PTPA #006: Stop asking questions you can ‘Google’ at the end of your interviewsSep 24, 2022
Read Time: 4 minutes
Stop asking questions that you can Google at the end of your interview. Why?
You don’t care about the answer.
Your interviewer knows that you don’t care about the answer.
Unfortunately, these questions are asked more frequently than you think.
- “I recently read about X acquisition. How does that change the vision and strategy of the company?”
- “What do you think is the biggest threat to the company?”
- “Where do you think the company is headed next?”
You may believe these questions will make you look informed and interested in the company. Instead, you wasted your best opportunity to assess:
- Is this really a Product Manager role?
- Is this a good team and company to join?
- Were there any gaps in your answers that you can address?
I asked the PM community about the best questions to ask.
In today’s article, I’ll share with you the 5 must-ask questions for your interviews and how to interpret their answers.
1. The ‘red flags in the role’ spotter
Question: What was the last feature your team worked on and who made the decision to build it?
This question will help you understand two things:
- Is the team working on a product?
It could be that there is no product to manage and the team functions as a service area. In other words, you could end up being a Product Manager without a product to manage.
- If there is a product, who makes the decisions on what to build?
Are ideas coming from the top as a mandate, or are the PMs on the team the ones making decisions on their own roadmaps? You can end up being a Project Manager with the ‘Product’ title if all you do is execute plans for someone else.
2. The ‘Toxic team’ detector
Question: When was the last time someone on the team failed and what did you, and the rest of the team, do?
Planning and launching features is far from perfect. Your interviewer’s response to this question can help you understand if the team is collaborative and supportive, or if they have toxic traits and you should stay away.
A great team (and manager) talks about clear steps on how they supported their teammates, had clear communication and worked together to resolve the problem.
A toxic team talks about always winning, a hero’s exceptional story of an individual's battle against the “evil” (problem), or minimizing situations because they are not “a big failure”.
3. The ‘longevity' test
Question: How long have you been with the company and what has kept you here?
According to PayScale, the average tenure at Google is 1.1 years, and yet, over 3 Million people applied to work there in 2019.
Why do people leave the company?
Unfortunately in your interviews, you won’t get a chance to ask them, but you can ask your interviewer what is it about the company that has made them stay for so long.
Would those same things make you stay at the company for the same amount of time?
The excitement of the fat signing bonus you’ll get at the beginning goes away quickly with every Monday that goes by.
4. The ‘we are one vs everyone on their own' test
Question: How do you coach and mentor new members on the team?
Being an effective Product Manager takes time when you join a new company. It could be months before you make your first contribution to the team.
The difference between taking 3 months or 6 can depend, mostly, on the support system around you.
Your manager, team, and the company should have a plan in place to support new PMs on the team. This includes understanding that the first contribution the PM makes will take a long time.
5. The 'Last Chance' explorer
Question: Is there anything I haven’t shown that would prevent me from moving forward for this position?
This is your Hail Mary moment.
Assuming your interviewer will share the truth, this can give you a signal that there may be something critical you missed in one of your stories or cases.
Take that opportunity to share that you do have those skills or experiences and convince them that you are the right candidate for the job.
Don’t waste the last few minutes of your interview with questions that you can Google.
Instead, use them to ask these critical questions that can drastically change your decision about a job, or confirm that you are making the right one.
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