Product Management roles has seen a stark growth in the recent few years — “Golden Age of Product Management”.
The accelerated pace of the tech industry, customer expectations and digital transformations has created a high demand for visionary and strategic PMs. Two such incredible Product Managers are Chaitra Rama Rao, Senior Product Manager at Couchbase, and Vidya Srinivasan, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft.
At Her Tech Hour’s How do I become a PM webinar hosted by Bianca Alvarez, Co-Founder of Her Tech Hour, these incredible ladies shared their insights on product management and advice on prepping for PM interviews and roles.
Every product manager’s path into PM is very unique. Many PMs come from a strong technical background and a lot more broke into PM from untraditional degrees and paths. Chaitra and Vidya have answers to how one can stand out as an applicant for a PM role.
How to stand out as an applicant for a PM role?
📍 Strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills
📍 Problem-solving abilities
📍 Leadership experiences
Blogging is a great way to show off your communication skills and can definitely be a bonus point during application selection. Effective communication skills can be displayed through public speaking, conference talks, debate competitions awards. Don’t hesitate to add all your university clubs and course work leadership experiences to highlight leadership skills on your application!
Elevator Pitch for PM roles
The first and foremost piece of advice our speakers had was to not verbally dump your resume. Start with a compelling introduction and be conversational! Remember to thoroughly do your research about the company! Tailoring your elevator pitch for several companies may be tedious and in such scenarios prepare a general pitch
Add your personal touch! To stand out from the crowd, it is recommended to try a personalized approach when meeting new recruiters and employees to make a great first impression.
Elevator pitches can be stressful but remind yourself to smile and let your passion show ✨
And of course, what we all are here for — inside scoop into PM interview preparation tips and advice!
PM Interview Tips
A typical PM interview has five or fewer rounds : Technical, Behavioral, Strategic, Design and General Questions
1. Product Design
User and data-driven research will help you shine during product design interview rounds. As a PM, it is critical to understand the audiences and challenges faced from the perspective of the user.
NOTE : Many interviewees tend to make the mistake of not understanding the goal of the problem. Always clarify the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and goals by asking more questions!
2. Technical Round
Based on the company, you may or may not have a technical round ( e.g. Facebook does not conduct technical rounds). PMs should have a general high-level understanding of how any software system works. System design and general technical topics may be tested during this stage of the interview.
Make sure to brush up on CS fundamentals, Software Architecture, and keep yourself updated with new tech trends!
Build strategic skills by reading, understanding and analyzing articles and blogs! To succeed at strategic interviews, offer a point of view with a clear rationale by comparing tradeoffs. Employees generally evaluate you on your analytical skills in gathering and evaluating information so prepare to be clear and detailed in explaining how you would craft a strategy for the company/team.
💡TIP : ALWAYS KEEP A PULSE ON THE TECH INDUSTRY (especially if you are interviewing for a tech company)
We’ve all heard the tips to ace behavioural questions. Chaitra emphasized the importance of picking the right examples. General questions like ‘Describe a failure and how you overcame it’ although seem like no-brainer questions can tell a lot about a candidate. Our speakers suggest paying attention to how you define failure and structuring your answers.
Make sure to focus on how you utilized the resources you have to handle the failure, the outcomes of your steps, and takeaways from it. Choose examples backed up by concrete data on how your involvement improved the outcome. 💥 Show impact 💥
Regardless of how the interview goes, always remember each interview is a learning experience.
I saved the best for the last. The endless list of reasons to love being a Product Manager
Why being a PM is awesome?
A role of a PM can be super challenging but the joys of being one outweigh them
- Ability to shape the product and take it from ZERO to ONE
- Motivating a team to believe in your vision and sharing a common goal with them
- Joys of being the first customer of your own product!!!
Our wonderful ladies had a handful of more reasons but I will stop here to leave you with some resources to help you break into product management and ace PM interviews
📚 Books: Cracking the PM interview, Decode and Conquer, Swipe to Unlock, The Art of Product Management
Checkout Stratechery, a niche tech journalism site, for condensed tech analysis and insights!
TLDR; There is no cookie-cutter answer to becoming a PM. In today’s world, anyone who has the passion, attitude, and vision to build products can become successful product managers
[Great Product Managers ] say what they’ll do, and then do what they say. Their follow-through is impeccable, and they don’t let details slip. When they join a team, quality and pace seem to dramatically improve overnight.
— Noah Weiss
Hopefully this webinar recap was helpful for those of you aspiring to become PMs! Big shoutout to our incredible speakers, Chaitra and Vidya, for sharing their experiences and resources with the constantly growing community of PMs. I believe that every one of you reading this article will become successful if not the best PMs and I wish you the best of luck!