Product Improvement

Frameworks / Generic / Product Design


A frequently asked question in product management interviews is the improve a product question. For example, the question may go like this: “Pick any product you like and tell me how you would improve it?” If there is a very popular product on the market, the interviewer may assume you know about it and ask: “How would you improve product X?”

What is this question about?

This interview question is about articulating what business issues or problems you think a product has and providing ideas on how to solve them. Try to figure out on your own what possible issues there are with the product. Then pick one problem to focus on and discuss how you would solve it. When thinking about solutions, keep in mind who the users are, what their needs are and what the business needs are.

What is the interviewer looking for?

In this type of question the interviewer is going to test the following:

  • Can you answer the question in a structured and organized way, or do you tend to shoot from the hip and answer without taking a moment to think about the question?
  • Are you being creative and thinking outside the box for solutions?
  • Are you exhaustive when talking about types of users, use cases, and solutions?
  • Are you able to give detailed answers or do you tend to answer with generalizations?
  • Do you articulate your answers or do you tend to ramble?
  • How to structure your answer?

Explain to the interviewer how you will tackle this question. Doing this shows your interviewer that you are thinking in a structured way. For example, “First I will describe what I think the product does, who the users are, what issues the product has, and suggest a few ideas on how to solve them.”

Summarize Product

Summarize what the product does, who the users/personas are, and how they use the product (e.g., use cases).

Business Metrics to Improve

Talk about the metrics you think the product has a problem with and the reasons for the problems.

  • Customer base—is it too low? If yes, why? Or could the product do better?
  • Revenue—does the business need to increase the number of paid users, or the amount paid users spend?
  • Retention—are customer churning and not returning?
  • Conversion—does the business need to convert more visitors into paid users?
  • User engagement—are customers not spending time with the product?

Use Cases and Solutions

  • Justify which metric you think is the most important to improve.
  • Describe the types of users and use cases that the product is failing to support or could support to improve the business metric.
  • Prioritize user and use cases based on some criteria, such as revenue, simplicity, cost, and frequent use.
  • Brainstorm solutions for the prioritized use cases.

Evaluate Solutions

Evaluate tradeoffs of solutions using some criteria, such as cost, hard to implement, competition, and revenue.

Validation Metrics

Explain how you would validate that your solution is working.

Which metrics would you use?

If for example, your solution is to improve retention, then you would use the following as metrics:

  • How many days after sign-up do users come back?
  • How many times a day, a week, a month do they use the product?
  • How does it compare with the past?

Wrap Up

  • Which solution would you recommend?
  • Recap how the solution solves the problem and why it is the best solution.

Do’s

Do use the whiteboard when thinking and visualizing your ideas. This will make your ideas and solutions clearer.