SEE ALSO: Google Product Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Google product managers (PMs) are an elite and successful group. Here are the six signs that indicate you have a great chance of getting in:

Go to a Top University and Major in Computer Science

Review the LinkedIn profiles of current Google PMs , and you’ll find several common themes:


  • Stanford
  • UC Berkeley
  • MIT
  • Ivy League schools, including Harvard and Yale


  • Computer science

This is not to say that those who don’t go to a particular school or major in computer science can’t be PMs. However, Google does get thousands of resumes for its PM program. Going to a top school and majoring in computer science can’t hurt your chances of getting an interview.

Have a Track Record of Entrepreneurship

There’s a prevailing sentiment that if Google PMs weren’t working at Google, they’d start their own company. Thus, it’s no surprise that many Google PMs have demonstrated entrepreneurial experience either during or before college.

Entrepreneurial experience doesn’t have to be a software start-up or a profitable small business. Instead, it can also be any extracurricular activity that showcases your intellectual curiosity, flawless execution, and propensity for achievement.

Some entrepreneurial examples include contributions to an open-source movement, completing a successful Kickstarter campaign, or creating a popular smartphone app.

Have Teaching Experience

Many Google PMs are former teaching assistants (TAs) for their university’s computer science courses. Marissa Mayer, widely known as the caretaker of Google’s PM program, was the head teaching assistant for my CS 106 course at Stanford. Google continues to tap CS 106 section leaders as potential PM candidates. Why are former TAs attractive PM candidates? Excellent communication skills and technical mastery.

Get Referred into Google

The most effective way to get an PM interview? Get an existing Googler to refer you. Your resume will make it to top of the recruiter’s review stack. And within 1–2 weeks, you’ll likely get a call for a phone interview.

Why? It’s the similarity principle. A+ PMs are friends with A+ candidates. You can take your chances by submitting your resume online, but you’ll have to compete with thousands of unsolicited submissions.

And no need to be bashful about getting a referral. Google has a generous referral fee for employees that land top candidates. So bug your friend, have them submit your resume, get hired, and have them take you to a nice non-Google lunch after they get the referral bonus.

Show Passion for Google and the PM program

It doesn’t matter if it’s Google or another company, hiring managers want employees who dedicate themselves to the job and give 120%.

Why? It’s a lot of work for managers to prod employees to do their work, take initiative, and / or think outside of the box. Managers pray for candidates who are just rockstars — without constant nudging. Most rock stars are those who are passionate about the company they work for and the work that they do — every single day. What’s the best way to do this? Give your 120% even before you get the job. If you can code, write an Android app using the Google Maps API. If you can’t or don’t have time to code, do a product teardown and offer recommendations on how to improve it. Just imagine sharing your pre-interview homework at the interview. I’d be impressed. And there will be less time for those pesky Google Interview Questions.

Prepare for the Google Interview

There’s no way you can opt out of the interview, unfortunately. And the interview is tough. You’ll get hypothetical case questions used to assess your skills in product design, analytics, and technical. For more information on what to expect at the Google PM interview and how to prepare, refer to this article: How to Prepare for the Google Product Manager Interview.

SEE ALSO: Google Product Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Photo credit: YouTube


Salary Negotiation Book

Here’s a nice freebie for Labor Day weekend, Lewis C. Lin’s salary negotiation book, Five Minutes to a Higher Salary.

The offer expires tomorrow. Don’t miss out on your chance to grab it!

Words That Get The Job Offer

July 29th, 2015 by lewis


On a job interview, chemistry and rapport with the interviewer is important. Why? Interviewers hire candidates they like!


There are a lot of ways you can get the interviewer to like you. My favorite is to tell an entertaining story. When it comes to telling entertaining stories, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. This morning I came across Richard Bayan’s book, More Words That Sell. Bayan makes several good points about how one should tell their story, and I’ve picked a couple of tips that I feel are most applicable to job candidates:

