Advice > Product management

Airbnb Product Manager Interview (questions, process, prep)

By Julia Hamilton on April 30, 2024 How we wrote this article
Airbnb website on a laptop

PM interviews at Airbnb are extremely competitive. You’ll face in-depth and challenging questions over the course of at least seven different interview rounds.

Thankfully, the right preparation makes all the difference. So we’ve scoured the internet for interview reports from real Airbnb PM candidates, in order to put together this ultimate guide to Airbnb product manager interviews.

We’ll outline the company’s hiring process, example interview questions, interviewing tips, and key preparation resources to help you maximize your chances of success.

Here's what we’ll cover:

Let's get started.

Click here to practice 1-on-1 with PM ex-interviewers

1. Airbnb Product Manager Role and Salary

Before we cover your Airbnb PM interviews, let’s take a closer look at the role.

1.1 What does an Airbnb Product Manager do?

Product managers at Airbnb are in charge of the product roadmaps for Airbnb’s key users: guests and hosts. 

As an Airbnb PM, you’re responsible for building and launching products that enable users to explore and use the app with ease, from account signups to messaging, etc. This requires collaborating and aligning visions with tech and design teams and cross-functional partners.

Apart from working on developing products, Airbnb PMs are likewise responsible for product marketing.  In his Figma’s Config23 talk, CEO Brian Chesky initially caused a stir when he said the company had gotten rid of its product manager function. He soon clarified the statement by saying that the PM role at Airbnb now also has a product marketing side.

“We have product marketers. We combined product management with product marketing. And we said that you can’t develop products unless you know how to talk about the products.” Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky.

What are the skills required in an Airbnb Product Manager?

To be a successful product manager at Airbnb, you typically need a combination of technical, business, and interpersonal skills. You'll need to demonstrate that you are strategic and analytical, with a strong user-centric focus, market awareness, problem-solving skills, and leadership skills. You’ll need to show that you’re adept at cross-functional collaboration, as Airbnb PMs are expected to work with technical and non-technical teams alike across their product ecosystem.

An Airbnb PM is also expected to develop product marketing strategies. Therefore, experience in creating successful product messaging is highly desirable in an Airbnb PM candidate.

1.2 How much does an Airbnb Product Manager make?

According to Glassdoor data, the average Airbnb PM total pay is estimated at $313k per year, 50% higher than the average pay for a Product Manager in the US. The base pay averages $190K per year, with additional pay (stocks, bonus, profit sharing, etc.) can amount up to $123k per year on average.

Location also plays a part in the difference in salary based on Glassdoor data. To compare:

  • Airbnb US PM: est. average $313k per year 
  • Airbnb SG PM: est. average $74k per year
  • Airbnb India PM: est. average $22k per year

Below you can see the average base salary of the different product manager positions at Airbnb US based on Levels.fyi data:

Airbnb PM salary 2024

Ultimately, how you do in your interviews will help determine what you’ll be offered. That’s why hiring one of our ex-FAANG PM interview coaches can provide such a significant return on investment.

And remember, compensation packages are always negotiable, even at Airbnb. So, if you do get an offer, don’t be afraid to ask for more. If you need help negotiating, consider booking one of our salary negotiation coaches to get expert advice.

2. Interview process and timeline

The interview process for Airbnb PMs generally takes about three to six weeks to complete.

Here’s a quick overview of the steps you may face along the way:

  • Resume, cover letter, and referrals
  • Recruiter phone screen (30-45 min)
  • First-round interviews (~2 interviews, 30-45 min each)
  • Onsite interviews (~2 panel interviews, ~5 interviews 1-on-1)

Now we’ll cover each of the steps we listed above in more detail, so you can get a better idea of what to expect and how to prepare.

2.1 Resume, cover letter, referrals

Step one is getting the interviews. For that, you’ll need a quality resume that is tailored to both PM positions and Airbnb more specifically. If you have yet to apply, you can optimize your documents by using our product manager resume guide and getting FAANG recruiters or PMs to review your resume.

As with most companies, it can also be helpful to get an employee or contact at Airbnb to refer you to the recruiting team. In our experience, the most straightforward way to do this is to contact Airbnb employees you share connections with directly on LinkedIn.

