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product manager at tech company
Image of Google product manager Manav Mishra, courtesy of Flickr

Product managers perform a crucial role in all companies. They often reside at the focal point between customer and product developers. How do you assess whether or not a person might be a great fit? These questions will help.

1. What is the most difficult thing about being a product manager? The most rewarding?

This question shows deep understanding of the position and the probable challenges ahead. Follow up by asking about personal stories surrounding both the positive and negative aspects of the role.

2. Tell me what you know about [the product they would be managing].

They should have done their research on the product if information is publicly available.  If not publicly available, this will the candidate an opportunity to ask meaningful questions. Look for intelligent questions and a lot of them. Ideally, you want someone who is curious and keeps asking more and more questions so that you are the one that has to move the interview along.

3. How would you respond if a current client says that they absolutely need a new feature completed or they can’t continue purchasing our product?

Simply, what you’re looking for here is the ability for the product manager candidate to ask lots of questions to understand what exactly the client needs and whether or not a new feature solves that need. The PM should demonstrate the ability to challenge the customer.

Then, the candidate should ask you or contemplate whether or not this would be a helpful feature for all clients. Challenge them and see how they respond. Look for someone who is open to coaching, but demonstrates confidence in their answers.

4. What is the most interesting product that you’ve seen lately, and why?

Listen for passion and deep analysis of a product. Do they understand the emotional effect of the product and the value it provides its buyer?

5. How do you keep yourself organized?

Product management requires high organization skills and this answer should roll off the candidate’s tongue. If not, beware.

6. What methodology do you use to remove features of a product?

Feature-overloaded products never work. Look for a good process and a desire to build the best product, not the one with the most features.

7. How have you learned to work with sales? With development?

Each group has its own priorities and PMs need to know how to manage both groups. Listen for experience.

What questions have worked for you?
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