Preparing for Product Manager Job interview

There are 4 aspects of preparations towards a PM Job interview.

1. Preparing about Yourself.
– Your resume, your past, your achievements and the ways you can represent these.

2. Understanding “Product management“.
– What is a Product manager expected to do? What is MRD, PRD, usecases, Agile…? Product Management concepts.

3. Situational Handling.
– Hypothetical situations and how you would handle them. How would you convince the Engg team to deliver this feature one month in advance? Here are a list of features from the roadmap, how do you prioritize these?

4. Knowledge about the domain of the role you are being interviewed for.
– Trends, Opinions, News, Generic problem statements, Products being offered w.r.t the Domain of the current opening

One has to go through a meticulous amount of preparation in each of these to satisfactorily convince the interviewer that you can be sent to the next round.

The Resume!

My resume went through 8 revisions (proper revisions, not just format/ word changes. I almost felt like a different person every time a new version came out). There are lots of resume formats which only serve as a good source for word formatting and Page Layouts. Personally, the only sections that matter in a PM resume are:

1) The Kind of products you have managed and the value these products provided to the users (If your products didnt provide value, then you didnt provide value)

2) The kind of challenges you have faced in a PM role (Revenue targets (kinda rare) ? Defining Roadmap? Increasing user base?…)

3) The stages of Product management you have worked on (Have you been through the full lifecycle? or were you support a product that was in maintenance mode?)

Understanding the PM role

Sure, you have been a PM for quite some time now, but what you did in that role might not completely cover all the aspects of a PM role. I would suggest that you brush up on the theoretical and practical aspects of a PM role. There are a lot of blogs out there that require hours of dedicated reading (and its worth it!)

http://allaboutproductmanagement.blogspot.in/

http://onproductmanagement.net/

http://www.strategicproductmanager.com/

if you are hungry for more, check out the blogs posted here : http://www.strategicproductmanager.com/2010/01/12/the-top-product-management-blogs-2010/

Situation Handling

There is no end to coming up with Hypothetical situations and arguing which is the best solution to the problem. Situational problems are generally asked to figure out your way of thinking. As long as you prove yourself to be ethical, quick thinker, multiple options analyzer, pros vs cons wiz… you generally wouldnt have a problem with this section. oh btw, this is the fun part of the interview because you are analyzing and solving a problem LIVE! you can enrich the conversation by discussing openly, asking more info, bouncing ideas, brainstorming etc.

I would say, if you have an answer to most of the questions listed at this doc, you are good to go!

Domain Knowledge

Most of the times, the failing part in an interview is the domain experience part. You will eventually be quizzed on technical problems to test your understanding of the subject, you will be asked about competitors products, evaluation of company’s product etc. You cant easily learn this unless you have had prior experience/exposure… And the worst part is, you cant fake it! If your domain knowledge is inadequate, it will immediately show in the first few questions they ask on the topic.

The best way to have Domain knowledge is through prior experience with a good amount of challenges. Otherwise, one needs to brush up on the domain by reading books, industry reports, market research on the subject. you will also have to search and evaluate products in that domain! You must atleast have an opinion on where the industry is today and where it could go in the future w.r.t the domain. An understanding of the various competitors, the value chain of companies in the industry is great to have.

Navigating a PM job interview isnt easy, but the high you get after having a successful round of interview is so worth it.

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