Congratulations! You’ve decided to take on the Product Manager journey, and now you’re putting in time to figure out how to set yourself up for success for interviews. You’ve aced Part 1, which is planning for preparation. A lot of people don’t even take this into consideration, so you’ve already got a leg up on the competition.
Key Components of the Product Manager interview
- An interview tied to product development which will test your ability to understand users’, their pain points and how those pain points might be better addressed. What they’re looking for:
- Structure – you don’t want to ramble off randomly. Laying our the key areas you want to address over the course of the interview will make sure your interviewer is on the same page and that you don’t waste time discussing irrelevant points. It also shows that you’re organized and can be an effective communicator who can be easily understood. This is very important for a product manager, and also for a lot of other related cross-functional roles.
- Focus on the users – For you to get to a great set of features/solutions, you need to start with a clear set of users you want to focus on. If you build for everyone, you will have built for no one. So make sure you’re able to walk the interviewer through what types of people you imagine using the product in question.
- Be specific about their problems – It’s not enough to have a specific user group in mind. You need to show a sense of intuition on what their personal experiences might be and what types of challenges they experience while trying to achieve a certain outcome. When doing this, make sure the problems outlined are relevant to the users you’ve been speaking about & not just general problems anyone could potentially face. ie. if you’re talking about parents, problems should tie to challenges unique to them having children.
- An interview tied to product metrics or data which will test your ability to work with data, leverage metrics and measure the success of a product. What they’re looking for:
- Structure – same points as above, but in addition, listing off several metrics in no particular order or categorization is confusing and really hard to follow. You will come off sounding like you’re just throwing out whatever ideas come to mind without reason why.
- Understand the product lifecycle – the metrics and goals you will focus on for a product will/should be tied to the phase of the lifecycle that product is in ie. nascent, growth, mature, decline.
- Definition & clarity – you need to show that you understand how metrics can actually be measured. Being specific about what the numerator/denominator is or succinct in how it can be measured will make it clear that you actually know what you’re talking about and haven’t just memorized and listed off metrics.
- An interview tied to leadership and culture which will assess what type of leader you are and whether it’s a good fit for the company assessing you. They’ll seek to hear about how you’ve resolved problems in the past, how you approach tough decision making and what type of culture you might set for the team you’ll be joining. For this interview, it’ll be important for you to assess your main principles, learn about the company’s culture and share examples that show that you’d be a great fit.
Depending on your prior experience and how seasoned you are with interviewing, either one (or all) of these assessments could pose a challenge. It’s worth taking a couple of weeks to prepare yourself, schedule mock interviews with friends/colleagues and get actionable feedback on where you can improve. The more you practice, the more enjoyable the interview will be.