Framework for PM Interviews- Part 1
I don’t blindly follow frameworks, but I do look forward to them. Reason? Though it does not help to answer my question but it surely helps to provide a structure to my mental cues.
Structure of an answer is one of the most integral parts of the PM interview. Frameworks help to articulate your answers so that you don’t miss any major pointer in your answer. Also, while answering interviewer and you are both on the same page and aren’t lost.
Good frameworks have the following in common: they ask appropriate questions, understand and assess a goal (often a good user experience), and apply a structured approach to accomplish that goal.
- Cracking the PM interview
There are multiple frameworks but pick the one that fits for you and tweak it accordingly (if required).
A product manager interview include overall certain types of questions. This can be divided into 5 types-
- Behavioral Questions
- Estimation Questions
- Product Questions
- Case Studies
- Technical Questions
- Problem Solving
Here I have focused on handling the Product Questions.
There are multiple frameworks but always pick the one that fits for you and then tweak it accordingly (if required).
Type of questions in Product Questions:
- Design a new Product (eg: Design a refrigerator for kids.)
- Improve an existing product (eg: How Airbnb can improve the retention of hosts)
- Favorite Product (eg: Pick a product that you use everyday and what makes you use it daily?
I approach such questions by using the below framework (inspired from CIRCLE)
CCIRCLES N SQUARE
C- Clarify the question
>What?Who?Why?How?- design a new product.
>What are the goals/objective/target users?- improve an existing product
C- Compile the structure
Share the structure of the answer that you will follow. Helps the interviewer to understand and follow your answer as you go.
I- Identify the users
Highlight the users that uses the product and their persona. From the list, identify the users that you will target.
R- Report customer’s needs/ pain points.
From the target users filtered above, identify their list of needs and pain points that they face.
C- Cut, through prioritization
Prioritize and filter the major pain points that you’ll try to solve in the solution.
L- List solutions
List the solutions that will solve the pain points filtered above. Share atleast three. I try to put them in this order:
> Solution 1- very easy to executive and practical. Shows your business acumen.
> Solution 2- Meh! Not very practical though still can try to achieve. Shows how you can drive efforts to achieve tough solutions with limited resources.
> Solution 3- Moonshot! Shows your creativity but also keeping in mind the goals and user pain points.
E- Evaluate trade offs
Prioritize and filter the solutions that you’ll try to solve in the solution. Evaluate via impact, efforts and how are they aligned with the goals.
S- Summarize your recommendation
Summarize the product, its goal, users, pain points and the solution that can help.
N- Name the Metric
List down the metrics that can help in validating the solutions enlisted.
S- Say my Name ( ;) )
You goddamn right! Mention your favorite product. Be ready with your favorite app, website, offline product, good design product, poor design product, daily use product, recently purchased product.
Q- Quote the goals and target users
Highlight the goals and target users of your favorite product.
U- U like the product, why?
Discuss why you like the product. How it accomplished its goals and user pain points. It can be their unique business model or the design or the way it has created a user base.
A- Alternatives and why your product is better?
Share what makes your product unique and different form the alternatives. Alternatives can be direct or indirect, but identify and list down the reasons that stops you from using them and prefer your favorite product.
R- Room for improvements?
The product might be perfect for you, but a PM knows that there is always a scope of improvement. Hence the interviewer might ask or you can highlight this on your own about the improvements in your answer.
E- Explain how improvements align with goals
Every improvement should be aligned with the goals of the product, If you highlighting any improvement also add how that aligns with the goals, thereby justifying your answer.
All the best!
Interested in reading further for preparation of other type of questions?
Read the next post “Framework for PM Interviews- Part 2”.