2.2 Recruiter phone screen

Next, you'll usually start your interview process by talking to an HR recruiter on the phone. They are looking to confirm that you've got a chance of getting the job at all, so be prepared to explain your background.

Airbnb takes culture-fit more seriously than most other companies. As a result, you’ll need to show your enthusiasm for their mission and to answer questions like "Why Airbnb?" or "Tell me about yourself".

If you’re unsure about what steps are ahead in the interview process, take this opportunity to ask any clarifying questions about what you can expect.  The recruiter will be your point of contact for the rest of the interviews. 

2.3 First-round interviews

After talking to the recruiter, you’ll have two interviews. These will take place over the phone or video call and will last 30 to 45 minutes each.

2.3.1 Hiring manager interview

The first interview is usually with the hiring manager. Be ready to go more in-depth on your domain knowledge (e.g. marketplaces, travel, demand/supply growth, etc.) than you did in the recruiter phone screen. Expect the following types of questions which we’ll cover in detail in section 3: product sense and design, strategy, analytical, behavioral, etc.

2.3.2 PM Peer interview

The second interview is with a product manager that would be your peer if you join the company. They might be from the same product team you’re interviewing with, or a different one. While the hiring manager will tend to focus on domain knowledge, your PM peer will tend to focus on how you work with others. So, be ready to answer behavioral questions and demonstrate Airbnb’s core values which we’ll cover in detail in section 3.

2.4 Onsite interviews

If you pass your first-round interviews, you’ll move on to the final, onsite interviews. These may take place in Airbnb’s offices or virtually, over video call.

There will usually be three parts to your onsite interviews. You’ll start with a case study presentation to a panel of about ~5 interviewers. You’ll then do 1-on-1 interviews with the ~5 interviewers who were on the panel. Finally, you’ll do a cross-functional interview with a second panel focused on checking if you’re a good cultural fit.

2.4.1 Panel 1: case study presentation

Your recruiter will send you a 2-3 page PDF document about seven days before your scheduled presentation. This document will present you with a scenario relevant to the position you’re applying for and ask for your recommendations on the problem at hand. For instance, you might be presented with information about supply growth in certain markets and asked to make recommendations to improve the situation.

If you have any questions or need clarification, the recruiter will be available throughout the week to answer your questions or pass them on to the hiring manager.

The panel you'll present to will consist individuals from various teams. In most cases, this will be the hiring manager and peer you previously interviewed with, an engineering manager, a data scientist, and a program manager. This can vary though.

You’ll start by presenting your recommendations and the panel will then follow up with questions. The session will last about one hour.

2.4.2 Interviews with Panel 1 members

Once you’re done presenting your recommendations, you’ll have a series of breakout sessions with the panelists. In practice, this means you’ll have up to five one-on-one interviews where you’ll be asked follow-up questions about your presentation and other questions falling into the following categories which we’ll cover in section 3: product sense & design, behavioral, analytical, etc.

2.4.3 Panel 2: cross-functional interview 

Finally, you’ll have a final cross-functional interview with a second panel. This group is usually quite senior and doesn’t have anything to do with your future team. This interview is similar to the Bar raiser interview at Amazon. The panel’s objective is to take a final view on whether you’re a good fit for Airbnb’s culture or not.

This is the time to make it clear that you’re aligned with the company’s mission and core values. Let’s discuss exactly how to do this in the behavioral questions section.

3. Example questions

Below, we've compiled lists of real questions from Airbnb product manager interviews. To help you structure your preparation, we've organized them into four categories.

Airbnb PM questions

The question type breakdown is based on Airbnb PM interview reports mainly from Glassdoor.com.

  • Behavioral (43%, most frequent)
  • Product sense and design (28%)
  • Strategy (18%)
  • Analysis (10% least frequent)

In addition, we'll also cover some tips on case study presentations.

Now you've seen an overview, let's get into the first and most frequently asked question category: behavioral.

3.1 Behavioral questions (38%)

You can expect behavioral questions throughout the Airbnb interview process. Your interviewers will use them to assess how much you align with the company’s mission and core values.

You can learn a step-by-step process for answering behavioral questions, and find many additional examples, by visiting our article on how to answer behavioral questions at tech companies. This guide primarily focuses on Meta but can be applied to any company.

