So you’ve made it to the interview for the Product Manager position you want. Now is the time to bring your A-game and blow them away. According to Jackie Bavaro, co-author of Cracking the PM Interview, one of the critical questions you’ll face is related to your capacity to make product decisions. We’ve prepared a sample Product Manager interview question and solution using Bavaro’s 5 steps to approach these questions.

 

The product question – How would you design a better public transportation system?

How to design a better public transportation system

With this question, the interviewer is trying to find out your capacity to discover and rank a product’s possible features. Even though there is not a right answer to these questions, there is a correct way to analyze it and present an answer.

  1. You should always start your reasoning by thinking about the customer (and not about yourself), and being as specific as possible: Is it a particular city’s transportation system? Is there a predominant demographic profile for the users? The interviewer will sometimes withhold some of this information intentionally, expecting you to ask the right questions and demonstrate a customer-focus orientation.
  2. Then it comes the time to walk a mile in the customer’s shoes. Think about their use cases: What do they use public transportation for, primarily? Why do they use it instead of other means of transportation?
  3. You’ve now covered the customer and have to start analyzing the product itself: What is the main problem that users are experiencing with the current public transportation system? Is it delays, over-capacity, comfort, reach or price? What is the cause of these problems?
  4. Time to get creative! Design features to solve the problems that you’ve identified or even come up with a new solution altogether: Install a kinetic energy storage system to reduce operation costs and prices for the users. Get rid of 30% of the seats to increase the capacity of each cart.
  5. Finish off by exhibiting your business orientation and think about user growth: Estimate how many people will start using public transportation due to the new feature. How much will the average usage per day / week / month increase thanks to the improvement?

 

This framework will work for most product questions, now it’s up to you to practice by applying this 5 steps to the products you use every day. The more you get comfortable doing this type of analysis, the better you’ll perform during the interview.

There’s another critical question you need to master for your Product Manager interview, don’t forget to check out our next post “7 Steps to Ace Quantitative Questions”

If you are interested in learning more about Product Management, we offer an 8-week part-time product management course in San Francisco.