Product Manager Interview Tips
Product Manager Interview Tips – How to prepare for a product manager interview can vary from industry to vertical, from enterprise to startup. But there are a few essential things you can expect in an interview for a PM (Product Manager) role.
In this post, we’ll cover what you can expect from the interview structure and process. When it comes to preparing for a product management interview, there are some smart steps you can take to present yourself in the best light—and some key ways to “reverse interview” the company to make sure it’s a good fit. is the!
Product Manager Interview Tips
These elements can come in any order. Usually, the hiring manager will meet with you first to decide whether you want to go to the peer interview or case study stages. That said, some companies may ask for a case study assignment to qualify you before taking team members’ time.
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A case study, also known as a case interview, is an example of a work assignment designed to measure your approach to product management and follow-up processes.
The hiring manager will give you a situation (sometimes hypothetical, sometimes a real problem facing the company) and give you the opportunity to make recommendations or suggest potential solutions.
Whether published as some sort of homework assignment or played live during an interview, these case study “simulations” can be poorly framed. Don’t be afraid to get the clarity you need! Ask questions before you start answering. In fact, it is a sign that you will make a good Prime Minister.
If a company asks you to create a whiteboard or solution, beware. This can mean one of two things.
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Don’t get into “workaround” territory! There is no way you have enough information about their product or the problems they face to immediately solve them. Maybe they actually tell you, “No, I’m a better product manager than that. I don’t go straight to solutions, instead I ask questions.”
So have the courage to ask more questions about the problem in the case study. Then you can guide them on how you will research and investigate this problem. You can also mention how you will help them move away from solution work into the product team. 😉
On the other end of the spectrum, the company really wants you to create a direct solution to the problem – which may mean that once you’re on the team, they just want you to shut up and make stuff. If so, don’t join this company! This is a very limited and even weak view of product management.
In an ideal situation, you will be paid for your time working on the case study. It’s okay to ask if time spent on certain tasks is paid, and to ask for reasonable travel expenses to be paid for the interview itself. Plus the end product is something you can add to your portfolio regardless of whether you get that particular job. The task they have for you should not be a direct task for the interviewer – eg. You shouldn’t solve their problems for free or unless you have a special contract with them (which is usually not the case).
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Interview questions can be structured in all sorts of ways. But either way, the questions should be aimed at understanding how you approach the following elements of the job:
Also, of course, they want to hear how you work in a team, how you communicate, how you handle pressure when systems fail or plans change at the last minute, etc.
Well, besides being honest, you can find resources on how to be a good product manager. We have plenty of additional tips that we’ll link to in this article, as well as a list of the best product management books if you have more time.
Talk about the problems you have solved. Don’t just list what your responsibilities are or what tools/frameworks you can use. In fact mention the specific results you were a part of! Example:
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Keep a running log of your victories, successes and achievements. Use this log to constantly update your LinkedIn and CV. This will be very helpful when it comes time for the interview because you won’t have to rack your brain for good ideas or concrete results!
If you come into the interview without any product experience, don’t sweat it. Product management is in high demand and you don’t need a specific degree or set of experience to qualify. Top skills for product managers can come from all kinds of educational backgrounds and life experiences.
About how you can uniquely solve their problem! Make sure this message is consistent with how you answer interview questions. Highlight a side interest, a hack project, or any unique angle you bring to the table.
If you already have side projects, this is pretty self-explanatory. Treat your hack projects like a real PM experience, because it is!
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If you don’t have plans yet, take what you can. Start a small website or a simple app. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be an end-to-end product with a complete solution. Just to show that you have identified a problem in the world and tried to solve it.
Personal plans will show your prime start! You don’t need a previous job title or any expensive certification to do this.
Of course, part of any good preparation for a PM interview is getting to know your potential employer. Here’s what you need to know.
Above all, you must understand the company’s target customer, the problem it is trying to solve, and the position of its product in the market.
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If you have access to a company’s product through a free trial, try it out and come back with notes and an informed opinion about what it is and how it works.
If there is no free trial (i.e. you are told to schedule a demo and they only hold them to qualify), don’t worry about it. There’s a reason you don’t have access to the tool, and it’s not necessary to test it before the interview. But still do the best research you can! There may be videos or pre-recorded demos, white papers, sales documents, etc.
In fact, spend as much time interviewing the company as they are interviewing you. It is important to find an employer who will not only be good for you
If they are turned off by these types of questions, it may not be a safe environment. Or they will become even more resistant later when you try to push for what you need and deserve.
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Also, asking lots of questions is basically a product manager’s #1 job! Don’t be shy about showing off the right skills.
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I think it’s the opposite. It just takes practice and persistence. Through them, you will really learn how to think and act like a Product Manager (PM) over a period of time, which will help you in your PM interview.
I have put together this Product Manager Interview Preparation Guide that provides how to consistently prepare for a PM interview.
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I’ve learned throughout my career that product manager interview preparation is a marathon, not a sprint. You start small and keep growing.
Sometimes it is very frustrating to remember the structure of your expected answers. It’s hard to just think on your toes and come up with an out-of-the-box solution
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