Abstracting Complexity as a PM Skill

One of my recent favourite PM interview questions is to pick a technical term that the candidate has thrown around casually while describing their previous experience; and ask them to describe what that means (or how it works) to someone non-technical. Yesterday I had asked a candidate to explain kafka to me, and another to make me understand monoliths vs microservices.

This helps me evaluate three important PM skills (esp Platform PMs) – the ability to abstract out complexity, bring clarity and the ability to communicate it based on the audience. This really tests the candidates mettle in all these three areas. I give them time to compose their ideas and then explain to me.

An added bonus is – you will also know if they are just throwing around tech terms without understanding them. If they are truthful and acknowledge this, I give them another chance to pick any technical (or deep expertise) areas on their own.