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

PM interviews at TikTok can be really challenging. Having experienced a rapid global rise in popularity since 2020, the company’s evolving interview process remains a “black box” to many candidates.

That’s why we’ve scoured interview reports across the internet, putting together this ultimate guide to TikTok 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 TikTok PMs typically takes about one to three months 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)
  • Hiring manager phone screen (45-60 min)
  • PM interviews (2-3 rounds, 45-60 min each)
  • [In some cases] Engineering interview (1 round, 45-60 min)
  • Final HR interview (1 round, 45-60 min)

TikTok’s interview process is very different from other major tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, or Google. Firstly, TikTok’s interviews do not typically culminate with an in-person or virtual onsite loop. Instead, candidates have a series of progressive interviews, which are usually conducted over video call.

Additionally, each of TikTok’s interview rounds are eliminatory, meaning that you have to pass each individual round to move on to the next. At other companies, you may be able to make up for one “just ok” round with a stellar performance at the others, but at TikTok you’ll need to ace every interview in order to continue.

Finally, one or multiple of your rounds may take place with a member of the team in China. This means that you’ll have to be flexible with your schedule to accommodate a Chinese time zone, and your interviewer may not be a native English speaker.

Now, let’s get into each step of the TikTok interview process. There is some variation in past candidates’ experiences, so we’ll cover the most frequently mentioned steps that have been reported on Glassdoor, Blind, and Rooftop Slushie.

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 TikTok 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 a contact at TikTok 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 TikTok. 

You should expect typical behavioral and resume questions like, "Tell me about yourself," "Why TikTok?" or, "Tell me about a product you launched from start to finish."

This would also be a good time to ask for any clarifying information you need to know for the interviews moving forward. The recruiter will be your point person for the rest of the process. 

1.3 Hiring manager phone screen

After talking with the recruiter, your next step is a roughly 45 minute call with a hiring manager.

During this interview, expect a deep dive on the experiences that you’ve listed on your resume. It is likely that the interviewer will pick one to two projects and ask detailed questions about your impact, so prepare key talking points on your past projects.

This phone screen will typically end with a 10-15 case study testing your product design and strategy skills. The case study will represent an everyday problem faced at TikTok.

If you pass this round, then you’ll move on to the PM interviews. 

1.4 PM interviews

After the hiring manager screen, you’ll have two to three interviews with TikTok PMs. They may come from the team you’re applying to join, from other teams that you’ll need to collaborate with, or they may be product leaders that you’ll be reporting to. 

You can expect these interviews to have the rigor of onsite interview rounds at other big tech companies, even though they’ll be happening progressively, with hours or days between each round. As we mentioned before, you must pass each individual interview before moving on to the next.

The interviewers will ask you a mix of behavioral, product sense, and execution questions. We’ll dive deeper into these types of questions and how to prepare for them in sections 2 and 3.

1.5 [In some cases] Engineering interview

Some candidates report an interview with the engineering team that they’ll be working with if hired. This may take place before or in-between the PM interview rounds.

The engineering interview is meant to test your cross-functional collaboration and technical skills. You’ll likely be asked to explain specific technical concepts or to solve basic technical problems.

The exact technical questions that you’ll be asked will depend on your background. It is unlikely that you will have to code in one of these sessions, although you may have to write pseudocode. 

We’ll give you more information about technical questions in PM interviews in section 2.

1.6 Final HR interview

Finally, if you pass each of the previous interviews, you’ll be scheduled for one last interview with TikTok’s HR team.

If you make it to this round, it is very likely that you will receive an offer, although there are rare cases of candidates getting rejections after completing this interview.

You will be asked a few more behavioral questions to test your cultural fit with TikTok, as well as what you expect out of the role. They may ask for feedback on the previous interview rounds, as well as your salary expectations. 

After this interview is finished, all you have to do is wait until you (hopefully) receive your offer. 

2. Example questions

Now that you have an idea of the interview process at TikTok, let’s dive into the four types of questions that you can expect. The question categories are very similar to those in Facebook’s PM interview process, with the addition of technical questions for some candidates. 

While the Facebook PM interview rounds each focus on one category at a time, the TikTok interview rounds typically include a mix of questions from two or more categories (e.g. product sense and execution).

Here are the categories:

TikTok PM interview question categories

We've analyzed questions reported by former TikTok PM candidates on Glassdoor and Blind, and we’ve categorized the real questions asked for each interview type, listed below. 

Note that some questions have been edited for clarity or grammar.

Let’s get started.

2.1 Leadership interview questions (53%)

PMs must collaborate with a variety of different teams (e.g. engineers, data analysts, designers, etc.) in order to reach project and organizational goals. To do this, they have to be able to motivate others, address conflicts, and build relationships. 

At TikTok, you’ll be given a great deal of autonomy to make plans, advocate for them, and push the plans through. So interviewers will ask you questions to test whether you can act in ambiguous circumstances and unite people around your ideas.

This is the most frequently reported type of question asked in TikTok interviews, so come with a list of stories from your past experience that you can use to answer questions such as the ones below.