Example behavioral questions asked by Airbnb:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why do you want to work at Airbnb? (sample answer from Amazon interviews)
  • Tell me about your main achievements in your current role?
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with your engineering counterpart.
  • Tell me about a time you had a conflict with your design counterpart.
  • Describe a situation when you went above and beyond your job description.
  • How are you a good host? (in your life)
  • Have you ever been a host on Airbnb?
  • What entrepreneurial abilities do you have?
  • How did you come up with the most innovative idea you've ever come up with? How did you implement it?
  • Tell me something that I can't find on your resume, LinkedIn, online, etc.
  • What do you think Airbnb values in its employees?

3.1.1 How to align yourself with Airbnb’s mission and values

When answering behavioral questions, you’ll need to demonstrate that you're a good culture fit for Airbnb as a PM. 

Airbnb takes culture-fit more seriously than most other companies. Therefore, you should review and reflect on their mission and values statement before your interviews. Make sure that your interview answers demonstrate you’re a fit throughout your interview process. 

Mission

  • To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.

Core Values

  • Champion the Mission. We’re united with our community to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.
  • Be a Host. We’re caring, open, and encouraging to everyone we work with.
  • Embrace the Adventure. We’re driven by curiosity, optimism, and the belief that every person can grow.
  • Be a Cereal Entrepreneur. We’re determined and creative in transforming our bold ambitions into reality.

 Here are a few ideas of how you can demonstrate each value in your interview answers:

Champion the Mission

  • Show your enthusiasm for Airbnb's mission of creating a world where anyone can belong anywhere. 
  • Talk about how you believe in the power of connecting people and cultures through travel and accommodation.
  • Share examples of how you have previously worked towards fostering inclusivity and diversity.

Be a Host

  • Highlight your caring, open, and encouraging nature when working with others. 
  • Talk about how you value building healthy relationships with coworkers and creating a positive and supportive work environment. 
  • Provide examples of times when you have mentored or guided colleagues, fostering their growth and success.

Embrace the Adventure

  • Showcase your curiosity, optimism, and belief in personal growth. 
  • Demonstrate your ability to adapt to change and embrace challenges with a positive mindset. 
  • Provide examples of times when you stepped out of your comfort zone to learn and achieve new product goals.

Be a Cereal Entrepreneur

Note: “cereal” instead of “serial” is a reference to the company’s founders selling cereal boxes in the early to be able to keep working on what would then become Airbnb.

  • Provide examples of times when you successfully launched new products or initiatives.
  • Demonstrate that you can both think creatively but are also pragmatic and make things happen.

As you provide your different answers it’s important that you stay genuine. The best way to achieve this is to talk about actual examples of things you’ve accomplished.

3.2 Product sense and design questions (28%)

Airbnb asks product design and product improvement questions to assess your product sense and user centricity.

If you'd like to learn more about answering this kind of question, then check out our separate guides on product design questions, product improvement questions, and how to demonstrate product sense.

Example product sense and design questions asked by Airbnb:

Product design
  • Name 3 common problems guests have with their houses and what Airbnb can do to improve them.
  • Design a trip organizing app
  • Design an offline tour app for cities
  • Design a dashboard to be used by police officers to record crimes
  • Design a vending machine for blind people
  • Design a web-based application for collaborative work

Product improvement

  • How would you improve Airbnb?
  • How would you improve Airbnb Plus Homes?
  • How would you improve the Airbnb reservation experience?
  • What are 3 products that you really like? [The interviewer then chooses one.] Explain why you like it and what you would improve.

3.3 Strategy questions (18%)

Airbnb asks product strategy and prioritization questions to assess your overall strategy skills. 

If you'd like to learn more about answering this kind of question, then check out our separate guides on product strategy questions and prioritization questions.

Example strategy questions asked by Airbnb:

General

  • Create a strategy to drive supply growth in certain markets
  • Design a strategy to improve the Airbnb checkout experience
  • Should Airbnb offer furniture retail services? 
  • Should Airbnb offer free tours?
  • How should Airbnb adjust during the Covid-19 pandemic?
  • Design a strategy to sell hotels on Airbnb.
  • What do you think are Airbnb's biggest risks?
  • Why did WeWork fail?

