If you’re interviewing for a product manager role at (Meta), the execution interview (now called "Analytical thinking") 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 Meta product shows a 10% drop in newly registered users: what data would you need to understand and fix the problem?”.
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 Meta product manager job.
Here’s a brief overview of what we’ll cover.
Let’s get started.
First, let’s take a look at the execution (analytical thinking) 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 Meta, 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.
1.1 What does it test for?
As an ex-director of product outlines in this insider article on the Facebook PM interview, Facebook / Meta 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, Meta 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 Meta interview prep guide outlines, your interviewer will be looking for four key things to see if your “execution” is up to Meta standards:
What does the Meta 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 Meta to PM candidates. We’ve simply changed the wording and grammar in some places to make them easier to understand.
Meta 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 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?
Exercise: Watch the video below to see how an ex-Facebook PM answers the question "How would you prioritize features for WhatsApp?". Pause the video throughout so that you can construct your own answer and see how it compares.
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 Meta product shows a 10% drop in newly registered users: what data would you need to understand and fix the problem?”
These questions that Meta 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 in our guide to prioritization and trade-off questions here.
To bring in more depth and a variety of ideas on prioritization, read the approach outlined here by a current Meta 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.
Below you’ll find links to free resources and three introductory steps that you can take to prepare for Meta execution questions.
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
In our experience, practicing by yourself is a great way to prepare for PM interviews. You can ask and answer questions out loud, to help you get a feel for the different types of PM interview questions. Practicing by yourself will help you perfect your step-by-step approach for each question type. 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.
4.3 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 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 Meta and other leading tech companies. Learn more and start scheduling sessions today.