of a product or product line. This position involves a combination of business, technology, and design skills to bring a product from concept to market. And you'll have to cover all these topics at the interview.

Recruiting a product manager is like searching for a needle in a haystack

Recruiting a product manager can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. The challenge lies in the diverse skill set and background that a stellar product manager needs to bring to the table. It's not a one-size-fits-all situation; sometimes, you need someone who's practically a tech wizard, while other times, you’ll want a marketing savvy person.

The variety in product manager roles across different organizations only adds another layer of complexity. Each company has its unique blend of expectations and demands for this role. It's like trying to find someone who not only understands the playbook but can improvise depending on the team they're thrown into. 

The difficulty lies in sifting through this sea of diverse talents, making sure they align with the specific needs of the role. And to make sure you don't miss out on any of these nuances, you'll want to follow a product manager interview template when interviewing a candidate.

What you’re looking for when hiring a product manager

When you’re on the lookout for a product manager, you are essentially hunting for a multi-talented person. Recruiting a product manager is not just about the resume or the skills; it's about finding someone who can spin multiple plates without dropping any. 

You need:

  • A tech-savvy guru who speaks fluent engineer (you don't necessarily need to hire an engineer, but your PM will have to know how to speak their language…) and demonstrates technical skills;
  • A strategic thinker who can craft a killer roadmap and will fully understand the market. You want your future PM to understand the big picture of your business, as well as technical product details;
  • A marketer with a special focus for customer needs;
  • A team player who can seamlessly collaborate with diverse teams, especially cross-functional teams;
  • A person with proven research skills;
  • A leader with a proven soft skill set: you want someone who can steer the ship without sinking it;
  • A committed and results-driven person.

Why you should use a product manager interview template

Approaching an interview with a laid-back "let's see how it goes" mindset might seem casual, but it's a risky strategy for both the interviewer and interviewee. An unprepared interview can swing in unpredictable directions, leading to either insightful discussions or awkward silences. 

Without using a template, there's no guarantee that all essential points will be covered unless the interviewer actively steers the conversation.

Using a product manager interview template provides a structured framework that ensures you cover all the essential aspects necessary to evaluate a candidate thoroughly.

Topics that will be covered during a product manager interview template

While the specific role and candidate background may influence the selection, you'll still need to review a few essential topics. We have listed them below and you’ll see that most of the topics echoes the key product manager skills we discussed in the previous section.

Strategic thinking

Dig into the ability of your candidate to see the big picture. Ask about their approach to setting long-term goals and how they align product strategy with broader business objectives.

Marketing skills

Explore their understanding of marketing principles. How do they plan to make your product stand out in a crowded market? Look for insights into their customer-centric mindset.

Business sense

Assess your interviewee’s grasp of the business side of things. Can they navigate financial aspects, understand market trends, and make decisions that align with the company's overall strategy?

Technical skills

Check the technical know-how of your PM candidate. Even if they're not coding wizards, they should be comfortable working with tech teams and translating complex concepts for the non-tech people.

Communication style

Explore how your candidate conveys ideas and communicates. Effective communication is key, both within the team and externally. Can they articulate complex concepts in a way that everyone can understand?

Management approach and conflict resolution

If the role involves managing a team, you’ll have to ask questions about their leadership style. How do they motivate and guide their team members? Product managers often play mediator. Ask about situations where they've faced conflict in a team and how they resolved it. Look for diplomacy.

Creative problem-solving

Assess the ability of your candidate to think on their feet. Give them a hypothetical product challenge and see how they approach finding innovative solutions.

Research skills

Dive into their approach to research. How do they gather customer feedback? What's their process for staying on top of industry trends and understanding user needs?

Of course, you’ll also talk about past experience and background of your candidate product management experience. Dive deep into their past experiences as a product manager. What projects have they led? What were the challenges, and how did they overcome them?

Using a structured product manager interview template ensures a more thorough exploration of the candidate's fit for the role.

