Coinbase PM interview: the only post you'll need to read

PM interviews at Coinbase 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 Coinbase PM candidates, in order to put together this ultimate guide to Coinbase 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:

1. Interview process and timeline

The interview process for Coinbase 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 rounds, 45 min each)
  • Onsite interviews (4 rounds, 30-45 min each)

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.

Note: if you are interviewing for a product leadership position (VP, Director, Group PM), learn more about the process and how to prepare here.

1.1 Resume, cover letter, referrals

Step one is getting the interviews. For that, you’ll need a quality resume and cover letter that are tailored to PM positions, and Coinbase more specifically. If you have yet to apply, you can optimize your documents using our PM resume and PM cover letter guides. 

As with most companies, it can also be helpful to get an employee or contact at Coinbase to refer you to the recruiting team.

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 and why you’re a good fit at Coinbase. 

Be ready to share your product experience and enthusiasm for cryptocurrency, as well as how all of that ties in with Coinbase’s vision. Interviewers will likely ask you questions like, "Why Coinbase?" or "Tell me about a product you launched from start to finish."

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 with PMs at Coinbase. These will take place over video call and will last 45 minutes each.

You will have one interview that is focused entirely on product sense and another that is focused entirely on execution. These interviews will include one or two questions and/or a case study that will require you to dive deep into the problem, explain your thinking, and come out with a workable solution.

We’ll explore product sense and execution interview questions 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 Coinbase’s offices but most frequently take place virtually, over video call.

The onsite interview portion includes four rounds that last 30 to 45 minutes each. Coinbase interviews focus on six specific qualities:

  • Product sense
  • Product execution
  • Product vision & design
  • Product strategy
  • Leadership
  • Technical knowledge, working with engineering
  • Communication

They usually test these qualities onsite via two product sense rounds (product strategy and product vision & design), one product execution round, and one round with an engineering team (technical knowledge and leadership/communication).

As the rounds are shorter than the onsite interviews at other companies, practice giving your answers quickly and concisely. Try asking your interviewer which aspects they’d like you to spend more time describing, rather than launching into time-consuming tangents unprompted.

The round with the engineering team will not require you to code or work out a system design question. Instead, this round includes many behavioral questions on how you build cross-functional relationships, as well as questions around how you consider trade-offs (e.g. quality vs. speed), and a few simple technical explanation questions.

We’ll dive deep into the exact questions you can expect during these interviews in section 2 of this guide. If you’re well prepared for these questions, then you’ll be ready to tackle the onsite interviews.

If all goes well, then this is your last step in the Coinbase PM interview process, and all you have to do is wait to (hopefully) receive your offer!

2. Example questions

Now that you’ve seen the interview process for Coinbase PMs, let’s take a look at the types of questions you can expect along the way.

Coinbase’s PM question categories are similar to Facebook’s PM interview questions, divided into the following interview rounds:

Coinbase PM interview categories

We’ve analyzed real questions reported by former Coinbase PMs on Glassdoor, Prepfully, and Blind, and we’ve grouped them by each interview type below. Some of the questions have been edited for clarity or grammar.

Let’s dive in.

2.1 Product sense interview

Coinbase PMs must be able to identify the most important problems facing their team and help come up with solutions for them. To do this well, they must have strong product design and product strategy skills.

As we mentioned before, you will have one product sense round during the first-round interviews, and at least two product sense rounds during the onsite portion. During these interviews, show off your understanding of and enthusiasm for Coinbase’s product, your focus on its users, and your ability to tackle ambiguous problems.

Some of these questions will be presented in the form of case studies, where you will be playing the role of a PM making decisions for a team. You’ll need to consider who the user is and what their needs are, how you’ll create value, how to design the product, and what setbacks may come your way. 

Below, we’ve listed the real product sense questions that past candidates have reported on Glassdoor, Blind, and Prepfully. We’ve divided the questions into the subcategories product strategy and product vision & design, as the onsite rounds usually include two separate interviews devoted to each of these subcategories.

Right, let’s get to some questions.

Example PM interview questions asked at Coinbase: Product sense

Product strategy

  • What is your vision for Coinbase?
  • What is the best way to describe crypto volatility risks to users of Coinbase?
  • Should we alert customers of Coinbase about risky trades? If so, how would we set thresholds? Which factors would determine that?
  • How would you grow Spotify by 10%?
  • Imagine you are the product manager for Google Maps. How would you expand the user base?

Product vision & design

  • Design an app for a traveler who wants to taste Indian cuisines
  • How would you design a user interface for banks?
  • How would you design a web-based application for collaborative work?

To look at the product sense interview in a bit more detail, check out our comprehensive guide. This guide focuses on Facebook, but as Coinbase follows a similar interview process, it will be relevant for both companies. 

2.2 Product execution interview

Once the product strategy and design are set, PMs must decide how to measure the success of the product and troubleshoot any unforeseen issues. For this, interviewers test candidates’ execution skills.

You will have an execution interview round before the onsite portion, as well as one or more execution rounds onsite, so take these opportunities to display your analytical and prioritization skills. 

Coinbase will want to see how you pinpoint the most relevant goals for a product and pick the right metrics to measure them. They’re looking for how you debug metric changes and set up a plan to address them. Highlight your use of data to solve these problems in a targeted and systematic way.

The first three questions below come from Coinbase PM interview reports on Glassdoor and Prepfully. To round out your preparation, we’ve added the rest from Facebook PM interview reports. 

You’ll notice a fair amount of product metric questions in the mix. The article we’ve written on this topic can help you learn how to answer these questions in a measured, effective way.

