Product Supervisor Interview: The Product Design Query


A product supervisor’s core tasks embody working with a workforce to design, construct, ship, and constantly enhance a product. Throughout product supervisor interviews, most firms like to hone in in your skill to execute towards these tasks by asking the way you may take into consideration designing a product.

The favored product design query often takes type in one thing like:

“Stroll me via how you’d design X product for Y person”

Some widespread instance questions we’ve regularly heard embody:

  • Design a pen for an astronaut
  • Design an alarm clock for a blind individual
  • Design an elevator for a person in a wheelchair

Once you reply these kinds of product design questions as a part of the product supervisor interview, it’s best to at all times method them with a framework in thoughts. Under is one which we extremely suggest:

The Product Design Interview Framework

1) Ask Clarifying Questions

Keep in mind, there’s no level persevering with with a solution if you happen to haven’t absolutely grasped the scenario.

I can’t rely the of instances I’ve requested a easy product design query to a candidate who then proceeded to present me a prolonged five-minute reply earlier than I spotted that the candidate had by no means used the product earlier than.

If I requested a candidate to stroll me via how he/she may design a greater pockets, I count on the candidate to first ask clarifying questions akin to who the pockets is likely to be utilized by, or what “higher” means within the context of a pockets.

Keep in mind, product managers, don’t simply dive headfirst into launching a product with out first understanding the entire scenario and the enterprise objectives.

A candidate who doesn’t ask clarifying questions is a giant crimson flag and tells me that he/she would design merchandise with out understanding what a person really wants.

2) Talk Your Reply Define

There’s nothing worse for an interviewer than making an attempt to comply with a candidate’s unstructured practice of thought when responding to a product query.

It’s essential to reveal that you’ve got taken time to comprehend the scenario after which lay out some groundwork on how you intend to reply this query.

Displaying that you’re organized by structuring out your solutions to these questions will put your interviewer relaxed and maintain your ideas in line so that you simply don’t ramble or go off on tangents.

An instance of the way you may method that is to say “Now that I’ve understood the scope of this product, I’d like to put out how I’d method this design query.

First, I’m going to re-iterate what my enterprise objectives are.

Second, I’ll establish my buyer base and their use circumstances.

Third, I’m going to brainstorm some options and consider these options towards the enterprise objectives I’ve listed.

Lastly, I’ll talk about trade-offs and summarize my advice.”

3) Establish the Customers / Clients and their Use Instances

Though you may need flippantly touched upon this whereas asking some clarifying questions, this step is essential to locking down precisely who the product’s prospects and customers are and their use circumstances. Keep in mind that for sure merchandise, the client and the person of the product could also be completely different folks. For instance, within the academic app/video games market, dad and mom are sometimes the shoppers who purchase these apps / video games for his or her youngsters to make use of.

I might suggest drawing a 2-column desk on a whiteboard or piece of paper with: your customers/prospects on the left column, and their respective use circumstances on the proper column (customers/prospects could every have a number of use circumstances so go away some room on the proper aspect to account for that).

For instance, going again to the higher pockets, a person is likely to be a working grownup who makes use of a pockets to retailer their money and demanding playing cards (i.e. license, debit/bank cards/enterprise playing cards).

At this level, it might be nice to ask extra clarifying inquiries to your interviewer about whether or not or not they wish to give attention to a specific person/buyer to avoid wasting time.

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4) Establish Gaps within the Use Instances

Now that you simply’ve compiled an inventory of varied use circumstances, it’s time to consider how present merchandise/options available in the market handle these use circumstances and whether or not or not there are any gaps or room for enchancment.

Taking a step again, it’s good to look down your left column of customers/prospects and take into consideration the qualities which are particular to every one in all them.

Like a real product supervisor/buyer advocate, put your self of their sneakers and take into consideration their limitations and values.

It will enable you to higher establish weak spots in present product choices. In order for you, you’ll be able to add a 3rd column subsequent to every use case to assist construction the plain gaps that you simply establish.

5) Brainstorm Options / Enhancements

Now that you simply’ve found out the gaps that present merchandise are lacking to handle person/buyer wants, it’s time to interrupt out that considering cap and brainstorm options to handle these gaps.

Make it possible for your options / enhancements match the use circumstances that you simply’ve listed. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer if you’re heading in the right direction or if they like you to give attention to one or two of your concepts.

6) Prioritize and Establish Commerce-offs

With this shiny listing of brainstormed options and enhancements, it’s time to prioritize which of those you may give attention to and what the trade-offs can be with every answer.

Once you prioritize your concepts, it’s necessary to make use of some type of determination framework. In case you are specializing in enterprise objectives like income, it is likely to be necessary to guage every function by the ratio of potential income generated vs. the time & value it might take to develop.

One easy manner is to take the (potential income generated – value to develop ) / time to develop and sorting your listing from top-down values.

When you’ve provide you with this listing, take into consideration the professionals/cons and trade-offs of selecting to implement every answer. This allows you to robotically play satan’s advocate to your personal concepts to indicate your interviewer that you’re serious about all sides of the answer together with edge circumstances and potential negatives.

As an interviewer, I like to see candidates critically take into consideration their very own concepts and inform me the trade-offs proactively.

7) Summarize your Advice

Whew, you’re nearly completed together with your product supervisor interview. Let your interviewer know what your last selection is and be happy to evaluation the way you got here to the answer and why it satisfies a person/buyer’s wants.

Should you haven’t elaborated sufficient already, be happy to reiterate why you selected this answer over the others in your brainstormed listing.

Congratulations, you’ve completed your first product design query.

Eager about studying the right way to dominate these kinds of product supervisor interview questions and land the product supervisor job? You may wish to try our standard  Product Supervisor Certification Course

Clement Kao

Clement Kao is Co-Founding father of Product Supervisor HQ. He was beforehand a Principal Product Supervisor at Mix, an enterprise expertise firm that’s inventing a less complicated and extra clear client lending expertise whereas guaranteeing broader entry for every type of debtors.


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