GUIDE 2022

48 Best Product Owner Interview Questions and Answers

Interviewing for a product owner position can be tricky. You want to find someone who is qualified, but also someone who will fit well in your organization. To make the process easier, we have compiled many of the most common questions that are asked during a product owner interview below.

If you are a product owner trying to land a job, this post might also come in handy, since I’ll also go over the best ways to answer the questions that most commonly arise in a product owner job interview.

Product Owner Interview Questions and Answers

Let’s take a look at the top product owner interview questions and answers:

1. As a product owner, can you describe some of the responsibilities you have in a company?

This is an opening question that is often asked in a product owner interview. It is meant to allow the interviewer an opportunity to see what your understanding of the role entails.

Product owners are responsible for the success of a product. They need to understand their customers so they can create products that will be engaging and provide value. Product owners also work with other departments such as marketing, engineering, design, etc., to help make decisions about what features should be included in the next iteration of the product or how it should evolve over time.

Some specific tasks a product owner has to complete are:

  • Working with engineering to create a roadmap and release plan
  • Gathering feedback from customers, users, marketing, sales teams to help prioritize what features should be included in the next iteration of time
  • Finding ways to gather data about customer behavior so they can understand what is successful or not. Things like conversion rates on websites are used for this.
  • Creating a backlog of all the features that need to be built
  • Communicating with stakeholders, engineers, and other departments about what is being prioritized or not.

This position requires someone who has strong analytical skills because they need to know if users are using certain parts of a website more than others so those areas can either be reconsidered or reinforced depending on user behaviors.

Overall this is one of the most important roles at any company — without them, you would have no vision for your future which is why finding someone qualified and compatible is critical.

2. What’s the difference between product owners and product managers?

This question helps the interviewer know how familiar the candidate is with the tasks a product owner should perform in contrast with those of a product manager, even when both roles are product strategists in essence. 

Product managers oversee the entire product and its lifecycle, from conception to production. Product owners are responsible for strategizing about what should be built next in order to meet customer needs and company goals.

It’s important that these two roles work closely together, as they both have different but vital perspectives on products.

In many organizations, this is not a problem because there are separate teams with one person leading each team-but it can become an issue if you don’t provide enough resources or lines of communication between them.

It’s also worth mentioning that people can change roles depending on their skillset: certain developers may take up more responsibility than others when needed based on the project requirements. This does make things a bit trickier when determining who should be the Product Owner.

3. What are some important skills a product owner should have?

The Product Owner typically is the person who has ultimate responsibility for a product and sets its broad direction. The Product Owner role can be supported by one or more Product Managers.

Some of the technical skills and product owner should have are:

  • Understanding how products create customer value
  • Managing relationships with key customers in order to understand market needs/requirements better
  • Ability to communicate both internally and externally about what work is being done and why it’s important
  • Guiding cross-functional teams through development iterations including user research, design thinking & testing, prototyping, engineering implementation and QA cycles
  • Excellent verbal communication skills so that they can represent the product and respond to other stakeholders

4. Is Scrum the best option in all types of scenarios?

The best option for a product owner is to find out what the company and stakeholders are looking for in order to make an informed decision. There definitely needs to be research done on Scrum before choosing it as a framework or process but also moving forward with other frameworks that may better suit your organization’s needs.

5. What’s the difference between a Product Owner and a Scrum Master?

A product owner is accountable for the success of a product, and they are in charge of making decisions on behalf of stakeholders.

Scrum Masters are responsible for guiding teams through daily stand-ups, sprint demos, and retrospectives to ensure that goals are met.

A Product Owner should always be thinking about what the company needs from them so as not to make any bad mistakes or wrong decisions that could endanger their job security.

On the other hand, the Scrum team’s job is to make sure that the team completes tasks and accomplishes goals. Some of the professional Scrum master’s responsibilities are:

  • Ensuring that the team has enough time to complete tasks
  • Dealing with interpersonal conflicts between team members.
  • Helping the team process any impediments that they might be facing.
  • Helping the team to complete tasks and succeed in goal completion.

