Product Management Interview Prep

Chp 3: Guide on how to answer Product Questions

Questions related to Product are core to a PM Interview.

The questions have following common forms –

  1. Design: How would you design a ?
  2. Improve: What would you improve about a ?
  3. Favourite: One you like and why?
  4. Product/Business Strategy
  5. Metrics: What metrics would you track for this ?
  6. Launch: How would you launch a ?

Let’s understand how to answer these questions in detail.

Q Form — Design: How would you design a ?

What approach to take:
Step 1: Identify the users and customers who’d be using the product. Understand them well.
For example, if you are asked to design mobile app for an e-commerce seller.
Get deep into understanding your users –
Ask about what do these sellers sell?
Do the sellers sell on multiple channels?
Are the seller’s individual or enterprise sellers?

For Step 2 to 3, it would be helpful to develop a customer journey map.
Refer: PM101 – Chp 4 – How to Create Personas & User Journey Mapping?

Step 2: Understand the use-case. What are the goals of your users or customers in each phase of using the product?
Step 3: Are the users using any current product? What are the challenges faced in the current flow or by using the current product?
Step 4: What improvements would lead to a better experience for your users or customers based on their goals?
Step 5: Visualize (if possible) the design based on identified improvements.

Q Form — Improve: What would you improve about ?

Step 1: Understand the User and their goal.
Step 2: Understand the Product Goal.
Step 3: What are the problems that the product face currently? This can be related to product flow, lower user engagement, increasing revenue or conversions, etc.
Step 4: Brainstorm on how you can improve the product. The improvements can be bold and big as well as small and iterative. You could use –
a – Customer Journey Mapping as shown to brainstorm improvements around the current challenge
b – Focus on Usability of the product to come up with improvements
Step 5: How would you implement these improvements? Are there any technical or business constraints that you should discuss?
Step 6: How would you validate your improvements? What metrics would you track for validation?

You are asked how to improve Go-Fro website — a holiday package booking site. You could develop a customer journey which would help you answer.

Customer Journey Mapping for Go-Fro Website user

Secondly, you can focus on usability of the site as illustrated.

Focus on Usability for suggesting improvements Refer – PM101 – Chp 11 – How to conduct Usability Testing?

Q Form — Favourite: One  you like and why?

Step 1: Understand the User and their goal.
Step 2: Understand the Product — What problem it solves?
Step 3: How does the product solve the problems? Or How does it accomplish the user goals?
Step 4: What is great about the product — in terms of Usability? What are the “Wow” features?
Step 5: How does it compare with other alternatives?

ExampleTrello is a visual system to organize anything (Projects/Ideas/Personal Tasks) the way you want. It is a super powerful tool to make project management easy, collaborative and even fun. Let’s explore how you can use Customer Journey Mapping to answer a question on a favorite product (Trello).

Trello User Journey

Wow Features:
– Visual Appeal where user can visually see tasks rather than simple texts
– Intuitive and ease of use
– Conceptually Easy
– Flexibility to use Trello as a Project Management Tool, Week Planner, Travel Itinerary Planner, Ideas Management Tool or simply day planner

You could also rate Trello in terms of usability (using screenshots) –
Learnability — The product is pretty easy to use for any first-time user
Efficiency — User can accomplish their tasks/goals with ease and in less time
Recovery from Error — User can easily undo any changes that they make (e.g. moving a card back, or deleting any task)
Satisfaction — Going by reviews the users are pretty satisfied by Trello

Refer – PM101 – Chp 11 – How to conduct Usability Testing?

Q Form — Question on Product/Business Strategy

You should think about a Product Strategy on Micro (Product) level and Macro (How Product fits into Business Strategy) level.

Sample Questions:
– Why did MakeMyTrip and Goibibo merge?
– Why did Amazon enter into India via Junglee and why would it suspend it later?
– Why Microsoft bought LinkedIn?
– Why Flipkart bought Myntra?
– Why would Google be interested in entering into cell phone market?
– Why did Google stop shipping Google Glasses?
– Why would Facebook buy Whatsapp? What could be the possible ways to monetize Whatsapp?

