Product Supervisor Interview: The Product Design Query


A product supervisor’s core tasks embody working with a crew to design, construct, ship, and repeatedly enhance a product. Throughout product supervisor interviews, most corporations like to hone in in your means to execute in opposition to 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 by means of how you’d design X product for Y person”

Some frequent instance questions we’ve continuously 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

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

The Product Design Interview Framework

1) Ask Clarifying Questions

Bear in mind, there may be no level persevering with with a solution in case you haven’t totally grasped the scenario.

I can’t rely the of occasions I’ve requested a easy product design query to a candidate who then proceeded to offer 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 by means of how he/she may design a greater pockets, I count on the candidate to first ask clarifying questions comparable to who the pockets is perhaps utilized by, or what “higher” means within the context of a pockets.

Bear 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 pink flag and tells me that he/she would design merchandise with out understanding what a person actually wants.

2) Talk Your Reply Define

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

It’s essential to exhibit that you’ve got taken time to comprehend the scenario after which lay out some groundwork on how you propose 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 just don’t ramble or go off on tangents.

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

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

Second, I’ll determine my buyer base and their use instances.

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

Lastly, I’ll focus on trade-offs and summarize my suggestion.”

3) Establish the Customers / Prospects and their Use Instances

Though you might need evenly touched upon this whereas asking some clarifying questions, this step is essential to locking down precisely who the product’s clients and customers are and their use instances. Do not forget 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, mother and father are sometimes the purchasers who purchase these apps / video games for his or her kids to make use of.

I’d advocate drawing a 2-column desk on a whiteboard or piece of paper with: your customers/clients on the left column, and their respective use instances on the precise column (customers/clients could every have a number of use instances so depart some room on the precise facet to account for that).

For instance, going again to the higher pockets, a person is perhaps 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 will be nice to ask extra clarifying inquiries to your interviewer about whether or not or not they need to concentrate on a specific person/buyer to save lots of time.

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4) Establish Gaps within the Use Instances

Now that you just’ve compiled an inventory of varied use instances, it’s time to consider how present merchandise/options available in the market tackle these use instances 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/clients and take into consideration the qualities which are particular to every one in every of them.

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

This can assist you to higher determine weak spots in present product choices. If you need, you possibly can add a 3rd column subsequent to every use case to assist construction the apparent gaps that you just determine.

5) Brainstorm Options / Enhancements

Now that you just’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 instances that you just’ve listed. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer if you’re heading in the right direction or if they like you to concentrate on one or two of your concepts.

6) Prioritize and Establish Commerce-offs

With this shiny record of brainstormed options and enhancements, it’s time to prioritize which of those you may concentrate on and what the trade-offs can be with every resolution.

While you prioritize your concepts, it’s essential to make use of some kind of choice framework. If you’re specializing in enterprise objectives like income, it is perhaps essential to judge every characteristic by the ratio of potential income generated vs. the time & value it will take to develop.

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

When you’ve give you this record, take into consideration the professionals/cons and trade-offs of selecting to implement every resolution. This allows you to routinely play satan’s advocate to your individual concepts to indicate your interviewer that you’re desirous about all aspects of the answer together with edge instances 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 virtually accomplished along with your product supervisor interview. Let your interviewer know what your ultimate alternative is and be at liberty to evaluate the way you got here to the answer and why it satisfies a person/buyer’s wants.

In the event you haven’t elaborated sufficient already, be at liberty to reiterate why you selected this resolution over the others in your brainstormed record.

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


Serious about studying the best way to dominate a majority of these product supervisor interview questions and land the product supervisor job? You may need to try our common  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 an easier and extra clear client lending expertise whereas guaranteeing broader entry for every type of debtors.

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