30-Day Google Product Manager Interview Prep Guide

November 7th, 2016 by lewis

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This is a self-guided, 30-day, step-by-step interview prep guide for Google product management (PM) interviews. It’s one of the most popular features from new book, PM Interview Questions; this brand new book has 166 practice questions for product management interviews.

I’ve excerpted that Google PM study guide here.

Best of luck and hope the study guide helps with your product management interviews!

Lewis

30-Day Google PM Interview Study Guide

Day 1. Getting familiar with Google’s PM Interview

Tasks

Goal

Know the scope and nature of the Google PM interview.

Day 2. Getting familiar with the product design interview

Background Reading

  • Read about the CIRCLES design method in Decode and Conquer.
  • Review the product design examples from Decode and Conquer to see how CIRCLES is applied.

Exercises

Do the following pain point exercises in PM Interview Questions:

  • Child’s 1st Birthday Party
  • Best Handyman
  • Job Search Pain Points
  • Finding Someone to Do Taxes

Do the following customer journey map exercises in PM Interview Questions:

  • Expedia Journey
  • AirBnB Journey
  • Online Course Journey
  • Job Search Journey
  • Home Improvement Journey
  • Customer Service Journey

Goals

  • Learn about product design questions.
  • Understand the product design framework, CIRCLES.
  • Observe how others answer interview questions with CIRCLES.
  • Practice two parts of the CIRCLES framework:
    1. Listing (brainstorming) solutions
    2. Reporting customer needs (customer journey map).

Day 3. Putting product design questions together with the CIRCLES method

Exercise

Do the following product design exercises in PM Interview Questions:

  • Disney Experience with Your Phone
  • Improving Google Hangouts

Goals

  • Like a wine connoisseur, detect and deduce how your response differs from the sample. As you become attuned to the differences, your own responses will improve.
  • For now, don’t worry about response quality or speed. Getting started, by practicing, is half the battle.

Day 4 to 10. Putting product design questions together with the CIRCLES method

Exercise

Complete one example a day for the next seven days, choosing from the list of questions from PM Interview Questions, below.

  1. Improving Google Play Store
  2. Monetizing Google Maps
  3. Mobile App Design for Nest
  4. Favorite Product
  5. Favorite Website
  6. People You May Know
  7. Car for the Blind
  8. ATM for the Elderly

Goals

  • Easily explain why CIRCLES leads to better interview responses.
  • Understand when, how and why one should adapt CIRCLES.

Day 11-13. CIRCLES in Real-life

Exercise

Further improve your product design skills by applying the CIRCLES Method to real-life. For each one of the next three days:

  1. Walk around the neighborhood.
  2. As you walk, use the CIRCLES method to improve everyday items. Here are some design problems you can ponder:
  • How can sidewalks be improved?
  • How can street lamps be more effective?
  • Build a product to solve the dog poop problem.
  • What new products can prevent flat tires in cars or bikes?
  • What innovation can make gardening less of a chore?
  • What innovative new product can make park gatherings be more social, with strangers?

Goal

Acculturating a product design mindset 24 hours a day, both at the interview and in your everyday life.

Day 14*. Find a practice partner for product design

Exercise

Sign up for the product management interview practice group on Slack: bit.ly/PMInterviewGroup

Post a request for a partner or partners in the #req-practice-ptr channel.

Take turns during your practice session. That is, Partner A (interviewer) gives a case to Partner B (interviewee). Then, swap roles.

Coordinate in advance which case each person will receive; to simulate the interview environment, the interviewee should do a case that they are not familiar with. The interviewer should take time to acquaint themselves with the question and the sample answer.

* Repeat the partner practice activity as often as you would like. The best candidates will have practiced at least 20 product design cases.

Goal

Master the product design interview. It is the number one reason why candidates fail the Google PM interview. If you have committed yourself to thoughtful practice, you should be an expert when it comes to tackling product design questions. Use the guidelines below to gauge your product design proficiency:

  • A novice suggests the obvious or copies competitive features. An expert suggests novel and memorable ideas. An expert suggests ideas that make the interviewer go, “Hmm, I wish I thought of that; maybe I should build a company based off of that idea.”
  • A novice mentions user insights that are shallow. The novice does not take interest in users or their motivations. The novice is deficient in user empathy. The expert is a lifelong learner of human psychology and behavior. An expert continually asks questions about what people do and why they do it. As a result, an expert easily points out insights that are urgent, relevant and surprising.
  • A novice follows the CIRCLES method step-by-step, like a home cook trying to make a sophisticated soufflé for the first time. The novice is afraid of making mistakes and clings tightly to a prescribed framework. The novice is so busy trying to recall the different steps of the CIRCLES framework that the novice’s responses sound robotic and textbook. The expert understands that a framework is a checklist, not a recipe. The expert understands that CIRCLES is there to prevent errors of omission. CIRCLES is there to help ensure that the listener’s experience is complete, satisfying and possibly even entertaining.

Day 15. Getting familiar with the metrics interview

Background Reading

  • Read about the AARM framework in Decode and Conquer.
  • Read metrics examples in Decode and Conquer to get familiar with metrics questions in an interview setting.

