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Lewis Lin
We have a guest post from Swati Priyam. Swati is a product management veteran with deep technical expertise. She’s held roles at some of the best brands including Expedia, Navis, and EMC. Swati holds a Master of Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon.

If you’ve worked with Lewis, participated in his workshops, or read his books, you know that he is all about frameworks.

Frameworks help immensely, both on the job and at the interview. Frameworks get you better outcomes and ensure that your thinking and communication is thorough. Frameworks might impress your audience too.

Below, I’ve described his favorite frameworks including when and how you should use them.

The DIGS™ Framework

According to Lewis Lin, when you are asked a behavioral question, instead of giving a boring mechanical answer using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method, you must find a way to portray your experiences as interesting, engaging stories that hiring managers can easily understand and enjoy. For that purpose, he developed the DIGS framework as shown below:

  • D ramatize the situation
  • I ndicate the alternatives
  • G o through what you did
  • S ummarize your impact

The Rule of Three

Using the DIGS framework not only allows your interviewer to understand the importance of the story you are talking about but also what you did with all possible alternatives in mind. Lewis Lin recommends using The Rule of Three framework while doing that. A list of 3 things inherently seems more complete than a list of 2 things. On the other hand, a list of 4 or 5 things is too many and might get overwhelming to the interviewer.

Pros and Cons List

While explaining the alternatives, it is very helpful to do a pros and cons list which helps the interviewer understand the thought process of the decision the storyteller made to solve the problem.

5W and H

When you go through details of what you did, you can leverage the 5W and H framework to convince the interviewer that you were on the driver’s seat in your story and not just someone sitting next to the driver. Listed below is the breakdown of this framework along with some examples of how to use them to provide clear details in an interesting way.

  • What did you do?
  • Who did you call?
  • When did you decide to launch?
  • Where was the product launched first?
  • Why did you launch it there?
  • How did you prioritize?

CIRCLES Method by Lewis C. Lin

CIRCLES™ Framework

When asked a product design question, Lewis recommends adopting his CIRCLES Method as shown below to organize your thoughts and provide a complete response without forgetting any step in an interview setting.

  • C omprehend the situation
  • I dentify the customer
  • R eport the customer’s needs
  • C ut through prioritization
  • L ist Solutions
  • E valuate trade-offs
  • S ummarize your recommendations

As you Comprehend the situation, it is usually a good practice to use the 5W and the H question list.

However, in the interest of time, Lewis recommends shortening to just the 3Ws and H instead:

  • What is it?
  • Who is it for?
  • Why do they need it?
  • And how does it work?

The 5Es

To Identify and Report your customer needs and to sketch the activities of the customer, draw a customer journey map.  It helps you uncover product improvement areas easily. While drawing the customer journey map, think about the 5Es checklist to help brainstorm different stages of the customer experience. Here are the 5Es:

  • E ntice: What event triggers a user to enter into the UX funnel?
  • E nter: What are the first few steps in the UX funnel?
  • E ngage: What task(s) is the user trying to accomplish?
  • E xit: How does the user complete the task?
  • E xtend: What follow up actions occur after the user completes the task?

After you have identified the customer and their needs and are onto the step of Listing the solutions, you must remember the Rule of three. Brainstorming on at least 3 or more solutions will help you innovate iteratively and will put you in a comfortable situation as the interviewer critiques your solutions.

AARM™ Metrics

Under the product execution question type, you might be asked to define metrics for a product as you prepare to launch a new feature to the market. AARM metrics is a great analytical framework which gives step-by-step guidance to measure your success. Listed below are some sample questions to ask yourself as you deal with a metrics question.

  • A cquisition – How can you track customer sign-ups for your service?
  • A ctivation – How many users are fully registering for your service?
  • R etention – How many users are returning to use the service often and in turn, helping the business?
  • M onetization – How much revenue are you able to collect from the users?

situation-complication-resolution

The Situation-Complication-Resolution (SCR) Framework

The McKinsey SCR framework enables you to craft a succinct business story. Here is how you should use it:

  • S ituation – Explain the context and facts to familiarize the audience
  • C omplication – What was the problem?
  • R esolution – How did you go about solving the problem?

