7 Questions to Ask A Hiring Manager

November 21st, 2014 by lewis


Last month, we featured Edmund Lau’s questions to ask after the interview. Today, Business Insider featured some excellent questions to ask after the interview, and I couldn’t resist featuring them below.

Questions to Ask After the Interview

  1. “If you were to rank all the people who have done this job in the past, tell me about No. 1 and why you would put them there?”
  2. “You’ve described this as a place that welcomes innovation. Can you tell me about a time when you failed at something, or when someone else in the organization failed at something? How did the organization deal with it?”
  3. “‘Fast-forward a year, and imagine that you’re looking back on this hiring decision. The two people you hired have exceeded your highest expectations. What did they do that impressed you most?'”
  4. “What qualities did the person who held this job previously have that you’d like to maintain? What are the most important qualities that the person filling this job should have? What’s your definition of success?”
  5. “As CEO of the company, what worries you and keeps you awake at night?”
  6. “The smartest question, hands down, was a candidate who asked me to describe the skills and characteristics of those considered ‘high potentials’ at our company/organization, meaning, those who are known to have excelled through key results and behaviors. In essence, they wanted to know more about my views on the exemplars of my organization.”
  7. “How does a leader come into a company like Accenture that has such a strong culture and make an impact, and how does the organization help enable success?”

Photo Credit: Ethan @ SportSuburban

Questions to Ask After an Interview

November 5th, 2014 by lewis


Looking for a list of questions to ask after an interview? Edmund Lau featured an excellent list at the end of his Quora post on this topic. I’ve featured my favorite end-of-interview questions from his blog post here:

Working at the company
What’s your typical work day like?
What’s the process of taking an idea you have from an inception and shipping it to production?
What fraction of your time is spent building new things versus maintaining old ones?
How do product / business / engineering decisions get made at the company?

Team culture
What’s one thing you really like about working at the company and one thing you’d like to improve?
What’s being done about the thing you’d like to improve?
How would you describe the culture of the company?
What are the core values of the company, and what are some examples of how they’re reflected day-to-day?

How did this particular product feature get designed and launched?
Why did you decide to launch this particular version instead of this other one?
How has the product evolved since launch based on user feedback?

Career growth
What’s the most unexpected lesson that you’ve learned on the job?
How is knowledge across projects documented and shared at the company?
What is the onboarding or mentoring process like (if any) for new hires?
What opportunities have you had to work with different people and projects during your time at the company?

Corporate challenges
What are the biggest obstacles to this company becoming massively successful?
What are the current priorities and focus areas at the company?
Where would I be able to add the most value?

Photo credit: Ethan Lofton


The New York Times is reporting that Microsoft is laying off more than 5,800 employees tomorrow. The last time Microsoft had such a brutal set of layoffs was back in 2009. Apparently this latest round of cuts was foreshadowed by Microsoft CEO in his internal strategy memo on July 10.

We’ve worked with a lot of current and former Microsoft employees on their next role. If you’re affected by the job cuts, we’d be happy to chat with you and give you a free 15 minute interview analysis.

Photo Credit: LeWeb

Skip the Jargon at Your Next Interview

May 21st, 2014 by lewis


Just because your co-workers use jargon, doesn’t mean you should too.

Here’s a great reminder from Richard Branson, Founder at the Virigin Group, on why you should do away with jargon. My favorite quote from his article:

Some people love speaking in jargon, using fancy words and turning everything into acronyms. Personally, I find this simply slows things down, confuses people and causes them to lose interest. It’s far better to use a simple term and commonplace words that everyone will understand, rather than showing off and annoying your audience.

Don’t get lazy, and don’t try to impress with fancy words. Take the time to simplify what you’re saying, using words that the listener knows well. The interviewer will appreciate the effort you’ve made to make their lives easier.

And with clearer speech, you will make a bigger impact and stand out from others.

Photo credit: Andy Mabbett


Famous sketch note artist, Sacha Chua, put together the ultimate product manager interview cheat sheet. This beautiful one-page visual summarizes tips, advice, and framework from my book, Decode and Conquer, the world’s first book focused on product management interview preparation.

Sacha’s cheat sheet covers all the goodies from the book:

  • CIRCLES Method™ for answering product design questions
  • AARM Method™ for answering metrics questions
  • DIGS Method™ for answering behavioral interview questions

And her cheat sheet doesn’t stop there. It has reminders on how to solve technical, estimation, strategy, and stress interview questions.

There wasn’t enough room to fit all the interview answers from the book, so do check out Decode and Conquer.


For those of you preparing for a Google product manager interview, here’s what Google recruiting is sending to its product manager candidates:

Interviewing can be scary and intimidating. At Google, we hope the interviews will be challenging and enjoyable. As we aim to hire generalists, you can expect to interview with APMs and PMs working on any number of our products – our interviews are centered on problem solving ability so there won’t be many questions about specific experiences or domains.

In preparation, you can expect discussions around the following:

*Product design – Thinking creatively/critically about products – eg. how to monetize twitter, how to change Gmail, design an app for the Louvre. Give feedback and analysis on features (think of how to best delight the user), technical design, UI design.

*Product strategy – Understand Google’s competitive landscape and discuss the vision for Google, the mobile market, the ad market, the internet, and technology in general. Discuss long term product roadmaps and strategies to increase market share.

*Analytical – May be a market analysis, problem solving or brain teaser question, eg. how would you store all the phone calls in the world? Most important is attention to detail and communication of how you’d break the problem into smaller nuggets to reach an overall solution.