  • Favor the specific over the general. Most stand-up comics would agree that New Jersey is funnier and more evocative than a Middle Atlantic state. The more specific you can make your language, the more impact it will have. I can’t overemphasize the importance of creating sharp, well-defined images in the reader’s mind.
  • Use colorful words to energize (the listener). Make a habit of combining your copy and substituting colorful words for limp or fuzzy ones. Short, lean, gritty native English words (like short, lean, and gritty) still pack a wallop. Words derived from Latin and Greek (such as efficient, productive, and harmonious) tend to sound more abstract and cerebral. Favor the native English vocabulary when you want to create a dramatic impression. Turn to our Greco-Latin heritage when you strive for erudition and precision.
  • Be aware of rhythm. Vary your sentence structure to create a lively, flowing movement that carries the reader effortlessly downstream. Use dashes here and there to introduce exciting shifts and turns. For dramatic impact, follow a long sentence with a short, taut one. Or inject an occassional sentence fragment. For emphasis. Copy rhythm is an intuitive matter, so it’s not easy to learn or teach. Like jazz, it’s something you have to feel.
  • Put the emphasis on clarity. This is more important that word magic. (Listeners) can’t act until they understand you. And they won’t be able to understand you unless you explain it clearly. Seasoned copywriters swallow their pride and opt for clarity over creative expression.

Photo credit: Cristian Iohan Ştefănescu


SEE ALSO: Facebook Product Manager Interview Questions and Answers

For those of you with an upcoming Facebook PM (FB PM) interview, here’s what you should expect at the interview along with tips to prepare.

We also have a Facebook PM interview class video that reviews actual FB PM questions and provides sample answers. Read on for more information.

What to Expect at the Facebook Product Manager Interview

The Facebook PM interview has standardized across three components:

Product Sense

Product sense is Facebook’s term for product design interview questions. Good Facebook PMs innovate beautiful products that solve big, messy user problems.

Example questions include:

  • How would you improve the Facebook Newsfeed?
  • How would you design Facebook Events 2.0?
  • How would you redesign Facebook Pages?


Good Facebook PMs get things done and make critical decisions. Facebook’s term for this competency is called execution. Facebook interviewers test for executive skills by understanding:

  • Fit. Is the candidate a good fit for the company? Is the candidate aligned with Facebook’s mission and values? And are the candidate’s skills and experiences aligned with Facebook?
  • Scrappy. Can the candidate get things done?
  • Decision-making. Can the candidate evaluate data and make decisions, especially when the situation is murky and the decision is far from being unanimous?
  • Focused on the big picture. Can the candidate select an appropriate product goal that factors in the needs of the user, team, and / or company?
  • Analyze, diagnose, and evaluate. Can the candidate troubleshoot a problem by analyzing the root cause and suggesting a course of action?

Example questions include:

  • We’ve outsourced a critical mobile app to a third-party developer. How do we decide when to take that development in house?
  • What are the goals for Facebook’s News Feed?
  • How would you decide between showing more ads on the Facebook News Feed vs. showing a People You May Know recommendation widget?
  • Weekly active users (WAU) for Facebook’s iPhone dropped. What happened?

Leadership + Drive

Top-notch Facebook PMs are driven leaders. Facebook interviewers test for leadership + drive by evaluating the following:

  • Is the candidate self-aware, especially of their own flaws?
  • Does the candidate get along with others? In other words, how is their EQ (emotional intelligence)?
  • Does the candidate like leading others and building teams?
  • Lastly, does the candidate get excited about technology and have the capacity to set forth a bold and inspiring vision?

Example questions include:

  • What’s a self-development area that needs improvement?
  • Tell me a time when you disagreed with an engineer. How did you convince him or her?
  • What’s your favorite project where you played a leadership role?
  • What’s a technology trend that you’re excited about?

Ice Breakers

As with any interview, expect standard ice breaker questions during the beginning of the interview process including:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What is your favorite project you’ve worked on recently?

What’s No Longer Covered in the Facebook PM interview

In the past, Facebook included a technical portion in the PM interview. They’ve phased that out now. For those of you who are rusty on technical concepts, you’ll be happy that you’ll no longer have to answer questions about recursion or object-oriented programming.

Keep in mind that interviewers are always free to ask whatever question they want. So while technical questions are not prescribed as part of their PM hiring process, some interviewers may choose to operate outside of those boundaries.

How to Prepare for the Facebook Product Manager Interview

To prepare for the three interview components, I would recommend the following:

Product Sense

Practice leading product design discussions using a design framework like the CIRCLES Method™.  Explore possible personas and articulate the use cases. Prioritize the use cases and then brainstorm solutions.  Most candidates fail the product design interview because they jump straight into solutions.

Facebook interviewers say that it’s not critical for candidates to wireframe their ideas. However, effective communication counts, and pictures communicate more effectively and elegantly than a bunch of words. Download a wireframing tool like Balsamiq, and get comfortable sketching UI designs on the whiteboard.


