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(2022) Product Owner Interview Questions, Answers, Overview & Tips To Succeed

Want to get the full scoop on Product Owner Interviews? Preparation for any type of interview can be challenging, particularly as you have usually around an hour to show off a career’s worth of your skills, aptitude and attitude as a potential candidate.

A Product Owner has a pivotal role in overseeing the overall vision and direction of the team’s product; so with so much at stake, Product Owner interview questions are almost always challenging and dynamic.

We’ve combined a wealth of experience and knowledge to bring to you the most practical, comprehensive advice here at MentorCruise.

The Overview to Product Owner Interviews

With 70% of businesses now opting to integrate the agile development process into their work process, and nearly a third of all agile products proving more successful than their counterparts, it is no wonder that there has been an uptake in the number of agile product owners onboarded to organizations.

The Product Owner must maximise the technical capacity and veracity of the components and/or features in line with carrying out program priorities. As a Product Owner you work closely with Product Management, among other stakeholders, to effectively streamline stories to meet the needs of the Team Backlog.

Most organizations will expect the following areas to be managed by a Product Owner:

Team Backlog:

As a Product Owner, you are the main driving force of the build, maintenance and editing process of the team backlog. You’ll be looking at analysis of enablers, any relevant defects as well as user stories. The product backlog must be accessible with ease and clearly display the work that has been completed and is yet to be completed.

It is the driving force for optimization of all processes to ensure the right performance and to create clear bridges of communication with the stakeholders.

Iteration Planning:

Iteration Planning is the process by which the Product Owner creates a list of priorities for preparatory work. The Product Owner will ensure that there is an alignment of the team for the final iteration plan.

Apply behavior-driven development (BDD)

Acceptance tests are rolled out to access the detail stories within the acceptance criteria in the form of acceptance tests.

Maintain flow of story elaboration

This may be looked at by a number of members of the team, but the main team member in charge of the flow will always be the Product Owner.

Accepting story completion

The Product Owner collaborates with the team to ensure that the story criteria is adequately fulfilled.

Team role and responsibilities

The Product Owner should work to motivate the team as a whole to ensure that there are great lines of communication, with the Product Owner also motivating the team and actively encouraging feedback.

Iteration retrospective

When a team demo is being rolled out, Product Owners are expected to work in collaboration in both the team demoing as well as the retrospective. Processes are then decided and approved via Agile Release Train’s (ART’s).

H4: Development Events

Development events are weekly sessions that are used to refine, define and do all of the necessary work on the product backlog. The Product Owner has sole discretion to either remove, cancel or halt development within the project.

Product Owner vs Product Manager vs Project Manager

There are a lot of key differences between a Product Owner, a Product Manager, and a Project Manager.

A Product Owner is informed by an agile approach to the product and is mainly focussed on the product itself, the vision, the stakeholders, the development team, the product backlog and the overall business goals. They help the development team by setting the requirements relayed by the Product Manager.

A Product Manager conceptualises the strategy and the vision for the product. They’ll need to understand customer needs and painpoints, and be able to identify cross-functional activities required to bring new features to the market. Their work is iterative, constantly changing throughout the product lifecycle.

A Project Manager, on the other hand, has a very different type of direct relationship with the project. A Project Manager will be responsible for multiple aspects of a project, from its initiation, ensuring quality, the budget, the schedule, the scope of the project and the resources required as well as the stakeholders themselves.

Product Owner Soft Skills

here are some soft skills product owners should ideally have to be successful in leading teams. if you’re having difficulties getting your point across, consider getting a mentor to help you connect with your team.


the product owner must be available for all members of the scrum team and should be able to quickly disseminate issues and direct where necessary.


the product owner must address any issues within the team quickly and decisively. any delays to the project can have long-standing issues for the project as a whole.


the product owner understands the needs of the customer and how to quickly create solutions, as well as how to follow through and follow up on those needs.

they must be able to communicate effectively with stakeholders at all levels and understand how to network with teams and customers.


a product owner needs to have effective, consistent and responsive communication in order to help the team feel heard, motivated and in alignment with one another.


as a product owner you will be faced with multiple complex problems which you will have to assess and resolve rationally. this takes critical thinking skills as well as the ability to gather and collate the correct information in order to effectively carry out analysis.

Transitioning into a Product Owner role

According to the World Economic Forum, the Product Owner is one of the foremost emerging jobs within the product development industry. LinkedIn has reported a 24% annual growth in Product Owner jobs within the US.

For many professionals working in either project management, business analysis or marketing roles. If you are looking to make the transition from one of these other sectors into the Product Owner role, it’s important to get a good handle on what key differences there are, and how you can make your experience and story tailored and relevant.

The product itself is still relatively new, so becoming a Product Owner would be a great option for those who thrive on transitioning into jobs where innovation is king. As a Product Owner, you are a key decision-maker, so try to prepare yourself with how you will get this across.

The role itself has been compared to that of a CEO; it is, therefore, important to think about the traits and experience that a CEO would have before heading into the interview and to ensure that it is in alignment with your own professional story.