The ESTEEM™ Method

The ESTEEM Method is a step by step guide for what you should do to climb the PM ladder after you have landed a great PM job. The components are as listed:

  • E xecution – Legendary PMs deliver 5-10x of what regular PMs deliver
  • S uperior communication skills – Legendary PMs are strong communicators
  • T actical awareness – Legendary PMs work smarter, not harder
  • E xtraordinary mental toughness – Legendary PMs don’t quit easily
  • E xceptional team builder – Legendary PMs have a great network of talented people
  • M oonshot vision – Legendary PMs differentiate themselves with a moonshot vision

While these frameworks, methods, and acronyms are very useful in organizing one’s thoughts, one must remember why they are there and how to use them. They are meant to make your life easy.

Remember that these frameworks are just guidelines or checklists, but not full recipes.

For more details, refer to Lewis’ books:

Decode & Conquer by Lewis C. Lin
The Product Manager Interview by Lewis C Lin
Be the Greatest Product Manager Ever by Lewis C Lin

140 Google Interview Questions

April 14th, 2020 by lewis

JUST PUBLISHED: 60+ KILLER Salary Negotiation Scripts to help you get a higher salary.

Here’s a list of 140 Google interview questions. Many of our clients have interviewed and received Google job offers. Contact us for a free 15 minute interview analysis before your Google interview.

SEE ALSO: Google PM interview classGoogle Software Engineer interview classGoogle Product Marketing interview class

Link to Google interview questions for:

