Reading Cracking the PM Interview
PM wears many hats and acts as a facilitator and liaison.
PM’s role varies a lot across teams and companies. Ask about and understand who you are primarily working with in your CORE and EXTENDED team. How much of your time are you writing specs vs working with designers? What is the team balance between PMs, designers, and engineers in making decision?
Feedback from both the team/engineers as they implement and also from customers used to evolve your plans and administration. Communicate.
PM work can depend a lot on type of product:
Shipped software: Longer timelines/release cycles. Formal Spec’ing more integral. Good @ project management + communication. Less urgent issues to be fixed (nicer work life)
Online software: Cycle super rapid. Less waiting until perfect. DATA analysis skills are integral since there’s much more collection. More pressure + quick decisions
Consumer products: Everyone understands target customer and use cases. PMs often act more as shepherds and editors. Data driven can be powerful in coming up with supported claims. Explain what you do to your folks!
B2B: Weigh product decisions relative to revenue. Consider strategy vs competitors. Lot of research, and PMs most influential.
Early stage: More about prioritization. Exciting. Learn more from the bottom.
Mature: Already established huge user base. Wide impact. Need to make sure not just stuck making tiny improvements though. Have a lot of existing data. Great to learn from people who have succeeded
PMs do more than just write specs. Their responsibility is to deliver a completed, successful project.
PMs influence without authority. Teams follow PM when goals align and that the PM helps them better achieve.
Ultimately your deliverable is success. Everything else not covered by other people is under your umbrella.
Goal is to answer the following questions:
- Can you be trusted to make the right decisions?
- Can you push through all potential roadblocks to deliver a great product?
Know WHY you failed (with metrics!) and succeeded.
Work doesn’t stop at the specs. Successful PMs follow through and keep pushing. Set goals for success. Just going and adding meetings doesn’t make for success. WHat is it that you need to do to make success? That controls your schedule, not your schedule controls you.
Goal oriented. PMs can be successful and persuasive with so much variety! That’s the exciting party.
Products. How do they fit together with each other?
Competitors? What are the differentiating factors?
Love + Hate: What do customers love and hate about the products? Common complaints and issues?
Metrics: What is the company doing well with or needs improvement on?
News + rumors: Interesting stuff! Have an opinion on circulating info.
Also WHY is the company doing it? Mission, strategy, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, opportunities, threats, future?
Does the company prefer crazy vs practical more? Have ideas of things to change. Why I want the job. Why I am a good fit.
My strengths: What I’ve heard a lot from people is I’m not afraid to ask questions. I LOVE asking questions.
Weakness: Delegating and giving other people pieces of ownership. LTC is my baby :( Always surprised people do step up. People at least I think I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself by really are incredible.
Technical Q Prep:
Estimation Questions (3/day)
First memorize important benchmarks
Product Questions (2/day)
- Designing a product
- Improving a product
- Favorite product
Prep 2 or 3 of these on different varieties.
Get a pretty exhaustive list of measurements for different kinds of products and success.
Get your frameworks down.
Also practice a few more OPEN ENDED Qs
Ultimately interviewers want to see :
You can structure a problem. Open ended questions → strategize to divide it and tackle it systematically
Have strong instincts to make good decisions even w/out all info
DRIVE the interview forward. Be exhaustive in your answers benefits/tradeoffs, long term and short term benefits, back up everything with a REASON.