The role of a Product Manager (also called a PM) in an organization is at the intersection of design knowledge, business strategy, and customer needs to build a valuable, relevant, and feasible product. PM roles in FAANG companies differ from Product Manager roles in general. Even with each company, there is a range of product manager roles. For example, within Amazon, the role of a PM for AWS will be very different from that of a PM for Prime Music.
So then, how does one prepare for such a diverse role? Aspiring Product Managers must focus on three factors when getting ready for a Product Manager interview – their core competencies, their emotional intelligence, and company fit.
If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our interview questions page and salary negotiation ebook to get interview-ready! Also, read Google Product Manager Interview Questions and Google Interview Questions for specific insights and guidance on Google tech interviews.
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We have put together this article on the Product Manager interview process and preparation to ensure you have everything you need. We will cover:
- Product Manager Roles and Responsibilities
- Product Manager Salary
- Product Manager Interview Process and Timeline
- Topics to Prepare for Product Manager Interview
- Product Manager Interview Questions
- How to Prepare for Product Manager Interview
- FAQs Related to Product Manager Interviews
Product Manager Roles and Responsibilities
Before getting into the interview process, let’s look at what a PM at a FAANG company is expected to do in general:
- Craft a future-proof product roadmap
- Carry out competitive analyses and map out strategies to take on the market
- Foresee which features to build on priority
- Effectively communicate with customers
- Collaborate with design and engineering teams
- Double down the growth curve post-launch and track related metrics
Recommended reading: What Does a Google Product Manager Do?
What Exactly Do Companies Look for in Product Managers?
During the hiring process, companies evaluate candidates based on three main factors:
- Core Competencies: Your knowledge and experience of coding, data structure and algorithm, and product design.
- Emotional Intelligence: Emotional Intelligence includes your response and ability to manage difficult situations, your capacity for leadership, and the level of empathy for the end-consumers of your products.
Practice behavioral interview questions to get better at answering emotional intelligence-based questions.
- Company Fit: Checking if you are a good cultural fit by seeing if your values align with those of the company. FAANG companies look for the scope of mutual growth.
What Is the Difference Between a Product Manager and a Product Developer?
The role of a Product Manager is chiefly strategic. Product Managers execute product plans, create timelines, line up resources, organize systems, and ensure that the organizational goals are met. They also work in collaboration with various stakeholders.
On the other hand, a Product Developer’s role is to build products as directed by the Project Management team. Their tasks include building, developing, maintaining, testing, and improving system architectures.
What Are the Top Industries for a Product Manager?
The most promising and upcoming industries looking to hire Product Managers are:
- Internet of Things
- Banking & Finance
- E-commerce Platforms
Product Manager Salary
According to Comparably, a Product Manager’s average compensation is $115,734 per year. The annual salary can range from $35,000 to $505,555. Your final offer depends on various factors, such as your experience and the value you bring to the organization.
Tips to Negotiate Product Manager Salary
- You are not obliged to share your current compensation or the last compensation you received.
- Do not share the compensation you are expecting.
- Do not insist on receiving offers in writing.
- Ask for a relocation package if it applies to your case.
- Compare your offer with publicly available data.
- Invest in building a good rapport with the hiring manager.
Salary negotiation is a must-have skill. Read The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation at FAANG for Software Engineers to hone your negotiation skills and get an offer that matches your value.
What's a Typical Product Manager Interview Structure?
A Product Manager interview process will naturally differ from company to company. This process will also depend on the specific role you have applied for, your experience, and your level of seniority. Despite these factors, some elements of the process remain the same across all companies and levels:
- Getting the Interview
- Phone Screening
- Onsite Interviews
2. Phone Screen: The phone screen involves an initial phone screen with HR or a recruiter and 1-2 phone interviews with existing PMs or the Hiring Manager. Find out how to face phone screen interviews with ease.
3. Onsite Interviews: 3-7 onsite interviews at the company's office, which may include multiple coding interviews, a system design interview, and behavioral interviews.
Product Manager Interview Timeline
The PM interview process normally takes 4-8 weeks in total. This timeline varies for different companies and could go up to more than 3+ months.
What to Expect in Product Manager Interviews?
Let us now look in detail at what you can expect in a Product manager interview:
1. Phone Screening
If your resume is shortlisted, a recruiter will call you to get to know you better. A Product Manager phone interview is a mix of behavioral questions to see if you are a good culture fit and a product design coding assessment on a remote online editor to gauge your technical skill levels as a software developer.
