PM Candidates: Ask Questions, Please

All job candidates, for all jobs everywhere, should know to ask questions of their interviewers when prompted. The answer to “Do you have any questions for me?” ought to be never be “no“, for any position.

But especially for PM (Product/Project/Program) Manager positions – for the love of God, PM job candidates, please do come up with questions! Asking questions is such a core part of the job that you are interviewing for – you absolutely need to demonstrate to your interviewer that you ask questions willingly, gladly, and very, very well. If you are not asking questions, here are some of the questions that the interviewer will have about your candidacy:

  • First of all, don’t you want to know about the job that you are being interviewed for? The challenges, the opportunities, the longer-term view – none of that interests you? Really? Have you already decided that you are not interested in the position – are you just wasting my time here? Or you are so desperate that you’d take any job at all, without having an understanding of what you will actually be doing?
  • Second and more important, where is your curiosity? You realize you are interviewing for a role that will require you to very quickly get the lay of the land, right? In our interview, you – most definitely! – have told me that what you like most about this line of work is how many new things you get to learn every single day. And? – do you really believe you have nothing to learn from me? About the product? The industry? The life, the universe, and everything? In our interview, you – most definitely – have told me that you are a quick learner, yet you are passing up on this immediate opportunity to learn?


Once in a while, I run across an opinion that not asking questions is passable for interviews that are late in the day. Two comments on that:

  • Yes, interview days are long, and do oftentimes become a blur – not being on top of your game late in the day is somewhat understandable. At the same time – come on, is this the first long day that you’ve had in your life? And the only long day you anticipate having in this position? If we are to, say, have a day full of client meetings two months after this interview, will you stop asking questions later in the day, too?
  • And yes, it is entirely possible that your questions have been answered by the earlier interviewers. At the same time – don’t you want a range of points of view? Don’t you anticipate gaining a more nuanced understanding from getting a diverse set of opinions?

A PM candidate not asking questions is akin to a software engineering candidate doing poorly on basic coding question. While it does not always immediately disqualify you on its own (perhaps you are having a very bad day?), it raises very serious doubts about your ability to do your job.


I am an engineering program manager at D. E. Shaw Research. The views expressed on this blog are mine. My blog posts do not represent the views of my employer.

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