Home Business How to Answer Behavioral Questions in Product Management Interviews

How to Answer Behavioral Questions in Product Management Interviews

by Olufisayo
Product Management Interviews

In this article, we will teach you the step-by-step process on how to rock the behavioral section of the PM interview – for more tips and tricks on how to approach PM interviews to visit myproductmentor.com/guide-to-product-management-interviews.

First, let’s have a look at what a behavioral question is and what the interviewer’s expectations are.

What is a behavioral question?

A behavioral interview is a question that starts with something like ‘tell me about a time when…’.

Essentially, they are asking for examples of things you have done in your past. And at the core, they are asking you to tell them a story, so if you thought stories are just for bedtime you need to think again.

You need to tell stories to be memorable and help them to see themselves working with you.

       

This is one of the interviewers’ favorite types of questions to ask because they can better understand the way you think and approach situations.

When they ask something like ‘How do you handle stress?’ they may get a very generic answer. But when asking a question such as ‘Tell me about a time you had to complete several projects within a tight deadline’ they expect to hear a story and better understand the way that you respond to the world.

So let’s see what steps you should take in answering this kind of question.

Product Management Interviews

Build a Story Toolbox

What you need to do first is get notable career moments all written down, which is what we call a story toolbox.

       

This will be the basis of all of your answers to behavioral interview questions. And when they ask you a question that’s behavioral, it will keep you from doing the old ‘Uh. What was the question?’

So take the time to write this all down in a document – such as a time you save the day or solved a big problem, a time when you worked with a difficult person and how you handled it, a time you messed up or failed, etc. This will be the beginning of your story toolbox.

Use your Toolbox and the PAR Method

Now let’s move on to how we need to answer a question. The interviewers may ask something like ‘Tell me about a time you had to deliver a piece of tough feedback.’ Think for a minute.

Feedback will have played a role in one of your stories in the toolbox. For example, we said that you should have a story or two about a time when you worked with a difficult person and how you handled it – there’s a chance you had to deliver some sort of feedback in that story. So tell it.

You will be so pleasantly surprised at how many behavioral questions your preconceived stories will fit.

       

Then you answer this in the PAR method. Here’s how it works:

  • The P stands for ‘problem’ – what is the problem or challenge that was put before you.
  • A is for action – what action did you take to attempt to resolve it and
  • R is the result – what were the outcomes of those actions?

Let’s say we wrote down a story about how we worked with a co-worker who was flaky and didn’t do things when they said they were going to.

Here’s an example of how to tell that story:

Problem

‘I had a coworker who I was depending on for reports, but he would constantly tell me that he wouldn’t be able to get at me in time right when the deadline was about to hit, which impacted my ability to do my job and time

Action

‘I respected him. So he took the concern straight to him to talk it through. I first showed empathy and said: “I can imagine you have so much that you’re working on right now and I can tell that you’re working hard.” Then I was direct about how he was affecting me.

       

So I said: “and I wanted to discuss the past three deadlines that we set that you weren’t able to meet. When you don’t get me the reports on time, it delays the entire production process and leads the rest of us to take several hours to readjust the schedule. How can we ensure this doesn’t happen in the future?”’

Result

‘I was nervous about the conversation, but he opened up to me about how he is always trying to chase down the information for the report. And so we came up with a streamlined solution where we now submit a form with every report request. And he now he stopped putting off the task. And from then on, we have been getting the report on time and that’s it.’

One Story, Several Questions

The same exact story could also fit a lot of different other questions, for example:

  • ‘Tell me about a time that you had an interpersonal conflict you had to deal with’
  • ‘Tell me about a time when there was a communication breakdown.’
  • ‘Tell me about a time you took charge when your boss was unavailable.’

Once you have your story toolbox, you can fit these answers every which way. What you can also do before every interview is, if it’s a phone or video interview, have the title of every story to trigger my memory on the computer screen, or paper on the table, if it’s an in-person interview.

Bring Notes to the Interview

You should always read all the stories right before you go into the interview to stay fresh and bring a notebook with notes that you can place in front of you.

       

Having notes out and taking notes while in the interview comes off as you being prepared and being more interested than everyone else.

Takeaway

The key to answering behavioral questions is similar to other questions – being prepared and having a plan. Make sure to build your story toolbox with types of stories that can be applicable to more than one situation, take some notes with you to remind you of some key stories, and use the PAR method when telling the story.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.