You could think of following strategies which can help you answer the questions –

  • Increase addressable market
  • Synergize products to provide more value to users and complete workflow solution
  • Entering into new market
  • Reducing reliance on a Key Partner
  • Bringing a core competency in-house
  • Being a “One Stop for — ”
  • Developing Cost Leadership
  • Diversifying
  • Building Barriers for Competitors
  • Developing resource (data) to serve potential market
  • Alignment with core strategy

Frameworks to look at –
PORTER 5 Forces
Workflows for Product Synergy

Example Why Microsoft bought LinkedIn?
Microsoft has been moving from just being a productivity tool to offering a whole range of cloud service (especially for enterprises). LinkedIn brings the power of professional network which can really help Microsoft provide a differentiated cloud offering which can re-invent business processes in a whole new way.

This synergy can bring together a professional’s information on LinkedIn’s public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics to provide a more connected and intelligent productivity flow.

Also, it would drive better monetization through more targeted advertising.

Remember, Microsoft knows what you are working and with whom (Office 365) and what kind of people (LinkedIn network) and what information (LinkedIn news feed and Lynda) can be helpful to you.

And combine all this with Cortana!


Microsoft & LinkedIn Synergy

Q Form — Metrics: What metrics would you track for this ?

You could read in details on how to select which metrics to measure in
PM101 – Chp 16 – What metrics to track?
PM101 – Chp 17 – Develop Product Growth Model

Step 1 — What are the business goals?
Step 2 — Identifying business metrics based on business goals e.g. CAC, LTV, MRR.
Step 3 — Identifying any North Star Metric and/or Check Metric.
Step 4 — Identifying Product metrics based on Business metrics

The two approach to defining product metrics are –

AARRR framework

AARRR Framework

HEART framework
Happiness | Engagement | Adoption | Retention | Task Success

Sample Question
– You are launching a major change in UI of your company’s app. What metrics would you track and why?
– You are a founder of SaaS startup and have just raised capital. Your investor has asked you to develop a company health dashboard. What metrics would you choose to display on that dashboard?

Q Form — Launch: How would you launch a ?

Important framework to use –
Marketing Mix — 4 Ps
5Cs (Company, Customer, c…)
Customer Purchase Decision Making

Step 1 — Understand the Target Users, their needs, and their touch-points.
Step 2 — Understand the Product Goals and what stage is the product. If initial stage, what are the Lunch Goals?
Step 3 — How will you Distribute the product? Are there any key partnerships which would help you take the product to the target audience?
Step 4 — How would you roll-out the product — Do you intend to do a private beta release first followed by public beta (invitations only)?
Step 5 — How would you Market the product? Make use of 5Cs or Customer Purchase Decision framework.
Step 6 — Talk about Monetization strategy and Pricing model.

For pricing you can refer to following:

Pricing Frameworks –
Cost-Plus Pricing
Value Pricing
Competitive Pricing
Experimental Pricing

Concept of Economic Value in Pricing

Pricing Models:

  • Free (Ad supported or Data as a resource for underlying service/product)
  • Freemium model
  • Tiered
  • Subscription
  • Free Trial
  • Razor & Blade
Channels for User Engagement

Sample Questions –

  1. How would you launch a grocery app?
  2. How would you launch a community platform for lawyers?
  3. How would you launch an electronic product?
  4. How would you launch an electric car in India that is thrice more efficient than any other car?
  5. How would you launch Kindle Subscription for schools?
  6. An example of a product that wasn’t launched well.
  7. How would you launch the same product?
  8. How would you monetize a note taking app?
  9. How would you monetize an app that checks your grammar?
  10. How would you price Amazon Prime?
  11. How would you price enterprise data backup service?

Prev –
Chp 1: Path to become a Product Manager
Chp 2: Guide on how to answer Behavioral Questions
Next –
Chp 4: Guide on How to approach Case-based & Market Sizing Questions

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