Product Owners are generally responsible for representing the voice of the user to the product development team. They focus on delivering the most end value to users by defining the product goals and features, prioritizing the product backlog, and working with cross-functional teams to execute those requirements. Although sometimes Product Owner and Product Manager titles are used interchangeably, Product Managers tend to work more on product strategies and roadmaps to deliver a vision for the company whereas Product Owners are more tactical and translate strategies to actionable objectives to build product requirements. Product Owners also tend to appear more in companies that build scrum teams and use agile project management methodologies.
Core skills for Product Owners
Teamwork / Collaboration
How to effectively interview Product Owners
While it might seem difficult to figure out whether a candidate will succeed as a Product Owner in your company, a well-developed set of interview questions that tap into the core skills required to perform in a Product Owner role will go a long way in helping you decide.
But where do you start? How do you develop a set of great interview questions?
The best interview questions come directly from a job analysis. A job analysis is an evidence-based method that focuses on assessing key features of a particular role. These features describe both the job itself (i.e., tasks, responsibilities, and performance objectives), and the characteristics required of someone to perform successfully in the job (e.g., knowledge, skills, and abilities). A job analysis forms the basis of many HR practices such as compensation, performance management, and - you guessed it - how to interview and hire candidates.
At Hireguide, we’ve done the job analysis work for you. We’ve used the method to identify a core set of skills associated with the Product Owner role, and we’ve developed and validated a list of behavioral and situational questions with answer guides that tap directly into those core skills. And that’s not all. We’ve compiled these questions and created a Product Owner Interview Template for you that integrates other interviewing best practices. Skills-based interviews will not only help you make higher quality and evidence-based hiring decisions, but research also shows they enhance fairness and reduce bias in your hiring process.
Example interview questions to ask
Tell me about how you have worked with cross-functional teams in the past to successfully bring a product idea to life. How did you collaborate with teams, and why was it successful?
- Emphasizes the importance of synergy between key teams (product, design & engineering)
- Proactively holds roadmap sessions to align stakeholders and track progress
- Actively listens to others to solicit and incorporate ideas/feedback
- Communicates the business case behind the idea to reinforce alignment in thinking
- Explains how collaboration contributed to the project’s success
Imagine you're asked to analyze user data to inform the next steps in development. How would you go about analyzing the data and making development decisions?
- Gathers data from various reliable user sources (e.g., feedback, user research)
- Discusses incorporating trend research to improve user experience and design
- Explains how they incorporate insights into product-related decisions
- Reassesses existing priorities by incorporating user feedback/suggestions
- Acknowledges the importance of continuously conducting research to improve products