No matter the interview round, questions on product strategy (like the “how to launch a product in 90 days” question) will test your knowledge of the fundamentals of product. Your answer can make or break your chances of landing an offer. You might encounter this question at different stages of the interview as it is also a common product design or Product Manager case study interview question.
How do you answer the “launch a product in 90 days” interview question? The approach we’re about to outline may be contrary to what you’ve read, seen, or heard from other Product Managers. But, it has recorded the most success over any other approach our members take.
The biggest surprise? “How would you launch a product in 90 days” is actually a trap question Recruiters and Hiring Managers formulated to narrow down candidates. Read on to find out why and how to make sure you don’t fall for the trap.
So, How Would You Launch a Product in 90 days?
One thing our interview coaches stress when guiding Product Managers through interview questions and answers is to always get as much information as possible before answering. Clarifying the details will give you more context and enable you to tailor your answer in the most effective way possible.
It’s no different with this question, so here’s what your response should be:
“For me to answer that question effectively, I’ll need to know the following four things:
- First, please tell me more about the product you are expecting me to launch.
- Second, can you clarify for me what you mean by “launch” because the word means something different to every organization that is using product management right now? Or, can you tell me where you are in the process?
- Third, what resources will be provided to me?
- Finally, could you give me any context on why this product needs to be launched in 90 days or (list the date)?”
We know what you’re thinking: Asking these questions may come off as hostile to the interviewer, or that you’re just trying to stall because you don’t have an answer.
Launch a Product in 90 Days: Why You Need to Ask Questions
Asking these questions shows the interviewer that you are taking a step back to think about the product design process as a Product Manager should. There’s a lot that goes into launching a product within 90 days, including many moving pieces, so these are the exact questions you’d be asking if you started on the job at that company.
You can even follow up the questions with a statement such as:
My job as a Product Manager for any organization is going to involve making decisions and taking action, and that depends largely on the information I have at hand. If I don’t have enough information to do either of these, my job is to go out there and gather more of the information I’ll need.
Beware the Trap
Product management has gotten hot in recent years and a lot of people are first-time PMs, making the transition from backgrounds like engineering, finance, sales and marketing, and so on. Even experienced Product Managers are constantly moving from job to job.
Because of this, a majority of the candidates that apply to these positions have never launched a product. Even if they did, they most likely didn’t do it within that time frame. Though 90 days is a good amount of time, it might not be enough time for many companies to get it right.
With this in mind, recruiters and hiring managers use the “launch a product in 90 days” interview question to sift out unqualified applicants.
Recruiters know that a candidate is most likely lying and inexperienced if they launch into a response with a full plan on what they would do. A lot of time is wasted in the production process because of failure to set up a proper game plan, thus companies are looking for professionals who take time to think about what they are doing and plan correctly. A candidate who asks questions first shows they have a firm understanding of product management.
“How to Launch a Product in 90 Days” Question Breakdown
Let’s take a look at why we recommend each of these specific questions in your answer:
1. Tell Me More About The Product
This one is direct and naturally, the first question that would come up. Just as there are many types of Product Managers, there are many types of products in this world and the process from ideation to launch of a product depends heavily on its nature. For example, how to launch a product in 90 days for a mobile app versus a web app differs.
Another detail you would want to know is whether the product is internal or for the public. You could be building an accounting product for the company’s accounting team, a detail that will also influence the design process.
2. What Does “Launch” Mean?
Asking for clarification on what the word “launch” means to your interviewer is important because it means different things to different teams. A lot of experienced Product Managers interviewing right now are surprised that a lot of people holding the Head of Product title know less about product management than they do. So you’ve got to make sure you’re on the same page.
3. What Resources Will I Be Provided?
Are you working with unlimited resources, or are you limited to a specific degree? Everything from the money allotted to the engineers at hand will help you determine the desired outcome. This information is especially necessary when answering a Product Manager case study question.
4. Why This Product?
The fact is, not every product needs to be launched and not every idea needs to be iterated. A PM should be able to look at the data and thought process behind every idea to determine if it’s viable.
95% of the time this is a hypothetical question and your interviewers won’t have many details to give you, but throwing it back to them shows your competence.
There’s more. Watch our co-founder Rich explain these questions in-depth in the video below:
Think Like a Product Manager to Get the Job
Even if you don’t have the title, always approach Product Manager case study interview questions like a PM in the job who is trying to solve a problem, not like someone who is trying to get the job. Also, remember that you are not supposed to have all the answers at your fingertips. It is okay to ask for as much information as you can and take time to think about your answer.
Want to learn more about PM interviews, we have prepared a PDF of all the other product design interview questions that you are most likely going to encounter. Schedule a free consultation with us today and we’ll send it to you, complete with answer templates you can use.