Ask A Good Product Manager

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What questions should I ask on a product management job interview?

Posted on December 22, 2008 · 4 Comments

Question: What is the main question you would ask on a product management job interview before accepting the job if you would like to choose the best company?

Answer from Gopal Shenoy of Product Management Tips: This is a difficult question to answer because there is no one question that will help you choose the best company. Here are the questions I would ask:

  1. Why are you hiring a product manager?
  2. What does product management do today or what is it expected to do going forward (if you are going to be the first product manager in the company)
  3. Who does product management report to?
  4. Who determines the future direction of your products – marketing, sales or engineering?
  5. How does the company manage customer interaction events such as customer visits, focus groups, customer surveys etc? How often is this done?
  6. How would you best describe the company culture?
  7. What are the company’s short-term and long-term challenges?
  8. What could derail the company going forward?

The answers to above eight questions should allow you to get an overall picture on the role of product management within the company. For more details on how the answers will help you, read my blog article: Unearthing the product management landscape within a company

4 other answers so far ↓

  • Steve Johnson // Dec 23, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Another suggestion is to take a copy of the Pragmatic Marketing Framework to the interview to guide your discussion. The frameworks lists all of the typical activities for product management. “Which of these activities are most important in this job?” You can easily see if they’re looking for a strategist, a technical product manager, or a product marketing manager.

    If they already know the framework, it can serve as a shorthand for all of the activities for the job.

    If they haven’t seen the framework before–altho that’s fairly unlikely–you’ll be seen as being a product management professional just by having the clarity on the role. More than one product manager has pulled out the grid and had the hiring manager pull out one too. It’s the secret handshake of product management.

    If you don’t already have a copy, you can download it from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/pragmatic-marketing-framework

  • Product Management Reader: 8Jan09 | The Productologist: Exploring the Depths of Product Management // Jan 8, 2009 at 7:39 am

    […] What questions should I ask on a Product Management job interview [Good Product Manager] […]

  • David Locke // Mar 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    If it is a contract position, the interview is your last time to capture the client’s definition of success. Find out exactly how you will be graded, what they want you to do, what they consider to be success. They won’t have time to answer these questions after the interview.

    You might want to determine where the company is on the technology adoption lifecycle, the hype cycle, and any other frameworks that you will use in your work.

    If they didn’t like your predecessor’s work find out why. Don’t argue with their answers. Know where your line in the sand happens to be.

  • CJB // Mar 27, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for posting the framework Steve. The most concise explanation of the role I have seen.

What do you think?