Google Interview Questions: Product Marketing Manager

  • Why do you want to join Google?
  • What do you know about Google’s product and technology?
  • If you are Product Manager for Google’s Adwords, how do you plan to market this?
  • What would you say during an AdWords or AdSense product seminar?
  • Who are Google’s competitors, and how does Google compete with them?
  • Have you ever used Google’s products? Gmail?
  • What’s a creative way of marketing Google’s brand name and product?
  • If you are the product marketing manager for Google’s Gmail product, how do you plan to market it so as to achieve 100 million customers in 6 months?
  • How much money you think Google makes daily from Gmail ads?
  • Name a piece of technology you’ve read about recently. Now tell me your own creative execution for an ad for that product.
  • Say an advertiser makes $0.10 every time someone clicks on their ad. Only 20% of people who visit the site click on their ad. How many people need to visit the site for the advertiser to make $20?
  • Estimate the number of students who are college seniors, attend four-year schools, and graduate with a job in the United States every year.
Google Interview Questions: Product Manager
  • How would you boost the GMail subscription base?
  • What is the most efficient way to sort a million integers?
  • How would you re-position Google’s offerings to counteract competitive threats from Microsoft?
  • How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
  • You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
  • How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
  • How would you find out if a machine’s stack grows up or down in memory?
  • Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
  • How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?
  • You have to get from point A to point B. You don’t know if you can get there. What would you do?
  • Imagine you have a closet full of shirts. It’s very hard to find a shirt. So what can you do to organize your shirts for easy retrieval?
  • Every man in a village of 100 married couples has cheated on his wife. Every wife in the village instantly knows when a man other than her husband has cheated, but does not know when her own husband has. The village has a law that does not allow for adultery. Any wife who can prove that her husband is unfaithful must kill him that very day. The women of the village would never disobey this law. One day, the queen of the village visits and announces that at least one husband has been unfaithful. What happens?
  • In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country?
  • If the probability of observing a car in 30 minutes on a highway is 0.95, what is the probability of observing a car in 10 minutes (assuming constant default probability)?
  • If you look at a clock and the time is 3:15, what is the angle between the hour and the minute hands? (The answer to this is not zero!)
  • Four people need to cross a rickety rope bridge to get back to their camp at night. Unfortunately, they only have one flashlight and it only has enough light left for seventeen minutes. The bridge is too dangerous to cross without a flashlight, and it’s only strong enough to support two people at any given time. Each of the campers walks at a different speed. One can cross the bridge in 1 minute, another in 2 minutes, the third in 5 minutes, and the slow poke takes 10 minutes to cross. How do the campers make it across in 17 minutes?
  • You are at a party with a friend and 10 people are present including you and the friend. your friend makes you a wager that for every person you find that has the same birthday as you, you get $1; for every person he finds that does not have the same birthday as you, he gets $2. would you accept the wager?
  • How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?
  • You have eight balls all of the same size. 7 of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more. How can you find the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?
  • You have five pirates, ranked from 5 to 1 in descending order. The top pirate has the right to propose how 100 gold coins should be divided among them. But the others get to vote on his plan, and if fewer than half agree with him, he gets killed. How should he allocate the gold in order to maximize his share but live to enjoy it? (Hint: One pirate ends up with 98 percent of the gold.)
  • You are given 2 eggs. You have access to a 100-story building. Eggs can be very hard or very fragile means it may break if dropped from the first floor or may not even break if dropped from 100th floor. Both eggs are identical. You need to figure out the highest floor of a 100-story building an egg can be dropped without breaking. The question is how many drops you need to make. You are allowed to break 2 eggs in the process.
  • Describe a technical problem you had and how you solved it.
  • How would you design a simple search engine?
  • Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.
  • There’s a latency problem in South Africa. Diagnose it.
  • What are three long term challenges facing Google?
  • Name three non-Google websites that you visit often and like. What do you like about the user interface and design? Choose one of the three sites and comment on what new feature or project you would work on. How would you design it?
  • If there is only one elevator in the building, how would you change the design? How about if there are only two elevators in the building?
  • How many vacuum’s are made per year in USA?
Google Interview Questions: Software Engineer
  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • What is the difference between a mutex and a semaphore? Which one would you use to protect access to an increment operation?
  • A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?
  • Explain the significance of “dead beef”.
  • Write a C program which measures the the speed of a context switch on a UNIX/Linux system.
  • Given a function which produces a random integer in the range 1 to 5, write a function which produces a random integer in the range 1 to 7.
  • Describe the algorithm for a depth-first graph traversal.
  • Design a class library for writing card games.
