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, interview questions, and key preparation resources to help you maximize your chances of success.
Here's what we’ll cover:
- Interview process and timeline
- Airbnb’s mission and core values
- Example questions
- Preparation tips
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.
1.1 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 PM 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.
1.2 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.
1.3 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.
1.3.1 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.
1.3.2 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 2.
1.4 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 which 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.
1.4.1 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.
1.4.2 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 in the following categories which we’ll cover in section 3: product sense & design, behavioral, analytical, etc.
1.4.3 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 next section.
As previously mentioned, Airbnb takes culture-fit more seriously than most other companies. Get familiar with their mission and values below and make sure that your interview answers demonstrate you’re a fit throughout your interview process.
- To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.
- 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.
2.1 How to align yourself with the mission and values
To demonstrate that you're a good culture fit for Airbnb as a product manager, it's important to align yourself with their mission and core values. Here’s 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 stages 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 as we’ll discuss in the behavioral questions part of the next section.
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.
The question type break-down 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.
You can expect behavioral questions throughout the Airbnb interview process. Your interviewers will use them to assess how much you align to 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 Facebook 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?
Airbnb asks product design and product improvement questions to assess your product sense and user centricity.
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
- 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.
Airbnb asks product strategy and prioritization questions to assess your overall strategy skills.
Example strategy questions asked by Airbnb:
- 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?
- Walk me through how you prioritize your product backlog
- How do you design your roadmap?
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?
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.
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.
4.1 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:
- Airbnb’s mission and values (section 2 of this article)
- Airbnb’s earning calls (by Airbnb)
- Airbnb’s newsroom (by Airbnb)
- Airbnb’s business model (by iGMS)
- Airbnb statistics (by Search logistics)
4.2 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:
- Behavioral questions (38%)
- Product sense and design questions (28%)
- Strategy questions (18%)
- Analysis questions (10%)
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.
4.3 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.
You can find free practice questions on articles like this one or on YouTube.
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.
4.4 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.