Product leaders share favourite interview question
The role of a product manager is more important now than it has ever been before. To understand it further, we’ve been interviewing highly experienced Product Managers and wanted to share the learnings with our network.
One of the key questions we asked was…
“What is your favourite question to ask Product Manager's in an interview?”
Here are some of the best answers…
There are two questions I ask at every single interview. They're the last two questions and they're very deliberate. I ask both of these questions after the interview has finished, except the interview hasn't finished, they just think it has. I wrap up, say thank you very much, put my papers together, and then ask these two questions.
The first question is...
Richard Shepherd - Global Head of Product at JUST EAT
“What do you do for fun on the weekend?”
If they say anything that's to do with going out with their friends, eating, cooking or reading, it's a no. They need to be able to articulate something passionately and sell an idea because as a product person at least, that's an essential skill.
The most interesting answer I had to that was a guy who was very interested in Pakistani politics, at which point I thought, well, this is a tough sell to me. But wow, after five or 10 minutes, I was suddenly very interested in Pakistani politics and knew a lot more than I did before. And I thought, if he can do that with a product, that's amazing. So always ask, what do they do for fun. What gets them going outside of the office.
"What have you been listening to or reading?"
Just casually try and see, are they actively taking part in the product community? Are they reading? Are they contributing, etc.?
Adam Warburton - Head of Product at The Co-op.
“What is your favourite product?”
I like to ask that question for a couple of reasons. The first is, I’m just nosey. I want to understand a little bit about them, their hobbies, what they’re interested in, but when you get into the nuts and bolts of why it’s their favourite product, you can begin to unpick different facets of product, so why is it good? What metrics should it be hitting? Why is it a useful product? Have they really thought through the customer needs? What job is it addressing? What are the outcomes that customers want?
My favourite question off the back of that is;
“What feature would you remove from it?”
It's tough to answer because you usually enjoy a lot about it and it might be really easy to say here are the features that I would add to it, but removing a feature from a product can be one of the hardest things that a product manager has to do.
Often you become emotionally attached to products and features, so too have to think about removing a feature can be tough, and we’ve seen it with Apple recently in the iPhone 7. They removed the headphone jack and that’s not an easy decision to make. If they looked at the data and analytics, they would have seen that almost all their customers are using this feature, but actually they’re able to be a little more visionary, predict where the market might move to, and make tough decisions about removing features from products.
Dave Thomson - Head of Product at Skyscanner
"What's your biggest product failure?"
I ask it because the answer tells me a number of different things. Firstly, is this person open and honest? Did they tell me about some of the failures they've had that they have completely owned, and what did they learn from it? How big was the failure overall? If the failure was massive, it tells me this person has been swinging for the fence as opposed to incrementally optimizing things and playing it safe.
Another question I ask people is;
"Explain something very complicated to me in a very simple way"
Again, the answer they give back to me tells me a number of different things, like what's their calibration of complicated and can they distil that into a very simple sentence so that me, as a layperson, could understand it. Good product managers often have to translate very complicated requirements to stakeholders or engineers, so communication is key.
Rags Vadali - Product Manager at Facebook
"Describe what a bad day at work looks like"
I throw it in the middle of talking about products or about something completely unrelated. I love this question because it's something that I find people aren't prepared for.
I want to get into what is it that motivates them to do good work? What would they rather not see in their workplace? It's a two-way question, so for me, I want to judge if I can offer this candidate the right environment to come work where we are. At the same time, I'm trying to get a sense for what is the best conditions under which this person is going to work so I can create those conditions for them.