The PM Guide

How to approach PM interview preparation

Kenton Kivestu, ex-Google, ex-BCG, Founder at RocketBlocks
Published: May 7, 2018 | Last updated: May 29, 2019

Preparing for product management interviews is not a one-size-fits-all exercise.

The underlying skills companies look for are consistent, but each company assesses candidates slightly differently. For example, a company like Uber leans heavily on detailed product case interviews (e.g., "Let's diagnose the problem with airport pick-ups...") while a company like Facebook does more general product sense interviews with a mix of questions to test skills.

Given the variation, we recommend candidates break apart their preparation into two key components.

The two key components of PM interview preparation

Framework for how to prepare for product management interviews

In product management interviews, you'll need to demonstrate two key things:

  1. You possess the core PM skill set
  2. You grok the product and/or service

The core PM skill set

We've covered what the specific skills are here, so in this section we'll focus on tactics to help to build those skill sets before interview day.

The good news: building the skills necessary for success is possible for anyone willing to do it. The bad news: it takes time, effort and hard work to do so. There is no cheat code!

For those willing to roll up their sleeves and put in the effort, we've got specific tactics (e.g., debating product merits with friends) that we'll dive into in the next section.

đź’ˇ Got a PM interview? Our PM interview drills help get you in top form

Grok the product and/or service

The second critical aspect of any PM interview is demonstrating that you're excited about the product and/or service and have relevant domain expertise or interest (this is particularly important for startups and smaller companies).

For example, don't walk into a Twitter interview and then have to sheepishly admit you haven't used the product much. While this sounds obvious, candidates *repeatedly* make simple mistakes like this that immediately knock them out of the running.

Truly learning the product takes significant time and effort. But it yields plenty of benefits, not only in preparing you for your interviews, but also in helping you assess whether or not it's the right role for you. Consider this: if you're trying to use the product in advance of an interview and can't get excited about it at all, maybe that isn't the right space for you to be a PM in. After all, if you don't enjoy the product and industry space now, what will you think when you're missing time with friends and bug-triaging on a Saturday afternoon?

We'll go deep, pun intended, in the upcoming section on how to do a product deep dive, but first, let's start with how to brush up on the core PM skill set.

P.S. Are you preparing for PM interviews?

Real interview questions. Sample answers from PM leaders at Google, Amazon and Facebook. Plus study sheets on key concepts.