Product operations is a new discipline within product management, and the product operations analyst role is even newer. If you interview for this type of job at two companies, don’t be surprised if the hiring managers ask you completely different questions, because there is no standard set of product operations analyst interview questions
Businesses are still learning how to build a product operations function in their companies. As we found in our research for ProductPlan’s 2022 State of the Product Report, only 25% of businesses with 20 to 100 employees have a product operations role or team. Even among large enterprises with more than 10,000, fewer than half—45%—have implemented product ops.
If you’re looking for a position as a product operations analyst, you’ll be getting in early to a new but fast-growing field. The challenge is this role isn’t well-defined yet, and the companies you interview with might not know exactly how to screen for it.
But we at ProductPlan work with product-led companies in all industries, all over the world. Here are the questions we’re hearing businesses ask in job interviews to find a great product operations analyst.
5 Questions to Be Ready for In Your Product Operations Analyst Interview
Question 1: Can you give me an example of a test you’d run, or data you might find, that could lead to an idea for improving our product?
You should expect some questions like this, maybe several of them. Your hiring manager will assume you’ve investigated the company’s solution and have some thoughts about the types of analytics you would need to make strategic recommendations. Be ready with those ideas.
Unfortunately, we can’t advise you on specifics here. The product, customer persona, industry, company size, and other variables of the business interviewing you will all influence the types of tests and data analysis you might use.
So, here’s our recommendation to prepare for this type of question. Pretend you’ve already been hired. Your first assignment is to collect and analyze product data and use your findings to recommend improving some customer experience. Think through the steps of your process and be ready to tell that story in the interview.
Question 2: If our company didn’t have any product tech stack when you joined, what types of tools do you think we’d need first, and why?
Here’s something you need to keep in mind. Businesses that have experience with product operations divide the function into two roles that work together:
- The product operations manager builds processes and identifies tools to improve the company’s operations.
- The product operations analyst runs tests, analyzes data, and uses this information to recommend product improvements and market opportunities worth pursuing.
If the hiring manager knows this, you probably won’t get questions about building a tech stack. Your conversation will focus on data analysis and interpretation.
But your hiring manager might not understand the distinction. Or the company might be hoping to hire one product operations person to cover both areas of responsibility. And they might be calling that person a product operations analyst.
Assume that’s the case. Give some thought to the types of applications you would recommend for improving the product team’s work. Examples might include:
- Business intelligence tools
- Design and wireframing applications
- Project management tools
- Communication apps to collaborate with the cross-functional team
- Product roadmapping software
Question 3: How many gallons of exterior home paint do people buy in the United States every year?
Okay, we’re half-joking. Don’t expect this specific question. But you should be prepared for something similar.
These questions are a common interview practice for analytical jobs. Your hiring manager wants to hear your thought process how you break down a complex problem and work through it step by step.
For example, you might say, “First, I’d estimate there are 30 million homes in the US. Then I’d guess it takes about 10 gallons to paint the exterior of the average-sized home. Now, assuming the typical house gets repainted every 6 years, that would mean 5 million homes need paint each year.” And so on. You get the idea.
Your goal here isn’t to arrive at a correct answer, and it shows your interviewer that you think analytically and can solve complex problems by applying logic and intelligence. If you get a question like this, have fun with it.
Question 4: What do you think are the most illuminating types of customer feedback? And the least useful?
Your success in this role will rely heavily on your ability to collect, analyze, and interpret customer feedback. And fortunately for you, we live in the digital era, and you can find plenty of thoughts and opinions about your products.
But given the many channels that customers can use to share their thoughts with businesses, you’ll need to have a process for weighing the value of one type of feedback versus another.
Like the home paint question above, you don’t need to find the correct answer here, and there isn’t one. You need to articulate a logical and strategic thought process.
Question 5: Tell me about a product on the market today that you believe its product team could improve, and how.
That’s not a trick question. Your hiring manager will not have a correct answer in mind. The goal of this question will be to learn about your thought processes. The company wants to know how you perceive the world, where you see voids in the market, and how you would make things better if you had the chance.
If you want to be a product ops analyst—or enjoy a career in any product role—you should always look for the shortcomings in the products you see and use. Those shortcomings represent a chance to make something better. As Airbnb chief product officer Joe Gebbia told NPR: “Anytime you see duct tape in the world, that’s a design opportunity.”
Your Product Ops Analyst Resume: What Hiring Managers Will Want to See
These job descriptions will vary because product ops roles are new. But here are some of the things a company will expect to see on a winning product ops analyst resume.
- Ability to apply abstract reasoning to complex problems and devise creative solutions
- Experience (or schooling) in data analysis, data science, or business analysis.
- Proficiency with data analysis or business intelligence tools
- Ability to extract and synthesize data from disparate sources to uncover strategic opportunities and make compelling recommendations for pursuing them
- BS or another technical degree
Note: For most of these roles, the company will not demand prior experience on a product team.
The Product Ops Analyst Salary Range
Here’s what we found in terms of salary potential.
According to Comparably, the average product operations analyst in the US earns $82,000. The salaries range from $44,000 to $132,000.
ZipRecruiter publishes similar findings. According to the site’s 2022 data, the national average salary for product operations analysts is $77,000.
ZipRecruiter also states that most of these positions pay between $54,000 (average for the 25th percentile) and $118,000 (average for the 90th percentile).
Final Thoughts Before Your Interview
Before your job interview, review the questions above a few times and think about responding. Remember, you don’t need to come up with the correct answer. Your priority should be demonstrating for the hiring manager how you approach problems, break them down into manageable steps, and analytically move toward a solution.
And don’t forget to have fun. Show your personality. They’re not hiring a robot for this role. The company wants a curious, creative individual to uncover the opportunities hiding beneath their raw data. And we hope that person will be you!