Job interview. Is there anything more scary than that? You walk into a room, talk about yourself and your abilities and answer their questions the best way you can. When it’s finished, you wait for them to contact you and hope for the best. We’ve all been there but fear it no more. Here are the keys on how to rule a PM job interview.
Uber Product Manager, Randy Edgar, reveals how to crack the PM interview
Former Facebook Product Manager of Enterprise Product, Randy Edgar, has done hundreds of job interviews. He does not lack experience in that field. Previously he worked six years at Facebook and is now the Group Product Manager at Uber. He studied Business Administration and Management and ended up in product about ten years ago.
In Product School’s event, he shared his insights on how to crack the PM interview. The main thing to remember is “never say no to an interview because you never know how it’s going to work out.” The key points that he went through in his presentation were what are Product Management Managers looking for when they are hiring Product Managers and when they ask a question you know what they’re looking for and what the signals for what they’re looking for are. He also shared some tips for how things work out and what guidelines to follow with some questions.
Goals & Metrics focus
In an interview, they will ask you questions about a product. They might ask, for example, why are you building it. The right way to answer to this is not to say that you want to do it for the consumers but to specify what exactly are the goals and metrics that you are after. On the other hand, if they ask you what you would like to build for their company the response has to be tied to the company’s goals and missions.
The perfect answer according to Randy would start with “I want to build product X for your company because the company’s goal is Y.” The sentence would continue with “And how I would measure that is with the key metric Z.” If this is unsure to you then Randy suggests “answering a question with a question to find out what they’re looking for and that’s how you nail an interview.”
Importance of Data and Innovation
Decision making in product management has to be data-driven. Always. The reason that the product you want to build “is cool” is not good enough. The argument needs to be supported by data and you need to mention this fact in the interview.
Every hiring manager values innovation. What they want to know is what you are bringing into the company and to the team. When asked what you would want to build for their company all you need is “one good idea.” Randy’s advise is not to be afraid of getting up and using the white board for brainstorming and innovating on site. The person interviewing you might even join you for brainstorming!
Depending on the company you are applying for, the level of the technicality of the job varies a lot. If you apply for Google, you’ll know that the job will be technically tough and, therefore so is the interview, but if it’s some smaller company and you’re not sure about it, ask. The reason behind this is that you want to know how high the bar is set. It’s useful not only for the applicant to know but also for the company.
A protip that Randy gives is to do your research on the company before the interview. When you do it, you know what to expect. Also you will know what or who has succeeded and what or who hasn’t, and you know the things to avoid from saying in an interview.
Do you have the abilities to execute plans and lead as well as vision?
What is essential for a product manager is to have the ability to be a leader in the team, have a vision on what direction the product is going and be able to execute plans. “What does this product look like in two years?” is one of the questions that a product manager needs to be able to answer at all times. He needs to have a somewhat clear vision in his mind about the product.
Also a part of leadership is the ability to get along with the designers and engineers in the team. This is a crucial part of getting things done, and in an interview, you need to be able to prove that you can do it. Randy’s suggestion is to make a three-minute speech that proves that point. An important note is that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can get things done but that you can get your team to execute your vision.
“Never talk for longer than two minutes without asking questions!”, Randy says. The most asked question in interviews is “tell us about yourself.” Plan ahead what to say in two minutes and practice it. Nobody wants to listen to you talk about yourself for 15 minutes. Companies want communication and to know that you have the skills it requires. They want to hire someone they like so the most important thing is to communicate and smile. For anyone interested he recommends a book called “Blank” by Malcolm Gladwell on this matter.
Communication within the team is very important for a product manager, whether it’s about getting along with the designers or the engineers. You need to make compromises and be collaborative. It’s a two-way street and requires mutual respect.
Typical interview questions
– Tell me about yourself
– How do you measure the success of a product?
– Product X’s usage is down, what would you do next?
– Pick a product and tell me a feature they should build next. Why?
– What would be your process for prioritizing features on your roadmap?
– Tell me about a product that’s well designed, or that’s not well designed
If you practice answering the questions above you can’t go wrong. Also the main thing is like Randy said figuring out what they’re looking for. That is the key to any interview, and when you have that figured out, nothing can stop you.