Top product owner interview questions to find the best candidates

A job interview is a high-pressure situation on both sides of the desk. The person conducting the interviews is responsible for finding the best possible talent for the opening. The person being interviewed knows that there are plenty of other candidates just behind the door that they need to be better than.

With all that in mind, preparing for an interview is essential no matter which side of the desk you’re on. Having a pre-prepared set of questions ensures the interviewer can discover the most relevant information from the interviewee. Knowing what could be asked helps interviewees better prepare their answers to help their skills shine. That’s why we’re going to look at some of the most common questions that might come up during a Product Owner interview.

Table of contents

10 Top product owner interview questions

Let’s break this up into sections to help you quickly find the questions you’re most interested in.

Product owner interview questions: The basics

These questions are almost guaranteed to come up in a product owner interview. They’re designed to test the candidate’s knowledge of the role and the frameworks the role requires.

What would you expect to be responsible for each day as a product owner?

This question is almost a certainty. Interviewers use this question to establish that the candidate understands the product owner role, including responsibilities and workflows.

It can be helpful to have a mental checklist in your head for this one. The more boxes the candidate can tick, the more likely they will be a great fit.

Are agile and scrum the same thing?

Plenty of places use the terms agile and scrum interchangeably, which of course, isn’t correct. Scrum is a subset of Agile, and candidates should know the difference to avoid confusion down the line.

What are the different roles in a scrum team?

Building on the previous question, this is designed to further test the candidate’s knowledge of Scrum. As Scrum roles differ substantially from traditional product development roles, this question will ensure the candidate has a strong understanding of the methodology.

What happens during a sprint planning meeting

The key responsibilities of a product owner are to define user stories and create a product backlog. Their work will directly affect sprint planning meetings for better or for worse. By checking their knowledge of sprint planning meetings, you can be sure the candidate knows how their work affects sprint planning.

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Opinion-based product owner interview questions

These questions allow interviewers to better understand who the candidate is as a person. This is where candidates showcase their passion for their position.

Tell us about a product you believe is well-designed and why

This is an incredibly common question that still catches candidates out. The idea is to gauge your understanding of product design, your ability to deliver constructive criticism, and your passion for product development.

If the candidate can get into the real nitty gritty of a product they love, they’ll not only let their technical know-how shine, but they’ll also let their passion for the role shine through.

Tell us about a time you had to change priority during a sprint

Product development is rarely straightforward. Priorities can change mid-project, and everyone involved needs to be able to pivot on a dime. This question simply requires the candidate to outline a time they had to adapt to last-minute changes and how they coped.

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How would you manage a distributed team?

Remote and hybrid work is changing the way many teams operate. Product owners will need to be able to adapt to slightly different ways of working as more teams switch to distributed teams. This question will help identify which candidates have thought about the future of work and how they will manage the change.

How would you deal with uncooperative stakeholders?

Product owners and stakeholders are often at odds with each other as their priorities for the product can differ. A good product owner can negotiate with awkward stakeholders to ensure decisions are made with value in mind.

How would you motivate your team as a Product Owner?

It’s impossible to have a team working at 100% all the time. Human nature simply doesn’t work like that. A product owner is responsible for raising morale when the team lacks motivation.

Now, this isn’t a question that can be answered with a pizza party. Interviewers are looking for long-term and meaningful solutions. The answer should display respect and empathy for the team members to ensure they feel genuinely valued.

Tell us about your most successful product release

This is an opportunity for the candidate to discuss their experience and skills. They can really get into the technical details of previous projects and how they manage their teams.

Product owners are responsible for enacting their products’ strategic vision and roadmap. This question will help interviewers identify how the candidate uses critical product management elements such as roadmapping, user stories, and product backlogs. Essentially, it reinforces that the candidate has the appropriate knowledge to succeed in the role and add value to the product and company.

How a candidate phrases this answer is important. If they favor “I,” they may not work well as a team and believe they have more ownership of the work done to create the product. When using agile and scrum, this attitude may cause problems. A candidate who works well with a team and understands the methodology will use words like “we” and “as a team” when describing accomplishments.

Prepare for product owner interviews with EasyRetro

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