Technical product managers are integral to product management teams because of their unique approach to leveraging new technologies. This position is challenging to fill due to a diverse pool of candidates with unique company requirements. With the growing demand for these professionals in big companies and startups, hiring managers often ascertain applicants based on their product insights, strategy and business acumen. In this article, Pritish Kumar Halder goes through a set of technical product manager interview questions, provides sample answers and highlights some tips to help you in the interview process.
General technical product manager interview questions
Before reviewing some common technical product manager interview questions, it is important to understand their role. Technical product managers (PMs) are professionals who have a strong technical background and specialise in the technical features of the products. As a result, they work more closely with the engineering team rather than the business, sales and marketing teams.
For instance, a former engineer or computer science major can be closely involved with the product strategy development process along with the engineering, infrastructure and networking teams. During technical PM interviews, you can expect the hiring managers to ask questions that focus on the products, their workings, evaluations of the market, competitors and emerging technology and development trends. Here are some general technical product management questions you can expect in your interviews:
. What do you find most exciting about technical product management?
. What do you imagine a product manager’s day would be like?
. How do technical product managers interact with engineers?
. Which of the aspects of product management interests you the least?
Below are some technical questions to expect from your hiring manager:
. Engineers on our team are accustomed to using agile methodologies. What do you think of them?
. Could you describe an example of a technical solution you or your team developed that became a commercial product?
. Previously, we relied on an outside company to provide security services, but now we are developing an in-house product. . Is this something you are comfortable handling?
. Developing the technical skills of our project managers is a priority for us. Do you have any mentoring experience to share with us?
Product strategy questions
Here are some product strategy questions for you to prepare:
. How do you manage marketing strategies at every stage of the product lifecycle?
. Could you describe managing a product’s roadmap?
. Can you share any PM metrics you used to analyse a product’s success?
. How do you develop a product vision? What makes the product successful?
. Is there an instance where you developed a prototype and it failed?
. Common technical product manager interview questions
Here are some common questions you can expect:
1. If someone were to ask you about our product, how would you describe it?
Product descriptions highlight the features of a product and justify its purchase. They serve two purposes, which include providing customers with relevant information about the product and persuading them to purchase it. In answer to this question, hiring managers expect to hear how the product solves problems, how it helps customers and how it differs from the competitor’s products.
Example: ” The GL smartwatch is the latest of your products in the GL line. If I were to describe the product to a customer, I would tell them about the design, which is very sleek, featuring a minimalist aesthetic and design ethos. I would also highlight how the watch has inbuilt thermal sensors to track body temperature along with high-precision SpO2 readings on the GLii app.”
2. What analytics tools and key performance indicators (KPIs) do you use to assess product design?
Product managers often evaluate their development efforts by using KPIs and analytics tools. By using such tools, product teams increase customer satisfaction and boost performance. By asking this question, interviewers gauge your familiarity with analytics tools in terms of usability and the ability to understand user behaviour and make informed decisions.
Example: “I have experience with A/B testing, data visualisation and segmentation in my last role, where I used analytical tools like Google Analytics and Quantum Metric to analyse user activity and customer behaviour. I have also used key KPI tools to monitor session duration, bounce rate, event action and exit rates to align product design and business metrics.”
3. Provide measurable results from a product you designed.
If you have worked as a product designer previously, the interviewer or interviewing committee may be interested in learning about your design achievements. It may be a good idea to share any measurable results you have achieved with previous product designs. Along with this information, you can add context about how the product exceeded market expectations.
Example: “During my previous role as a product designer, I worked on a project involving product redesign. It involved re-designing a smartwatch. Initially, we forecasted that the launch of the redesigned product would lead to an increase of about 5% in sales. The company saw a 30% increase in sales within two months of its launch.”
4. What is your experience working with software engineers?
In terms of efficiency and culture, it is important to understand how a candidate views cross-team collaboration. Hiring managers often ask technical PMs to describe occasions when they overcame engineering constraints to achieve their goals and conversely, times when they had to relinquish something they cared about. The interviewer can learn how the candidate approaches and overcomes project challenges.
Example: “I was working as a software engineer before I transitioned to the role of a product manager. This applicable experience of three years has helped me work and collaborate with software engineers effortlessly. It has also helped me bring the engineering team to conversations regarding roadmap planning and strategy sessions to get different perspectives on development and product decisions.”
5. Can you describe a technical product you have worked on?
Interviewers assess technical knowledge at two levels with technical product manager roles. The first question is to see if you are aware of and interested in the technical side of your products. The second level is to gauge if you held a technical role before, had an engineering education or worked on technical products.
Example: “Our team created a machine-learning algorithm to predict churn rate that helped in reducing 12% of yearly churn. We used data visualisation, interpreted numeric data, used scaling and algorithms such as Random Forest and XG Boost that helped us retain a majority of our high paying customers.”
6. What are your two main product management principles?
Hiring managers might ask you this question to learn more about your philosophies and training as a product manager. It examines whether they are using consensus-building and collaborative tactics. By answering it, you can show your commitment to quality, leadership and production.
Example: “Utility and reliability are two of my top priorities for product management. While mentoring my teams, I emphasise the importance of finding solutions that consumers can use well into the future with products.”
Tips for technical product manager interviews
Preparing for a technical PM interview can be challenging, so it is important to master an array of question types, including some specific questions by the tech companies you are interviewing with. Here are some tips that can help you with the hiring process in your next PM interview:
Learn about the product manager interview process
There may be significant differences in the product manager interview process depending on the company, the role and your level of seniority. Certain elements are pretty common across all companies. Gaining a high-level view of what you require preparing for is essential so that you can allocate your prep time more strategically. PM interviews comprise five broad types of questions, which include:
1. Technical: This includes knowledge of algorithms and technical analysis.
2. Strategy: These focus on product strategy and estimation.
3. Design: The focus is on preferred products, product design and product improvement.
4. Analysis: This includes metric change and metric definition.
5. Behavioural: These include general questions about yourself.
6. Research the company and its products
Doing well in a technical product manager interview involves being aware of the company’s products through in-depth research. This involves going through the company mission statement, recent company developments, social media accounts and competitor research. Researching a company before attending an interview can give you a competitive advantage over other applicants.
Do mock interviews
Practise interview questions with your friends, peers and experienced technical professionals under simulated interview environments to get acquainted with actual interviews. You can use the mock interviews to prepare yourself, along with knowledge of the interview questions and company-specific interview processes. Mock interviews also help you get constructive feedback which you can use to make necessary improvements.