6. What’s a Scrum framework?

Scrum is a framework for managing and executing tasks. It consists of three roles: the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the team members.

The Product Owner creates prioritized features that are then allocated to various teams or individuals within each sprint cycle. A scrum master is responsible for making sure that these tasks get done in an efficient manner without any impediments while also providing support as needed to the product owner and other stakeholders who can’t be physically present at all times during each sprint cycle.

Team members carry out these specific tasks with guidance from their peers and supervisors alike.

7. Can you name some characteristics of a product backlog item?

A product backlog item is a set of requirements that represent the items or features needed to be built. It includes business and functional needs, but it also considers constraints like timeframes, feasibility issues, risks involved in implementation, and how well the feature aligns with other project goals.

Each product backlog should have a concise description of what it contains so stakeholders can get an idea of everything they need for their own tasks as well as know which people are working on different parts of this requirement.

They’re usually listed in order from most important to least important; however, there’s no right way to prioritize them as long as all details are accounted for. Items may also contain sub-items that give more detail on why these things matter while putting more emphasis on the user experience.

8. What is a product roadmap?

A product roadmap is a high-level document that outlines what the future of the project looks like. It usually contains timeframes, major milestones to hit as well as deliverables for those milestones and their estimated costs. Being able to look ahead at least three months can help create better long-term decisions in regards to development budgets or timelines because it’s easier to see how everything meshes together without being too close up on one specific goal.

It also helps you prioritize your tasks by putting them into different buckets depending on when they should be completed so there isn’t any overlap between deadlines or anything missed due to lack of attention paid early enough on in the process before things start happening faster than anticipated.

9. What is Agile Modeling?

Agile modeling is a process that combines principles from the agile software development movement with techniques from systems and other disciplines.

It offers an approach to modeling complex, dynamic problems quickly in response to changing requirements or situations. The goal of Agile Modeling is not just about reusing code but also understanding what domain we’re working on so creating meaningful models in order to comprehend the complexity more effectively for all stakeholders involved.

Example: somebody who has knowledge of both business management as well as programming can work together and create one model using different sets of skillsets that will be beneficial for everyone since they understand how everything works together at every level of detail possible when it comes down to developing products.

10. How would you define a Cone of Uncertainty?

A cone of uncertainty is a model that predicts the amount and type of information needed in order to make decisions. The shape dictates when you’re going through an iterative process, the more data collected at each step then the less need for additional rounds. This cone can be used in many different types of situations whether it’s project management or personal decision making depending on what level of detail you want to have down.

11. How would you describe a good user story?

A good user story has three main parts: a title, an actor, and the goal. The story should be written in such a way that it’s easy to determine what is needed from whoever will take on the task of building out this particular feature.

For example, if you’re brainstorming about how we can make our checkout process faster or more streamlined, then your stories would have titles like “Make Checkout Process Faster,” or “Remove Unnecessary Fields.” The actor might be a customer and the goal can be to “Save Time” or “Streamline Checkout Process.”

12. Are you familiar with acceptance criteria?

Acceptance criteria are the things a user story needs to accomplish in order to be considered complete. They can include features or bug fixes that need to happen for it to be approved and accepted by stakeholders as finished work.

13. What is Definition of Done (DoD)?

Definition of Done is how product owners determine what it means for a story to be done. It is the criteria that team members use before they call a user story complete and move on to the next task.

14. What is Definition of Ready (DoR)?

Definition of Ready is a state that goes hand-in-hand with Definition of Done. Product owners should be thinking about what needs to happen before they are ready for the next steps, like testing or production release.

15. As a product owner, can you give me a definition of Sprint?

Sprint is a technique that product owners use to help teams organize their work in a way so they can more quickly complete user stories. For instance, a team may take a week to work on a story and then move it into testing or production.

16. Can a product owner decide to cancel a Sprint?

Product owners should be careful about canceling a Sprint because they may disrupt teamwork. For instance, if Product Owner A cancels the current week’s Sprint and moves it to next Tuesday, then that means Product Owners B & C will also need to make their own adjustments (e.g., move tasks or change priorities).

