How to answer a Product Launch question in a Product Manager job interview

Product launch interview questions are asked in Product Manager job interviews as a way to evaluate a job candidate’s ability to launch new products.

This article provides a step-by-step method to answering product launch questions during Product Manager job interviews.

In general, product launch questions assess your ability to:

  • Describe the goals of a product and its launch,
  • Comprehend various business considerations such as company objectives, resources, market dynamics, etc,
  • Ability to think strategically about launch plans to maximize benefits for the company, and
  • Ability to develop and come up with an implementation plan that is practical and well thought out.
While some technology-based companies have started separating the tasks of Product Managers from Product Marketers, most of them currently see Product Managers to be responsible for some of the product marketing aspects of a product when it comes to product launch. In such cases, it is important for the Product Manager candidate to showcase their product marketing skills by answering product launch questions in a way that indicates their ability to launch a strategic marketing campaign that meets the product and business objectives.

Here is how you can answer a Product Launch question:

1. Clarify scope of the project

Before starting to answer a product launch question, make sure that you and the interviewer are in agreement on the scope of the project. Start by providing an overview of the product (what it does, its users, what features it supports, what problems it solves, its competitors, regulatory concerns, etc) and clarify the scope of the product launch (e.g. “Can I assume that we are launching this product only in USA?”).

Let’s say you were launching Amazon Go. You can start by describing how Amazon Go is the expedited grocery store with a technology that identifies who is shopping and what they have spent. And the benefit of the technology would be to enable customers to skip checkout lines.

2. Choose a goal

Once you are clear on the scope of the project, your next step should be to determine the key goals of the product launch. The goal of a product launch depends on the stage of the product in its life cycle. The earlier stage in the life cycle it is, the less it is about profitability and the more it is about validating assumptions regarding market opportunity and building awareness. Here are a few sample goals that might apply to a product launch:

  • Determine the viability of a new business model (e.g. Can Amazon Go succeed as a grocery business without check out?
  • Grab market share (e.g. Uber launch in a new country)
  • Create awareness (e.g. Launch a new mobile food ordering app)
3. Describe your strategy to achieve your goals

This is your chance to showcase your ability to strategically focus and allocate your resources on areas that deliver the most value to your product and employer in terms of achieving your product launch goal.

You can become strategic in a few ways:

  • Determine metrics for measuring your progress towards achieving your goal.
  • Pick a particular segment that you think would deliver the most results to you and build your launch plan around that particular segment.
  • Describe potential risks associated with your product launch.
For the Amazon Go example, you can say that you would like to focus on the millennials because they are usually on the go, they are open to new technologies, and they highly value time efficiency. Perhaps San Francisco is a good city to test this because there is a large number of your target market there.

4. Develop a three-phase implementation plan.
Your product launch implementation plan should consist of these three phases:

  • Pre-launch
  • During launch
  • post-launch
There are different activities you can consider for every phase of your product launch implementation plan. Here, I have listed a few that I think can be considered. Please note that you can come up with additional and your own activities based on the product, goal of the launch, and target market.

I would recommend you to be specific and describe the activities with some level of detail to showcase to the interviewer that you have thought everything out clearly through various aspects of launching your product.

4.1. Pre-launch: You are preparing for a successful launch. Activities you take to complete prior to launch (e.g. partnerships) belong here. For pre-launch, I would consider the following:

  • Partnerships: Can you partner with companies that will help you achieve your goal? For example, if you are launching a new phone in a new country, it will be helpful to partner with a local wireless carrier to be able to take advantage of their website and store traffic to announce the upcoming launch of your product.
  • Marketing: There are various marketing techniques you can leverage to prepare for the launch of your product. Some of these activities are public relations (e.g. inform the market that you will be launching on a particular date), social media campaigns (e.g. chance to win something for anyone who tweets about the launch of your product), product reviews (provide exclusive access to influencers in return for their early review of your product), pre-orders, advertising (online and offline), inbound marketing (SEO, PR, social), outbound marketing (online ads, offline ads, trade shows, conferences, etc)
  • Define KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): Determine the KPIs you will be using to guide yourself throughout the whole launch in order to achieve your goal. It is important to list out your criteria of success and metrics for measuring performance here to showcase your abilities in measuring the effectiveness of your work in a meaningful way. You can also indicate what each of the suggested metrics mean and what sort of conclusions you can draw if you achieve them or not. For the Amazon Go example, you can provide specific metrics that will help you decide if it is a viable business (e.g. number of successful shopping transactions, number of repeat customers above x%, number of items in checkout, average $ value of shopping cart at checkout) and suggest to launch two stores simultaneously to be able to measure the difference in performance between a test store and a control store.
4.2 During Launch: Activities you have to do on the launch date or close to the launch date belong to this phase. Here are some of the activities you can consider:

  • Marketing: There are various marketing campaigns you can run to achieve your product launch goals. Some of these activities are Social Media marketing, advertising on media, content creation, and others.
  • Partnerships: Is there an opportunity for you to partner with a company that can enable you to have access to a larger audience or benefit from co-branding? For example if you are launching a mobile food ordering app, you might consider partnering with Visa to offer cash back to Visa customers.
  • Distributions: Your distribution strategy is usually a function of your product goal. For example, if you are launching a new electronic product and your main goal is to create awareness, you can benefit significantly from making your product available via retail stores.
  • Public Relations: Announce the launch of your product in all relevant media outlets associated with your business.
  • Pricing: Are you willing to offer any special pricing to achieve your goal? For example, if your goal is to grab market share, it might make sense to offer discounted pricing to encourage people to try your product.
4.3. Post-launch: This is your chance to reflect on what’s been done. Determine if the launch was a success or a failure. Measure performance and determine how the collected info can be used in the future. Here are some of the activities you can consider post-launch of your product:

  • Measure Performance: Use data collected pre-launch and during launch to measure the performance of your activities towards achieving your goals.
  • Post Mortem: Determine what went well and what needs improvement.
Note that some activities are listed in both pre-launch and launch activities. You have to take the context into consideration. For example, a Press Release about “Apple launching HomePod in 6 months” is a pre-launch activity. A press release about “Apple launching HomePod tomorrow” is a launch activity.

It is important to describe the reasoning behind your implementation plan and choice of activities. For example, if you chose social media marketing as an activity, describe the thinking behind why social media marketing is the right strategy for you.

5. Summarize your answer
Provide a quick summary of what you have accomplished during the interview. First, highlight the goal of the product launch. Then briefly describe how you plan to achieve your goal via your pre-launch, during-launch, and post-launch activities.

I have gathered a list of product launch job interview questions for you to practice.

See also

How to prepare for product manager job interviews

How to answer a Metrics question in a Product Manager job interview.

How to answer a Product Design question in a Product Manager job interview.

How to answer an Estimation question in a Product Manager job interview.

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