Product Owner Interview Questions and Answers

A Product Owner ensures the successful delivery of an Agile project by optimizing the product delivered by the Development Team. The hiring process for a Product Owner is rigorous. However, no matter how tough the interview is, several essential questions are prevalent in the majority of them. A few of them have been discussed in this article.

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What is CSPO?

CSPO stands for Certified Scrum Product Owner, and they act as the intermediary within every Agile project. 

The primary job of a CSPO is to ensure that the product received stays true to its vision. Moreover, a Product Owner enhances the product’s value to its optimal state. They also manage the Scrum team and routinely conveys the vision of the desired result. The Product Owner’s role can vary depending on the scale of operations, industry operation, and product’s lifecycle. 

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Essential Product Owner Questions and Answers

An interview regarding a Product Owner’s job can contain several questions, but here is a list of most essential questions every candidate should know:

1. Are Product Owner and Product Managers the same? 

Product Manager: A Product Manager(PM) prepares a product vision and an aptly integrated strategy. A PM’s primary responsibility includes ensuring the timely completion of the project within the set budget.

Product Owner: A Product Owner (PO) ensures that the product backlog aligns with the product vision. A PO’s role is broader with regards to scope and accounts for extensive responsibilities as well. The duties include assessing industry trends and filling the necessary gaps within a new product.

2. What role does a Product Owner play in the project? 

The Product Owner optimizes the product’s value to better suit the product vision. Although a PO is a single person, he might represent the committee’s desire within the Product Backlog. 

3. What responsibilities does a Product Owner take on?

  • Preparing and handling Product Backlog.
  • Steering the team towards achieving optimal results within the set time.
  • Making sensible decisions to preserve and enhance the value of the finished work.
  • Collaborating alongside the Development Team while reporting the project status to the stakeholders.
4. What necessary skills should a Product Owner possess? 
A Product Owner must possess the given skills:
  • A PO should possess extensive knowledge regarding the product’s nature and scope.
  • Exceptional communication skills are also a must for a PO to cope with the diverse dynamics within the team.
  • A Product Owner must commit to the product vision, project priority, team’s needs, and business requirements.
  • A competent PO should always be connected with the stakeholders, the Development Team, and the customers.

5. What techniques are commonly used for backlog prioritization?

Some prevalent backlog prioritization technique include:
  • MaSCoW Method
  • Cost of Delay
  • 100 Dollar Test
  • Kano Model
  • Stack Ranking
Additionally, a veteran PO should talk about WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) model as well.

6. Is Scrum viable in every scenario? 

Scrum is not ideal in every scenario, such as:
  • A project where the project needs do not evolve significantly.
  • Where you need to work alongside huge groups.
  • The corporation is rigid towards the Scrum framework.

7. Can a Scrum Master play the role of Product Owner?

No, a Scrum Master is not suited to work as a PO. Both the posts have diverging goals and assigning the task of delivery to a Scrum Master gives rise to further conflicts. If any organization merges the role, then it will mostly play against a Scrum Master’s accountability, giving rise to imbalance.

8. Define product roadmap. How can you prepare or assist in developing an effective one? 

A product roadmap proposes the plan and strategy related to product development. It is steered by the organization’s goals and dictates how and when the product goals will be achieved. It is aimed to reduce future uncertainty and prioritize product initiatives. Several vital factors should be considered while creating a roadmap:
  • Product goals and strategy
  • High-level themes and priorities
  • Who will be accountable for preparing the product
  • The product time limit
A PO is not generally assigned to create the roadmap unless the organization is small. In large corporations, a PO merely offers his inputs whenever required.

9. Suppose you meet some uncooperative stakeholders. How will you deal with them? 

The ideal and most likely resort to deal with rigid stakeholders is winning their trust through timely discussions and meetings. Furthermore, demonstrating the significance of Agile product development can also prove to be viable.

10. Is an Agile Model applicable to every project?

The use of an Agile Model is ideal in specific circumstances like:
  • The project operation scale is vast and complex
  • Modifications will be made to the project in-between the development process
  • The product needs to be quickly launched
  • There are no restrictions on time, budget, or requirements

11. Explain a decent Product Backlog Item.

A decent product backlog item needs follow the format of DEEP where:
  • D stands for Detailed Appropriately
  • E stands for Estimated
  • E stands for Emergent
  • P stands for Prioritized

12. What happens during a planning meeting of Sprint?

A Sprint meeting decides the tasks to be performed by the Sprint, and the whole Scrum Team computes the said tasks. Common questions raised within the meetings include:
  • What is the expected Increment from the forthcoming Sprint?
  • What approach would be taken to achieve the desired Increment?
After the meeting finishes, the Scrum Master and PO should receive a detailed explanation of the activities by the Development Team.

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13. How can a PO motivate their team?

Incorporating the project vision and goal with the team’s efforts is a crucial job of the Product Owner. They should exhaustively explain their team’s needs and efforts to the customers to help them comprehend it effectively. Furthermore, they should also set a bright tone for the delivery along with problem solutions and customer satisfaction.

14. Are there any scenarios where a Waterfall should be preferred over Scrum?

Yes, there are several circumstances where a Waterfall can be preferred over Scrum. The Waterfall is preferable when the project requirements are:
  • Straightforward
  • Aptly comprehended
  • Well-structured
  • Stable

15. Explain “Definition of Done” and who creates it.

DoD (Definition of Done) is the mutual comprehension of what “Done” means within a user story. It compiles the activities list, including coding comments, release notes, writing code, integration testing, and design documents.

16. Is (DoR) Definition of Ready the same as (DoD) Definition of Done?

No, it is not.                                                          
(DoR) Definition of Ready can either mean a checklist or criteria determining whether the user story is deemed “Ready” to be selected for the next Sprint.
(DoD) Definition of Done stands for a compilation of activities like unit testing, coding comments, release notes, and integrating testing.

17. Is a product owner accountable for monitoring the project’s performance?

Simply put, yes. Usually, the Development Team assess the Sprint performance, whereas the Product Owner computes the project performance.

18. How can a Product Owner optimize the product delivered by the Development Team?

Optimizing the product’s value is the primary obligation of a Product Owner. The same can be achieved by implementing diverse strategies, such as:
  • Project Vision: Properly explaining the project goals and making necessary adjustments to achieve it.
  • Routine Interaction: Regularly interacting with the team and other related departments to establish an apt sense of sync.
  • Domain Training: A PO should take the time to efficiently teach the Development Team every detail regarding the domain to help them better comprehend the dealings.

19. What does the Cone of Uncertainty indicate?

The Cone of uncertainty signifies the details known about the product. Initially, the Cone varies routinely; however, it stabilizes as the project advances.

20. State the ideal reporting structure a Product Owner should adopt.

A release-level PO should submit their reports to an equal level of Development management associates. In case the said Development Associate(s) directly report to the Vice-President or Director level, then the PO should do the same. Irrespective of the reporting structure, the Development Associate(s) must possess the authority to monitor any project modifications. The ideal reporting structure would be for the Release Product Owner to report to the Product Development structure. 

21. Who is a PO accountable to?

A Product Owner is accountable to the vital Stakeholders with the authority of making financial commitments:
  • Product Manager
  • Business Unit President
  • CTO

To Summarise

Seeing how integral a Product Owner’s role is in any organization, every organization aims at recruiting a competent one. A Product Owner not only incorporates the activities of the Scrum Team and the Development Team but also ensures the fulfilment of customer’s and organization’s needs. The primary responsibility of a PO is to enhance the product’s quality to its highest state. Every candidate should prepare the offered interview questions to increase their chances of becoming a Product Owner.

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