Busting the myths

Let’s take a look at what the common myths are around a product owner: what they do, who they are and what their skills need to be.

Myth 1: “Product Owners are extroverts”

Because of the parallels drawn between Product Owners and technical CEO’s, many people then feel that they need to have a similar personality to that of a stereotypical business executive. This then queues images of a charismatic leader who is extroverted by nature.

In reality, even with technical CEO’s, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, many describe themselves as introverted, which is certainly true of highly successful CEOs such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg.

Many recent studies have also suggested that introverted CEOs fare better in their positions than extroverted CEOs, and are more likely to take the correct risks, rather than fall into the trap of potentially excessive risk behaviours.

Within product ownership, the same is true: the traits of introverts align well with the role of Product Owner and can lead to excellent results, largely due to the listening skills that are associated with extroverts.

Whether you are extroverted or introverted, embrace your skillset.

Myth 2: “Product Owners need to know everything about a project”

A lot of budding product wwners may be put off by feeling as though they will need to know everything that there is to know about a product before becoming a Product Owner – but this is not the case.

It is in fact very important to ensure that you are approaching a project from a place of curiosity and as a blank canvas in order to be able to assess all of the research and data without inadvertently applying any biases.

You can familiarize yourself with a project in good time to ensure that you are meeting the needs of the project as well as those of the stakeholders.

It is also worth noting that as a product owner, it is not within your remit to understand all of the technical aspects – it is the role of the Product Owner to communicate with the developers and architects about what these are, but you are not responsible for the technical implementation itself.

There will be some organizations who are explicitly looking for people who have had previous experience in customer-facing roles, due to their ability to empathize effectively with those who are involved in a project – especially customers.

Myth 3: “Product Owners are team managers”

Although Product Owners have the role of managing various aspects of the product itself, they are not there to manage the team itself.

By managing and looking at the priority of tasks on the product backlog, the Product Owner effectively manages the product itself but does not allocate the process or timeline for each person within the team.

The Agile Manifesto’s core principle is that of self-organizing team structures, so this would be a contradiction for a Product Owner to manage the team directly.

A Product Owner may influence a team through indirect means, but never directly.

The Product Owner Interview Questions

With most product owner roles in the US paying in excess of 6-figures, it is important to come fully prepared when you turn up to your first interview. Practising Product Owner Interview Questions is a key element of this.

Let’s get into the most commonly asked product owner interview questions, and ensure that you take the time to roleplay the majority of these questions ahead of your interview date.

They are split into three easily accessible categories: theory-based interview questions, person-centred interview questions and scenario-based interview questions.

All questions are split into product owner interview questions as well as product owner interview answers.

Person-Centred Product Owner Interview Questions

1. Which product have you been most proud to work on? Please tell us how you contributed to its success.

It is vital that all product owners have an accurate vision of how to take a product from start to finish to great effect.

When answering this question, the interviewer is able to get an insight into who you are, what you value within yourself and what you value within a project in order to determine whether you are the correct fit for the role.

You will be able to showcase your previous experience with this question, so make sure that you take the opportunity to do so. Prepare for this question by having a specific idea about which project you would want to discuss.

It’s also important to mention user stories, how you effectively managed the backlog, as well as your use of road mapping.

Empowering the team as a whole is integral to the success of a Product Owner and their overall team. Make sure that you mention your tracking processes as well as what you did to collaborate with the development team.

Be careful to not overuse the word ‘we’ here – they are specifically looking for how you personally made an effective contribution. Overuse of the word ‘we’ can come across as though you cruised along and were lucky enough to have a great team.

Use ‘I’ with purpose and have confidence in your contributions in order for the interviewer to believe that you can replicate your past successes.

2. Discuss a priority shift whilst in the process of a sprint and how you dealt with it.

The Agile Manifesto is centred on an openness to new shifts and evolutions throughout the roadmap of a product’s development.

If a product owner fails to effectively assess the changing variables, the velocity can suffer which can have an overall negative impact on the Product.

Product Owners should be aware of how to utilise internal stakeholders effectively in order to have buy-in throughout. They will also be able to communicate and analyse changing needs.

A great Product Owner will be able to implement all of the above without halting a sprint. You will need to be specific about how you would handle communications with stakeholders and set expectations.

3. As a Product Owner, you will sometimes encounter a new task that you have never been asked to do before. Give me an example of when you have encountered this and how you dealt with it.

It is vital that a Product Owner is agile in not only name, but also in abilities. Market demands are known to change quite regularly, meaning that it is important for a great product owner to know how to respond to these changing demands.

You must be able to think under pressure, adapt quickly and learn and retain new information. Whatever the new task may be, it’s important that the Product Owner has the leadership and initiative to take control.

The most effective product owners will be able to give an example of when they were adaptable and able to adjust – not only demonstrating a can-do attitude but also the necessary skills to be able to pull this off.

It’s important to demonstrate what you learnt in your previous example and how you now apply this going forward.

Theory-Based Product Owner Interview Questions

1. What is a product that you feel has a good design? Please then explain why you think its design is good.

It is important to have a great handle on the type of products that are good, and those that aren’t. You will then need to effectively describe the differentiating points of an exceptional product.