Example PM interview questions asked at TikTok: Leadership

General

  • Why TikTok?
  • Tell me about yourself / your past experience
  • Tell me about [specific project on your resume]
  • What do you see as being the job of a product manager?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • If I talked to your last boss, what would they say is one thing you need to work on?
  • Tell me about a time that you failed and what you learned from the experience

Collaboration

  • How do you sell your ideas to teams of engineers?
  • What is your experience working with cross-functional teams?

Project management

  • Tell me about the project that you are the most proud of
  • What tools do you use to increase your efficiency?
  • How do you approach collaboration and project management when announcing a new feature to consumers?

For more information, take a look at our behavioral interview guide, which is targeted at Facebook but contains a method that is applicable everywhere.

2.2 Product sense interview questions (36%)

TikTok PMs pinpoint which problems are the most important to solve, then help design solutions for them. This requires strong product sense.

This is an important part of the interview to show your familiarity with TikTok’s products, their main challenges, and how you would address them as PM. Your interviewers want to see that you can tackle the kinds of problems that they face every day, concentrating on a great user experience.

Expect to play the role of a PM at TikTok, calling the shots for a team. This may come in the form of open-ended questions or more in-depth case studies. In both cases, practice explaining your reasoning out loud to give your interviewer a clear idea of your approach and working style.

In the questions below, you’ll find a mix of product strategy, product improvement,  product design, and estimation questions. We recommend studying the articles we've written on each topic to learn how to answer these questions in a structured and impactful way.

Right, let’s get to some questions.

Example PM interview questions asked at TikTok: Product sense

Product strategy questions

  • If you were in charge of X current project, what would you do?
  • What would you build if you were the product manager of Instagram in Japan during the runup to the Olympics?
  • What are the current trends and strategies in ad content?
  • What TikTok advertising formats are you familiar with?
  • What do you think the social media landscape will look like in 10 years?
  • What are the challenges TikTok faces in France/your home country?
  • Imagine that you got user feedback to build a video scrubber on TikTok. What do you do?

Product improvement questions

  • How would you improve TikTok?
  • Tell me about a product you like, how you would improve it, and why?

Product design question

  • How would you design TikTok for an older audience?

Estimation question

  • How many creators are there in India?

To look at the product sense interview in a bit more detail, check out our comprehensive guide. This guide focuses on Facebook, but it could apply to any company.

2.3 Execution interview questions (10%)

Once PMs have nailed down their strategy, settled on their product design, and decided which problems to solve, it's time to execute. 

TikTok asks execution questions to test how you analyze the success of a product or feature, and how you prioritize important tasks. Show how you find and measure the most relevant data in order to solve problems.

Below, we’ve listed the real execution questions that past candidates have reported on Glassdoor. You’ll notice product metric and prioritization questions in the mix, so practice a framework to answer these questions with precision.

Example PM interview questions asked at TikTok: Execution

  • How would you filter out “junk” content and measure the effect of this?
  • How would you assess X feature if you were the product manager on it?
  • You are the PM for TikTok's Android app. The app's Play Store rating has dropped drastically from 4.2+ to 2 in India in less than a week's time. It is mostly due to a surge of trolls downrating the app. What is your plan of action?
  • How do you prioritize Sales needs versus Engineering needs?

To look at the execution interview in a bit more detail, check out our comprehensive guideThis guide focuses on Facebook but could apply to any company. 

2.4 Technical interview questions (in some cases)

Finally, PMs must work with teams of engineers to achieve project goals. Interviewers test your ability to do this by asking a mix of technical questions.

This is the least common type of question at TikTok, as it seems to be reserved for the candidates who are assigned an interview round with an engineering team. These questions are not frequently reported in the PM or hiring manager interview rounds.

If asked a technical question, it is unlikely that you will have to write actual code. Instead, interviewers will test your technical knowledge by asking you to explain a technical concept or to solve a problem using pseudocode.

The first question below is a real TikTok PM interview question reported on Glassdoor. The rest are technical PM interview questions asked at companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, which we’ve included to help round out your practice.

Example PM interview questions asked at TikTok: Technical

  • Describe precision and recall in data science
  • Explain the concept of "protocol" to a 4-year-old child
  • What is the difference between C++ and Java?
  • Explain what happens when executing mergesort?
  • Write a program to randomly shuffle an array of numbers
  • How would you output a tree in column sequence from left to right?
  • Invert the words of a sentence in a string

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 TikTok product manager.

3.1 Deep dive into the product / organization

As you can see from the questions above, it will be very difficult to secure an offer from TikTok if you come to the interviews without having researched the company first. The questions will frequently center around real-life problems the TikTok 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:

3.2 Brush up on product fundamentals

If you're already an experienced PM, then you may not need to refresh your understanding of product fundamentals. For newer PMs, it will help your interview performance to study up on basic product management concepts.

Here is a list of free resources to study:

3.3 Learn a consistent method for answering PM interview questions

As we outlined in section 2, TikTok will ask you questions that fall into four main categories: leadership, product sense, execution, and technical. Each of these broad categories contains subcategories that can be approached using an answer framework. 

Once you’ve got a framework down, this will help you build your interview skills by answering questions systematically. Having this habit will help reduce your stress during the interview so that you can make a good impression.

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 TikTok 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 TikTok?

If you have any questions about TikTok 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!