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Cracking the Product Manager Interview

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Cracking the Product Manager Interview Gayle Laakmann McDowell


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Gayle Laakmann McDowell <dev> </dev> Author Interview Coach Interview Consulting (CS) (MBA) 2


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What is a Product Manager? Product Manager (“PM”) == “Associate Product Manager” (Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.) == “Program Manager” (Microsoft) McDowell | CareerCup.com


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What is a Product Manager? Manage the PRODUCT, not the PEOPLE “Build a great product for the users” Who are the users? What are the features? When will we launch? How do we launch? etc McDowell | CareerCup.com


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The Perfect PM Technical Skills + Product Skills + Industry Expertise + Business Expertise McDowell | CareerCup.com


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PM Skills No one is perfect! What skills do you have? What skills do you need? McDowell | CareerCup.com


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PM Skills No one is perfect! What skills do you have? What skills do you need? McDowell | CareerCup.com


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Strategy & Vision Leadership Customer Focus Product Design Analysis & Synthesis Action Oriented Prioritization Project Management Technical Skills Communication


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Strategy & Vision Leadership Customer Focus Product Design Analysis & Synthesis Action Oriented Prioritization Project Management Technical Skills Communication ENGINEER


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Strategy & Vision Leadership Product Design Analysis & Synthesis Action Oriented Technical Skills Communication MARKETING Project Management Customer Focus Prioritization


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Strategy & Vision Leadership Customer Focus Product Design Analysis & Synthesis Action Oriented Prioritization Project Management Technical Skills Communication DESIGNER


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Strategy & Vision Leadership Customer Focus Product Design Analysis & Synthesis Action Oriented Prioritization Project Management Technical Skills Communication PROJECT MANAGER


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Strategy & Vision Leadership Customer Focus Product Design Analysis & Synthesis Action Oriented Technical Skills Communication CUSTOMER SERVICE Prioritization Project Management


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Strategy & Vision Leadership Product Design Analysis & Synthesis Technical Skills Communication BUSINESS ANALYST Project Management Customer Focus Prioritization Action Oriented


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What good is an MBA? VERY mixed opinions Be humble! What else ya got? Industry expertise? Technical skills? Business skills? Product skills? McDowell | CareerCup.com


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The Perfect PM Technical Skills + Product Skills + Industry Expertise + Business Expertise McDowell | CareerCup.com


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So, tell me about yourself… McDowell | CareerCup.com


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“The Pitch” 1 – 2 minute summary Tell a [focused] story Highlights Interests KNOW IT! REHEARSE IT! McDowell | CareerCup.com What’s your weakness?


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CrackingThePMInterview.com -> Resources


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Soft Questions McDowell | CareerCup.com


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Goals of Your Answer Answer the question. Deliver a good answer. Communicate well. Nugget First S.A.R.: Situation, Action, Result McDowell | CareerCup.com


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Preparing for Behavioral Qs Create Preparation Grid McDowell | CareerCup.com ? Master 5 Key Stories


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Structure 1: Nugget First Lead with your “thesis” / nugget Grabs the listener’s attention Gives them context for where you’re going. McDowell | CareerCup.com A: I’m most proud of the way I re-architected the … Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?


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Structure 2: S.A.R. ituation ction esult McDowell | CareerCup.com S A R What was the issue? What did you do about it? What was the impact?


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Know What did you do? Why? How? What would you do differently? McDowell | CareerCup.com


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Hard Questions McDowell | CareerCup.com


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“Real” Questions Product Design Questions Estimation Questions Case Questions Technical Questions McDowell | CareerCup.com


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Product Design Questions How would you design an calculator for the blind? What’s your favorite website? Pick a Google product. How would you improve it?


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Product Design Questions: Why? Communication & Structured Thinking Ability to understand the user Creativity Business instincts / skills


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Product Design Qs: Approach Ask questions USERS + USE CASES + PROBLEMS + GOALS Solve problems Use the whiteboard!


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KNOW THIS COLD Favorite… Website Mobile App Physical Product Company Product WHY USERS USE CASES PROBLEMS IMPROVEMENTS Some favorites better than others.


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Case Questions How would you launch Amazon in Turkey? How would you price a new ebook reader? User sign ups dropped after launching a new feature. What do you do?


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Case Questions Problem solving Acquisition rates dropped. Why? Strategy Should we do X or Y? Marketing How would you market X to Y? Pricing How would you price X? Launching How would you launch X in country Y? Brainstorming Name as many things you could do with X


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Case Questions Understand/define problem Structure Solve Use instincts Make reasonable assumptions DRIVE THE INTERVIEW


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Business Frameworks Customer Purchase Decision Making Process Marketing Mix (4 Ps) SWOT Analysis Five Cs Porter’s 5 Forces But it’s not a test of frameworks!


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Metrics User Acquisition #, growth, active users, etc Activity What are people doing? Money Customer acquisition costs Revenue $ growth


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Estimation Questions How many tennis balls can fit in an SUV? How much money does Gmail make from ads every year? How much do New Yorkers spend on electricity each year?


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Estimation Qs: Why? Problem Solving Basic Quantitative Skills


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Estimation Qs: How to Approach Ask questions to resolve ambiguity Don’t make assumptions (yet) Outline / Structure Your Approach Break down the components Assume numbers when necessary State assumptions explicitly Round numbers to make your math easier Sanity Check Do your numbers make sense?


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CS Questions McDowell | CareerCup.com


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McDowell | CareerCup.com


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McDowell | CareerCup.com


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Don’t Forget Show… You can understand the customer You can make good decisions You can lead & motivate people You can build the right thing McDowell | CareerCup.com


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I could write a whole book on this! McDowell | CareerCup.com


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Other Resources McDowell | CareerCup.com CareerCup.com Interview Videos Resume Review Mock Interviews Or, follow me online at… twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com gayle@gayle.com quora.com


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