I’ve been getting a lot questions about my experience with the Facebook Rotational Product Management (RPM) interview process and was encouraged to write this blog in hopes of paying it forward. I wouldn’t have gotten my offer without the help of other aspiring and current PMs. Though this prep is Facebook specific, I hope this will be useful to you wherever you decide to go as an aspiring or transitioning PM.
Facebook Interview Process
The FB interview process, which I understand to be similar regardless of whether you are applying as a PM or RPM, is:
- First Round (Phone): Recruiter screen (15 minutes)
- Second Round (Video Call): Product Sense (45 minutes), Execution (45 minutes)
- Final Round (Onsite): Product Sense (45 minutes), Execution (45 minutes), Leadership and Drive (45 minutes)
There are no coding interviews. From what I gathered from my experience as well as others who have gotten an offer from Facebook, you do not have to worry about serious number estimations questions. However, don’t quote me on that!
Obviously, there is a lot that goes into prepping for your PM interview and there are many resources available online. For the sake of scope, here is my must-have recommended list, especially if you are short on time:
Glassdoor. Gather all these questions up! Many of these appear again in interviews. Be sure to pay attention to the types of questions your recruiter might ask, such as key lessons from your latest project, your favorite product (both specific and nonspecific to Facebook), why you want to work at Facebook, and why you want to get into product management. You won’t have much time so practice making these concise.
Decode and Conquer by Lewis Lin. This book showed me that having a great framework is more than half the battle. The CIRCLES Method and AARM Method helped me navigate where I needed to go during my interview. When doing both your Product Sense and Execution, use a whiteboard (yes, even in a video interview!) to articulate your thoughts and fill in your framework. It’s also great for discussing tradeoffs with your suggested features and how you would implement a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) by drawing either a table or wireframe.
The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen. I know this book seems large and intimidating, but it’s an amazing and easy read. Having a great framework can only get you so far. A deeper understanding of product-market fit and how those metrics play in will make you 100% more confident and help you when your interviewer interrupts to test if you are ‘too stuck’ to your framework. In fact, I would highly recommend getting the audio book version of this for your commute (also great for when you’re cleaning or doing laundry!), in addition to the hard copy. I “read” the first 8 chapters during long drives. It made me truly understand that user needs and satisfaction are the most important factors to consider when building new features. Chapter 13 and 14 also gave me a deep understanding of how metrics work in larger business sense and how to put it in the context of Facebook’s company mission and financial goals. The graphs in these chapters, which I re-drew in some of my interviews, helped me convey why I made certain decisions. Pair what you learn here with Decode and Conquer’s Chapter 10 sections on The Three Loops (Retention Loop) and A/B Testing.
Cracking the PM Interview by Gail Laakmann McDowell and Jackie Bavaro. While I personally preferred Decode and Conquer, this is worth at least a skim for sure! This book has great tips on how to tweak your resume and has some great practice question samples. If you have more time, I would definitely recommend reading this more indepthly.
The PM Community! I cannot stress enough how important it is to practice with other people. Even though I read the books, doing mock interviews with others anywhere from two to twelve times a week was key in building my confidence. Observing how other people answered the same questions also gave me perspective on different ways to think about the problems. You can find practice partners in Women in Product, StellarPeers (Meetup + Blog), and Lewis Lin’s PM Practice Slack Group. Also, check out Advancing Women in Product! Don’t forget to seek out your experienced PM friends and colleagues because, if they’re willing to give you the time, they’ve got tons of knowledge to share. The worst they can say is no. An experienced PM is really helpful for the Execution interview where he/she can poke real holes into your proposed roadmap and key metric. They can also help you with your Leadership and Drive interview.
The Heart of the Interview
At the end of the day, as cheesy as it sounds, the interview comes down to who you are. If thousands of people equally prepared and are qualified for the role, it would come down to your motivation, drive, and passion. How did you end up in your previous roles and what made you choose them? What is important to you long-term? What was the common denominator among all the seemingly disparate experiences that you’ve had? Have you processed your failures and owned them as a learning experience? What would you have done differently, if you could do it again?
While talking about success metrics is good and well, remember to make your story human and relatable. Aside from how I processed my failures and felt proud about my successes, I talked about the challenges I faced and the people who helped me. In late 2015, after two immediate family members had cancer and I split from my partner of five years, I decided to move across the country with nothing but an offer from a friend to occupy his couch in Mountain View. Since then, other people have supported me, whether it was in a GoFundMe campaign to do a Virtual Reality eight-week course or in a communities like Oculus Launch Pad and the PM community, where your peers are competing with you but help and cheer you on anyway. Even when I failed on a large scale, I found the courage to keep pursuing my goals because of my community. Find your story! I promise it will be more memorable than the numerical success metrics you’ve already mentioned on your resume.
I hope this blog post has helped in some way for your interviewing process. Please feel free to send me a note and add me on LinkedIn! :)