Product Manager Interview: The Product Design Question

Product Manager Interview - Product Design Question

A product manager’s core job is to help design, build, ship, and improve a product so during product manager interviews, most companies love to question how a prospective candidate might think about designing a product.

The popular product design question usually takes shape in the form of something like:

Walk me through the steps of how you would design “X product” (there are many things I’ve tried asking; some common questions I’ve frequently heard include a pen for astronauts, an alarm clock for the blind, an elevator for handicapped individuals, etc…)

When you answer these types of product design questions, you should always approach them with a framework in mind. Below is one that I highly recommend:

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Product Manager vs. Project Manager

Product vs. Project Manager

Quite frequently, I’ll be at some social event answering some question about what I do to a stranger who then proceeds to ask “So what do you do as a project manager?”

Rather than go through the nuances of the differences between a product & project manager, I usually move on into describing the responsibilities of a product manager. However, I’ve realized that the very nature of how similar the titles sound can lead to some confusion as to what the true differences are between the two jobs.

To simplify, I think Ian McAllister on Quora answered this question very efficiently:

Product managers own “What” and “Why.” Project managers own “How” and “When.”

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To clarify further, let’s first breakdown the difference between a project and a product.

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