When tackling questions in the execution bucket, I’d recommend using a couple of different frameworks:

  • ROI estimation
  • AARM Method™
  • Root cause analysis
  • Behavioral interview framework
  • Rule of Three

ROI estimation

For interview questions around evaluating or comparing tradeoffs between different features or decisions, the Facebook interviewer wants to see that your decision is grounded in data. And that inevitably means evaluating the net benefit to the company. Now that Facebook is a profit-making, publicly-traded company — net benefit and even user engagement — can be measured in terms of revenues and costs.

For your different feature choices, calculate the ROI impact of your various options. You can also evaluate the options qualitatively by drawing up a pros and cons list. However, a qualitative comparison is rarely sufficient at the Facebook PM interview.

AARM Method™

AARM Method™ stands for four sets of metrics: acquisition, activation, retention, and monetization. It’s a handy metrics checklist when answering questions about appropriate goals and metrics to track as a product manager. For more details on the AARM Method™, refer to Decode and Conquer: Answers to Product Management Interviews.

Root cause analysis

When asked to identify the cause of a WAU drop in the Facebook iPhone app, brainstorm, as best (and quickly) as possible, all the potential causes. Then systematically investigate and rule out each cause to get the root issue. A fishbone diagram may help organize your thoughts, brainstorm a more complete list, and impress the interviewer with your visual communication skills.

Behavioral interview framework

When answering FB PM interview questions such as, “Tell me a time when you needed to complete a deadline, but didn’t have the resources” use a storytelling framework. My personal favorite is the DIGS Method™ featured in Decode and Conquer; the STAR method is a decent alternative.

Rule of Three

For cultural fit questions, such as Why FB? or Why PM?, I highly recommend using the Rule of Three. It worked for exceptional communicators like Steve Jobs and Thomas Jefferson. It’ll work for you too.

Leadership + Drive

To get ready for interview questions in the Leadership + Drive bucket, I’d recommend using many of the frameworks I’ve introduced previously:

Behavioral interview framework

Use STAR or the DIGS Method™ to answer questions such as “Tell me a time when you disagreed with an engineer. How did you convince him or her?”

Rule of Three

Use it to answer questions like “What’s your favorite project where you played a leadership role?”


Use the CIRCLES Method™ as a checklist for answering questions such as “What’s a technology trend that you’re excited about?” Key areas to emphasize: the customer problem, the technology trend or solution that will address that problem, and a thorough discussion of feasibility including technical, cost, and consumer adoption.

Weakness framework

Use this framework to answer questions about what is your biggest weakness and other personal development areas.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Product Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Photo credit: Christoph Aigner


How would you answer these questions at the job interview?

  • Did you get fired?
  • Did you not get promoted in seven years due to poor performance?

It’s easy to get tongue-tied when you’re on the receiving end of these questions. However, Dan Broden reminds us that job seekers can deal with these questions elegantly. He recommends two different types of phrases when answering a negative question.

When You Can Comfortably and Credibly Deny the Negative Question

Consider beginning your answer with these phrases:

  • No
  • Not at all
  • That’s not accurate
  • I disagree
  • Absolutely not
  • It’s quite the opposite
  • To the contrary

When You Cannot Comfortably and Credibly Deny the Negative Question

Begin your answer with these phrases instead:

  • We see it differently
  • I wouldn’t use those words
  • I wouldn’t put it that way
  • That’s not the way we see it
  • I take issue with your contention
  • That hasn’t been our area of focus

What Happens Next

After using these phrases to assertively respond to the question, bridge to a message that provides more context for your assertion.

Photo credit: Model UN


I’ve been reading Lou Adler’s Hire With Your Head. Adler has a good section detailing how ten nervous traits can be interpreted negatively by the interviewer. Here’s the list of nervous traits, along with the corresponding negative interpretation.

  1. Shallow responses can be interpreted as being not very intelligent, no sense of humor, or lack of judgment.
  2. Sweaty palms can be seen as being weak, soft, or nerdy. Definitely not someone you’d want making a presentation to a customer or executive.
  3. Twitching can show that a candidate is nervous, uncomfortable with people, and possibly not a team player.
  4. Too chatty can be perceived as being dumb and superficial.
  5. Lack of confidence can appear mislabeled as passive.
  6. No eye contact can be interpreted as untrustworthy.
  7. Saying stupid things can demonstrate that one is a real jerk, a weak team player, or insensitive to others.
  8. Lack of warmth can be seen as arrogant.
  9. Superficial questions shows that a candidate has wrong priorities or no character.
  10. A dry throat, strained voice, or coughing can show that one lacks confidence, is unprepared, or doesn’t possess insight.