Background and past experience: 8 questions to ask

  1. Tell me about yourself and your journey to becoming a product manager;
  2. Can you highlight a specific product or project you've managed in the past and walk me through the lifecycle from ideation to launch?;
  3. Describe a challenging situation you faced as a product manager and how you overcame it;
  4. How do you stay informed about industry trends and emerging technologies relevant to your role?;
  5. What product management tools and methodologies are you most familiar with, and how do you incorporate them into your work?;
  6. How do you approach gathering and prioritizing customer feedback in the product development process?;
  7. Describe your experience in working with user experience (UX) and design teams to create user-friendly products;
  8. What metrics do you consider most important when evaluating the success of a product, and how do you track and analyze them?

Technical skills: 8 questions to ask

  1. How would you approach working with a development team to implement a feature that involves a new and unfamiliar technology stack?;
  2. Explain a technical challenge you faced in a previous product management role and how you tackled it;
  3. If you were overseeing the development of a mobile app, what technical considerations would you keep in mind? How would you ensure a seamless user experience across different devices and platforms?;
  4. Describe a situation where you had to make a trade-off between implementing a technically superior solution and delivering a product within a tight deadline. How did you approach this decision?;
  5. How do you collaborate with software engineers to ensure that the technical implementation aligns with the product vision and goals?;
  6. Can you provide an example of a time when you had to work closely with data scientists or analysts to incorporate data-driven features into a product?;
  7. Explain a scenario where you had to address a critical technical issue post-launch. How did you manage the situation and ensure a quick resolution?;
  8. In a situation where a product requires integration with third-party APIs, what steps would you take to ensure a smooth and reliable integration process?

Communication skills: 5 questions to ask

  1. Describe a complex technical concept related to one of your previous projects to someone without a technical background;
  2. How do you tailor your communication style when interacting with cross-functional teams, such as developers, designers, and marketing professionals? Can you provide examples?
  3. Discuss a situation where you had to present a product strategy or roadmap to company executives;
  4. Explain a time when you had to communicate a change in product direction to your team. How did you handle potential resistance or concerns?;
  5. When working with remote teams or distributed team members, how do you ensure effective communication and collaboration?

Management and leadership skills: 5 questions to ask

  1. Describe your approach to setting priorities and managing multiple projects simultaneously. How do you ensure that all projects stay on track?;
  2. Can you share a situation where you had to lead a team through a tight deadline?;
  3. Discuss a time when you had to resolve a conflict within your team. What steps did you take, and what was the outcome?;
  4. How do you approach building and fostering a collaborative and inclusive team culture within your product team?;
  5. Explain your process for delegating tasks and responsibilities within your team. How do you ensure that each team member is contributing effectively?

Bonus: 4 brain teasers for a product manager interview

Brain teasers are a fun way to gauge a candidate's problem-solving skills and creativity. They can even act as icebreakers for the start of the interview. Here are a few brain teasers suitable for a product manager interview:

  1. How would you design a smartphone for a blind person?;
  2. Imagine you are launching a product that is a combination of a bicycle and a smartphone. How would you market it to appeal to a broad audience?;
  3. If you had to design a navigation app for astronauts on Mars, what features would be crucial for their successful exploration?;
  4. If you were to design a new feature for a fitness app that encourages users to stay active during their workday, what would it be?

Your product manager interview template to copy and paste

Product Manager Interview Template

General information

  • Name of the candidate:
  • Position pursued: Product manager
  • Interviewers:
  • Date of the interview:

I. Introduction and background

  • Tell me about yourself and your journey to becoming a product manager.
  • What motivated you to pursue a career in product management?

II. Past professional Experience

Project Highlight:

  • Tell me about your previous experience
  • Can you highlight a specific product or project you've managed in the past and walk me through the lifecycle from ideation to launch?

Challenges Faced:

  • Describe a challenging situation you faced as a product manager and how you overcame it.

Staying Informed:

  • How do you stay informed about industry trends and emerging technologies relevant to your role?

Tools and Methodologies:

  • What product management tools and methodologies are you most familiar with, and how do you incorporate them into your work?

III. Product Management Skills

Customer Feedback:

  • How do you approach gathering and prioritizing customer feedback in the product development process?

User Experience and Design Collaboration:

  • Describe your experience in working with user experience (UX) and design teams to create user-friendly products.

Metrics and Success:

  • What metrics do you consider most important when evaluating the success of a product, and how do you track and analyze them?

IV. Technical Understanding

Handling New Technology:

  • How would you approach working with a development team to implement a feature that involves a new and unfamiliar technology stack?