Example PM interview questions: Product execution

  • How would you respond to a 6% decline in completed orders on Coinbase? [from Coinbase]
  • How would you decide goals for Spotify? [from Coinbase]
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a key product decision. How did you prioritize it? What metrics did you use to measure success? [from Coinbase]
  • How would you set goals and measure success for Instagram stories? [from Facebook]
  • You are the PM for Facebook posts — what reactions should we add next? [from Facebook]
  • Facebook ads revenue dropped 20% — what do you do? [from Facebook]

To take a deeper dive into the execution interview, check out our comprehensive guide. This guide focuses on Facebook, but as Coinbase follows a similar interview process, it will be relevant for both companies. 

2.3 Leadership interview

In order to push projects through, PMs must work with many different collaborators, including teams of engineers, designers, data analysts, etc. To do this effectively, they must be able to motivate others, address conflicts, and build and maintain relationships.

The Coinbase PM interview process usually includes at least one leadership round, which may be combined with the engineering round, as well as some leadership questions sprinkled throughout the process. They are used to test your ability to collaborate cross-functionally and to assess your culture fit with Coinbase.

This is a good time to show that you've got drive and empathy. Be prepared to share concrete examples of your past experience that demonstrate how you learn and grow, overcome tough situations, and how you earn trust.

Give it a try using real Coinbase PM leadership interview questions from Glassdoor and Blind, which we’ve listed below. As Coinbase interviews focus on both leadership and communication skills, we’ve separated out the questions that pinpoint these two qualities.

Example PM interview questions asked at Coinbase: Leadership

General

  • Why Coinbase?
  • Tell me about the product that you’re most proud of building
  • What do you think would be the biggest challenge you'll face in this role?
  • Describe in your current role how you've created something that didn't previously exist to solve a problem you identified
  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that had a number of possible solutions. What was the problem, and how did you determine the course of action? What was the outcome of that choice?
  • When did you take a risk, make a mistake, or fail? How did you respond, and how did you grow from that experience?

Communication

  • Teach me to do something I've never done before
  • Something in your product broke. To whom do you communicate this and how?

For more information, take a look at our leadership/behavioral interview guide, which is targeted at Facebook but contains a method that is applicable at Coinbase as well.

2.4 Engineering interview

Finally, PMs must work with teams of engineers to achieve project goals. Coinbase will test your ability to do this during the engineering interview, where you’ll be asked a mix of behavioral questions (see above) and technical questions.

The engineering interview is the only time when interviewers may ask questions to test your technical knowledge. These questions typically involve explaining a technical concept or solving a simple technical problem.

The goal of this interview is to show that you have the technical knowledge and interpersonal skills to build relationships with teams of engineers.

The first two questions below come from real Coinbase PM interview reports on Glassdoor, and, to fill out your preparation, the rest are from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft PM interviews. 

Example PM interview questions: Engineering

  • How would you decide between launching a growth project or delaying because of the tech debt it would create? [from Coinbase]
  • Tell me about the technical complexities of this (past project on resume) [from Coinbase]
  • Explain recursion to my grandmother [from Google]
  • How does the internet work? [from Microsoft]
  • Explain the concept of "protocol" to a 4-year-old child [from Google]
  • What is the difference between C++ and Java? [from Microsoft]
  • Explain what happens when executing mergesort [from Microsoft]
  • What is virtualization? [from Amazon]

You can learn a step-by-step process for solving this type of question, and find additional practice questions, by reading our guide on how to answer technical questions in PM interviews.

3. Preparation tips

Now that you know what questions to expect, let's focus on preparation. Here are the five most important things you can do to get an offer as a Coinbase product manager.

3.1 Deep dive into the product / organization

To get an offer from Coinbase, you must come to the interviews with a clear understanding of the company and its products. Many of the questions you’ll be asked will stem from real-life issues that Coinbase faces.

So, before your interviews, study up on the company.

Here are some resources to get you started:

3.2 Brush up on product fundamentals

For newer PMs in particular, you will boost your performance during the interviews if you refresh your memory on the fundamentals of product management. For seasoned PMs, however, this step may not be necessary. 

Here are some free resources to study:

3.3 Learn a consistent method for answering PM interview questions

As you saw in section 2, Coinbase will divide its interviews into four main categories: product sense, product execution, leadership, and engineering. Each of these categories includes subcategories that you can tackle individually, using an answer framework.

Practicing and maintaining an answer framework helps you build interview skills by giving you a structure to lean on. Structured answers will help you reduce stress and make a better impression with your interviewer. 

Here is a list of our free guides on different types of PM interview questions to help you practice your answer frameworks:

Keep in mind that adopting a method for common PM interview questions won’t be enough on its own. You’ll also have to communicate your answers well, while under the pressure of an interview. 

To get better at this, you have to simulate real interview conditions.

3.4 Practice by yourself or with peers

One way to prepare for a Coinbase PM interview is to practice on your own. This way, you can ask yourself questions and answer them out loud, testing out answers to the different types of PM interview questions. This is a good way to hear and correct early mistakes.

Another option is to do mock interviews with friends or peers. This is especially beneficial if you know somebody who has experience conducting PM interviews, or who is at least familiar with the process.

If you don’t have anybody in your circle who can help you with your interview, you can also find peers to practice with on our PM mock interview platform.

3.5 Practice with experienced PM interviewers

Practicing with peers or friends is a great way to get into the groove of interviewing, but you won’t get the kind of targeted, accurate feedback that you would from an experienced interviewer.

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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Any questions about PM interviews at Coinbase?

If you have any questions about Coinbase PM interviews, do not hesitate to ask them below, and we will be more than happy to answer them. All questions are good questions, so go ahead!