Wayfair is the American e-commerce furniture and homeware supplier, also known as the internet’s massive online store. Founded in 2002, the online vendor formerly known as CSN Stores offers over 15 million products from more than 11,000 global suppliers. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, the organization has offices and warehouses in the UK, Ireland, Canada, and Germany. The company also operates five branded websites including its main Wayfair site, Joss and Main, AllModern, Birch Lane and Perigold. Sound like the place for you? Here’s how to ace the Wayfair Product Manager interview.
In this guide, we’ll cover the following topics:
- Company Overview
- Product Culture
- Overall Company Culture
- Product Team Culture
- What Does a Typical Wayfair PM Job Posting Look Like?
- How Do You Get a Wayfair Product Manager Interview?
- What Is the Wayfair Product Manager Interview Process and Timeline?
- How to Win the Introductory Call With the Hiring Manager
- How to Win the Technical Round With the Hiring Manager and Team Stakeholders
- How Did COVID-19 Change Hiring
Niraj Shah and Steve Conine founded Wayfair back in August 2002, the two slowly started adding more and more homeware and furniture to their online store from a variety of vendors. By 2006, the company was earning $100 million in sales, growing into more than 250 standalone sites, “selling everything from barstools to birdhouses.” By 2011, Shah and Conine moved all of their e-commerce sites into one big Wayfair website, exceeding $600 million in annual revenue.
Its success has been established in the organization’s use of search engine optimization (SEO), with Shah and Conine knowing that by offering such a wide variety of categories of products, a shopper would stumble onto their website through Google Shopping. Although growing from strength to strength in a very rapid time, the organization has had its fair share of controversy; whether this is the unfounded allegations of child human trafficking or the employee walkout after the online vendor established a contract for the sale of beds to migrant detention camps.
As highlighted, a large amount of the organization’s success is through the use of their website and SEO, catering “to a web-savvy, digital-first audience”. Wayfair has been said to create a ‘fun and youthful’ brand, as demonstrated by its fun commercials or its use of augmented reality on its app for users to see the furniture within their homes.
As presented above, there are a number of incurred advantages of working with the Wayfair team. However, as presented on Glassdoor, the monetary benefits don’t always make up for the difficulties of working there. A lot of the cons testify to a lack of competency of senior managers, limited career progression and high levels of stress.
Wayfair states that their company culture focuses mainly on results and shared goals.
Firstly, they hire the best people — Wayfair seeks to hire the most talented and goal-driven employees as possible. Shah stated, “They’re incredibly talented. They’re intelligent, quantitative. Just that we think they have the raw material to really succeed and we feel confident. The second thing we look for — equally important — is the cultural fit. So we’re bringing in non-political, you know, highly collaborative, just very driven and ambitious. There’s a whole lot of cultural values that we think are important while we succeeded. We only hire (those candidates) who have these two sets; both kinds of traits for success.”
Furthermore, by giving employees the runway, they pass on the reins and responsibilities to their employees making them their own manager. This acts not only as a method of motivating the employees but also fosters an innovative environment providing new product and service ideas, with a variety of stakeholders working towards such a goal.
As an organization that is so entrenched in innovation, the product team is the beating heart of the company. So if you’re looking for a PM role with Wayfair, be prepared for hard work and dedication to the organization.
The types of applicants that Wayfair is interested in are generally people that are passionate about E-commerce and creating scalable operational systems that will drive their business and elevate customer, supplier, and employee experiences. Wayfair wants people to have experience with working on cross-functional or software projects, as well as working with large datasets while possessing the ability to work on multiple complex projects simultaneously.
As highlighted in the company culture section, a Wayfair PM post is defined by talent and innovation:
- 3+ years experience of a similar PM role. As part of this, this tends to incur a bachelor’s degree or similar practical experience.
- Being a strong advocate for the consumer: this would include data competency (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: not only are this needed for motivating your team, however, but it is also even more important when it comes to engaging various stakeholders and other teams within the organization.
- The passion and drive for committing to the overall organization’s goals.
Other common skills include producing and prioritizing product roadmaps, previous B2B selling experience and an entrepreneurial mindset.
Where can you look for PM roles at Wayfair? According to Glassdoor, 51% of applicants found job postings online. Wayfair currently has 64 jobs posted on Glassdoor. While 20% of interviewers got connected via referral, and 22% found the job through a recruiter. Once you’ve found the job posting, here’s how to apply:
Write a Product Manager Resume
Your resume is a passport to getting the interview. We cannot emphasize enough that it should be relevant to you and what you have to offer for the PM role at Wayfair, as well as being structured appropriately. Ensure you read the role’s requirements and responsibilities and prioritize including these in your resume, as the last thing a recruiter wants to see is an application that doesn’t apply these in their application.
Prepare Your Pitch
Preparing a killer pitch is the next stage. Your resume isn’t enough when it comes to impressing the recruiter, you need to nail that pitch.
It is a common misconception that submitting your resume is the only way of securing that interview you can actually network your way into it. There are inherent benefits of using such a method you’re learning about your new potential working environment, employee culture, gaining information regarding your recruiter. However, the most important of these benefits is familiarising yourself with the ins and outs of the interview exercise, giving you the all-important leverage when you’re called to interview. When it comes to learning how to network your way into getting that Product Manager interview, watch this video to ace it:
Wayfair likes to make sure that any of their potential hires know the interview process inside out, so see their tips and interview prep help here. The process starts with the initial screening call with the recruiter on the phone, then if you’re successful, the next stage is a panel interview at headquarters, which comprises either a test or a case study.
The first round call with the recruiter will grant you the opportunity to ask questions about the organization and them the opportunity to ask behavioral questions. Check our focus piece on these questions for guidance on the best way to approach them.
The introductory call with the recruiter will be defined by behavioral questions. These tend to be the interviewees’ personal idea of hell, however, they provide the recruiter with the relevant personal information about you and how you are able to approach problems. Most behavioral questions for PM roles include:
- How do you communicate a difficult idea?
- Tell us how a developer can become a product manager
- What is one of your favourite products and why?
- What are some of the KPIs used for e-commerce
- Tell us a time when you made a big mistake at work.
At this stage, the recruiter will use this time to give you a brief overview of the job role and other information about the organization. As listed on their website, Wayfair wants to see that you have done your homework as well as preparing a list of questions. Looking at the stats, 30% of interviewees described the stage as positive, a process defined by interesting and in-depth questions. In comparison, 25% described the process as neutral, with an overwhelming 45% describing it as negative — mainly due to the lengthy process and organization’s inability to provide important interview feedback.
So, you’ve impressed the interviewer to move on to the next stage! The second-round focuses on situational questions that fit into a case study/test.
As highlighted above, the next stage of the interview will feature a test or case study, with the interviewer using this stage to identify your technical knowledge, experience with other stakeholder groups and the more in-depth behavioral questions. These can include:
- Design a feature that will help fix problem X
- On time deliveries case study, move the needle +5% for goal on-time deliveries. How would you do it?
- Use case on how to introduce new features to help the internal processes.
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 on this stage of the interview, check out some tips here.
The Covid 19 Pandemic didn’t change much for the way Wayfair hired. The organization has consistently had high levels of staff turnover, and although they reacted quickly to enabling employees to work remotely once the pandemic began, such turnover levels were maintained.
As highlighted above when discussing the different stages of the interview, the initial call with the recruiter won’t change. However, as the second stage tends to take place at headquarters in Boston, this has moved temporarily onto an online platform. This can alter your interview game, so make sure you read our guide on being able to overcome this and ace that Wayfair 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.