  • You need to check that your friend, Bob, has your correct phone number, but you cannot ask him directly. You must write a the question on a card which and give it to Eve who will take the card to Bob and return the answer to you. What must you write on the card, besides the question, to ensure Bob can encode the message so that Eve cannot read your phone number?
  • How are cookies passed in the HTTP protocol?
  • Design the SQL database tables for a car rental database.
  • Write a regular expression which matches a email address.
  • Write a function f(a, b) which takes two character string arguments and returns a string containing only the characters found in both strings in the order of a. Write a version which is order N-squared and one which is order N.
  • You are given a the source to a application which is crashing when run. After running it 10 times in a debugger, you find it never crashes in the same place. The application is single threaded, and uses only the C standard library. What programming errors could be causing this crash? How would you test each one?
  • Explain how congestion control works in the TCP protocol.
  • In Java, what is the difference between final, finally, and finalize?
  • What is multithreaded programming? What is a deadlock?
  • Write a function (with helper functions if needed) called to Excel that takes an excel column value (A,B,C,D…AA,AB,AC,… AAA..) and returns a corresponding integer value (A=1,B=2,… AA=26..).
  • You have a stream of infinite queries (ie: real time Google search queries that people are entering). Describe how you would go about finding a good estimate of 1000 samples from this never ending set of data and then write code for it.
  • Tree search algorithms. Write BFS and DFS code, explain run time and space requirements. Modify the code to handle trees with weighted edges and loops with BFS and DFS, make the code print out path to goal state.
  • You are given a list of numbers. When you reach the end of the list you will come back to the beginning of the list (a circular list). Write the most efficient algorithm to find the minimum # in this list. Find any given # in the list. The numbers in the list are always increasing but you don’t know where the circular list begins, ie: 38, 40, 55, 89, 6, 13, 20, 23, 36.
  • Describe the data structure that is used to manage memory. (stack)
  • What’s the difference between local and global variables?
  • If you have 1 million integers, how would you sort them efficiently? (modify a specific sorting algorithm to solve this)
  • In Java, what is the difference between static, final, and const. (if you don’t know Java they will ask something similar for C or C++).
  • Talk about your class projects or work projects (pick something easy)… then describe how you could make them more efficient (in terms of algorithms).
  • Suppose you have an NxN matrix of positive and negative integers. Write some code that finds the sub-matrix with the maximum sum of its elements.
  • Write some code to reverse a string.
  • Implement division (without using the divide operator, obviously).
  • Write some code to find all permutations of the letters in a particular string.
  • What method would you use to look up a word in a dictionary?
  • Imagine you have a closet full of shirts. It’s very hard to find a shirt. So what can you do to organize your shirts for easy retrieval?
  • You have eight balls all of the same size. 7 of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more. How can you fine the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?
  • What is the C-language command for opening a connection with a foreign host over the internet?
  • Design and describe a system/application that will most efficiently produce a report of the top 1 million Google search requests. These are the particulars: 1) You are given 12 servers to work with. They are all dual-processor machines with 4Gb of RAM, 4x400GB hard drives and networked together.(Basically, nothing more than high-end PC’s) 2) The log data has already been cleaned for you. It consists of 100 Billion log lines, broken down into 12 320 GB files of 40-byte search terms per line. 3) You can use only custom written applications or available free open-source software.
  • There is an array A[N] of N numbers. You have to compose an array Output[N] such that Output[i] will be equal to multiplication of all the elements of A[N] except A[i]. For example Output[0] will be multiplication of A[1] to A[N-1] and Output[1] will be multiplication of A[0] and from A[2] to A[N-1]. Solve it without division operator and in O(n).
  • There is a linked list of numbers of length N. N is very large and you don’t know N. You have to write a function that will return k random numbers from the list. Numbers should be completely random. Hint: 1. Use random function rand() (returns a number between 0 and 1) and irand() (return either 0 or 1) 2. It should be done in O(n).
  • Find or determine non existence of a number in a sorted list of N numbers where the numbers range over M, M>> N and N large enough to span multiple disks. Algorithm to beat O(log n) bonus points for constant time algorithm.
  • You are given a game of Tic Tac Toe. You have to write a function in which you pass the whole game and name of a player. The function will return whether the player has won the game or not. First you to decide which data structure you will use for the game. You need to tell the algorithm first and then need to write the code. Note: Some position may be blank in the game। So your data structure should consider this condition also.
  • You are given an array [a1 To an] and we have to construct another array [b1 To bn] where bi = a1*a2*…*an/ai. you are allowed to use only constant space and the time complexity is O(n). No divisions are allowed.
  • How do you put a Binary Search Tree in an array in a efficient manner. Hint :: If the node is stored at the ith position and its children are at 2i and 2i+1(I mean level order wise)Its not the most efficient way.
  • How do you find out the fifth maximum element in an Binary Search Tree in efficient manner. Note: You should not use use any extra space. i.e sorting Binary Search Tree and storing the results in an array and listing out the fifth element.
  • Given a Data Structure having first n integers and next n chars. A = i1 i2 i3 … iN c1 c2 c3 … cN.Write an in-place algorithm to rearrange the elements of the array ass A = i1 c1 i2 c2 … in cn