17. Do POs have to track the performance of a project?

Product owners should track the performance of a project and make adjustments as needed to ensure that they are on pace with their desired outcome. For instance, product owner A might adjust the target completion date for story X because it doesn’t look like it will be delivered by July 20th (e.g., move from September 30th to December 25th).

18. Can you explain Product increment?

Product increment is the way that a product owner determines what to include in their next iteration of work. Product increments are typically created at the end of every Sprint and consist of all completed features, fixes, tasks, etc., from the current iteration of work.

19. What is product backlog refinement?

Product backlog refinement is the process of reviewing and improving work that was done in a previous iteration, as well as identifying new tasks to be added to the product backlog. Product backlog refinement is an ongoing process, not something that’s completed in a single sprint.

20. As a product owner, what is your relation with stakeholders?

Stakeholders are any groups or individuals that have a significant interest in the product. Product owners typically work closely with stakeholders, gathering feedback and keeping them informed about progress on their project.

Stakeholders can be internal to an organization (management) or external (e.g., customers). The best way for a product owner to build relationships with stakeholders is by building trust over time through providing consistent updates on work status as well as soliciting regular feedback from those involved.

21. What do you take into consideration when redesigning a product?

As a product owner, it is your job to think about what the end-user needs. you should take into consideration their pain points and how they currently use the product, which needs updating or changing in order to be more effective for them.

22. Why is it important for a product owner to have a product vision?

A product vision is a clear picture of where the products needs to go. It can be in line with the company’s goals or it might not, but regardless, every good product owner knows what they want their end game to look like.

23. How should you deal with uncooperative stakeholders?

As a product owner, it is your job to be as accommodating and flexible as possible with stakeholders. Sometimes they need more time or might not want you to change anything but if the stakeholder continues to refuse changes that would improve their end-user experience then there are other ways around this problem.

First of all, try getting in contact with them about why they are refusing changes and see if an agreement can be reached on smaller matters so that progress can continue. If this doesn’t work out then ask for help from someone who has similar stakes like yourself at another company or department within your organization

24. How often should product roadmaps be created?

Product roadmaps are not something that should be created on a set schedule. It is best to create them when it will benefit the stakeholders and users of your product the most, for example before a major release or if there are significant changes happening in the market.

25. What is backlog prioritization and why is it important?

Once a Product Owner creates the backlog, it is important to prioritize it so that all of its contents are not tackled at once. Prioritization allows for work on what matters most and gives an idea of how long things will take to complete.

Product prioritization should be based on urgency (e.g., customer requests) as well as importance (e.g., revenue). It can also be helpful to do some market research in order to see which features or problems could have more demand than others; this information should give you a better understanding of where your efforts need to go first.

26. What is a good course of action when you can’t control the product backlog?

It is important for the Product Owner to be able to control what goes in and out of the backlog. That being said, if a change happens that can’t be controlled (perhaps due to an external influence such as legal or regulatory requirements), it’s necessary to react accordingly — re-prioritizing high-priority items and removing low priority ones which will no longer make any sense.

27. What do you need from stakeholders in order to set up Acceptance Criteria?

Product Owners need to know what the stakeholders are looking for when it comes to acceptance criteria. It’s important that the product owner and stakeholders talk about this before work is done and then they can both have an understanding of where their expectations align.

28. How long does your test suite take to complete when all tests pass?

The length of time it takes for the test suite to complete entirely when all tests are passing can vary greatly. It is dependent on many factors, such as how long each test runs and how many different operating systems or browsers a developer needs to support.

29. What happens if my team doesn’t have enough QA testers?

If there aren’t enough quality assurance (QA) testers in the product owner’s software development lifecycle, they may be forced to postpone certain testing activities until they’re able to hire more people again. They could also choose not to release any updates that require manual testing so that their limited resources will go towards releasing new features instead. This isn’t ideal because manual validation testing is often a critical component of the software development lifecycle.

The product owner’s team may also choose not to release any updates that require manual validation testing so they can focus on releasing new features instead. This isn’t ideal because manual verification testing is an important part of the software development life-cycle, and without it defects will easily slip through and customer satisfaction will drop as a result.

