Cracking your next PM Interview: Exploratory discussion
This is a good milestone to congratulate yourself. Go out to dine with your family — don’t have to tell them the reason ( might sound funny). But this is also a point where you want to start getting really serious and organized. In this article I will cover some common questions you will face and how should you answer these…
Why is this round important?: By statistics, this stage ranks #2 in terms of candidates filtered out for that particular position (# 1 being the resume screening — so obvious). Although the person you will talk to at this stage will vary from company to company — hiring manager or the HR, both are very critical on how your candidature proceeds through the next few rounds. Feedback after this round is likely to be broadly in below 3 categories…
— “Great candidate, lets proceed”
— “Had a good chat, not sure of the fitment — lets evaluate”
— “Not suitable”
You definitely want to be ranked in the first bucket. There are a few ways you can do that…
Demonstrate you are a good fit: You can only do this if you know the company and the role very well. Ensure that you have read the job description at least twice and have visited the company’s culture page. You don’t have to use or quote exact same terms that define the company’s culture, but when selecting examples of work you can pick examples that demonstrate the values/principles that the company follows.
Pro-tip: Ask yourself what are 1–2 things that you want the interviewer to take away about your profile and fitment. Then try and orient your initial pitch on these.
Connect the dots: A common question you are likely to encounter is, “What are you looking forward to in this job?” or “Why are you looking for change and why this job”
— Talk about future plans, what excites you?
— Talk about what you learnt in your previous job, that you can contribute to in the new job
— Talk about how this role is perfect for you to make career progression
— Talk about how you really hold the prospective company in high regard
— Bad mouth the company (or manager) you have worked for
— only focus on short term aspects, money, designation, location etc.
— show this position as stepping stone to some other objective you want to achieve. Sure you have startup plans, but hold on to them.
Ask smart questions: Remember the pen and diary from previous post, make sure that you list down a set of smart questions you are going to ask. DO NOT ASK any question that has answers either in the job description or on the company’s career page. One thumb rule I have followed is to ask a question that will make the person think. Below are some questions that are very product specific…
— How is the product culture at the company?
— Are products conceived in top down or bottom up manner?
— How are product pods structured at the company?
— What are some key challenges in this role?
Next steps: If you feel the discussion has gone fairly well ( there will be some signs on this, “do you have any questions?” etc), make sure that you know the next steps in detail. If you feel you are not prepared for the next step, be sure to ask more time for setting up the next interview or assignment. You don’t have to agree on the schedule/agenda set by the recruiter or the hiring manager, they are trying to optimise for their benefit. You are getting this one shot at this company for next few months so take your time. Be in touch with the recruiter/hiring manager.
Common grounds for rejection: Below are some reasons why I was rejected in these rounds, feel free to add more in the comments…
— Not having the understanding of role or company.
— Unable to justify the shift of domain or industry (from B2C to B2B for eg.,)
— Unable to justify the shift from leadership role to individual contributor role
— Incorrect version of resume ( trust me, this happens)
— relocation concerns