Prioritization

  • Walk me through how you prioritize your product backlog
  • How do you design your roadmap?

3.4 Analysis questions (10%)

Airbnb also asks questions to test your analytical skills. The main type of question we’ve seen candidates come across is metric definition questions.

If you'd like to learn more, then check out our separate guide on metric definition questions.

Example analysis questions asked by Airbnb:

  • How would you measure the success of the Airbnb online experience?
  • How would you measure the satisfaction of Airbnb hosts?
  • What should Airbnb's key north star metrics be?
  • Airbnb made a feature to increase business travel. How would you measure its success?
  • How would you measure the success of EdX's search bar?

3.5 Case study presentation

Finally, as discussed you’ll also get a case study presentation as part of your final onsite interviews. Your recruiter will send you a 2-3 page PDF document about seven days before your scheduled presentation. This document will present you with a scenario relevant to the position you’re applying for and ask for your recommendations on the problem at hand. For instance, you might be presented with information about supply growth in certain markets and asked to make improvements about the situation.

Here are some tips to prepare for your case study presentation.

  • Use all the time provided to prepare. The information and prompt you’ll be provided with might be slightly ambiguous. You should use the full week you’re given to work on your presentation but also to ask clarification questions to your recruiter if needed. 
  • Use all the information and data provided. Airbnb is a data-driven company. The company likes to hire people who have a knack for understanding and using data to identify and solve problems. So, you should make it a priority to tie your analysis and ideas back to data provided during your presentation.
  • Consider a 2-sided market. Airbnb’s products serve multiple sides of a single market: hosts and guests. So, when you're in a case study presentation, don't just focus on one side of the market (e.g. guests). Instead, be intentional about analyzing how potential solutions will impact all relevant sides of the marketplace.

4. Interviewing tips

You might be a fantastic product manager, but unfortunately, that’s not necessarily enough to ace your interviews at Airbnb. Interviewing is a skill in itself that you need to learn.

Let’s look at some key tips to make sure you approach your interviews in the right way.

4.1 Ask smart clarifying questions

Some of the questions you will be asked will be quite ambiguous. In those cases, you’ll need to ask clarifying questions to get more information about the problem and to reduce its scope.

Jumping straight in without asking questions first will be a red flag to the interviewer and will hinder your answer.

But don’t just ask any questions; be smart about them.

“Sometimes the strongest signal you send is what you want to know about the problem,” Laura Terheyden, former head of Recruitment at Airbnb says in this Airbnb interview cheat sheet.

For instance, if you were asked, “What would be your 10-year strategy if you were CEO?” you can respond by asking some questions about the company’s current situation and any business objectives the interviewer may have in mind. This way, you’ll have a better understanding of what the company needs in the coming years and have more information from which to build a strategy.

 

4.2 Justify your choices

Airbnb wants to see the reasoning behind your answer so make sure to justify each decision you make. You'll need to make plenty of trade-offs as you arrive at a solution, so be sure to call them out.

When demonstrating how you make decisions, showcase your “cereal entrepreneurship” and how you “embrace adventure” by making bold moves and not getting stuck with solutions you’re used to. This will score you points for culture fit.

4.3 Be data-driven and design-driven

Airbnb is looking for product managers who can make decisions based on data and can judge everything they do by relevant metrics.

In an interview situation, it's okay to make assumptions because you might not have access to the facts and data. But you need to make it clear that in real life, you would seek out that data and that your approach would be highly data-driven.

As a design-led company, Airbnb values the design-driven approach as well. Make sure to integrate design thinking into how you will use data to come up with user-centric solutions.

4.4 Demonstrate user empathy

Airbnb wants product managers who can empathize with its users.

When answering a PM interview question, your first instinct should be to focus on the user. Identify who uses the product, why, and what the use cases are. Avoid designing a product based solely on personal preferences.

As part of your prep, do as Airbnb does: learn how to map out a full customer journey for hosts and guests, Airbnb’s key users. The customer journey map is an excellent tool for finding where your customers’ pain points are and the reasons or root causes behind them. 

4.5 Check in with your interviewer

Interviewers differ in their willingness to provide hints. Some may wait for you to ask about customer or product details, while others expect you to make assumptions on your own.