30. How do you create sprints?

A product owner creates the plan for what needs to get done in each sprint and communicates with stakeholders on how long this should take. They are also responsible for communicating when it’s time to adjust or change direction because of new information, due dates, changes within the team, or other external factors.

Product managers may be involved as well but typically don’t manage which story gets done first during any given Sprint based on some unknown criteria like complexity level (or whatever PM metrics). Product Owner decides the order of tasks before assigning them out — often by putting together an ordered list.

‍‍31. Is having an agile mindset important as a product owner?

Yes, a product owner needs an agile mindset. Product owners need to be able to switch between thinking in terms of features and problems — because they are often the same thing! Features can create new problems (or make old ones worse) which is why it’s important that a product owner has an agile mindset so they’re always looking for better ways of doing things.

32. What is your definition of “working software?”

Working software means any product or feature that customers are actively using — even if it’s in the beta testing phase or not yet released publicly.”

Sometimes, teams want to create an MVP before officially releasing something out into production so they can gather feedback and improve upon what was created prior. In this case, working software refers only to the Minimum Viable Product.

33. What should product owners do when encountering technical problems?

The Product owner should never try addressing these types of issues themselves or get into discussions with developers about how they can solve them — this will only waste time for everyone involved and more importantly distract from their main responsibility which is managing expectations on behalf of stakeholders.

Instead, the Product owner should raise any concerns with their Scrum Master who will then consult with engineering teams (or other relevant departments) before deciding on an approach

34. Can you tell us what are your responsibilities during Sprint planning meetings?

During sprint planning meetings, Product Owners should be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • What are we trying to achieve with this release?
  • Which features will go into which sprints and why?
  • How much budget in time/money is available for each product backlog item (PBI)?

The Product Owner might also need to address any challenging technical issues that were raised during the meeting.

Finally, they could allocate who has ownership of each PBI by assigning one or more team members. This process ensures that there’s clarity around what needs doing and when it will get done — which means stakeholders can start working on their own timelines too.

35. If you have a question about your work but don’t know where to turn — Who is the best person to go to?

A Product Owner should have a good relationship with their Scrum Master. The Scrum Master is usually more knowledgeable about the product and its process, so they can be a great source of information for questions like these. They could also help you find out who else in your company would be able to answer them too.

36. If we are trying something new but it doesn’t work — What do you do?

The Product Owner should make sure that there’s a feedback loop in place so everyone gets involved when changes need to be made, especially those on the ground level (since they’re closest to customer needs). This will ensure everything stays relevant by staying up-to-date with what customers want or need from the product.

37. What do you think about Agile development methods with regards to project management?

Agile development methods are good for a lot of reasons. They’re able to deal with changing priorities that come up, they allow the product owner and team members to take time out and reflect on how they can be more effective as individuals or groups, and it encourages creativity by allowing room for experimentation in all aspects of project management.

38. How would you prioritize your work if there were more than one story on your plate right now?

If there were more than one story or task on your plate at the same time, you should prioritize them by their impact. For example, if one of those tasks was to fix a bug that many customers are having and we’re getting negative feedback from users about it, then you should put that in the top priority pile.

38. Can you describe what it means to say “all work is done when all stories are accepted?” How does this apply to Product Ownership?

There is no blanket answer for this question and the meaning of “all work done” will differ from organization to organization. In some organizations, all work may be considered complete when there are no open tasks that need further attention; in others, it might only refer to approved stories.

Product Ownership doesn’t have an exact definition either but should always aim to deliver value as soon as possible by getting feedback on new features or products early and often until they’re ready for release.

39. What are some things that you would consider when prioritizing features?

When prioritizing features and deciding which will be released first, It’s most important to think about business value (how much this feature is worth) as well as how long the product owner anticipates each one taking them to complete.

40. How do you measure your success?

Product owners should always have metrics set up at a dashboard level so they know if something is working or not before moving on from it; success is about getting the right things done faster with a greater impact.

