How to Win the Nike Product Manager Interview

nike product manager interview
8 min read

Everyone knows Nike. Whether it’s their apparel, footwear, equipment, etc, nearly everyone has purchased something from Nike, a corporation that is defined by their innovation and product/service development. In 2020, Forbes ranked them as one of the top 20 most valuable brands in the world. But how many people are lucky enough to get a Nike Product Manager interview?

Founded in 1964, the multinational corporation not only has its multiple subsidiaries such as Nike Pro, Air Jordan, Nike+ etc but is consistently a global presence at huge events, such as the Olympics or the Golf Open. With the Product Manager post being inherently driven by innovation and product development, working for the Nike brand would be a dream posting for any aspiring PM. If you want to secure yourself a posting at one of the biggest organizations in the world, read on to see how to get yourself that Nike Product Manager interview.

In this guide, we’ll cover the following topics:

Company Overview 

Established in 1964, Nike was founded as “Blue Ribbon Sports” by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. The organization officially became Nike in 1971. By the start of the 21st Century, Nike had retail outlets and distributors in over 170 countries. What started out as athletic footwear, the brand diversified to sports equipment, marketing products for extreme sports and sports-technology accessories such as portable heart monitors with a brand value estimated at 34.8bn.

A large part of Nike’s success lies with their endorsements — Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, Roger Federer, or Tiger Woods. However, with so much of their brand recognition depending on public figures, this has also caused the organization a lot of controversies, such as the Tiger Woods scandal back in 2009. Whether it is positive or negative, Nike’s big yellow tick became a universally renowned symbol for the biggest sports apparel producer in the world.  

Employing over 44,000 people across the world, the organization values innovation and product development as demonstrated through their NikeLab: a sports research laboratory that provides scientific insight to help drive performance. 

“Countless ideas are tested in pursuit of aiding performance, injury risk reduction, enhancing perception and feel, and delivery of innovative products to athletes.”

Product Culture 

Nike’s product culture is so incredibly broad that it’s difficult to pinpoint one place to start. As already emphasized, the organization is driven by cultural innovation. The concept behind cultural innovation is this idea that a brand is able to open up clear market space by representing both functional innovations and representing a new ideology within its market. 

Nike became the brand for anyone who wanted to be associated with taking matters into your own hands, and overcoming obstacles” 

Originally starting with producing iconic trainers such as the Air Force 1 or the Air Jordans, they moved to footwear and apparel for runners, such as leggings and sports bras. From there, Nike started to break into markets for other sportswear, whether it be football, golf, or yoga.

As the years passed, Nike entered many different markets — whether this is sporting equipment or running apps.

Overall Company Culture 

Nike’s vision is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. Here’s their mission statement:

“do everything possible to expand human potential. We do that by creating groundbreaking sport innovations, by making our products more sustainable, by building a creative and diverse global team and by making a positive impact in communities where we live and work.”

Their culture is focused on three main elements: talent, diversity and inclusion. 

Nike is well aware that innovation and talent go hand in hand. Therefore, they are well-known for constantly developing and upskilling their employees through mentoring and coaching programmes. This all links into their strategy that this will enable and develop leaders from within the organization to ensure global success, so by sustaining such talent and infrastructure, Nike is consistently able to produce popular products. 

By creating a diverse workforce, Nike believes this continues to foster innovation and creativity. They maintain such diversity through HR initiatives such as the Speak Up! program, with the notion that diversifying their workforce maximizes their product development cycles. This is especially true when it comes to creating new designs for products and services. 

Inclusion ties in with diversity to ensure that it minimizes barriers to employee performance. In addition to using a team-based approach to ensure inclusion, Nike adopts a number of programs such as Bias to Breakthrough, a programme used to remove barriers to creativity, and NCourage, a set of employee networks for cultural awareness and community building.  

Taking all of these into account, employee creativity, development and morale is a priority for management, making it a great and supportive environment for any Product Manager role to benefit from and progress their career. In addition, Nike offers incredible benefits ranging from the common health insurance and competitive pay, but also programmes that enable employees to keep fit and healthy; e.g. running clubs, free bike rental and onsite PTs. Flexible working is also fundamental of jobs at Nike.

Nike Product benefits

Product Team Culture 

With Nike’s global success and with so many benefits and perks, employees are expected to work hard. This is no different for Product Manager roles, and, if anything, because the organization places most of its success on product development, you’ll need to work even harder.

According to Glassdoor, many of the employee reviews are positive: they enjoy the job, it positively challenges them, and they thoroughly enjoy working with like-minded and ambitious people. The one repetitive comment, although not always necessarily negative, was the heavy workload and finding the work-life balance difficult to manage. 

However, with the typical annual salary of $39,551 – $42,694, many believe that the heavy workload is worth every penny.

What Does a Typical Nike PM Job Posting Look Like?

