what is expected from the product manager at the interview Part 1 / Habr

what is expected from the product manager at the interview Part 1 / Habr

Hello everyone, Vova is in touch with OKAY (Senior Product Manager YouTalk, CPO Eatagram, ex. Joom.com). In the previous article, I wrote about the types of interview tasks and what to do with them. However, I believe in practice more than in theory, so I suggest looking together at possible solutions to the most popular tasks.

I will try to tell and show with examples, plus or minus, which answers are expected from product managers at the interview. As practice shows, beginners and experienced products are asked the same questions, only the wording is changed and they expect a different depth of the answer. Therefore, the article is suitable for both advanced product managers and those who are just going to become one.

There will be no standard questions in the spirit of “tell about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses.” Let’s imagine that this stage has been successfully completed, so let’s proceed immediately to testing hard skills. Here’s what you’ll most likely be asked:

1: What is your favorite product and why?

Category: supervision, product sense

It may seem that this is some kind of ease, although in fact the testing of your hard drives has already begun. Shock content: tell the interviewer what your favorite product is. This question is a way to start a dialogue in a “safe” topic for you, to start evaluating your skills and to prepare for the further development of the interview.

You need to choose a product carefully, knowing that you will be bombarded with product questions such as: “What do you like about this product?”, “How will you improve this product?”, “What direct and indirect competitors of this product will you identify?” etc.

Try to choose a product as a product, not an ordinary user, and know that the interviewer will immediately pay attention to what you value in the product: design or innovation, users or business, scale or accuracy of the audience. So don’t answer “I love the visa, the stickers are cool there.”

I would divide the solution of this case into 3 main steps:

  1. It is necessary to understand which candidates the company is looking for and which skills are needed (read in the job description and on the website about their approach, mission, values, etc.);

  2. In advance, choose a well-known product that reflects the first point, think about its advantages, disadvantages and growth points;

  3. Immediately justify why you chose this product from a product point of view, not from a user point of view.

Example solution:

“What is your favorite product?”

Bad: “I like Tinkoff, he’s great!”

A good answer, if you’re going to, for example, a design-driven startup with a product approach and a plan to capture a huge market, will be built like this:

I’m a fan of the Arc browser, I think it’s the first browser that really analyzed user behavior and made the UX of most competitors. And I also like this project because its speed of capturing the market through the referral system is amazing! They generally launched targeted advertising.

Lifehack: it is better not to call the product that you are talking about beloved. At best, it will be perceived as flattery, and the interviewer will ask to change the product. At worst, you will “compete” with the hiring manager in knowledge and development of his product and lose. The manager already knows how the product was built, what hypotheses and tests were carried out. For example, he can “underestimate” your answers, because he knows that your hypotheses will not work.

2: How will you improve your favorite product?

Category: strategy, analytics

It can be a product from the previous question or some other, it depends on the interviewer.

It is not necessary to list the functionality that you, as a user, lack. For example: “If I am a product in Telegram, I will urgently add background blur in video calls. God, how damnable that he is not! or “I think you can add a messenger to the Avito application for communication between clients. They have a huge base of people, more than in VKontakte!”. These answers are more fortune-telling on coffee grounds than a product-based approach.

It is better to structure your answer like this:

  1. Ask: “And what metric do I need to grow?”. Be prepared for the interviewer to return this question to you: “What do you think is the most important metric for this product?” How to build an answer in this case – I will tell you a little below;

  2. Build the top-level path of the user, his tasks (or as products say “pockets”) and related tasks related to the product;

  3. Based on the previous point, come up with several hypotheses;

  4. Prioritize these hypotheses (if possible).

Something like this will come out:

Let’s say that I am a product manager at Ozon and I am responsible for working with sellers, where we earn a commission from each order. My primary metric would be average revenue per order per seller ie. how many goods from one store are in one receipt It is beneficial for both the seller, we increase the average cost of his order, and for us, as we reduce the costs of collection and delivery.

