I’M GOING TO TELL YOU HOW TO GET BETTER AT INTERVIEWING
If you feel stuck or that your interviewing skills might not be up to par, we describe in depth everything you need to do in order to improve these skills and be successful. Soon enough, you’ll be a pro at interviewing and ready to land that Product Manager job you are aiming for.
Q: I’m worried about refining my pitch and resume. What’s the best way to polish these?
Product Gym: First, you need to keep up with your funnel. Start the first hour of your day applying. There’s nothing else you need to do other than that. Now, as for the resume, even the worst resumes will win on scale. If you are waiting for your resume to be perfect, you (the product) will never SHIP. Treat yourself like a PM. Find out what is or isn’t working, and refine your resume accordingly.
How do you refine your resume? Ask for feedback. You need to get feedback to see what people want to see and don’t want to see. When you are on a call, ask them “What is it about my resume that stood out to you?”. Also most importantly, ask “I respect your opinion as a professional and would like to know if anything you see on my resume can be interpreted as a red flag and stop me from moving on in this process.” This is crucial, as you need to gather data to see what improvements you need to be making.
If you aren’t getting more calls, you will feel stuck. Even if it is a company you don’t care about, you can use the interviews as an opportunity to practice your pitch. Your pitch will only get better with repetition.
Q: So, you recommend going out there and applying to get as many interviews as possible?
Product Gym: You need to achieve scale. Go out there and apply and get as many interviews as you can. Your #1 priority should be to get as many interviews as you can.
Q: What about networking or referrals?
Product Gym: Look how many MBA grads we have in the class. Your friend may be able to refer you, but the best they will be able to give you is one vote. In a PM interview, there are 15-20 votes that matter. If you don’t scale and do more interviews and wait for referrals, you will not do well on that interview from the referral. A PM job is very important and no one is going to take a chance on a PM. Practice, refine and go apply.
Q: What about applying to smaller companies?
Product Gym: It doesn’t matter. Go after EVERY company. Life is about scale, go out and apply to EVERY job.
Q: So, how do I actually pitch myself? I feel like I don’t know how to sell myself in an interview.
Product Gym: It’s difficult to pitch yourself when there is no target. If you don’t have a clear target to shoot at, you can’t hit anything you can’t see. You have to establish some sort of target. Your job is to achieve some form of clarity to find their pain point. Ask as many questions as you can until you can find the pain point. If this is a problem they could have solved, don’t you think they would have solved it already? You have to get these people to open up to you immediately, early and often.
Q: How can I go about understanding their pain point?
Product Gym: You can ask them many things. Get some insight. Ask them how long the role has been open, how many people they interviewed and ask them why or where everyone else has fallen short. You can say the sense I’m getting is particular part of background experience I find attractive. What I’m trying to figure is where I can fit in to solve this problem and determine how I fit into the organization. Asking these qualifying questions gives you more information.
In an interview, you may have demonstrated “competency”, but they haven’t made offer because? Just because you can do the job doesn’t mean it ends there. They need to determine they want to work with you, the part that is missing. Building rapport when asking these questions makes you more likable. You may not have all the tech skills or years of experience and still get the job.
Q: Tell me a bit more about understanding the company paint point and how it relates to me.
Product Gym: You have nothing to sell if you don’t have anything to sell it to. You need a clear target. When asking for feedback and trying to understand their pain, you are letting them know what their pain points are and determining how to add value. Keeping them engaged when asking these questions is important because you don’t want to do all of the talking and convey desperation. Remember, you can’t control them from drafting up more interviews, or even an offer letter. Just have this in the back of your head. Gathering this information will ultimately make you more successful in the onsite. You’ll find out that the job description has little to do with the job. If you don’t gather this information beforehand, you’ll feel ambushed on the onsite because you didn’t gather enough information over the phone.
Q: How can I go about getting this feedback from companies?
Product Gym: First question you ask them is, “What is it about my background that stood out to schedule a call with me?” When they answer, ask why 5 times. If they said “I was interested in your work in Paris.” You can “That’s interesting, why?” A few other ways to say it are; Can you tell me a bit more about that? Can you clarify that a little more about that? I see, and why is that?
Q: Finally, how the hell do I get more confidence in interviewing?
Product Gym: Do more interviews. This will lead to better confidence. NO one will like a Product Manager who isn’t confident. You need a fine balance between showing you are excited, but coming across that you don’t need this job. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.
The more you force yourself to be uncomfortable, the more you will be comfortable. Chip through at it and it will eventually subside. The only way to get past problems is to chop it down into smaller bits so that you can handle it. Think like a product manager, break down these problems into small pieces and then prioritize. What are 3 things to do to go out there and make an impact? ROAD MAP it. Visualize it. Think of a problem, cut it down, bite size and produce results. If its not working, find the problem, iterate until it does.
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.