A PM post at Nike relies on the individual to prioritize and be innovative: 

  • 3+ years of experience in a similar PM role 
  • Working intimately with partnering technology, user experience, marketing departments to elevate and really develop an innovative and ground-breaking product. 
  • Hands-on experience with creating and developing roadmaps. 
  • Being an advocate for the customer. This includes the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, which is needed once research has been conducted to understand the users and analyze viewer engagement metrics, whether these are needed to increase user engagement, retention, loyalty etc.
  • Effective communication and interpersonal skills required for strong leadership — not only needed to motivate your team members but it’s also having to effectively interact and work with various stakeholders.

Other common skills required include prioritization of stakeholders and their demands, understanding of analytics and the ability to lead a team and maintain all your other responsibilities when it comes to ambiguous situations. 

How Do You Get a Nike Product Manager Interview?

Where can you look for PM roles at Nike? According to Glassdoor, 54% of applicants found job postings online — Nike currently has 184 jobs posted on Glassdoor. While 15% of interviewers got connected via referral, and 8% found the job through a recruiter. Once you’ve found the job posting, here’s how to apply:

Write a Product Manager Resume 

With your resume acting as a passport to getting a job, it is vital that it is structured appropriately and relevant to you and what you have to offer to Nike. So make sure you read the role’s requirements and responsibilities and include these because a recruiter will not want an applicant that doesn’t apply such relevance to their resume. 

Need a hand with this? Check out our resume writing guide as well as our free tutorial on how to synchronize your resume and your LinkedIn profile. 

Prepare Your Pitch  

The next step after your resume: preparing a killer pitch. We cannot emphasize enough just how significant this is if you’re wanting to impress the recruiter and secure that interview. 

Apply!

Did you know that submitting your resume is only one way of winning that interview? You can network your way into it — by doing so, you’re familiarizing yourself with the work environment, employee culture, gaining information regarding your recruiter. But most importantly, you’re learning the ins and outs of the interview exercise, which will give you the leverage that you need when you’re called to interview.

Watch this video to learn how to network your way into getting that Product Manager interview:

What Is the Interview Process and Timeline?

The Nike Product Manager interview process starts with you sending your resume and personal information. You’ll meet with a recruiter first, then move onto a video interview and several tests or a case study. Nike aims to get back to candidates within 48 hours of interviewing and is transparent about different roles requiring a different number of interview rounds: four rounds is the norm for Product Manager interviewers.

The first-round call will be with the recruiter through a video interview. This gives you the opportunity to discuss your resume, go over your experience, and answer behavioral questions. Check our focus piece on these questions for guidance on the best way to approach them. 

How to Win the Introductory Call With the Hiring Manager

The stage of the interview will be defined by behavioral questions – even though this is personal hell for most interviewees, it will provide the recruiter with more information about you and how you are able to approach problems. Most behavioral questions for PM roles include: 

  1. What previous work have you done that relates to this position? 
  2. Tell us what makes Nike different from other companies.
  3. What is a lesson that you have learned from failure?
  4. Describe an accomplishment that you’re proud of. 
  5. What core competencies do you have that will apply to this job role? 

The recruiter will also use this opportunity to give you a brief overview of the company and the job role responsibilities. Also, make sure you know your stuff about Nike, they want to see that you’ve done your research. Looking at the stats, 69% said that the interview process was positive, a process that was defined by good-quality questions and friendly interviewers. In comparison, only 6% reported a bad experience with the interview process, whether it be because of mix-ups with rejections and acceptances, or because of difficult interview questions.  

So, you’ve impressed the interviewer to move on to the next page! The second round focuses on the questions that will demonstrate why you’re a good fit for a PM job at Nike.

nike product manager interview hire

How to Win the Technical Round With the Hiring Manager and Team Stakeholders

Once passing past the initial stage, this is the time that the interviewer will use to identify your technical knowledge, experience with other stakeholder groups and the more in-depth behavioral questions. These can include: 

  1. How would you negotiate a contract with a supplier?
  2. Tell me how you used influence without authority over an individual to get them to change what they were doing.
  3. How would you conduct a project?

Unlike the first stage, the second stage of the interview focuses on the specifics of the product management process, the different stakeholder groups that you would work with, and how you interact with the customer and their user needs. 

If you want further assistance preparing for this stage of the interview, check out some extra tips here.

How Did COVID-19 Change Hiring?

Nike saw a lot of job cuts during the pandemic, with Coronavirus forcing them to build a ‘flatter and nimbler’ organization. However, when it comes to the interview, very little has changed, especially as their first stage tends to be a video interview anyway. 

However, the pandemic has called for the movement of in-person meetings to an online platform, whether it’s through Zoom or Microsoft Teams. So for Nike, this would mean a change from an in-person interview to a video interview for the final call. This can change the game when it comes to interviews, so make sure you read our guide on being able to overcome this and ace that Nike Product Manager interview.  

Need more help with acing your interview? Schedule a call with our career coaches for a free consultation and learn how we can help you kickstart your PM career.

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