*Technical – You could be asked architecture/design (eg. multi-tiered web apps, data storage in databases) or conceptual questions (eg. internet technologies and protocols). Possibly even an algorithm/coding or two.

Photo credit: Jurvetson


I gave a talk yesterday on How to Ace the Product Management Interview at Product Camp 2013, hosted here in Seattle. For those of you who are looking for slides, I’ve uploaded them to Slideshare and embedded them below.


If you’re preparing for a product management interview, you’ll encounter case interview questions. I’ve included 12 case interview questions relating to strategic, business, and product design issues here.

Strategic & Business Issues

  • Amazon cannot get enough Nintendo consoles.  What should Amazon do when visitors find that it’s out of stock?
  • There is no That is, citizens in the Czech Republic cannot purchase from Amazon. What issues should Amazon evaluate before deciding whether they should start selling in the Czech Republic?
  • The US government recently submitted a bill to tax all online sales. Pick a pro or con side of the argument, and explain your position.
  • Walk me through Amazon’s marketing plan for the new Xbox.
  • How can Amazon convince users to write more product reviews?
  • Should Amazon decrease payouts to Amazon Associates?
  • What is the lifetime value of a Kindle user?
  • How can Google+ get its users to add more friends to their network? How would that help Google+?
  • Jeff Bezos walks into your office and says you can have a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea. What is it?
  • Create a mobile app to help adults learn new hobbies.
  • Design a new shopping app.
  • Pick a product from the kitchen and redesign it.

google rs

SEE ALSO: Google Product Marketing Manager Interview Questions and Answers

The Google product marketing manager (PMM) interview is different from other marketing job interviews. There are more questions about hypothetical marketing cases. And they value creativity more than other companies. This post will discuss what to expect and how to prepare for the Google PMM interview.

What to Expect

Google evaluates PMM candidates in 4 different areas:

  • Marketing aptitude. Google PMMs can architect a marketing plan that logically drives specific business goals. PMMs sweat the details too. For instance, they write communication doc that serves as a source of truth for all product marketing materials, whether it’s a sales training deck, website copy, or TV ad campaign. PMMs are well-versed in SEO, SEM, and social media tactics. They understand the value of A/B testing ad copy and landing pages. They can write first draft for a viral marketing video script. For your interview, expect questions such as:
    • Tell me a terrible product that’s marketed well.
    • Tell me a good product that’s marketed poorly.
    • How would you position the Samsung Chromebook?
    • If you are PMM for Google’s AdWords, how do you plan to market it?
    • Name a piece of technology you’ve read about recently. Now tell me your own creative execution for an ad for that product.
  • Communication skills. Google PMMs can communicate difficult concepts to both novice and expert audiences. For example, they can describe a generalized second price auction to AdWords advertisers. Or explain to the California State Legislature that Gmail doesn’t violate users’ privacy. Anticipate questions such as:
    • Google is thinking of increasing its minimum cost-per-click from $.01 to $.10. How would you communicate this change to advertisers?
  • Analytical skills. Google PMMs can calculate the maximum bid for an advertising tactic to achieve a 10X ROAS goal. They understand statistics as it relates to A/B testing and know what high p-values mean. Anticipate questions include:
    • How much money does Gmail make from ads?
    • How many iPhones are sold in the US each year?
  • Creativity. Google PMMs think big. Moonshot big. They don’t do marketing campaigns or creative execution just because Apple did it. They come up with clever ideas like Chrome’s Sophie campaign, YouTube’s symphony effort, and Android’s co-branding efforts with KitKat. Expect questions such as:
    • Come up with 3 creative ideas to promote Google Docs.

How to Prepare

  • Marketing aptitude. Practice leading discussions around marketing plans and strategy using a structured framework. Start with the business and marketing objective, evaluate the segments, and identify a target segment. Develop a positioning statement and then brainstorm promotional tactics. Mention pricing, distribution, and product changes — as necessary. Also practice critiquing creative execution using logical judging criteria.
  • Communication skills. Think about how to communicate difficult product changes that’s in-line with Google’s philosophy of focusing on users first.
  • Analytical skills. Practice estimation questions. Be prepared to do an ROI analysis on a marketing campaign. Refer to marketing ROI calculators for inspiration.
  • Creativity. Practice how to brainstorm lots of innovative ideas quickly. Brainstorming frameworks can help.

Also expect traditional interview questions, such as Tell Me About Yourself and Why Google? Lastly, while it hasn’t been common in the past, Google interviewers are increasingly relying on behavioral interview questions.

Photo credit: Robert Scoble

10 Product Design Questions for the PM interview

September 26th, 2013 by lewis



Yesterday, I finished a coaching session with one of my clients, who’s getting ready for the Google product manager (PM) interview. He asked for additional practice questions for the product design portion of the Google PM interview. So here it is:

  1. Design a new mobile app for YouTube.
  2. Improve Google’s search engine results page for eLearning courses.
  3. Improve Google’s search engine results page for food recipes.
  4. You’re the PM for Google+. What killer feature would you develop?
  5. Design a iPad app for Google Spreadsheet.
  6. Develop a mobile app for ESPN.
  7. Redesign a garage door opener.
  8. Develop a new dating app.
  9. Develop a mobile app for Starbucks.
  10. Build a website focused on home contractor reviews.

Have an AMAZING answer to one of these questions? Email lewis (a-t) with your response. We’ll feature the strongest responses on the blog.

Photo credit: Bert Kaufmann