It seems to me that this metric needs to be cultivated primarily with lower-middle income sellers—those who sell a lot of low-cost items (like scented candles, cosmetics, or phone cases). Judging by the functionality of “recommended products”, I assume that such products are often bought together with others, therefore here are some hypotheses about how we can grow this metric:

  • Add a recommendation for specific products for sellers, such as: “They buy home fragrances with your candles, but from other sellers. Add them to your assortment to increase your average check”;

  • Add pre-made kits feature based on what users choose. Remove the process of choosing options and offer ready-made solutions so that you can add several products to the cart in one click;

  • Introduce and test a “minimum order” within the framework of purchasing goods from one seller, thereby artificially increasing the average check.

From these hypotheses, I would start with the first recommendation because it can be easily tested on a small number of sellers. At the same time, in order to test the second hypothesis, it will be necessary to control the formation of sets so that they do not contain products that are better not to recommend. Plus, a more serious immersion in the needs of users, their segmentation, is required, and this is already difficult. In the third hypothesis, there are big risks for business: by increasing the average check, we will reduce the number of orders and, therefore, the total turnover, so we need to be more careful with this. Therefore, first of all, I would test the hypothesis about the expansion of the product line of sellers.

3: What are the key metrics of product Y, how will you grow metric X in product Y

Category: analytics, product sense

The case resembles the previous one, but here you can show the breadth of product knowledge. In the decision, it is better to start from the product development strategy and its audience. And the answer to the growth of metrics is to rely on user tasks, visibility in other products and best practices from the market.

If the interviewer has given a product that you have not yet discussed, it is better to start with critical questions. For example, in the case “you are the product manager of Yandex.Taxi, which metric is the main one” you can clarify, it is only about the b2c direction, the Russian market and the interaction between the client and the taxi driver (without third-party courier deliveries and personnel transportation). This will not only help you focus your attention, but also give you time to think about the decision.

You can solve the case as follows:

  1. Define the product, build the main chain of making money;

  2. Divide the product into audiences, understand which ones are involved;

  3. Identify key metrics that impact money and additional success metrics;

  4. Highlight counter-metrics – those that can drag the business down;

  5. Generate hypotheses about the growth of this metric.


  • Usually the metric revenue (net income) is too general, it can be mentioned, but it is not worth clinging to it, because too many parameters affect its success and not everything depends on the product manager;

  • If you choose a product yourself, focus on one that has a clear monetization chain. Money is almost always a measure of performance, but there are exceptions, for example, charities or the free direction of the ecosystem (for example, Yandex.Metrik is completely free, most likely, profit is not the main metric there), but this is a completely different story.

I showed the hypothesis generation chain in the last example, I will show it in this one an example of how to respond to a request to highlight key metrics:

Telegram is a messenger and social network where people communicate with each other and maintain their blogs and channels. It has several ways of monetization — for example, selling Telegram Premium subscriptions, TON cryptocurrency, and selling ads. It seems to me that the Telegram Premium subscription is the main and massive monetization model.

There are many users in the social network, so I would highlight the percentage of unique users with a paid subscription as the main metric. I added the word “unique” because I know that some users have several Telegram accounts. As additional metrics, I would highlight engagement metrics: to sell a premium, it is important that the user actively interacts with the product. Such metrics can be DAU/WAU/MAU, as well as Engagement Rate (ER), an engagement rate that shows the ratio of the total number of people to “engaged” (those who like, read channels, save posts, etc.). d.). I consider this metric more important than, for example, the number of written messages or voice calls, because I see that the main features of Telegram Premium affect precisely the interaction with content: the absence of advertising, emoticons, posting stories, etc. By the way, storis is most likely an additional channel for advertising, ER will also be important here.

In addition to the percentage of unsubscribes from Telegram Premium, a counter-metric can be the percentage of users who use Telegram only as a messenger, without interacting with the content.

What am I all for?

The most important thing in solving cases on hard skills is to include critical thinking and not to forget that your failure or success in the interview starts long before the interview and depends on your preparation. Study the sites, study job vacancies, familiarize yourself with the products of the company you want to join, and practice.

I will present the second part of the article in my telegram channel “OKaysi”. I also write there about employment and training in product skills.

And for the classics – like if it was useful, and share in the comments what it would be interesting to read about next time.

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