Exercises

Do the following metrics brainstorming exercises in PM Interview Questions:

  • Metrics for eCommerce
  • Metrics for Two-sided marketplaces
  • Metrics for SaaS
  • Metrics for Mobile Apps
  • Metrics for Publishers
  • Metrics for User-Generated Website
  • Metrics for Support Tickets

Do the following metrics prioritization exercises in PM Interview Questions:

  • Most Important Metric: Two-Sided Marketplace
  • Most Important Metric: Mobile App
  • Most Important Metric: eCommerce

Goal

Get more familiarity in coming up with and identifying good metrics.

Day 16. Diagnosing metrics problems

Exercises

Complete the following examples in this book, on your own or with a partner:

  • Shopping Cart Conversions
  • Mobile App Ratings
  • Reddit Posts

Goals

Gain proficiency in brainstorming a complete and exhaustive list of issues when troubleshooting a metric.

Day 17 and 18. Putting the metrics problem together

Exercises

Complete one example a day for the next seven days, both on your own and with your practice partner, from this book.

  • Your Favorite Google Product
  • Drop in Hits
  • Declining Users
  • Slow Download on Kindle
  • Pinterest Metrics
  • Go-to-Market and Success
  • Metrics for Uber Pick-up

Goals

Build proficiency in identifying, prioritizing and diagnosing metrics issues.

Day 19. Getting familiar with the estimation interview

Tasks

  • Read about estimation questions in Interview Math.
  • Read the following estimation examples in Interview Math to get familiar.
    • Women’s Rain Boot Market
    • Smartphone Case Market
    • Subway’s Sales
    • Netflix Subscription Sales

Goals

  1. Learn about estimation questions.
  2. Learn how to setup estimation questions using issue trees.
  3. Learn how to make assumptions.
  4. Try the following estimation questions:
    1. Cars in Seattle
    2. How Many Google Apps Users
    3. Revenue from YouTube Red

Day 20. Practice estimation questions

Tasks

Complete one example a day, from this book, for the next seven days.

  1. Planes in the Air
  2. Gmail Ads Revenue
  3. Google Buses
  4. Gmail Costs
  5. Driverless Car Purchases in 2020
  6. Storing Google Maps
  7. Facebook’s Ad Revenue

Goals

Master estimation questions. Not only is response quality important, but also you should complete most estimation questions in about 10 to 15 minutes.

Day 22. Learn more about strategy questions

Tasks

Read the following chapters in Decode and Conquer.

  • Strategizing: Tradeoffs
  • Strategizing: New Market Entry
  • Strategizing: CEO-Level Issues

Goals

  • Learn about common strategy question types.
  • Figure out how to approach strategy questions using frameworks.
  • See how the frameworks are applied to common PM strategy questions.

Day 23. Practice strategy questions

Tasks

Practice the following strategy questions, in this book, either on your own or with your practice partner:

  1. Google’s TV Cable Service
  2. iPhone Exclusive Partnership

Goals

Provide a response that is thoughtful, logical and addresses the company’s objectives. For more examples of thoughtful strategy responses, refer to the popular blog, stratechery.com.

Day 24. Learn more about pricing questions

Tasks

Read the “Pricing” chapter in Rise Above the Noise.

Goals

  • Learn about pricing questions, including the difference between pricing new vs. existing products.
  • Figure out how to approach pricing questions using frameworks.
  • See how to apply pricing frameworks to popular questions.

Day 25. Practice pricing questions

Tasks

Practice the following pricing questions, either on your own or with your practice partner:

  • Pricing New Products
    • Google Driverless Car Pricing
    • Google and Teleportation
  • Pricing Existing Products
    • AWS Price Reduction
    • Kindle Pricing at Target

Goals

  1. Google’s Strategy
  2. Google vs. Microsoft
  3. Google Moonshot Projects
  4. Google Maps in Mongolia
  5. Google Store

Day 26. Traditional and Behavioral Questions

Tasks

  • Read the “Winning the Behavioral Interview” chapter in Decode and Conquer.
  • Draft and polish your answers for the following questions:
    • Tell me about yourself.
    • Why Google?
    • Influencing your team
  • Practice and get feedback from your practice partner

Goals

While Google has an affinity for case questions, you should spend some time preparing for traditional and behavioral questions. Google interviewers usually ask traditional icebreaker questions like “Tell me about yourself” and “Why Google?” However, behavioral interview questions like “Tell me a time when you influenced a team” is a newer occurrence. Google’s HR department, since 2013, has asked its PM interviewers to ask more behavioral interview questions.

Day 27. Getting Familiar with Technical Interview Questions

Tasks

Review the technical topics suggested in: bit.ly/PMPrepPlan

Goals

Gain familiarity with technical concepts and questions. At Google, technical interview questions are reserved for on-site interviews, usually for candidates who have succeeded in other parts of the interview such as product design, analytics and strategy questions.

Day 28. First Try at Technical Interview Questions

Tasks

Attempt the following technical interview questions:

  • 100-Story Building and Two Eggs
  • Reducing Bandwidth Consumption

Goals

Try some technical interview questions, with a focus on calming your nerves and approaching questions with open curiosity. The “100-Story Building and Two Eggs” question is an example of an algorithm question. “Reducing Bandwidth Consumption” is an example of a technical architecture question.

Day 29-30*. Second Try at Technical Interview Questions

Tasks

Attempt the following technical interview questions from PM Interview Questions:

  • Load Balancer for Google.com
  • Dictionary for Scrabble
  • Google Search Services
  • Bayesian vs. AI

* Repeat the technical interview practice activity, as necessary.

Goals

Build confidence tackling technical interview questions.

Photo Credit: Google Inc


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