Nail the Interview

A Beginner’s Guide to Nailing Your First Product Management Interview

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It’s one of the best feelings in the world: you get the call that you’ve secured an interview for your dream job as a product manager. You’re immediately flooded with excitement and anticipation at the new opportunities you could be enjoying in your new role. You feel accomplished and proud for making it this far in the hiring process. Oftentimes, though, this thrill is quickly followed by some pre-interview jitters. After all, it’s no secret that job interviews are nerve-wracking, especially if you feel the position is a much-needed stepping stone into a fulfilling product management career.

It’s no wonder you would want to secure a position as a product manager; product management is an incredibly interesting field to pursue because of its breadth and diversity. Product managers come from a variety of backgrounds, which creates a wide array of product management types, including customer-centric product management, business-centric product management, engineer/technology-centric product management, and design-centric product management.

So, what steps can you take to ensure you nail your product management interview? While there are some general job interview tips you can follow, this beginner’s guide takes a deeper look into techniques you can use specifically for product management interviews.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

Research, Develop, and Test Hypotheses

It may seem obvious, but it is absolutely essential to research the company you’ll be interviewing with and their product line. If you want to work with the organization as a product manager, you need to have a thorough understanding of what products they offer, how they are developed, how they’re priced, and how they could be improved.

That said, it’s important to take it one step further. After conducting in-depth research on the company and their products, develop a hypothesis on how you believe the organization fits into the competitive landscape. You can then mention this hypothesis to the interviewer and ask for confirmation on when it’s correct or not. Doing this level of research is one of the most surefire ways to stand out as a candidate. It conveys to the interviewer that you’ve not only done your research but that you’re interested in the company’s opportunities for growth. Ultimately, you’ll look informed and genuinely interested in the business’ performance – a winning combination in any job interview.

Prepare Your Answers to Potential Questions

When it comes to answering interview questions, providing impactful responses on the spot is tricky. You’re probably nervous, thinking less clearly, and are therefore more likely to provide less coherent responses. As a result, it’s essential to research the questions you may be asked and prepare your answers ahead of time.

Some common product management interview question examples include:

  • How do you decide what and what not to build?
  • What is a product you currently use every day, why and how would you improve it?
  • How do you know if a product is well designed?
  • How would you redesign our product?
  • What aspects of product management do you find most exciting?
  • How do you think product managers interact with engineers?
  • What has made X product successful?
  • Tell me about how you have overcome product failures/challenges or poor feedback in the past.
  • How do you know when to cut corners to get a product out the door?

Review these types of questions well before your interview and carefully craft your responses. You can write them out to help it resonate more and you can also practice saying your responses out loud to yourself at home. This will help you get more comfortable with your responses and enable you to determine how you might phrase certain things in your interview.

What steps can you take to nail your product management interview? While there are some general job interview tips you can follow, this beginner’s guide takes a deeper look into techniques you can use specifically for product management interviews.Click To Tweet

Seek Coaching

Believe it or not, there are companies out there that specialize in the field of product management and offer counseling services to up-and-coming professionals looking to refine their skills. A prime example is the New York-based product management company Product Gym, that provides clients with actionable insights needed to land more interviews. Their experienced team of coaches offer valuable feedback on your strengths and areas for improvement to ultimately help you nail your product management interview. Another perk is that the company offers income shared agreements (ISAs). The ISA conditions mean you only pay your monthly membership fee once you land a job that pays more than $60,000, you can tailor your membership fee to your income, and you stop paying once you’ve reached the cumulative cap or the payment schedule. So, no matter your potential budgetary restrictions, services like these can work for you.

Avoid Common Interview Pitfalls

While it’s good to know what to do to succeed in product management interviews, it’s also important to know what not to do. Some common interview traps include underdressing, showing up late, displaying a lack of confidence, and asking inappropriate questions.

Specifically, when it comes to asking questions, avoid posing questions whose answers could be easily found on Google. Doing so communicates to the interviewer that you haven’t done your research on the company, which could be perceived as a lack of sincere interest in the role. Oftentimes, asking questions that show you haven’t done your homework can cost you a job offer.

It’s important to remember that these “traps” aren’t intentionally put in place by the interviewer. Your interviewer isn’t a villain who is trying to trick you into saying something you don’t mean or plotting for your failure; they’re simply trying to gain insight into what kind of candidate you are and how well you would fit into the role. That said, these hurdles can often arise in job interviews, so it’s vital to be wary of them.

With this beginner’s guide, you have the tools and resources you need to nail your product management interview. In developing hypotheses on the company, practicing your responses, seeking coaching, and avoiding some common interview pitfalls, you’ll set yourself up for success in your product management interview. You now have the resources and you’ve always had the drive, so go get that job you know you deserve and kickstart your career in product management.

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