10+ Product Operations Interview Questions Designed to Extract Useful Answers

The product ops role is still an emerging one. There’s no tops-down official guidebook on how to do this role well. 

Practitioners doing the job are still figuring that out. It's an exciting time to be in product ops. But that also means each company doing this is taking a slightly different approach.

So naturally, expect product ops interview questions to be just as diverse and customized to every recruitment process. Sometimes this is one of the earliest members of your product team. Other times, this product ops person joins to help with pre-existing efforts like data analysis, user interviews, and other hands-on tasks.

We’ve looked at actual questions people got during an interview and compiled a list of the most relevant questions that are likely to make it into most product ops interviews. 

Read on to see what interviewers are commonly looking for with every single one of these product ops questions.

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Share an effective strategy for working with a large amount of data. How has this approach impacted your company/product in the past?

What the interviewer is looking for:

The key to answering this product ops interview question well is to first understand what the interviewer is looking for. If you’ve previously used data visualization tools effectively, share how those have made data easier to work with. Was introducing data cleansing a turning point for the project? Talk about how it provided your company with the highest data quality.

In addition to showing off your technical abilities, you also want to emphasize your experience shipping products. For example, if you were part of a team that worked on improving app performance by analyzing logs from millions of users, it’s worth mentioning you helped improve download speeds by 18%.

Tell me about some of the most recent software projects you’ve worked on and the impact of the processes you implemented.

What the interviewer is looking for:

This product operations interview question is common for candidates applying to jobs in tech, but expect variations in different fields as well. The candidate should be able to talk about one or two projects that they were involved in. The key question here is “What did you do?”.

Candidates need to provide specific examples that show they have experience with a wide variety of technologies and can communicate well. They are also interested in hearing how you approach problems and come up with solutions.

What are some tools you use for your day-to-day tasks? [+ follow-up questions]

What the interviewer is looking for:

The interviewer wants to know if the candidate has a toolkit they commonly use to get the job done. They want to see that you have a wide variety of tools and that you use them effectively.

This question is usually followed by extra questions that help clarify a candidate’s approach to finding and implementing new software in diverse situations. In fact, what matters most with all of these questions is the logic behind how you choose tools for every use case and how you decide if they work or not.

Tip: Product operations managers are critical for building systems and integrations that gather, review, and interpret data. Questions around these fundamental responsibilities will be common in larger organizations where a large part of a product operations professional’s day revolves around the tech stack.

10+ Product Operations Interview Questions Designed to Extract Useful Answers
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Why did you opt for this role as opposed to product management or other operations jobs?

What the interviewer is looking for:

The candidate must have confidence in their ability to perform the job. This answer shows the interviewer that you have experience in the field, understand each role, and are aware of the potential challenges of working on both sides.

To answer this question, a candidate should go over the skills they have that make them a better fit for the product ops role. Do include mentions of both soft and hard skills, plus, how your contribution will fit in within a product team.

What strategies, systems, or approaches do you use to manage work every day?

What the interviewer is looking for:

Some of the core points interviewers pay attention to in order to spot a great product ops candidate include:

  • The ability to stay organized and prioritize tasks
  • The ability to work independently and without close supervision [or when stakeholders aren’t available]
  • The ability to interact with others in a professional manner
  • The ability to solve problems and unexpected issue escalations that arise during the course of the job

It's also important that candidates don't just list out every single thing they do. Instead, focus on the most important things and how they're done.

Example: If you're someone who likes to plan ahead and organize your day, include that in your answer. If you're someone who prefers working with a more flexible schedule, talk about how you handle unexpected changes.

Tell me about your background [and skills] working with data. How do you apply that within the product space for decision making?

What the interviewer is looking for:

This question gives up-and-coming product ops professionals a chance to showcase the expertise they received in previous roles. This question is an opportunity to showcase your analytical skills, which are important in this role. 

You should talk about how you use data to make decisions on a day-to-day basis, and how this has helped you in the past. If you have experience using quantitative analysis tools like Excel or Python, mention that here as well. 

However, if you don't have much experience with any of these tools, don’t worry. Explain how you've used other data analysis methods (e.g. analyzing trends in user behavior) to make decisions.

When communicating to stakeholders, what do you consider when preparing presentation materials?

What the interviewer is looking for:

The interviewer wants to see if you can put together a presentation that is clear, concise, and persuasive. Candidates should also be able to understand how to present information in an organized manner that keeps the audience engaged. 

Pay extra attention to showcasing how good you are at handling questions from the audience during and after your presentation. This differentiates candidates that are focused strictly on preparing materials from those that ensure the message gets across appropriately to stakeholders.

How would you interact with our stakeholders outside of product?

What the interviewer is looking for:

This question can be a tricky one as it’s meant to help companies spot candidates that adapt well within large companies and have outstanding communication skills. The interviewers should be able to take away some handy tips from your answer. If you can get them curious for more details on how you’d apply the same strategy to their organization, you’re highly likely to make it to the next interview stage.

Going over one or two quick examples of how you handle stakeholder communication around a product or feature in the past is ideal. Mention who the stakeholders were, what tactics/tools/channels you used to interact with them, and how you overcame unexpected challenges.

How do you ensure smooth communication with different product teams?

What the interviewer is looking for:

Make sure you do your research on the company and team structure before the interview. For instance, you can ask for more details on the team during the first call with the recruitment manager.

This will allow you to share past examples that are relevant for this specific company as well. Some points the interviewer will care for include how you prioritize tasks, your approach to explaining a product story, and your take on roadmaps and their importance. For complex organizations or large portfolios, go over your best tactics for ensuring smooth communication with different departments like development and marketing too.

In this role, what would you prioritize as a product operations specialist?

What the interviewer is looking for:

Another interview question that requires prior research. Taking the product for a trial run and looking through what current users say about the tool will also help you prepare to answer this one. The answer should at least partially overlap with the organization’s own product priorities for the future. 

Ideally, you should be able to point out the exact pain points they have and briefly talk about how you’d solve them. The interviewer will pay particular attention to how you think and approach similar challenges.

What to prepare next

You’ll probably get at least 2-3 of the product operations interview questions above. 

Yet, depending on the main focus of the role, there’s hundreds of other options. Make sure you review the questions we’ve outlined but also prepare ahead of time for other questions like:

  • What types of tools would you adopt first if we didn’t have any in place yet?
  • What’s the most useful type of customer/user feedback and how do you go about getting it?
  • Talk about a popular product and how you’d further improve it.
  • [for manager roles] How do you motivate your team to adopt new processes and improve them in time?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to follow a specific approach you didn’t agree with.
  • What qualities/key skills should a product operations specialist/manager have to be successful in this role?
  • Describe a time when you had to make a quick decision that radically impacted the product.
  • Walk me through your process of managing a feature launch starting with the conception stage.
  • What are some of your own best practices for conducting user interviews?
  • What’s your take on product experimentation?