41. What do you consider when determining what features should ship?

Product owners should always have metrics set up at a dashboard level so they know if something is working or not before moving on from it; success is about getting the right things done faster with a greater impact.

42. What would you do if your stakeholders changed their minds?

If the stakeholder changes their mind about what should happen next then this means there was no plan in place to begin with. As such, all bets are off on how long any given task will take or when it might get done at least until another plan is created by both the stakeholders and the product owner.

43. What does a good relationship with stakeholders look like? How do you establish one?

A good relationship with stakeholders should be collaborative in nature and productive for both parties involved: The customer benefits from getting more of their needs met while a great product owner understands how important it is to keep the customer satisfied.

44. What is your greatest strength?

In product owner interviews, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re good at and not so good at in order for the product owner interviewers to get an accurate sense of how you’d fit into their company culture.

It might be that they need someone who does well with customer relationship management or understanding external market trends — whatever it may be, make sure you mention them. Your strengths should also tie back into why this position would be a great fit for you too (no one wants to hire someone without knowing if they’ll actually like working there).

45. How do I deal with conflicts between different departments?

The best way to handle these kinds of questions is to have a visible product roadmap, and be proactive about including all the disciplines in meetings.

To help encourage cooperation between different departments, you can try something like “What’s your favorite part of our product?” or asking for their opinion on how they would improve one aspect.

47. What do you think is most important when planning?

It depends on what kind of plan one wants — but generally speaking, product owners should have an idea about their product goals first (e.g., find the best way to reach customers).

Once those goals are determined, there will need to be some filtering process through which only those ideas that fit within current constraints remain under consideration; this is because every idea that is considered needs to be evaluated against the goals.

48. How do you stay motivated while project managing?

Product owners should always try to keep positive attitudes. Sometimes, when discussions can get heated or go off track (like any team member), it’s important for them not to back down.

Instead, it’s recommended to find new ways forward as quickly as possible so momentum doesn’t stall too long before potentially losing interest from stakeholders or customers.

Scrum Product Owner Role and Responsibilities

Product owners are responsible for maximizing the value of products that their team delivers. They’re in charge and accountable for driving forward a product roadmap that aligns with business objectives.

The most common product owner responsibilities are:

  • Owning the roadmap (being accountable for how it aligns with business objectives and to what degree).
  • Ensuring product quality, including functionality and usability testing.
  • Monitoring product backlog as well as sprint backlogs. Product owners should also be monitoring progress against deadlines and solving problems if they arise.
  • Ensuring product profitability and helping to define the pricing model.
  • Creating product features
  • Doing product release planning
  • Working hand-in-hand with the product development team, agile team, project managers, and business analysts
  • Leading to product discovery
  • Applying agile principles and designing agile frameworks

They do this by working together closely with different departments and teams to find ways to create, deliver, and continuously improve products that meet customer needs while generating revenue. Product managers focus on reducing costs associated with delivering those same services or goods; whereas product owners concentrate more on increasing sales growth (i.e., through improving conversion rates).

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the Benefits of Being a Product Owner?

Being a product owner might look like a lot of complicated tasks and technical knowledge, which is true to some extent. That said, product owners can enjoy a variety of benefits, including:

– They are able to work hands-on with the customer. They’re in charge and accountable for maximizing value.

-Working closely together with different departments will help them develop their skillset to be more complete professionals.

-They have a good understanding of the product and how it can be improved.

-Product owners are rewarded with more responsibility, faster promotions to senior-level positions, and bigger salaries than their peers in other departments.

What is the Average Product Owner Salary?

The salary of a product owner who meets education requirements can vary greatly depending on the company and geographical location. Product managers can expect an average salary of $110,000 per year in the United States.

Is Product Ownership The Right Career Path For You?

Product ownership is the best career path for people who are motivated by building products and want to see their ideas come to life. They usually gain lots of skills by joining a PM bootcamp or a product management certification course

It’s ideal for those that have a knack for marketing, sales, or programming because they’ll need these skills most often in product owner positions.

If you have these skills, then product ownership may indeed be the career path for you.

 

Josh Fechter
Josh is the founder of The Product Company.