New year, new job —My Product Management Interview Resources

Patrick Lin
6 min readJan 13, 2020

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In late 2019, I job searched for the first time in years. I transitioned into product management internally at my last company, so it took a lot of research to understand what the end-to-end PM interview process looked like for an external applicant. I’ve listed some of the resources I found helpful here. They’re PM-focused, but sections like the company lists and negotiation links are applicable to any role at tech companies.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive guide, but feel free to reach out if there are any resources you think should be added! View this as a Google Doc here.

Where to Apply

If you plan to work for the larger, known companies (such as FAANG), I’d apply there first since they often have longer interview processes and you ideally line up interviews (and offers) to arrive around the same time. Take time to identify your values, product interest, and other criteria to determine where you want to work, and leverage referrals whenever possible.

If you have time to spare, however, I’d recommend also initially applying to companies you’re a little less invested in to get some practice. It sounds callous, but my early interviews were critical in helping me identify areas where I needed more prep, and it feels less bad to blow a call that isn’t for your dream company.

If you’d rather not, just make sure you get in some mock interviews first — it’s one thing to break down a case study question by yourself in a notebook, it’s another to actually whiteboard out your thought process and explain your solution in front of someone else.

Company Lists

A few aggregated lists of tech companies. The criteria for each varies, but they all tend to be medium-sized organizations on good growth trajectories. There’s some overlap across these, but it’s helpful for finding places you otherwise wouldn’t know about.

Breakout List

  • High growth/impact companies, a bit more from the investor perspective.
  • There’s a link to the full list at the bottom, or if you add /all to the URL, with random quotes and bits of career advice mixed in there.

Enterprise Tech 30

  • Broken down by early, mid, late stage b2b companies.

Wealthfront’s Career Launching Companies

  • Their blog also includes interesting breakdowns of trends in industry and location.

Forbes Cloud 100

  • ‘The best private cloud companies in the world’. Unlike the others, they stack rank so the relative positions have significance.

Job Platforms

AngelList is good to find smaller startups that aren’t in the previous lists to apply to and has decent tools to filter searches with, but skews towards earlier stage, often lower-paying companies. LinkedIn is a good general source for listings, and Glassdoor has some though I didn’t apply through it.

For the last two, the platform serves as a middleman to match you with companies after you create a profile. They’ll only promote your profile for a limited amount of time, whereas AngelList persists as long as you’re active, similar to turning on your ‘open to offers’ feature on LinkedIn. I had pretty mediocre experiences with Hired and Underdog though, since they tend to be very engineering-focused.

  • AngelList
  • LinkedIn
  • Glassdoor
  • Hired
  • Underdog.io

Books

Cracking the PM Interview

The most critical resource for interview prep. If nothing else just use this book because it covers resume editing, how to do company research, and behavioral/case study questions. I have some qualms about how many companies have basically standardized on the question sets described here, but I can’t deny the book’s usefulness.

Decode and Conquer

Covers different PM question types with a few practice questions and answers. Mildly helpful to see different approaches and processes, since this is the guy who invented the CIRCLES method, but overall I liked Cracking more. I did use an older edition of the book though which was grossly outdated, the newest one released in 2019 should be better.

Often paired with his other book ‘The PM Interview’, which just has a ton of practice questions and answers. Didn’t buy this though.

PM Articles

A bunch of PM links

PM interview checklist — Product School

PM interview overview — Quora

5 Ways to Prepare for a PM Interview — The Art of Product Management — Quora

How to succeed as a PM — Jackie Bavaro

Breakoutlist Career Planning

Interviews Prep and Mocks

I consider mocks pretty integral to succeeding in interviews, as someone who tends to study too much and practice too little. If you can grab a friend for behavioral questions, great, but you might not have someone experienced at analyzing your answers from a product perspective.

