Interviewing for a Product Manager role is not an easy task, especially since there are just so many factors that can make a company either the best place to work at or the worst place to work at. A year ago, well pretty much exactly a year ago, I wrote about the 6 Fits every Product Manager should consider before accepting a job, to help understand if this job is the job for you. This article became my second most popular article, behind the slightly controversial Waterfall vs Agile vs Lean post.
We’ve all heard how important it is to ask questions during interviews, not only for you to figure out if this role is for you, but also because it shows your prospective manager/company that you are thoughtful and care about what you do with your life. But coming up with good questions in not easy, especially if you are new to Product Management and are not sure what to ask, or you’ve been out of the interview game and are a little rusty.
Over the last three years, and after interviewing with ~50 organizations, I’ve developed a list of questions for me to ask, in case they were not answered during the interview, to help ensure that I understand the role and company as much as possible, and most importantly, whether a specific role and company are the best for me.
My goal is to be able to answer all these questions below after speaking with any organization:
- Why is this position open?
- What is the role you want me to fill? Ideas person? Mentor? Rule Breaker?
- Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?
- What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?
- What attributes/skills/traits and experiences do you think would make somebody in this job role excel?
- What projects do you have happening right now?
- What is the role of Product Management in the company?
- What level of visibility would the PM have with VPs and C-Level Execs?
- What would I be doing that makes your job easier?
- What’s the difference between a good employee in this role and a fantastic one?
- What’s the process for on-boarding employees, and how do you handle beginner mistakes?
- What do you love about working here—and what do you dislike?
Product Strategy + Process Questions
- How do you develop your product strategy and what are the inputs?
- What is your product process? How do you decide what is next?
- Can you walk me through the product prioritization process? How do ideas flow in and what do you decide what’s next?
- How do you communicate your roadmap/strategy to the rest of the company?
- Do you talk to your customers and how do you do that?
Team Structure Questions
- What is the team structure?
- What type of engineers and designers do you have and look for?
- How do PMs, designers and engineers work together?
- How do you evaluate your people?
- What makes you a great manager? What are your weaknesses?
- Why should I work for you and not somebody else?
- What will I learn from you? How will you help me grow and do you have examples of people who have worked with you?
- How do you see yourself as a manager and do you have any examples to back that up?
- What would your employees say are the top three reasons they love working for you?
- What are the one or two things that really drive results for the company?
- How do you see yourself competing against competitors?
- What are your areas of opportunity?
- What significant changes have occurred in the company in the last couple of years?
- What values do you feel are sacred to the company or drive them?
- What is the company’s mission?
- What are some ways the company focuses on team development?
Remember, have fun with these questions. Pretend as if the interview process is part of a journey to validate whether the job is for you, similar to how you would interview a whole bunch of customers to understand their problems/pain points/needs, and have fun with it!
Also, please note that I don’t have any explicit questions about the product or service the company is offering. That is something I expect you to come up with!
What are your thoughts on these questions? Do you have any questions that you always ask?