How to Land a Dream Job in Product Management, Part 2 (The Hiring Manager)

In Part 2 of this series “How to Land a Dream Job in Product Management”, we go to the other side of the table and discuss how hiring teams approach hiring Product Managers and we’ll show how to give the hiring manager what they really want

What Hiring Managers Think of Product Management Interviews

A lot of people are saying that they want to be a Product Manager and I’m very empathetic to Product Managers because I just got trashed by the whole Product team at S&P Global last night and they’re telling me I don’t know why anybody wants to be a Product Manager. I told them that there are. I asked them what turns you off because one of the girls that we help land a job she works at S&P Global right now as a mobile Product Manager, and their mobile phones app just launched last night at midnight, so they’re having a party for that and they said you know when you’re a Product Manager you spend your entire time giving other people what they want. Your developers or designers are complaining to you all the time, business side people are complaining to you all the time, you hit a revenue target, okay, can we hit twice as much and in half the time?

Give Hiring Managers what THEY want

“No” is not what hiring managers want to hear — your devs are always complaining about business side stakeholders, consumers are always comparing your Product to the competition, and you’re trying to give everybody what they want and reasonably speaking there’s just no way you have that much time to do all that and you’re feeling very suffocated, meanwhile somebody else comes in and says, “You know, as soon as that person comes in here, and I get the with their just another guy or girl that wants to get what they want. For me, my bullshit meter just starts going off. And then my spidey sense comes out. And I’m like I spent all my time giving other people they want, you’re not going to be another person that I have to go out there and cater to, as a Head of Product.” 

The Most POWERFUL Question to ask

That was one of the five power questions that we have our people ask, which is, “What pisses you off the most about being a Product Manager here, or Head of Product here?” We came up with that question because I actually saw it work in the conference room. And my cofounder was interviewed with the Head of Product at Learnvest /Northwestern Mutual and he used to be the VP of Product at Goldman Sachs, he’s got an MBA, he’s got a computer science degree, he’s got 12 years of experience, this guy’s equally dangerous on the tech side, he’s equally dangerous on the Product. and the business side, there’s just no way in hell, you’re going to troll past that guy.

Making it About THEM

It is not happening, and I was like, “You know, if we want to compete with technical knowledge, we lose. If we want to compete business knowledge, we lose. If we want to compete on Product Management knowledge, we lose.” And my cofounder is 25, right, three years out of school, no matter how it is that we want to spin it, we’re going to lose. So let’s go out there and let’s not engage the enemy on their terms. Let’s go out there to engage the enemy on our terms, ask them the questions that’s going to get him fired up enough to want to talk to you, which is, “What pisses you off the most about being a Head of Product at Learnvest?” And, “How can I take some of that off of you?” He ended up spending four hours talking to my cofounder, and two hours after that, he came out with $135k job offer. And he didn’t even interview with anybody else.

This guy basically had the final say, and I gave that as an illustration. My cofounder has been through this process. I, myself have been on the other side of this process, My Head of Product and Marketing, she has also been through this process. So, we’re not putting you guys in uncomfortable situations that my people have not been through before. I spent a lot of time I mean, my business, how it scaled up as fast as it did in less than 12 months, everything that we do here, we Product Manage the hell out of this. We have a roadmap, we have deliverables and milestones to hit. We’re very agile and we run 10 day sprints ourselves.

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