  • Given two sequences of items, find the items whose absolute number increases or decreases the most when comparing one sequence with the other by reading the sequence only once.
  • Given That One of the strings is very very long , and the other one could be of various sizes. Windowing will result in O(N+M) solution but could it be better? May be NlogM or even better?
  • How many lines can be drawn in a 2D plane such that they are equidistant from 3 non-collinear points?
  • Let’s say you have to construct Google maps from scratch and guide a person standing on Gateway of India (Mumbai) to India Gate(Delhi). How do you do the same?
  • Given that you have one string of length N and M small strings of length L. How do you efficiently find the occurrence of each small string in the larger one?
  • Given a binary tree, programmatically you need to prove it is a binary search tree.
  • You are given a small sorted list of numbers, and a very very long sorted list of numbers – so long that it had to be put on a disk in different blocks. How would you find those short list numbers in the bigger one?
  • Suppose you have given N companies, and we want to eventually merge them into one big company. How many ways are theres to merge?
  • Given a file of 4 billion 32-bit integers, how to find one that appears at least twice?
  • Write a program for displaying the ten most frequent words in a file such that your program should be efficient in all complexity measures.
  • Design a stack. We want to push, pop, and also, retrieve the minimum element in constant time.
  • Given a set of coin denominators, find the minimum number of coins to give a certain amount of change.
  • Given an array, i) find the longest continuous increasing subsequence. ii) find the longest increasing subsequence.
  • Suppose we have N companies, and we want to eventually merge them into one big company. How many ways are there to merge?
  • Write a function to find the middle node of a single link list.
  • Given two binary trees, write a compare function to check if they are equal or not. Being equal means that they have the same value and same structure.
  • Implement put/get methods of a fixed size cache with LRU replacement algorithm.
  • You are given with three sorted arrays ( in ascending order), you are required to find a triplet ( one element from each array) such that distance is minimum.
  • Distance is defined like this : If a[i], b[j] and c[k] are three elements then distance=max(abs(a[i]-b[j]),abs(a[i]-c[k]),abs(b[j]-c[k]))” Please give a solution in O(n) time complexity
  • How does C++ deal with constructors and deconstructors of a class and its child class?
  • Write a function that flips the bits inside a byte (either in C++ or Java). Write an algorithm that take a list of n words, and an integer m, and retrieves the mth most frequent word in that list.
  • What’s 2 to the power of 64?
  • Given that you have one string of length N and M small strings of length L. How do you efficiently find the occurrence of each small string in the larger one?
  • How do you find out the fifth maximum element in an Binary Search Tree in efficient manner.
  • Suppose we have N companies, and we want to eventually merge them into one big company. How many ways are there to merge?
  • There is linked list of millions of node and you do not know the length of it. Write a function which will return a random number from the list.
  • You need to check that your friend, Bob, has your correct phone number, but you cannot ask him directly. You must write a the question on a card which and give it to Eve who will take the card to Bob and return the answer to you. What must you write on the card, besides the question, to ensure Bob can encode the message so that Eve cannot read your phone number?
  • How long it would take to sort 1 trillion numbers? Come up with a good estimate.
  • Order the functions in order of their asymptotic performance: 1) 2^n 2) n^100 3) n! 4) n^n
  • There are some data represented by(x,y,z). Now we want to find the Kth least data. We say (x1, y1, z1) > (x2, y2, z2) when value(x1, y1, z1) > value(x2, y2, z2) where value(x,y,z) = (2^x)*(3^y)*(5^z). Now we can not get it by calculating value(x,y,z) or through other indirect calculations as lg(value(x,y,z)). How to solve it?
  • How many degrees are there in the angle between the hour and minute hands of a clock when the time is a quarter past three?
  • Given an array whose elements are sorted, return the index of a the first occurrence of a specific integer. Do this in sub-linear time. I.e. do not just go through each element searching for that element.
  • Given two linked lists, return the intersection of the two lists: i.e. return a list containing only the elements that occur in both of the input lists.
  • What’s the difference between a hashtable and a hashmap?
  • If a person dials a sequence of numbers on the telephone, what possible words/strings can be formed from the letters associated with those numbers?
  • How would you reverse the image on an n by n matrix where each pixel is represented by a bit?
  • Create a fast cached storage mechanism that, given a limitation on the amount of cache memory, will ensure that only the least recently used items are discarded when the cache memory is reached when inserting a new item. It supports 2 functions: String get(T t) and void put(String k, T t).
  • Create a cost model that allows Google to make purchasing decisions on to compare the cost of purchasing more RAM memory for their servers vs. buying more disk space.
  • Design an algorithm to play a game of Frogger and then code the solution. The object of the game is to direct a frog to avoid cars while crossing a busy road. You may represent a road lane via an array. Generalize the solution for an N-lane road.
  • What sort would you use if you had a large data set on disk and a small amount of ram to work with?
  • What sort would you use if you required tight max time bounds and wanted highly regular performance.
  • How would you store 1 million phone numbers?
  • Design a 2D dungeon crawling game. It must allow for various items in the maze – walls, objects, and computer-controlled characters. (The focus was on the class structures, and how to optimize the experience for the user as s/he travels through the dungeon.)
  • What is the size of the C structure below on a 32-bit system? On a 64-bit?

