From checking for Scrum experience to understanding how they overcome challenges, here are 11 answers to the questions, “What are a few effective questions to ask a product owner in an interview, and why?”
- Do You Have Experience Working With a Scrum Framework?
- What is Important About Research and Validation?
- How Do You Measure the Success of Your Product…?
- Who Is the Most Significant Product Stakeholder?
- How Do You Prioritize Product Backlog?
- How Do You Stay Up-to-Date on Industry Trends and…
- How Can You Avoid Being a Bottleneck for a Scrum Team?
- What Do You Think About Our Current Product?
- How Do You Balance Trade-offs Between Key Stakeholders?
- Can You Define the Product Owner Role?
- Describe a Challenge You’ve Had With an Executive
Do You Have Experience Working With a Scrum Framework?
In my experience as an interviewer for product owners, I always find one question particularly telling: “Do you have experience working with a Scrum framework?” As Agile methodology and Scrum become increasingly popular in working environments, being able to work within the Scrum framework is essential for being an effective product owner.
The answer to this question can provide insight into both their technical aptitude and focus on results: people with a background in Scrum are well-organized, relentless goal-setters capable of foreseeing potential outcomes. Of course, there are other questions that can help determine if the candidate is suited to be a product owner, but this one is definitely one of the most important.
Antreas Koutis, Administrative Manager, Financer
What Is Important About Research and Validation?
As a product owner myself, I like to ensure that my team members clearly understand the importance of research and validation. One question I like to ask is, “What is the most important thing to remember about research and validation?” This question pushes the candidate to reflect on their own experience and gives me insight into their experience in a role that I value highly.
Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Rephrasely
How Do You Measure the Success of Your Product…?
When interviewing a product owner, one question I always ask is, “How do you measure the success of your product, and what metrics do you use?”
This question allows you to understand their product management approach and gives insight into how they measure success. It helps you evaluate if they have the knowledge and experience to be a good fit for your company and gives you insight into whether they are using the right KPIs, as well as their ability to analyze and interpret the data.
If possible, I like to get specific answers from candidates on what metrics they use, how often they track these metrics, and what actions they take based on them. If a candidate can’t provide specifics about their process, then this is a red flag that something may be wrong with their product management approach.
Shaun Connell, Founder, Writing Tips Institute
Who Is the Most Significant Product Stakeholder?
In an interview with a potential product owner, it is important to ask questions to assess their understanding of the role and ability to manage complex projects. One effective question that can help evaluate the candidate’s product management capacity is, “Who do you believe is the most significant product stakeholder?”
This question will provide insight into how the prospective product owner perceives stakeholders and their involvement in product development. Not only will this answer provide valuable information about their technical and managerial skills, but it can also reveal key traits, such as adaptability and resourcefulness in managing different stakeholders.
Jim Campbell, Owner, Camp Media
How Do You Prioritize Product Backlog?
One of the major challenges of every product owner is backlog prioritization. Customer, stakeholder, and team feature requests, as well as various bugs, can pile up quickly. Having a clear picture of the situation and the ability to prioritize accordingly is a key responsibility of a good product owner.
A great product owner can show that they have complete control over the backlog, as well as the confidence to make hard decisions and say no to stakeholders when needed. They should also be able to choose or change how they track the product backlog to ensure the maximum productivity of their team.
Gordana Sretenovic, Co-Founder, Workello
How Do You Stay Up-to-Date on Industry Trends and…
“How do you stay up-to-date on industry trends and market changes, and how do you incorporate this knowledge into your product strategy?” Since staying informed about industry trends and market changes is crucial for success as a product owner, this question is worth asking during the interview.
By understanding how a candidate stays updated and incorporates this knowledge into their strategy, you can gauge their ability to keep the product relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing market.
This question also sheds light on how the person approaches market research and their capacity for compiling and analyzing data. It shows their ability to recognize and address market opportunities and difficulties, which are crucial components of the product owner’s job. By asking it, you test a candidate’s ability to stay ahead of the curve and make accurate decisions that drive the product’s success.
Nina Paczka, Community Manager, Resume Now
How Can You Avoid Being a Bottleneck for a Scrum Team?
I would ask: “As a product owner, how can you avoid being a bottleneck for a Scrum team?”
This question reveals a candidate’s ability to prioritize and focus on activities with the greatest impact on the product’s success, effectively manage their backlog, communicate with the team, foster a shared vision among team members, decide promptly, and understand how to handle dependencies.
Maryna Kucherova, Head of Product and Advisor, Elai.io
What Do You Think About Our Current Product?
There are many outstanding questions to ask during an interview. However, I believe this is the most important one: “What do you think about our current product? Why?”
It will have you find out if they even checked it out, did their research, and how they feel about it. If they have not checked out your product, that would be a no-go for me. It will give you great insights into their thoughts and where you could improve if they did.
It makes the question relevant to your product, dives into the willingness of the person wanting the job, and gives insight into what kind of value they can bring. You can dive deeper with questions like:
- Can you explain our target market and user needs for our current product?
- How would you measure the success of our product and track its performance over time?
If you keep things relevant to your product, it might give you some new insights. Especially when you do more interviews, it will provide you with new ideas.
Joran Hofman, Founder, Reditus
How Do You Balance Trade-offs Between Key Stakeholders?
“Can you describe a time when you had to make a difficult trade-off between the needs of different stakeholders in a product development project, and how you resolved the situation?”
This question can reveal the candidate’s problem-solving skills, decision-making ability, and experience in managing stakeholder expectations, which are all important qualities for a product owner.
A good product owner needs to balance the interests of various stakeholders, such as customers, management, development teams, and business partners, to ensure that the product meets the needs of the target market while staying within the constraints of the project.
By sharing a specific example, the candidate can show their ability to handle complex situations, communicate effectively, and find creative solutions to overcome obstacles.
Luciano Colos, Founder and CEO, PitchGrade
Can You Define the Product Owner Role?
How an applicant answers this question will say a lot about their knowledge and exposure to the interviewer. Product owners are primarily responsible for the maximization of the value of their product, so that should be a significant factor in their answer. They also prioritize and organize the team’s work, backlog, and act as a proxy for customers.
Alexandre Robicquet, Co-Founder and CEO, Crossing Minds
Describe a Challenge You’ve Had With an Executive
A significant question to ask a product owner in an interview is, “Describe a challenge you’ve had with an executive and how did you overcome the problem?”
This allows the candidate to think about their experience and the challenges they have faced in their past roles, which can give the interviewer a better idea of how the candidate will handle similar challenges if hired.
Additionally, it can also reveal how creative and resourceful the candidate is in working through problems, especially with senior leadership in the organization.
Jeremy Reis, Founder, Explore Startups