Another common question that is frequently asked during product manager interviews is “How would you improve X product?”
While the product design question asks you to design from scratch, this variation is meant for the interviewer to see how well you can understand the current situation of an existing product, propose potential solutions to any problems the product may currently have, and understand your ability to execute on those solutions.
As usual, you’ll want to structure your answer so that it’s easier for you to process in your mind as well as clear for your interviewer to understand.
Depending on the situation, you may either have the option of choosing an existing product to improve or your interviewer may propose his/her own company’s product. Either way:
1) Discuss the product’s objective.
Spend the first few minutes laying out your thoughts on the product’s current objectives. Remember to keep this high level; don’t focus yet on the product’s specific features. For example, Dropbox has stated that their objective is not just to allow people to store and share files easily but rather, to simplify life for people around the world.
2) Figure out what the product needs to reach its objectives.
What have you noticed about the product on its way to reaching its objectives? What has it been successful / not successful at doing?
A good way to think about this might be in terms of the acquisition funnel (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, Referral). Have you noticed that this product seems to have a hard time acquiring or activating users? Does the product have features that encourage users to stick around for long periods of time? Does the product have drivers that could incentivize users to convert into paying customers? Is there a strong reason for a user to refer or recommend your product to other users?
Think very carefully about what the product has been focusing on thus far and what part of the funnel the product could improve on in order to better reach its objectives. As you’re thinking through all of this, make sure you’re explaining your thought process to your interviewer or writing down your ideas on a whiteboard / piece of paper.
3) Brainstorm improvements for these needs.
Now that you’ve spent some time identifying what the product needs to reach its objectives, take some time to think about potential improvements for those needs. You’ll want to consider which of these needs is the highest priority for the product (as a last resort, you can also ask your interviewer if he/she prefers you to focus on improving a specific need but explain your own prioritization first).
Once you’ve identified a specific need/problem you’d like to improve, brainstorm a few solutions ranging from quick improvements to longer-term solutions.
4) Lay out your execution plan and success criteria.
Now that you have a few solutions for improvements, it’s time to focus on the execution plan. For each of these improvements, discuss the benefits and costs of each. Without getting into nitty gritty details, explore how you might roll out an execution plan in the short, mid, and long term with your improvement ideas as well as how you might launch each improvement. For example, if your short term suggestion is around increasing revenue by improving the completion rate of purchases, then briefly discuss how you might conduct split tests around the shopping cart experience.
Your interviewer will want to know that you are also capable of tracking success, so you may want to dedicate the remaining time towards explaining your success criteria for each of your improvement ideas. For example, you might state that your success criteria for the shopping cart experience improvement is a 10% increase in purchase completion rate. Additionally, you’ll want to list out the metrics you plan to track in order to confirm the success of this improvement.
Interested in learning how to dominate these types of product manager interview questions and land the product manager job? You might want to check out our popular course: One Week PM.
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