If you’re interviewing for a product manager role at Facebook, the execution interview is one of the three types of interviews you’re going to need to crack. The questions are analytical and data-focused, such as: “If you’re the product manager for Facebook Messenger, define the goals and metrics”, or “A Facebook product shows a 10% drop in newly registered users: what data would you need to understand and fix the problem?”. So you’ll need to be very well-prepared.
To help you, we’ve created this guide to give you everything you need to know to prepare for the execution interview, including the process low-down, example questions, how to answer, and a practice plan to make sure you land that Facebook product manager job.
Here’s a brief overview of what we’ll cover.1. What is the Facebook execution interview?
2. Example questions
3. How to answer
4. How to practice
Let’s get started.
First, let’s take a look at the execution interview’s place in the product management hiring process, and then we’ll dive into what it aims to assess you on.
The execution interview is one of three types of interviews you’ll face if you’re applying for a product manager role at Facebook, the others being a “product sense” interview and a “leadership & drive” (behavioral) interview.
You will face execution questions both at the initial first-round stage (phone or video interview) and at the onsite interview. You’ll be expected to lead the conversation, and you’ll need to sketch out your answer on a whiteboard or the online equivalent.
For a closer look at the PM interview process at Facebook and more information on the two other types of interviews rounds within it, take a look at our ultimate Facebook product manager interview guide.
1.1 What does it test for?
As an ex-director of product outlines in this insider article on the Facebook PM interview, Facebook often describes its product process as "Understand, Identify, Execute."
While the product sense round tests you on the first two parts of the process, the execution interview (as you might expect) assesses you on the latter: how you execute solutions. However, Facebook comes at this not from a project management perspective (they already assume you can get tasks done) but from a data perspective. Your interviewer wants to see that you can use data to make the right decisions.
The execution interview is therefore highly analytical, data-driven, and KPI-focused. As this helpful Facebook interview prep guide outlines, your interviewer will be looking for four key things to see if your “execution” is up to Facebook standards:
What does the Facebook execution interview test for?
- Goals: Being mindful of how the goals (especially quantitative goals) can be gamed or how they can sometimes be counter indicative of progress.
- Metrics: What would you use to measure if the product is healthy? Which one would you prioritize? What happens if one is decreasing and the other is increasing?
- Debugging: Say you notice a specific metric dropping week after week. The interviewer will present a problem statement, and you should ask questions to describe how you’d approach this challenge and determine what’s causing this metric to drop.
- Navigating a complex trade-off: “A” or “B” option—how do you know what to show to which communities of users?
Right, now that you know more context about what the execution interview is trying to test you on, let’s take a look at some questions.
After analyzing the questions reported by PM candidates on Glassdoor, we can confirm that you’ll face questions that test you in the four areas listed above: goals, metrics, debugging and trade-offs. However, goal-setting questions and metric definition questions tend to be combined, so in reality there are three types of questions you can expect to face in the interview:
- Goal-setting and metric definition questions
- Debugging questions
- Trade-off questions
You should keep in mind that the interview will be very fluid, and one type of question will often merge into another, as would be the case in a real life product management situation. For instance, most questions will eventually lead you to consider a trade-off of some description.
Right, let’s take a look at some questions. These are all real examples of execution questions posed by Facebook to PM candidates. We’ve simply changed the wording and grammar in some places to make them easier to understand.
Facebook execution interview question examples
Goal-setting and metric definition
- How would you set goals and measure success for Facebook live?
- How would you set goals and measure success for Facebook notifications?
- How would you set goals and measure success for Instagram stories?
- How would you determine the success of the blue check marks that denote verified users on Instagram?
- How would you measure the success of Instagram stories?
- How would you measure the success of a Roku (HD streaming) stick?
- How would you you measure the success of an app for creating meetings?
Debugging (metric change)
- Facebook groups usage dropped by 10% — what do you do?
- Facebook ads revenue dropped by 20% — what do you do?
- Facebook newsfeed engagement dropped by 2% — what do you do?
- You are the PM for Facebook live — what features would you prioritize?
- You are the PM for Facebook pages — what features would you prioritize?
- How would you evaluate a trade-off between boosting ad revenue and decreasing retention?
Now that we’ve seen examples of the questions you’re likely to face, let’s dive into how best to answer them.
3.1 Goal-setting and metric definition questions
These are questions like “If you’re the product manager for Facebook Sponsored Posts, define the goals and metrics.”
Here, the focus is on your ability to define metrics that provide clarity on the health of a product or feature. There are many different metrics you could be tracking, (e.g. impressions, clicks, return on ad spend, etc.) and your interviewer will want to hear you select the most important ones using a rigorous process.
We recommend the GAME method to structure your approach to these questions. The four steps are:
Study our full explanation of how you can use the GAME method to ace goal-setting and metric definition questions.
3.2 Debugging questions
These are questions like “A Facebook product shows a 10% drop in newly registered users: what data would you need to understand and fix the problem?”
These questions that Facebook calls “debugging” are sometimes referred to as "root cause" or "diagnosis" questions, but we call them “metric change" questions. They test if you know what to do when a key product metric (e.g. traffic, revenue, engagement, etc.) is going up or down for no apparent reason. There are many different reasons why this change might be happening, and your interviewer will want to see you take a bulletproof approach to find the root-cause of the issue.
Here at IGotAnOffer, we've developed our own method to help you give a clear and thorough answer to debugging/metric change questions. The three steps are:
Define the metric change
Explore possible root-causes of the change
This method is easy to use and helps you to avoid a huge pitfall that many candidates walk into straight away. Learn it in full here, below our explanation of the GAME method (simply scroll down to section 2.2)
3.3. Trade-off questions
These are questions such as “How would you evaluate a trade-off between boosting ad revenue and decreasing retention?”
These questions are often referred to as prioritization questions. They test whether you can make difficult prioritization and trade-off decisions in pursuit of goals, then adapt plans as the team executes.
To structure your answers, we recommend using the RICE framework.
Study the method in more detail here (you’ll see that it also recommends using the KANO method for questions that ask you to prioritize features).
To bring in more depth and a variety of ideas on prioritization, read the approach outlined here by a current Facebook PM and practice incorporating elements of it into your answer.
With a lot to cover, it’s best to take a systematic approach to make the most of your practice time. We recommend the following three steps:
4.1 Learn the methods
As we’ve discussed above, it’s advisable to prepare a method to answer each type of execution question. We’d encourage you to first memorize the basic steps, and then try solving a couple of the sample questions on paper.
This will help you to understand the structure of a good answer. This is a good first step, but just knowing the method is not enough, as you also need to be able to apply the steps in interview conditions.
4.2 Practice by yourself or with peers
A great way to practice the method for solving execution questions is to interview yourself out loud. This may sound strange, but it’s an excellent way to improve the way you communicate your answers during an interview. Play the role of both the candidate and the interviewer, asking questions and answering them, just like two people would in an interview.
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. You can also find peers to practice with on our PM mock interview platform.
In addition to practicing by yourself and with peers, it can be a huge advantage to do mock interviews with experienced PM interviewers.
4.3 Practice with experienced PM interviewers
If you know a product manager who can help you, that's fantastic! But for most of us, it's tough to find the right connections to make this happen. And it might also be difficult to practice multiple hours with that person unless you know them really well.Here's the good news. We've already made the connections for you. We’ve created a coaching service where you can practice 1-on-1 with ex-interviewers from Facebook and other leading tech companies. Learn more and start scheduling sessions today.
If you have any questions about Facebook execution interviews, don't hesitate to ask them in the comments below. All questions are good questions, so go ahead!