Gauge this by asking a direct question or specifying your assumptions. If the interviewer tends to offer specifics, they’ll engage. If not, limit additional questions to demonstrate your ability to make decisions independently.

4.6 Answer methodically by using a framework

Like other tech companies, Airbnb wants you to solve a problem methodically. You can use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) framework when answering behavioral questions.

We also recommend the BUS (Business objective - User problems - Solutions) framework for answering product insight questions and the SPSIL (Situation - Problem - Solution - Impact - Lessons) framework for behavioral questions.

4.7 Don’t get stuck in a framework

As we just said above, frameworks are extremely helpful. However, some of our successful candidates have mentioned that excessive reliance on frameworks may hinder your performance.

During the interview, trust your instinct, and don’t be afraid to deviate from the framework if needed. A framework is there to help you craft a better answer, not make you twist your answer to fit the framework.

4.8 Center on the company’s core values

We cannot stress enough how important it is to study Airbnb’s mission and values. When answering behavioral questions, share stories from past experiences that align with Airbnb’s core values. When designing a product or a strategy, consider how your answer aligns with these values.

4.9 Treat the interview like a conversation

Keep in mind that the interview is a two-way discovery process. While the interviewer assesses if you’re a good fit for Airbnb, you’re also evaluating if the company aligns with your aspirations and preferences.

4.10 Save questions and feedback for your interviewer

You’ll have a few minutes to ask your interviewer questions as the interview wraps up. Arriving without questions may suggest a lack of interest in the company or the role.

Prepare thoughtful questions that go beyond what you could have found out online. You can ask about career growth opportunities or specific ways of working in the company. It's your chance to showcase genuine curiosity and investment in the conversation.

5. Preparation plan

Now that you know what questions to expect, let's focus on preparation. 

Below, you’ll find links to free resources and four introductory steps to help you prepare for your Airbnb PM interviews.

5.1 Deep dive into the product/organization

As you can see from the questions above, it will be very difficult to secure an offer from Airbnb if you come to the interviews without having researched the company first. The questions will frequently center around real-life problems the Airbnb product team is facing now or has faced in the past.

So you’ll need to do homework before your interviews.

Here are some resources to get you started on the right track:

While you’re not required to be an Airbnb host to demonstrate your familiarity with the company, it will be helpful to use the app before applying. Take notes about your experience and how you think it can be improved.

“A lot of the product is what happens when people are traveling. Know how we can improve that experience.” Laura Terheyden, former head of Recruitment at Airbnb.

5.2 Learn a consistent method for answering PM interview questions

As mentioned previously, Airbnb will ask you questions that fall into certain categories like behavioral, design, strategy, and metric questions. Approaching each question with a predefined method will enable you to build strong interview habits.

Then, when it comes time for your interviews, these habits will reduce your stress and help you to make a great impression.

If you’re just looking for a jumping-off point, you can start learning about the different question types you’ll need to master in the following blog articles:

Once you understand how to answer each question type, you also need to be able to communicate your answers clearly, under the pressure of interview conditions. That’s where practice comes into play.

5.3 Practice by yourself or with peers

In our experience, practicing by yourself is a great way to prepare for PM interviews. You can start practicing alone, asking and answering questions out loud, to help you get a feel for the different types of PM interview questions. It will help you perfect your step-by-step approach for each question type. And it also gives you time to correct your early mistakes.

Use the example questions in this article above to practice with. You might also want to watch our product manager mock interviews and compare your answers to those of former PMs from FAANG and other tech companies.

If you have friends or peers who can do mock interviews with you, that's a great option too. This can be especially helpful if your friend has experience with PM interviews, or is at least familiar with the process.

5.4 Practice with experienced PM interviewers

Finally, you should also try to practice product manager mock interviews with expert ex-interviewers, as they’ll be able to give you much more accurate feedback than friends and peers

If you know an experienced product manager who’s available to help you out, then that’s perfect! For most of us, however, it’s not easy to find the right person to make that happen, especially when you need multiple hours of practice. 

That’s why we’ve created a coaching service, where you can practice one-on-one with ex-interviewers from top tech companies. Learn more and start scheduling sessions today.

 

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