August 02, 2020 / Blog

How to Prepare for PM Interviews

Whether it’s your first product management interview or your hundredth, there’s quite a bit of prep work you need to do to succeed. But don’t worry – with the right guidance and tips for preparation, you can ace your interview. This post will walk you through, on a high level, what you need to do to rock your next interview.

The first thing you should do to prepare for any interview is researching the company. You should be well informed about both your position and the company itself, including information like workplace expectations and main competitors. Also, be prepared to talk about why this company is of interest to you, and how you’d be a good fit.

It’s also important to have a few personal stories prepared, that cover your major strengths and weaknesses, your greatest achievements, your principles and values, and so on. This really comes in handy when answering personality questions- you definitely don’t want to be put on the spot without something to talk about. Think through your past experiences, cool stories that come along with those, projects that showcase your abilities, and tough situations that you were able to work through.

I recommend that you study a few products- at least four- to talk about during the interview. You should do an in depth analysis, covering the user group, the goal of the product, product success, pain points, competitors, and how you would improve the product. This is useful because it will make you seem well informed about the product management field, even beyond your own sphere of experience.

Before your interview, make sure you’re confident in your ability to problem solve, strategize, estimate, design products, launch products, and improve products. If you work in product management, these are all skills you will likely need to use every day. If you’re not confident in your abilities, definitely review these and do your best to practice and study the skills you are missing. Next, you should brush up on your technological knowledge. Review computer science terms and technologies that are relevant to your job, and make sure you have a solid knowledge of current softwares and algorithms. 

Arguably the most important preparation activities is practicing interview questions. Obviously, you should practice analysis and estimation questions. These and other product management-specific questions will be important to do well on. But don’t forget about more general interview questions when you’re preparing. If you can, you should conduct full mock-interviews with a peer acting as the interviewer. 

I also recommend brainstorming a few thoughtful questions to ask. When drafting questions, steer clear of simple and obvious questions, or you’ll seem like you didn’t do your research. As a rule, never ask anything that you can find online in less than ten minutes. However, don’t just google ‘smart questions to ask at interviews.’ This goes against the purpose of asking questions- don’t about things unless you’re actually interested in the answers. Remember, every question you ask tells the interviewer something about yourself, your motivations, and your interests.

There are also a few more general tips that may help you succeed:

  • Use the whiteboard if offered. This will help the interviewer understand your thought process during product management questions with multiple parts, like the estimation question.
  • Convey genuine emotion. Interviewers will always prefer to hire people who seem to have real interest in the position and are excited about the opportunity.
  • Remember that the process isn’t one-sided. The company wants to know if you would make a good employee, yes, but you also want to find out if they would make a good employer. Use your interview to analyze whether the company is a good fit for you.

Hopefully, after completing the preparations outlined in this article you’ll feel ready for your product management interview. This guide is meant to look at the process and provide tips from 30,000 feet. However, for more specific tips and advice, check out hackingpm.com or the other articles on this blog!

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