Jackie’s PM Interview Tips

The Résumé

Your resume is the first example of your work that a company sees, and so it should reflect well on you. It should show off your ability to understand the audience, communicate well, and pay attention to details.

  • Misspellings — It takes an almost perverse carelessness to let spelling errors into a resume. This is one of the most basic cases of attention to detail.
  • Resumes that are more than one page, especially ones that go over by just a few lines. This is an example of poor prioritization. PMs need to be able to make hard cuts all the time, and I’ve never seen a 1.2-page resume that didn’t have obvious things to cut.
  • Resumes in Microsoft Word format (for a startup). Most people at startups don’t have Word installed, so those .docx files make candidates look out-of-touch. Use a PDF.
  • A cover letter that shows a passion for our space
  • Experience launching products
  • A background in computer science
  • Bullet points that are easy to read
  • Well articulated description of the company or product if it’s less well known
  • Highlighting of key achievements (patents, well known awards)

Preparation

If you’ve gotten an interview at a company you like, you might wonder what you can do to increase your chances of getting hired. One way is by researching the appropriate areas.

The Product Question

A key part of any PM interview is the product question. This is a question that’s designed to test your product sense — how good you are at thinking of, prioritizing, and designing features.

  1. Who are the customers?
  2. What are their use cases? / Why are they using this product?
  3. How well is the product doing for their use cases? Are there obvious weak spots?
  4. What features would improve those weak spots?
  5. How could this product get more users?

The Quantitative Question

How many pizza parlors are in the US? How many ping pong balls would fit into a 747? How much do I dread questions like these?

Talking Points

When I was first trained on talking to the press, I learned a surprising thing. When you talk to a journalist and they ask you a question, you don’t just answer it. Instead, you think about all of your pre-written talking points, pick the one that best fits, and then use it as an answer to the question.

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Jackie Bavaro

Jackie Bavaro

Author of Cracking the PM Career & Cracking the PM Interview, https://amzn.to/3If6X9U. Previously @ Asana, Google & Microsoft.