How to Answer Metrics Questions in Product Management Interviews

by Josh Biggs in Tips on 11th April 2021

This short guide is going to teach you how to answer an execution or as some call it, the metrics question in a job interview.

Metrics questions evaluate your analytical skills to measure the performance of a product or a feature from different perspectives, such as user adoption, engagement, and revenue. 

We will aim to give you as much information as possible but you should check out the My Product Mentor website for an in-depth guide on how to prepare for PM interviews and information about our mentoring programs, the best way to both get a product management job and become a better PM.

Now let’s look at the steps required to answer this type of question!

1. Describe the Product

Firstly, you should describe the product or the feature, explaining your understanding of it, what problem it solves and how it solves it to the interviewer. Ask any clarifying questions that you may have and list all the assumptions that you’d like to make to narrow down the scope of the question. 

This is your chance to make sure that you and the interviewer are on the same page on what you’re going to measure. 

Let’s assume that you’re asked how you would measure the success of Facebook likes. You can explain that they help the users express their interest and excitement about a post. It helps them bookmark their favorite content. And it also helps Facebook get a good overview of the users’ interests and hopefully, this all results in more revenue for Facebook.

To narrow down the scope of the Facebook Like question you can say that you’re going to focus on Facebook likes related to posts and comments and not on Facebook pages and Facebook ads.

2. Define the Product Goal

Here you need to define the goal of the feature. Remember that you’re measuring the success of the feature or the product in achieving a specific goal, so it’s important to highlight what that goal is. Sometimes the interviewer will give you that goal as part of the question. 

For example, the question could have been ‘How would you measure the success of Facebook likes in driving engagement?’ Something to keep in mind here is that there might be multiple goals for a particular feature or product. 

So Facebook likes could drive engagement for the users and at the same time generate more revenue for Facebook. 

3. Map out the User Journey

This step helps you think about the user behaviors that impact the success of the feature or the product which you’ll be discussing in step four.

Here in step three, you can either describe the journey to the interviewer or ask for a minute to write it down on a piece of paper so you can refer to it in step four.

4. List the Metrics 

This step is about highlighting the behaviors that impact your goal and mapping those behaviors to metrics that help you measure the success of the feature or the product when thinking about the user journey. 

It’s good to remember the different phases that a user goes through. At a high level here’s how you should break them down:

  1. Awareness 
  2. Acquisition
  3. Activation 
  4. Engagement
  5. Retention
  6. Monetization
  7. Referral

Some of these phases might not apply to the particular feature or the goal that you’re evaluating, but you need to remember them so you can pick out the relevant ones for your question.

You might wonder how many metrics you should be listing. It’s a good idea to list one to three metrics for each phase of the user journey and a minimum of five if you’re focusing on one key phase of the journey.

We’re now going to look at each phase in more detail. 

4.1 Awareness

This is the first step of a user journey. If users are not aware of a feature that won’t use it. So consider awareness metrics that measure the level of awareness of a feature or product. 

Now, if this is an important phase, go deeper and even look at how channels are performing at bringing awareness. 

For our Facebook, For example, you don’t need to pay too much attention to this phase since it’s fair to assume that a strong majority of users know what a Facebook like is and how it works. 

4.2 Acquisition 

The acquisition represents the level of user interest in the feature or the product, and its metrics could be the number of sign-ups, the number of downloads, or the number of clicks to start.

It is an indication of the level of success in gaining the attention of the users and can also indicate the opportunity size. 

4.3 Activation

If you cannot convert acquired users into activated users, it’s an indication that the interests of users are somehow getting discouraged from activating their features or their product. In some cases, activation metrics help you see how your onboarding flow is working.

For example, if you’re a PM for a mobile banking product, activation might mean something like the first transaction or setting up bill payments. 

For Facebook Like the activation metrics can be the number of users or the percentage of users who have liked that post at least once. 

4.4 Engagement

You will already know what this means – and it’s an important one.

In the Facebook Like example, there are many engagement metrics that you can think of. The average number of likes per user in a period can tell you how popular Facebook likes are. 

You can look at the average number of likes per post or even per type to see what drives the usage of Facebook Like. You can define type as media types, such as video versus audio versus image versus text, or break it down based on topics of interest, such as food, politics, technology, etc. 

Other engagement metrics can be around something that helps you determine if you’re achieving the goal that you’ve highlighted in the beginning. For example, does an increase in like volume per user result in more time spent on Facebook, or do more Facebook likes on a post result in more frequent posts by the user? Also, does an increase in the number of likes per user results in more frequent commenting by the user? 

Another engagement metric could be ‘Does alikeperiod by a user, result in more engagement by their Facebook friends who view their life?’ There are many engagement metrics that you can use in this scenario.

 4.5 Retention 

The importance of retention depends on the context of the feature or the product itself. 

In some cases, retention is a key driver of revenue. For service-based products such as Expedia, retention has a significant impact on the company. Whereas if you’re looking at user retention for just Facebook likes, the revenue impact is less significant. 

Some retention metrics to keep in mind are the percentage of users who repurchase, the distribution of user reviews, and product retention rates.

For the Facebook example, you can suggest metrics such as the percentage of users who liked the post in the last 30 days and compare it to the previous month to see if you’re still retaining the users. 

4.6 Monetization 

Revenue metrics are very important for service-based products and e-commerce sites. For some features such as Facebook Like, measuring the revenue impact is less important. As long as you increase engagement on the core product, you can say that you’ve been successful. 

However, if you wanted to highlight a couple of monetization metrics here, you can look at the additional revenue generated by users that are liking more posts on Facebook. 

If revenue is relevant to your question, some metrics examples are the average revenue per user, the percentage of page users, the average spending per certain time period, the frequency of purchases, and the revenue generated via ads. 

4.7 Referral

If users like a product or a feature, they’re willing to tell their friends and family about it. You can think of referral as an indication of success or usefulness for the user. 

Some referral metrics that you can highlight are the number or percentage of users who are referring to the product or feature or the number or percentage of converted referrals.

5. Evaluate your Metrics

Now that you’ve gathered the list of metrics that help you measure the success of your product or feature against your goal, evaluate them based on some meaningful criteria, such as relevance to a company mission, impact on user confidence, and the accuracy of the metric or the level of effort to collect it. 

This is where you ideally draw a table with the metrics as your rows and your evaluation criteria as the columns.

For the Facebook Like example, the revenue metrics are less important, and measuring the impact of the like on secondary users is also harder to calculate. 

6. Prioritizing the metrics

Here you can highlight that you’d like to focus on the number of likes per user, the number of likes per post, or the relationship between the number of likes per user versus time spent on Facebook as the key metrics that help you determine if Facebook Likes is a success. 

We have aimed to provide you with a comprehensive method to answer product metric questions. The next best step is to practice so make sure that you visit our website to do so with experienced PMs from top companies.

Categories: Tips