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Hiring Great Product Managers

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How to interview great product managers and reduce false negatives.

Hiring Great Product Managers

  1. 1. Conducting Great PM Interviews Reverse Engineering Interviews to Reduce False Negatives Gayle Laakmann McDowell twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com AOL Bootcamp Oct 2014
  2. 2. Gayle Laakmann McDowell (CS) (MBA) <dev> </dev> Author Interview Coach Interview Consulting twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 1
  3. 3. The Problem(s) 1. Great employees often aren’t great twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com interviewees. 2. Interviewers often aren’t good. 2 Rejecting great people 
  4. 4. twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com What I Coach Download at: CrackingThePMInterview.com 3
  5. 5. twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com What I Coach Download at: CrackingThePMInterview.com 4
  6. 6. Typical PM Questions • Behavioral/Experience • Technical Questions • Strategy • Product • Analytical • Knowledge twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 5
  7. 7. How “They” Interview twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com • Startups – Lean towards “practical” • Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. – Lean towards hypotheticals 6
  8. 8. Skills vs. Attributes twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 7 What do you want?
  9. 9. Skills vs. Attributes Knowledge & Experience twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com Technical Metrics Design Specs Industry Expertise … 8 Personal Attributes Intelligence Drive Initiative Passion …
  10. 10. Skills vs. Attributes twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 9
  11. 11. What You Want twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 10 Product Knows what to build Execution Will get it done Culture Fit Works well with others
  12. 12. What You Want twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 11 Product • Vision • Empathy • Analytical Execution • Initiative • Opinionated • Drive • Project mgmt Culture Fit • Enjoyable • Open to feedback • No jerks
  13. 13. Product • Design a ___________. • Favorite product & why? • What would you improve about our product? twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 12
  14. 14. What to Look For • Do they really get the user? twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com – Surface level & deep • Do the features/design make sense? • Can they defend decisions? • Will they change their mind with other info? • Execution: – Can they prioritize? – Can they execute? 13
  15. 15. Issues: Design a ___ • Yay: Starts from scratch • Nay: Bias towards knowledge • Nay: Coaching matters • Nay: Your bias • Nay: Hypothetical twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 14
  16. 16. Issues: Favorite Product • Yay: Something they know • Nay: Bias towards preparation • Nay: Some products better than others twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 15
  17. 17. Issues: Our Product • Yay: It matters • Yay: Ensures alignment • Nay: Group think • Nay: Uneven playing field twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 16
  18. 18. Recommendation • Need to know space? twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com – Our product • Else? – Hypothetical • Encourage questions 17
  19. 19. Execution • What have they done? • Why? • How? • What would they do differently? • What if…? twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 18
  20. 20. Common Issues • “Lack of personal accomplishments” – Didn’t do much? – Or doesn’t boast much? • Can’t immediately think of example twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 19
  21. 21. Recommendation • Look for initiative & drive – More than just following orders • Don’t be overly specific • Probe deeper twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 20
  22. 22. Culture Fit Personality + Your Culture twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 21
  23. 23. Common Issues • Lack of clarity around culture • Not structuring culture interview twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 22
  24. 24. What about skills? twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 23
  25. 25. Good Skills? • Technical knowledge? • Industry expertise? • Metrics? twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 24
  26. 26. What about the skills? Proxy Knowledge vs Deep Knowledge twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 25
  27. 27. Proxy Knowledge • Can reasonably expect that someone would know it • But is that true? twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 26
  28. 28. Deep Knowledge • Need someone who really knows this • But is that true? twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 27
  29. 29. Technical Skills • How much is enough? • Talk to and work with developers twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 28
  30. 30. Common Issues • Requiring more than you need • Can be really intimidating twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 29
  31. 31. My Recommendation Explain prior work  Push deeper twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 30
  32. 32. twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 31
  33. 33. It’s About… Job Performance NOT Interview Performance twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 32
  34. 34. Don’t get too caught up in the question. twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 33
  35. 35. Approach interview process like an engineer (it has bugs!) twitter.com/gayle facebook.com/gayle gayle.com 34
  • mikepham12

    Sep. 7, 2017
  • brysmi

    Feb. 2, 2017
  • YomeshPanchal

    Apr. 11, 2015

How to interview great product managers and reduce false negatives.

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