One of the biggest challenges for any hiring manager is identifying ambition and passion in a candidate. Aaron Hurst, founder of Taproot, has identified a clever interview question to evaluate those two traits: How would you describe your ideal retirement?

Hurst classifies answers into three buckets:

The TGIF Crowd: This group sees work as a means to an end — nothing more, nothing less. They’re always looking forward to the weekend and would almost definitely quit their jobs if they won the lottery.

The Status-Seekers: These people see work as a way of gaining social status and prestige. They’re working to give themselves a positive identity and to show their peers how well they’re doing.

The Purpose-Driven Employees: These people find work meaningful in and of itself, and see their careers as a way of creating good in the world. They can’t stand the idea of not working.

Which bucket are you in?

Photo credit: Taproot Foundation

Introducing JobScan

December 4th, 2014 by lewis

When a job search tool, JobScan gets 1.1k Facebook likes, they must be doing something right. JobScan is easily one of my favorite job search tools out there. With the proliferation of applicant tracking systems like Taleo, it’s important that your resume reflects the same keywords listed in the job description. JobScan is a free tool that helps candidates do just that. I had a chance to chat with James Hu, the founder, about JobScan and he was kind enough to provide some additional context below. Try it out!

Jobscan tool aims to better equip job seekers by analyzing job descriptions and helping applicants easily identify what skills and keywords are most important to a given employer. By ranking the most important and most frequently-occurring keywords per job description, this tool can help give applicants a competitive edge in their job search efforts. Here’s a testimonial from one of our customers, fresh from my email inbox.

“Jobscan allowed me to customize my resume for a specific job well beyond what I had considered as sufficient. After using this tool, I was able to land the interest of several potential employers within a short time for several positions at various firms. I highly recommend Jobscan for everyone!”

Marcus W.  Electrical Engineer, Houston, TX


JobScan screenshot

JobScan screenshot

Black Friday Sale: 30% off Lewis C. Lin Books

November 28th, 2014 by lewis

If you’ve been wanting to get a paperback copy of either one of my books, today would be a great day to do so. is offering a 30% off coupon.

Use promo code: HOLIDAY30. Ends Nov. 30 at 11:59pm PT. Paperback only.

Decode and Conquer: Answers to Product Management Interviews
Rise Above the Noise: How to Standout At the Marketing Interview

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.