Debate

What Is the Most Effective Way to Interview Product Managers?

Interviewing product managers is tricky business: how do you cover all the bases for a position so sprawling? The sense that that product managers need to be good at everything makes it incredibly difficult to actually assess their abilities.

In this week’s poll we asked you what you think is the most effective method to interview a PM – behavioral questions, case interviews, or a take-home exercise. 55% of you responded that the case interview is the way to go, and Kirsten Butzow agrees. The take-home exercise got 25% of the vote, and behavioral questions trailed behind.

Ultimately, of course, the kind of product manager you’re looking for will affect the kind of interview that will be most effective. Do you need someone with deep technical knowledge? Are they expected to create wireframes? Setting expectations internally before interviewing candidates is probably the most important thing you can do before you interview anyone. It’s best to avoid trying to find a unicorn. Chances are, no interview type will help you find those.

Combo

I think the most effective is a combination of "Tell me about a time when" interview questions testing for a series of different competencies, coupled with a take-home exercise with a presentation as a final step.  The interview questions are all about different skills, while the take-home exercise gives the candidate a chance to tackle a less structured problem and see how they work with a cross-functional team of product, engineering, and design.

Matt Zito
VP Products, Resy
Case Interview

For me, it’s about role alignment, so I like the case interview (since it also reveals behavior).  I ask people, “What is your superpower and can you tell me about a time you used it?”  If I am looking for a product manager to work with engineering, and the candidate tells me that their superpower is "marketing communications" and tell me about a successful promotion they ran, then I know they're probably not the right fit.

Kirsten Butzow
Product Coach, Pragmatic Marketing
Combo

I use a combination of an interview with deep product questions and a home task with a real future feature definition.

David Schwartz
VP Product, Wix
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