There are plenty of product manager job interview questions out there for hiring managers. Here are three that the product manager (or product marketing) candidate can ask the hiring managers.

Approach your next product manager job interview (or product marketing) with these two rules of thumb and three go-to questions. You’ll improve the odds of landing a job that aligns with your career aspirations. The Playbook:

2 Guidelines to Set the Tone for the Interview

1.  Relax and Smile!

Even if it’s a phone interview. Smiles can be heard. Smiling also makes you more relaxed.

Here’s the thing. You don’t know what kind of day your interviewer is having. Furthermore, some managers just aren’t comfortable doing interviews. If you’re relaxed, happy and enjoying the conversation, it’s likely the interviewer will be too.

2.  Don’t be Bashful About Lobbing the First Question

Once you get past the pleasantries, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to ask the first question.

When you’re assertive, you’re more engaging and exude a relaxed confidence, especially if you ask good insightful questions. Also, you want to set the tone of the interview in the event the interviewer isn’t prepared or throws a curveball you didn’t expect.

If you get the “tell me a little bit about yourself” question right up front, it’s often a sign the interviewer isn’t prepared. Other times, they just want to see how you respond.

In either case, it’s a too wide-open of a question that can lead to nervous long-winded responses that detract from your true strengths.

If you can set the tone with the first question, it makes the interview easier for you and the interviewer who may not be prepared.

3 Go-To Questions to Ask the Interviewer

Here are three questions that make for engaging conversations with the people you’d report to.

1.  “What are some of the top strategic priorities in the company and how does product management/product marketing fit into the mix?”

What you’re looking for here is a hiring manager who answers this question clearly, concisely and without hesitation. Ideally, you love the answer. But if you sense the hiring manager is making up an answer on the fly, it’s a red flag. If it’s not clear to them…

2.  “I look at a team of product managers/marketers as the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. How are you structuring the team so that we’re creating more value together (for the company and the customers) than we are individually?”

The last job you want is one where everyone works in silos and by default, competes for resources. It’s a recipe for mediocrity – for your career and the company! The honeymoon will be over soon after you start this job and you’ll be on the move again.

3.  “What do you love most about leading a team of product managers?”

Passion is the key ingredient here. Great leaders are passionate and passionate people are stronger leaders. All too often, product management and product marketing decisions are a battle of wills! You want to work for someone strong.

A job is a marriage of sorts and requires both parties to make it successful. For most jobs though, there’s no dating period. There are plenty of good questions to ask the interviewer. Ask the ones that give you the strongest indication that a marriage with that employer will be solid for a good while.

Today, employers today know that it’s just as much your interview as it is theirs. They also know that you have a short list of companies just like they have candidates. Don’t be afraid to make it your interview too!

If you want to learn new/advanced portfolio product management and marketing skills that will help you crush your next job interview with more insightful questions and refreshing answers, sign up for a 30-day subscription to Product Management University On-Demand. 13 spoon-size lessons that will help you acquire new skills within the flow of your current job. Certification included.

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