struct foo {

char a;
char* b;
};

 

Google Interview: Software Engineer in Test
  • Efficiently implement 3 stacks in a single array.
  • Given an array of integers which is circularly sorted, how do you find a given integer.
  • Write a program to find depth of binary search tree without using recursion.
  • Find the maximum rectangle (in terms of area) under a histogram in linear time.
  • Most phones now have full keyboards. Before there there three letters mapped to a number button. Describe how you would go about implementing spelling and word suggestions as people type.
  • Describe recursive mergesort and its runtime. Write an iterative version in C++/Java/Python.
  • How would you determine if someone has won a game of tic-tac-toe on a board of any size?
  • Given an array of numbers, replace each number with the product of all the numbers in the array except the number itself *without* using division.
  • Create a cache with fast look up that only stores the N most recently accessed items.
  • How to design a search engine? If each document contains a set of keywords, and is associated with a numeric attribute, how to build indices?
  • Given two files that has list of words (one per line), write a program to show the intersection.
  • What kind of data structure would you use to index annagrams of words? e.g. if there exists the word “top” in the database, the query for “pot” should list that.
Google Interview: Quantitative Compensation Analyst
  • What is the yearly standard deviation of a stock given the monthly standard deviation?
  • How many resumes does Google receive each year for software engineering?
  • Anywhere in the world, where would you open up a new Google office and how would you figure out compensation for all the employees at this new office?
  • What is the probability of breaking a stick into 3 pieces and forming a triangle?
Google Interview: Engineering Manager
  • You’re the captain of a pirate ship, and your crew gets to vote on how the gold is divided up. If fewer than half of the pirates agree with you, you die. How do you recommend apportioning the gold in such a way that you get a good share of the booty, but still survive?
Google Interview: AdWords Associate
  • How would you work with an advertiser who was not seeing the benefits of the AdWords relationship due to poor conversions?
  • How would you deal with an angry or frustrated advertisers on the phone?
Sources
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=266663
http://tihomir.org/crazy-questions-at-google-job-interview/
http://www.drizzle.com/~jpaint/google.html
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=299692
http://careers.cse.sc.edu/googleinterview
http://job-interview.blogspot.com/2005/02/google-interview-product-marketing.html
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/05/google_interview_tales/
http://money.cnn.com/2007/08/29/technology/brain_teasers.biz2/index.htm
http://blogs.lessthandot.com/index.php/ITProfessionals/EthicsIT/google-interview-questions
http://placementsindia.blogspot.com/2007/09/google-top-interview-puzzles.html
http://linkmingle.com/user/interview_questions/google_interview_questions
http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?interview.11.626758.33
http://mindcipher.com/puzzle/78-clock-works
http://www.glassdoor.com
http://bluepixel.ca/blog/?p=69
http://www.businessinsider.com/my-nightmare-interviews-with-google-2009-11

SketchNote_640x480

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.

googlelogosept12015

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 my new book, The Product Manager Interview; this brand new book has over 160 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 The Product Manager Interview:

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

Do the following customer journey map exercises in The Product Manager Interview:

  • 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 The Product Manager Interview:

  • 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 The Product Manager Interview, 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 The Product Manager Interview:

  • 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 The Product Manager Interview:

  • 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 The Marketing Interview.

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

a
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 The Product Manager Interview:

  • 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


google

Thank you everyone for all the positive feedback, comments, and suggestions on this article since I published it back in September 2013.

I’ve updated this article to reflect the latest questions, interview reports, and comments I’ve received about the Google product manager process through Impact Interview’s 1:1 work with clients.

You can find the updated article and tips at this new location:

How to Prepare for the Google Product Manager Interview

Photo Credit: Antonio Manfredonio

During the interview, it’s not just your vocal delivery that matters; the content counts just as much.

When deciding what content or stories to share, McKinsey offers some valuable tips which I’ve paraphrased here:

Behavioral Questions about Leadership

Good examples show that you guided a group to overcome a significant challenge or obstacle. Keep in mind that you did not have to be the official leader for your story to be good.

Bad examples are ones where you were “elected” as the leader but never faced any challenges.

Behavioral Questions about Influencing Others

Good examples share a challenge where you had to convince one or more people, who were initially resistant to your idea, to embrace that idea or proposal.

Bad examples share a situation where an individual or group embrace an idea that they weren’t resistant to in the first place.