This question also has a person-centred element as it is unlikely to be answered in the same way by any two candidates. It will effectively define what your unique value system is when it comes to products, whether it is based on functionality, solutions, value or perhaps something altogether different.

Think critically and try to explain what the dimensions of the ideal product are. Try not to put too much emphasis on either its form or on its function, but rather aim to explain how both are needed for an effective product.

To really impress the interviewer, go above and beyond by explaining what you would do to make the product even better, and be clear in your methodology.

Scenario-Based Product Owner Interview Questions

1. If you have noticed a 10% drop in add-ons within product purchases in the space of a month, how would you tackle this?

As a Product Owner you will be adept at everything relating to business strategy and implementation, with a particular interest in growing and nurturing revenue. A dramatic 10% drop is quite significant, so it would be important to explain how you plan to effectively tackle this.

Product Owners are particularly skilled in their analytical skills, so make sure that you include in your reply some kind of reference to how it would be best to collect the necessary data and use it to the greatest effect possible.

You should also make reference to your wider team and how you will effectively strategize to ensure that you are collating the necessary data from the team. This is true particularly for sales, marketing and data analysts who are on your team.

2. You’ve just been told that the most popular product is receiving a refresh – how would you position the legacy product to ensure a continued strong revenue stream?

All products will receive a refresh from time to time – this is essential for keeping abreast of competition and to keep up with ever-changing customer needs.

As this is a commonly expected scenario to happen in the lifetime of any business’s product, it is important that you are able to effectively communicate a practical solution that, ideally, is based on your previous experience.

Ensure that you communicate the effectiveness of having rigorous knowledge about both versions of the product, and that you are also aware of the customer experience of the end-user.

The best answers will have the ability to go even further and talk about who you would utilize within the team in order to come up with the best solution, as well as how you would do that.

You could mention which members may have the best intel to equip you to deal with this scenario, as well as how you could utilize product development to create the optimum result and solution.

3. How do you best deal with conflicting requests from stakeholders?

This question is there to test two very important qualities of a Product Owner: your interpersonal skills and your workflow management skills.

When answering this question, you should demonstrate how you are able to keep a sharp focus on the product needs whilst also managing incoming requests.

Now is the time to show off your diplomacy skills, as it is important to empathize and keep your stakeholders happy whilst staying laser-focused on what needs to be done.

Let the interviewers know how you will track all elements to ensure that no balls get dropped. Try to also speak about how you will ensure the success of the sprint or quarter.

Techniques to Excel in your Product Owner Interview Questions

Structure your Product Owner interview answers

A great way to ensure that you don’t flounder under the pressure is to ensure that you are answering your questions in a structured way.

You may have your own techniques for this; some candidates prefer to list what they will be covering in their answer in their first sentence before addressing each point in turn.

In our experience, we recommend using the STAR technique to answer questions.

The STAR technique requires you to split each answer into 4 steps, to keep your answer structured, defined and impressive to the interviewer.

The 4 steps are:

  • Situation: Explain the situation – this is your opportunity to set the scene and give a brief overview.

  • Task: Be specific about what the task at hand was as well as the goal

  • Action: Describe which action you personally took in order to meet the goal of the task.

  • Result: Reach a conclusion by speaking about the results that followed.

Most competency-based questions will benefit from using the STAR technique. Write down your answers to the Product Owner interview questions using the STAR technique, and roleplay the answers with a family member, friend or for industry-specific professional advice and feedback, seek a mentor (more on that in the next section).

For more on the STAR technique, take a look here.

Seek mentorship

Finding a mentor can help you to receive the most effective, industry-specific advice possible. For competitive prices, you can find that you are given the vital tools, advice and feedback to apply to top companies – this will of course generate a lot more wealth in the long run.

By choosing to find a mentor with MentorCruise, you can arrange a one-off call with a mentor of your choice, which will really help you to gain the necessary competitive advantage on other job applicants to help you edge ahead.

Mentors can help you with everything from CV feedback to career strategy through to interview preparation when you land that all-important interview slot. You can get the ball rolling with your mentor by booking a session here.

Research the company - thoroughly

Reading through the website is a must, but further to that, try to look at what the company has published on their social media.

Get to know the previous products and do a bit of (healthy) stalking of the company and its current Product Owners on LinkedIn.

It’s also worth looking at any articles that the company may have been mentioned in recently when conducting a Google search.

Build rapport

You can present immaculately and say all the right things, but sometimes if you forget (or are too nervous to) build rapport, the interview can launch, but then fail to land.

Take the time to get to know who your interviewers are ahead of time and think about how you can create time within the interview to connect with them.

Don’t fear the silence

Finally: don’t fear the silence.

If an interview question has thrown you a little, try not to feel as though you need to launch into the first answer.

Many companies will offer you a pen and paper when you arrive, but if you walk in and notice there isn’t one, ask politely if you can take out your own before the interview begins.

When you are hit with the tricky question, jot down your answers in a few words to help you to navigate when answering the question. The interviewers will be happy to wait whilst you quickly jot down some ideas.

Read about the story of one of our mentors here.

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