Product Manager Interview: The Product Design Question

Product Manager Interview - Product Design Question

*Updated: Sept. 2017*

A product manager’s core responsibilities include working with a team to design, build, ship, and continuously improve a product. During product manager interviews, most companies love to hone in on your ability to execute against these responsibilities by asking how you might think about designing a product.

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

“Walk me through how you would design X product for Y user”

Some common example questions we’ve frequently heard include:

  • Design a pen for an astronaut
  • Design an alarm clock for a blind person
  • Design an elevator for an individual in a wheelchair

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

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. Continue Reading

Top 3 Skills to be a Great Product Manager

product manager skillsWhen I first started in product management, I had no idea what I was doing. I had just barely managed to land the job and now that I had gotten my foot in the door, I wasn’t sure what skills I needed to contribute tangible value to the team. Through the past few years, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve managed to synthesize what I believe are the top 3 skillsets you should develop to be a great product manager.

1) Empathy

I’m a firm believer that you cannot succeed in this field if you do not have the capacity to understand the emotions of others around you. As a product manager, you simply deal with too many different stakeholders and having the empathy to understand everyone’s motives will allow you to cut through the noise, make the right trade-offs, and set a clear vision for your product. Continue Reading

How to Get a Job as a Product Manager

Finding your first job as a product manager is just like the ever frustrating chicken and egg problem of getting your first job. Companies like to hire people with prior product management experience and it’s hard to get prior experience without first getting hired. Here is some of our best advice (compiled from years of speaking to candidates trying to break into the industry as well as from our own successful experiences) around landing a job as a product manager.

Things You Should Do Immediately

Side Projects:

One of the best ways to demonstrate your interest in product management is to work on a side project that gives you the experience in shipping a product. A side project could be anything from a tangible iPhone app, wireframe, or even powerpoint case study. You could volunteer to help a non-profit or small business or you could just do some research on a company’s current product / service and show how you might improve it. Continue Reading

Day In the Life of a Product Manager

Day in the Life of a Product Manager

The role of a product manager tends to vary heavily depending on product lifecycle and stage of the company. Due to this variability, there is a wide range of day-to-day activities, but ultimately a product manager is still responsible for doing whatever it takes to collaborate with multiple teams and move different conversations towards closure.

Below, we’ve provided two examples of day-to-day activities for 2 different PM roles:

Consumer Tech PM

8:00AM: Wake up and check the Outlook mail app on my phone to make sure there aren’t any high priority issues that popped up overnight. Immediately after, I usually check my company’s Slack to see if I got any new direct messages from anyone that need to be immediately addressed. Continue Reading

What is a Product Manager?

What is a Product ManagerAs a product manager in San Francisco, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been at a bar, been asked what I do, and then hear the follow-up question “Wait… you do what? What’s a product manager?” When I first started answering that question, I would stutter, throw out some nonsense jargon like “cross-functional teams,” and “customer advocate” and receive a blank stare from whomever I was talking to. Since then, I’ve spent a lot more time learning even more about all the facets of being a product manager.

The role of a product manager really differs from every company and lifecycle of a product but in general:

A product manager helps to guide a team in discovering and developing the right product for users.

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