Handling The Product Teardown Question – Part 1: Theory

In this pair of episodes, we focus on that very common and somewhat feared question that occurs in many product management interviews:

What’s a product you like and how would you improve it?

I think we can all agree that in an interview context, the interviewer does not really care what products you like. This question instead is meant to elicit how you think about products and opportunities. That is, how you fundamentally approach product management!

Take advantage of the question by showing your methodology for finding product gaps and determining if they are worth filling. In the first part (this episode), we talk about some approaches to handling the question, including:

  • The Jobs To Be Done framework
  • Kathy Sierra’s Badass framework
  • And others

In the second part of the podcast, to be published soon, we do an annotated practice product teardown for your enjoyment, to illustrate how you might use some of these techniques.

Key Takeaways

To reiterate the key takeaways from this podcast, when you are facing this question – or you know you might be facing this question – there are three main things you want to do:

  1. Get organized – go into your interview with some ideas in mind about how you will use your favorite frameworks for thinking about product
  2. Set up your assumptions about the product, such as personas and identify the goals or the “job to be done” by the product.
  3. Go through a process to identify a potential solution using your preferred process – design thinking, jobs to be done, etc.

And finally, for extra credit:

  • Identify why they might not have built this new feature so far, and how you might justify the investment.

As always, thanks for listening. Let us know your thoughts via commenting on this blog, or tweeting us, or dropping us a line at nils@alltheresponsibility.com or rob@alltheresponsibility.com.

  • Mark Stephan says:

    Looking forward to part 2!

  • […] our earlier episode about how to answer the “product teardown” question in a product manager job interview, we promised a real life example. Here it is! I’m not […]

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