Trade-offs and Technical Decision-Making:

  • Describe a situation where you had to make a trade-off between implementing a technically superior solution and delivering a product within a tight deadline. How did you approach this decision?

V. Communication Skills

  • How do you tailor your communication style when interacting with cross-functional teams, such as developers, designers, and marketing professionals? Can you provide examples?
  • Discuss a situation where you had to present a product strategy or roadmap to company executives. How did you ensure your message was clear, persuasive, and aligned with business goals?

VI. Management Skills and Conflict Resolution

  • Describe your approach to setting priorities and managing multiple projects simultaneously. How do you ensure that all projects stay on track?
  • Explain your process for delegating tasks and responsibilities within your team. How do you ensure that each team member is contributing effectively?
  • Discuss a time when you had to resolve a conflict within your team. What steps did you take, and what was the outcome?

Do you have questions for us?

Tips for running an effective product manager interview

You now have the template to conduct your interview in the best possible way. Here are some tailored tips and techniques to conduct an effective product manager interview:

Use case studies with real scenarios

Rather than hypothetical questions, present them with real challenges your product team has faced. Ask how they would approach and solve these specific issues.

Dig into product decisions

Explore their decision-making process in previous product roles. Ask about specific instances where they had to make tough choices and the outcomes.

Don’t forget about soft skills

Product managers must of course demonstrate great technical skills. But they also need to show excellent soft skills. Assess their ability to communicate, collaborate, and influence others. Ask for examples where these skills made a significant impact on a project.

Product managers work with various teams. Ask for examples of successful collaboration with engineers, designers, marketers, and other stakeholders. How do they ensure everyone's on the same page?

Innovation and creativity

In the midst of technical and communication skills, you might forget that creativity is very important to be a good product manager. Pose questions and/or real case scenarios that assess their creativity and ability to come up with novel solutions to common problems. Here are some examples:

  • Spotify is known for its personalized user experience; explain how you would leverage data and user insights to enhance personalization in a music streaming app you're managing?;
  • Facebook values innovation; can you imagine a feature that would significantly improve user engagement?;
  • Joining a startup like Slack, you're faced with the challenge of gaining market share in a highly competitive space—what strategies would you employ to position Slack as the go-to team collaboration tool?

Use role play scenarios

Simulate situations your future product manager might encounter in the role. It could be a challenging team dynamic or a sudden change in project priorities. See how they handle these scenarios in real-time.

Assess how resilient your candidate is

Everyone faces setbacks and even failures. Inquire about a project or product that didn't go as planned. What did they learn from it, and how did they adjust their approach moving forward?

Ask for a product pitch

Have your candidate pitch a product to you. This will showcase their ability to present ideas, understand the market, and communicate the value of a product succinctly.

Use Claap to make your product manager interviews even smoother

When conducting product manager interviews, utilizing an interview template undoubtedly brings structure and clarity. I now introduce another game-changer for your interviews: Claap

Claap is an all-in-one video platform featuring audio and video transcription tools that will revolutionize your interview process. Now that more and more interviews are taking place online, see how Claap can take them to the next level:

  1. Claap records all your meetings and integrates seamlessly with all the platforms you’d like to use to run an online interview (Zoom, Google Meet, Teams…). Claap is a must for recording interviews and will enable you to replay every interview you conduct;
  2. Claap is  your virtual scribe during the interview: it offers audio and video transcription for you to keep a written record of the interview;
  3. Claap AI-powered notes and summaries help you organize your thoughts at the end of the interview. You can choose the template you like for your summary (and even the product manager interview template I gave you earlier in the article);
  4. Claap helps you collaborate with your team through its collaborative platform, which is just like a wiki. You and your teammates will be able to comment on the interviews and share feedback thanks to comments, threads and reaction features. Your interview debriefs will now be super easy;
  5. You can store and access all the interviews you’re running in a few clicks with Claap, just like a video library.

As you probably realized, using a well-structured product manager interview template is a big step towards finding your next nugget. 

And we can't recommend using Claap enough to make your recruitment process even smoother. So don't wait any longer, Claap offers a 14-day trial with access to all premium features (no credit card required).

Get Started for free

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