Second round interview calls are usually with the Director of Product Management, who is the manager in control of the company’s product teams and will likely be your boss if you do get hired. Here at Product Gym, we have given you questions that most second round interviews will cover. It’s important that people prep for these second round interviews differently than other round interviews. Each round or type of interview should be handled or approached differently. As interviewers use the second round interview to determine whether to bring applicants to their offices for an on-site interview, it’s important for applicants to be very thorough in their preparation.
Here are the areas to focus on:
Control the conversation and break the cadence of question and answer.
The hardest part about this interview portion is controlling the pace of conversation. Remember, these are hiring managers – but that doesn’t mean they manage the hiring. It just means that they make the final decision on whether or not to hire. They are NOT professional recruiters and it’s likely that they do not have a bank of questions to ask. There will be awkward pauses, times where one of you ramble, and there will be just general miscommunication.
The idea here is to control that miscommunication. Don’t make it into an interrogation. If you feel that they are just asking you a question and you are giving an answer, and then the next question is asked, another answer etc, you are failing the interview. You need to turn it into a conversation – comment on different parts of the answer and pose the same questions back to them. The key is to keep them engaged in the conversation that is your interview.
2) Find out what they are doing because you need to know that information for later interviews.
You have to be commanding the interview when you do this, specifically when you ask them questions about their products. At this point, you have to be leading the conversation. You have to be giving the impression that you are qualified and just checking whether or not this company that you are interviewing to work at is a good fit for you. This gives off an aura of confidence and competency when interviewers hear that.
You have to understand that they need you. If you made it to the second round, they’re evaluating whether or not to bring you on because you have a particular set of skills. This is not an interrogation. The best questions that you can ask are questions about successes and wins as well as difficulties and change.
Many of the first and second round interview calls start with “Tell me about yourself” or “Walk me through your background.” When they say that, you want to focus on answering with thorough and detailed examples. The examples you give must be focused on your responsibilities as a Product Manager. Think about specific examples where you were in a somewhat agile testing environment, or when you were dealing with a designer. The designer does not have to be a UX designer, but it has to be a designer of a specific system or an engineer. These are specific personas that exist in all sorts of companies/organizations, not just in software companies.
3) Focus on giving a good thorough answer about your Product Manager experience.
Another question (or variation of it) that they will ask you during a second round interview will be, “When was a time you owned the product end-to-end?” Variations of this question include, “What’s a day in the life for you as a Product Manager?” and “Walk me through your product development life-cycle.”
The answer to these questions is questions themselves. Start your answer by saying that “It depends on the product” or “It depends on how you define what the product is”. Answering this way shows that you have the breadth and depth of dealing with multiple products and features. After you have said that can you then give examples in your background where you addressed product development in your background. When you’re giving the specific examples about products and projects that you have worked with, dive deeper into each specific one and the examples that you think is the most relevant to the product development life-cycle.
4) On that note, emphasize certain parts of the product development life cycle toward each interviewer’s preferences in their background(s).
How much of the product development life-cycle can you cover? The key stakeholders, the key pain points, and any testing that you did are the important parts of the life cycles to discuss. The level of detail you give on each will depend on the Product Manager that interviews you. That is because of the diversity of Product Managers’ backgrounds. If they are a customer account manager or possess a customer service background, they probably are gonna ask you more details about how you prioritize customer pain points. Other questions will vary too, depending on the person interviewing you and his/her background. If they have an engineering background, they probably are gonna ask you to walk them to a time when you handled a situation where the engineering deadline was pushed back.
Rich is the Founder of Product Gym™, the first professional career coaching service committed to helping aspiring and veteran Product Managers transition into the Product Manager job of their dreams. Previously, Rich worked as a Technical Recruiter for both CyberCoders and Workbridge Associates, where he partnered with countless companies to attract, develop, and retain their top talent. Currently, he specializes in coaching his students to generate more interviews than they can count, perfect their interview pitches, as well as negotiate the biggest offers for themselves with the most exciting companies. Rich graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s Degree in History.