2. Onsite Interviews
Once you pass the recruiter screening and preliminary technical interview, you get called for an onsite interview. These interviews are based on product design, technical knowledge, behavioral aspects, and strategy. Each of the rounds lasts about an hour.
In the technical face-to-face interview, you will be given a real-life problem related to data structures and algorithms that you will have to solve with code on a whiteboard.
In the system design round, you will be asked to build a system design around a given problem. System design interviews test your ability to design large systems with various constraints and requirements.
A separate HR Interview is also conducted sometimes. It focuses on evaluating whether you are culturally a good fit for the company or not. It involves behavioral questions.
Skills Required for Product Manager Interviews
Here’s a breakdown of the types of Product Manager interview questions ask and the related skills FAANG companies look for:
- Strategic: Product Strategy, Estimation
- Design: Product Design, Product Improvement, Favorite Product
- Technical: Technical explanation, Algorithm
- Analytical: Metric Definition, Metric Change
Check out this low-down of the top skills in 2021 that FAANG+ companies are looking for.
Topics to Prepare for Microsoft Program Manager Interview
Some important topics for Associate Product Manager interview prep and Product Manager interview prep are:
- Computer Science: Fundamentals of Computer Science, How the Internet Works, Fundamentals of Programming Languages
- Data Structures and Algorithms: Arrays, Linked Lists, Stacks, Queues, Search Algorithms, Sorting Algorithms
- Systems Design: Redundancy, Replication, Load Balancing, Caching
- Product Knowledge: Design, Improvement, Growth, Launch, Pricing, Prioritization, Kickoff/Sunset, Risk
Sample Product Manager Interview Questions
Some sample Product Manager interview questions are listed below:
- Perform a preorder traversal in a binary tree.
- Given an integer singly linked list L, find its middle element. L has n nodes. (Solution)
- Zombie Clusters Problem. (Solution)
- Design a URL shortening service like bit.ly.
- How would you improve XYZ (product of the company you are interviewing for)?
Recommended reading: Google Product Manager Interview Questions
How to Prepare for a Product Manager Interview?
You can create and follow a strategic interview prep plan for the Product Manager interviews to ensure that you cover all ground. Practice as many Product Manager interview questions as you can.
For a real advantage over others, sign up for an interview prep bootcamp like Interview Kickstart that offers a one-of-its-kind, tailor-made prep interview course for Product Managers.
Sign up for the FREE webinar on How to Nail Your Next Tech Interview to learn more.
Here are a few more tips to help you prepare:
- Practice with peers or experienced PM Interviewers. It will give you a real insight into what PM interviews are like.
- Find out more about the company’s office culture and the core values they believe in.
- Practice for the interview by solving problems and going through step-by-step methods to answer common questions. Check out more practice problems.
- Go over all the product design projects you have completed and note down your experience and key learnings.
- Practice interview-style coding questions on a whiteboard without using a compiler.
- Prepare at least three questions to ask at the end of each interview session.
Are You Ready to Land Your Dream Product Manager Role?
Interview Kickstart has helped thousands of experienced professionals get their dream jobs. We aim to help everyone from an aspiring Product Manager or Senior Product Manager to a Software Developer, Engineering Manager, and Tech Lead get better acquainted with the intricacies of their chosen field. Then, we provide you with all the guidance you need to clear interviews with the most coveted tech giants.
Knowing very well that clearing an interview requires much more than sound technical knowledge, we train you in a manner that helps you develop a winner's stride. IK is THE golden ticket for all Product Managers who want to land the role of their dreams.
Want to learn more? Sign up for our FREE webinar on How to Nail Your Next Tech Interview.
Product Manager Career FAQs
1. Do all FAANG companies follow the same Product Manager interview process?
No, every company will have its own interview structure and hiring process for the Product Manager role. Even within a FAANG company, this process will differ from division to division. However, some steps remain the same through all hiring processes:
Getting the Interview > Phone Screening > Onsite Interviews
2. Do companies ask coding questions in Product Manager interviews?
Yes. You can be asked coding questions during the phone screen as well as during face-to-face interviews. Practice is the key to faring well in coding questions in Product Manager interviews.
3. For how long does a face-to-face Product Manager interview last?
Each face-to-face interview typically lasts for 45 minutes – 1 hour. This duration will differ from company to company.