Frameworks / Generic / Brainstorming

What is this question about?

This interview question is testing whether you can think outside the box, and if you can come up with creative, relevant and novel ideas. Since product managers are responsible for product vision, the interviewer wants to see whether your ideas tend to be more of the same or whether you possess divergent thinking.

What is the interviewer looking for?

The interviewer is evaluating you on the following:

  • Are you creative?
  • Can you generate new ideas?
  • When producing ideas on the spot, do you enjoy the challenge or do you give up under pressure?
  • Can you think out-of-the-box?
  • Are you articulate?

How to train yourself to be more creative?

Creativity is a skill you can develop with practice. Make time every day to look for either a product or service and practice ideation by applying the concepts from SCAMPER. SCAMPER is a technique to generate multiple and different ideas.

The name mnemonic stands for the actions:

S — Substitute something.

C — Combine it with something else.

A — Adapt something to it.

M — Magnify or Modify it.

P — Put it to another use.

E — Eliminate something.

R — Reverse or Rearrange it.

The objective of SCAMPER is to apply the actions to an existing product or service in order to generate new ideas for products, services or processes. Read Creative Problem Solving with SCAMPER to learn more.

How to structure your answer?

Before brainstorming, it is useful to start by describing the attributes of the product or service. These attributes, together with SCAMPER, will trigger associations that you can use to generate new ideas.

Here is a suggestion on how to structure your process:

  • Describe the product or service: Mention the key attributes of the product or service.
  • Generate new ideas based on associations: Use the key product attributes and each letter of the SCAMPER acronym to aid you in generating more ideas about new products or services.
  • Recommend ideas (optional): Based on some criteria (e.g., cost, complexity, demand, etc.) recommend your best idea.