Behavioral Questions about Accomplishments

Good examples show that you both set and accomplished a challenging goal.

Bad examples are ones where:

  • Someone else set a goal, and you achieved it.
  • You set the goal, and someone else achieved it.
  • You didn’t set the goal, and you didn’t achieve it.
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The Google Cloud TAM phone interview usually lasts about 45 to 60 minutes. Here are the questions you can expect during your interview.

If you’re looking for tips on how to prepare for the TAM case study, refer to this answer here.

Icebreaker Questions

Why Google?

Why Google Cloud?

What’s your current role? What are you looking for your next role?

Role Related Knowledge

Products

Explain what Google Cloud is to a customer.

Who are Google Cloud’s competitors?

What do you know about the cloud market?

Hypothetical questions

How would you measure success of customers?

how do you manage a project schedule from start to finish?

How would you onboard a new customer?

Describe a time you failed to deliver for a customer.

Describe a time you had to deal with unrealistic customer demands.

Describe a time the internal team could not support you.

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design portfolio interview with digs method lewis lin

If you’re a designer interviewing for a new role, you’ll have to get ready for the dreaded design portfolio interview.

The Internet has no shortage of tips on what your design portfolio should look like. However, there are few tips on what your verbal commentary should sound like.

I recommend using the DIGS Method™. Here’s why:

  • Provides context about your design task or challenge
  • Tells us how you approached it
  • Helps us appreciate your innovative approach
  • Emphasizes your process, tools, and techniques
  • Summarizes with your product or business impact

For a more detailed walkthrough, here’s what your DIGS-influenced design portfolio response should sound like:

Dramatize the situation

Start by helping us appreciate your design challenge.

Here’s what it might sound like:

“My boss told me that our goal was to increase the time spent on Facebook from 1 minute to 2 minutes. That’s a whopping 100% increase. To make it worse, he said that removing that annoying login wall wasn’t up for discussion. I was dumbfounded, especially since we knew that darned login wall was responsible for 94% of all short visits on Facebook.”

You’ll see that this narrative makes the design objective clear. It also dramatizes how impossible the task is; you don’t want to convey a design challenge that’s ordinary and simple. Lastly, it hints at some constraints. In this case, it’s a design constraint, but it could also be time or resource constraints too.

Indicate the Alternatives

Indicate at least three alternatives and talk about the pros and cons of each. If you fail to indicate the alternatives, we have a hard time appreciating why your solution is innovative. We’ll simply conclude that your single solution is obvious and not-so-noteworthy.

Here’s what it might sound like:

“There were three design approaches I considered. Here’s one, here’s a second, and here’s the third. The advantage of the first one is …, but the disadvantage is…”

Go through what you did

Many candidates choose not to talk about what they did. Maybe they feel it’s too obvious. Or they think it’s too boring. Obvious or not, interviewers are looking for evidence that you possess the skills and the techniques that matter. So play along and describe the process, tools, and techniques you used.

Here’s what it might sound like:

“I first built a paper prototype of what I wanted to accomplish. It was quick, easy, and tactile. Then I created a low-fidelity mockup in <tool name>. Then I created a high-fidelity, clickable prototype in <tool name> which we used in our usability sessions.

Summarize the result

It’s not enough to present the designs. You’ll have to explain whether the design realized the main goal. In this example, it’s whether you increased the time spent metric to 2 minutes.

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Interview Coaching: Amazon Interview

October 25th, 2018 by lewis

amazon-interview-spreadsheet

We provide interview coaching services for Amazon interviews. Over the last 10 years, we’ve coached hundreds of candidates on how to prepare for Amazon’s leadership principles interview. We’ve also developed the world-famous Amazon interview stories worksheet.

But don’t just take our word for it. Read what our clients have to say about our Amazon successes below.

If you’ve got an Amazon interview and you’re looking for help crafting your interview responses to their 14 leadership principles, that’s our speciality. We’ll help you through it. Contact us at lewis@impactinterview.com.


Here’s what clients say about us: Amazon Interview Prep

Find more Impact Interview testimonials here

“I just wanted you to know that I was offered the position of area manager at Amazon. I accepted last Friday, and I start in two weeks. Thank you for your guidance. The preparation allowed me to shine int he interview.” – S.O.