Pramp

Free, P2P mock interviewing. Specify behavioral vs case study, choose a timeslot, and they’ll matchmake you with someone else. This was great for behavioral question practice! For case study questions I’d still recommend it but I think the platform skews a little more to newer PMs, so sessions weren’t always as in-depth as I would’ve liked. I met some cool people but I would’ve preferred people who could grill me harder.

Exponent

I didn’t pay for the interview prep service but the Youtube videos on their channel are great live examples of answering PM questions. Skews a little towards newer PMs, but I found it helpful to work on the interview prompt myself first and then follow along the video, pausing to address questions brought up before seeing how the candidate answers.

StellarPeers

Basic PM interview prep, plus access to a shared Google Calendar to schedule mocks with strangers. I didn’t do any mocks through this platform, but their Medium blog posts are excellent — extremely thorough sample answers to case study questions with sketches to simulate whiteboarding.

Rooftop Slushie (referral link)

Kinda like Quora except people pay to have their questions about certain companies answered by employees. You can browse answered questions for free, so this is great if you want to research interview processes for a specific company. Generally only has info on the larger companies. Here’s example Dropbox interview experience post.

The PM Interview

Presents a random common interview question with a timer for you to self-rehearse. Helpful for thinking on your feet and gauging how long you might be inadvertently rambling for. This is a good warmup into doing mocks, but has a fairly limited pool of questions.

Other services I didn’t use:

Hi Counselor: Paid service to get interview advice/prep.

Preptick: Limited question bank and allegedly offers a service to get practice interviews, but never had anyone reach out and wasn’t super helpful.

Daily Product Prep: Sends you daily questions. Heard about it after finishing interviewing so I didn’t use this.

Using Blind

Blind devolves into a semi-toxic echo chamber of Silicon Valley tryhards deadset on maximizing TC (total compensation) and career capital sometimes, but also has useful tips, internal company insights, and candid conversations about salary that help counter the information asymmetry companies typically hold over employees.

Signing up requires verifying your work email address. I recommend using it judiciously to research specific topics or companies, with the understanding that it doesn’t always present the most balanced views. Here couple of example posts that I saved — all credit goes to the original authors.

Blind FAANG Resources

Collection of interview tips for the top tech companies.

Blind FANG study guide

Copied directly from a Blind post. Presented from a software engineer perspective, this lists out all the topics, resources, and timeline one guy used to land Google. Super intensive. I didn’t follow the outline but it provides a useful breakdown of technical topics with links for each, which sometimes overlaps with PM interviews. For example, Google will ask system architecture design questions which are covered in links here.

Slack Groups

Product School

This organization hosts presentations from PMs in SF (and other cities) and uploads them onto Youtube and podcasts. I’d recommend the presentations focused on interviewing, such as the one by the author of Cracking the PM Interview, but other talks can help you learn different facets of PM. For example, I didn’t have much real-life work experience with pricing strategy at my previous role and listened to a few podcasts on that topic to shore up knowledge.

Their Slack org is very active, with a channel dedicated to interview discussion.

Mind the Product

Not much interview specific content, but lots of general PM discussions.

Lewis Lin’s PM Interview Practice

Specifically for finding mock interview partners, skewed towards people interviewing for FAANG. The Slack is super unorganized with people just throwing their Calendly links everywhere, but could be a good source for finding people to practice more regularly with. See the mocks section for more options.

Negotiation

Ten Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer” by Haseeb Qureshi — part 1

How to Not Bomb Your Offer Negotiation — part 2 followup to his original post

How to Negotiate

Negotiation Scripts

Salary References

Research the averages for your job title and location on LinkedIn and Glassdoor so you understand the market rate and know what to target.

You can look at levels.fyi, which compares job levels and salary ranges for the largest tech companies and get a few more data points from Blind or h1bdata.info, but LinkedIn and Glassdoor should suffice.

I have a ton more links on understanding RSUs and startup equity as well, but these are relatively easy to Google.

Good luck with your interviewing!

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Patrick Lin

Often wandering and wondering. Personal musings on identity, philosophy, and travels. Photography and more at patricklin.net