How to approach PM interview preparation

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., lets 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.

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).

As with skill-building, this 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.

"Grok is the perfect word for this because it means to understand something intuitively. Ideally, you want the interviewers to feel that you have an almost preternatural understanding of their product and business even though you've never worked on it before. The good news is that is learnable... often using the product itself is the best way to build that understanding."
Kenton Kivestu, Founder at RocketBlocks, ex-Google, ex-Zynga
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