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“I have got an offer from Amazon. They told me I beat 3 internal candidates. Thanks for your interview consultation.” – K.V.

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“I just received an offer from Amazon for the Senior Product Manager Technical Products internship! I wanted to take a moment and thank you for all the help you’ve provided me.” – E.O.

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“I’ll be starting at Twitter next week. I got offers from Amazon, Twitter, Groupon, and a couple of startups. I decided to go with Twitter!” – O.J.

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“FYI – I just received the OFFER from AMAZON yesterday evening!!!!! I am beyond excited and wanted to send a note to you to thank you for your help through the process. You were a fantastic interview coach and really helped me think about the best way to frame up my experience and examples. THANK YOU!!!!” – M.I.

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“Lewis, I am a current second year student at [top-tier business school]. If you remember, we had met during your session here last month, and I had mentioned how I had found your workshop and book useful for securing the internship at Amazon and was about to interview with Google. I have gone through the recruiting process with Google as well, and have an offer from them as well now for a full time role. Thanks again for all the help through the process through your material!” – B.E.

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“Good news! I just accepted an offer from Amazon for a Sr.Program Manager role.” – W.K.

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“Amazon plans to extend an offer as a senior manager. Thanks for your help in prepping me. Really appreciate it.” – B.D.

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“I am happy to report that I have received a job offer from Amazon. Your coaching program for Amazon has definitely benefited me!” – M.B.

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“Got the Amazon offer, with an initial package that was ~$100K more than what I currently make at [a top 5 tech company]. It’s a dream job for the role of Principal Product Manager for a [special project]. – Q.K.

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“Thanks Kelly for your interview coaching! I got offers from both Amazon and Apple.” – S.N.

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“I am happy to share the good news with you- Amazon made an offer today and I accepted the position. Thank you for your coaching and guidance.” – I.M.

________________________________

“I’m very happy to share the news that I’ve been offered Principal Product Manager with Amazon. Thank you for giving me the confidence to succeed at the interview!! Definitely worth the money!” – I.J.

________________________________

“Lewis, I got an offer to join Amazon as Senior PM – Technical products and have a second round for Google PM next week. ” – N.D.

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“My son received an offer last evening from Amazon. He mentioned that the coaching was very beneficial.” – A.I.

________________________________

“I’ve landed on an Amazon PM internship + offer last year thanks to your awesome materials.” – I.K.

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“I received and accepted an offer with Amazon.com. All the coaching/practive were a huge part of giving me confidence to go in a “sell, sell, sell” myself. I’ll be passing your name along to those (like me) who need some brushing up on their interview skills!” – B.H.

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“Martins, I just wanted to drop you a note, and thank you for your excellent coaching and guidance. I noticed an immediate change in my interview performance after our sessions and I believe that is what got me from being rejected in Rounds 1-2 to actually seeing what a final round looks like. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it past Amazon’s final round. I finally forced myself to stop cramming the day before the interview and take it easy. That really helped me relax and my mind finally seemed to work. I received three really great job offers last month. I am really excited! This is what I’ve been praying for, a chance to start fresh and build a new life. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much for your help. That really was the best use of my money ever and I would do it all over again.” – Y.K.

 

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In the previous blog post, I talked about a strategy for answering the “What animal would you be?” interview question.

As part of a recent team activity, my colleagues shared their choices and reasons why they would be a particular animal.

The team came up with several clever examples including some unique justifications. Hope it helps you brainstorm your own answer to the “What animal would be?” interview question.

Sample Answers for the “What animal would you be?” interview question

  • Elephant 🐘: intelligent, social, introverted
  • Waterbear: Tolerate extreme conditions, outlast anyone, microscoipc
  • Dolphin 🐬: communicative, social
  • Lion 🦁: courageous
  • Fox 🦊: clever, cunning, cute
  • Bird 🐦: fly, be part of a flock
  • Cat 🐱: independent, resilient
  • Dog 🐶: get attention, play with others
  • Flamingo: pink, be fashionable & stand out, travel in groups, and sleep on feet
  • Eagle 🦅: be free, troll others