Photo credit: Freddie Peña

Lindsey Dal PortoLindsey Dal Porto is the technical recruiter and sourcer for BetterWorks. BetterWorks is an enterprise goals platform for driving operational excellence and providing powerful insights about how work gets done.Before BetterWorks, Lindsey worked at FitBit and Living Social. Lindsey graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in political science and Italian. I had a chance to chat with Lindsey about a unique recruiting tool she uses called the Legends List and how candidates can get on that list.

Lindsey, thanks for taking the time to be with us today. Can we start with a little background on yourself?

I’m one of many recruiters here that works for a small startup, BetterWorks. There are 35 people at the company, and I’m in charge of recruiting all of our engineers. Before that, I was at FitBit and KIXEYE, which was a gaming studio. Before that, I was an outdoor active travel trip leader. I took a lot of people on biking trips around the world. I’m from the Bay Area, and I went to school at Berkeley.

The reason I reached out to you: the Entelo blog referenced a fascinating concept called the Legends List. Can you tell us more about it?

Legends List is a list of people who I want to keep on top my network. It could be candidates that I work with in the past. It could be people that I meet at a meet-up. It could be network or industry professional. It could be people that I’m introduced too. It could be other industry professionals such as other recruiters of agencies who do something totally different than I do. So the people in my list is a way to maximize my recruitment funnel and to help me do my job as well. It contains people who are very well networked, and people who are very well vested. It includes people who I am looking for. It includes people who I can learn from and teach to. It consists of people where we can have a mutually special relationship.

Can you give us some examples?

The other day I meet a guy who has a company. We had a great conversation, and I put him down on my Legends List. He’s one of the top candidates I want to work with. Maybe down the line, he and I can connect. I’ve also got top candidates who I want to work with. Let’s say I’ve got a candidate who turned down our [job] offer but continuously sends us referrals. They are definitely on my Legends List. There are some brilliant senior engineers at KIXEYE that I am constantly reaching out to for referrals.

It sounds like you are collecting legends from a variety of different sources. What is your Legends List process like?

It is a monthly process for me. I have a calendar reminder to check my Legends List, which is an Excel document. I recalibrate it during that monthly process. For each person, I include names, emails, who they work for, etc. One of the most important things is to figure out what’s the best way to follow up, which is different for each person. I also include in my spreadsheet how I met that person.

The personal connection is important. Even the year I met them is very helpful. I think that if you take the time to follow up, even twice, you’re already going above and beyond what [other] people usually do.

During the follow-up, what kind of things are you reaching out to them with?

Let’s say I met someone who I really want to bring on our team. I think they are a fantastic engineer. They have a great background. I’m not going to hit them up on Facebook just to bring them on the site to be with our team right away. Instead, follow up with a simple “Wonderful to meet you,” “Let’s keep in touch,” or “Keep me posted to how things are going.” Or perhaps it’s “We have a company game night. We’ll love for you to come.” Even stuff like, “What is [a common acquaintance] up to?” or “How is life treating you?” helps. Making a personal connection with people is the way to go.

Your description reminds me of dating. Does that analogy apply?

That’s so funny you say that! I think it’s so similar. Taking the time, the extra 5 minutes out of your day to really tell them something meaningful. You don’t want to give them the feeling that you’re emailing 20 people an hour. Even something as simple as “Oh, I love your website, those pictures of Southeast Asia you have there were awesome” letting people know that you invested your time into them. Because ultimately, people love to be flattered, and they love to be complimented.

Who makes it to your Legends List? Do they have to be software engineers? Can they be a non-software engineer? What’s the criteria? Do you have different tiers? Are there A-list people? B-list people? C-list people?

No, they don’t have to be technical to make it to my list. Some folks – I’ve worked with in the past. Other folks – we’ve made an offer, and they’ve turned it down. I add a lot of people I’ve met at Meetups. I also like It is one of my favorite recruiting tools. You have pay fee, but it is people who are active in the market.

Do you share your Legends List with others?

My network is very open, but I don’t necessarily show people my list.

You don’t want to show your scratch notes.

Exactly. I love introducing people to others in ways that is a little bit less invasive. With that being said, I refer hopeful candidates that I’ve not been able to hire. Actually, I just talked to an engineer about 2 weeks ago. I thought [he] was a great candidate, so I sent him to a couple of different recruiting agencies that I’ve worked with.

How many people are on your Legends List?


Do you recalibrate or take people off the Legends List?

I do review the Legends List from time to time. It makes it easier to manage, and it keeps me on my toes a little bit more.


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