Introduction

The following is a study guide created by Mark Stephan, Founder of ProductHired, to help others study for the more difficult Product Manager Interviews.

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Other Connected Documents:

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Table of Contents

Facebook Interview Recruiter Overview

The following are emails from Facebook’s recruiters on how to prepare.

Video Call Directions (1st set of interviews)

This email is geared to help you prepare for your interview here at Facebook. Note that you will typically be given 1 hypothetical product question (typically in relation to a FB product or feature, but could be any product), and that each interview will be looking for a different signal as it relates to either Execution or Product sense. As the PM is the central brain of the product team, our hypothetical questions will give you the opportunity to showcase your critical thinking and how you logically structure your approach to product development in X hypothetical product-situation.

At Facebook, our business is driven by the people using our products. Whether you’re currently building products for other businesses, or directly for consumers, please note that product-metrics are distinct from revenue-metrics, and that your interviewer will typically be listening for the former type unless asking specifically for the latter. Please also note that product metrics at Facebook almost always roll up into overarching Facebook goal metrics, for example, Daily/Monthly Active Users. Sometimes a small change can mean a win for one product or feature, yet can have ripple effects across the ecosystem.

To set up time to prepare for your interview over the phone, please reply to this email with two 30-minute windows prior to your Interview!

1.Product Sense: Can this person turn big ambiguous problems into great products?

  A. Identifying needs:

  • Ability to take in a big space and break into smaller parts.
  • Ability to determine and reason about people’s needs and enumerating opportunities.

      B. Focus on value and impact:

  • Develop a (product) vision based on the value we can provide.
  • +Reason about why we should or shouldn’t do ‘X’ and communicate the most important value.

(Note: deep understanding of FB’s mission isn’t a requirement, give them that context if the question is FB-specific).

      C. Intentional design choices:

  • Ability to generate product designs (major workflows, surfacing, functionality, perhaps some rough wireframes).
  • Ability to apply high-level goals and priorities for the product consistently (to the concrete product or feature being designed).
  • Poise when handling critique, new data and constraints: listening to feedback, new data and additional constraints, being able to internalize and iterate based on it.

2.Execution Interview: Does this person prioritize and execute well? Can they get things done?

  1. Goal Setting:
  • Set goals for a product that are deep-seated in what that product is all about.
  • Be mindful of how these goals (esp. metric goals) could potentially be gamed or counter-indicative of progress.
  • Set a goal or goals that the team can directly impact.

      B. Trade-offs:

  • Explore complex trade-off(s) in a structured and critical way.
  • Show consideration for a wide variety of factors (e.g. organizational, cultural, user-facing).

      C. Analyzing/debugging problems:

  • Show a methodical approach to understand the problem and ability to take a high-level problem and break it down to isolate the root cause.

      D. Team Success:

  • Show strong organizational skills to determine whether a team is executing well. Provide a clarity of focus.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that constructing a clear framework is very helpful to both yourself and to your interviewers. For example, starting with a clean high-level mission/problem to solve for, and then walking through the goals that you would set to get there, and finally outline the variables (metrics) you would use to measure success. Having a clear mission statement and problem to solve for will empower you and your interviewer to pivot during changing hypothetical conditions.

Helpful Prep Exercise:

Think of a product or feature that Facebook does not currently offer, and that you would be passionate to build. Once you have a good sense of the problem that your product would solve, complete the following exercises to help prep for your interview.

Start with the Product Sense Exercise:

  • Why would people use this product?
  • Why should Facebook want to build it for them?
  • How would it integrate within the rest of the FB products?
  • What would you build as MVP to test that your idea is good?
  • What would the interface look like, the wireframe? How would people use it?
  • Your MVP works, what’s the next step for your product?
  • Why do you think Facebook hasn’t built this product yet?

Then do the Execution Exercise:

  • What is the one sentence mission/goal of this product?
  • What metrics would you use to measure progress/success in achieving this goal?
  • If you’re the PM of this product, how would you decide what to work on (e.g. what to improve, what features to build) to achieve your goal?
  • How would you prioritize the different things you want to work on?

Tips Concentrate on following:

1. Tie everything back to FB’s vision.

2. Always start with goal and user personas, followed by defining needs/pain points and then feature design.

3. Practice all the interview questions below.

These are just examples, but they give you a feeling how to prepare for an interview and the general asked questions from Facebook.

In general, be always prepared to ask some questions too about the company or the position.

Facebook Interview Questions

Product Design/Sense Questions

  • You are a PM at Facebook and want to launch a new product. How would you pitch your product to Mark Zuckerberg and why Facebook should launch it?
  • How would you improve an internal CRM that the sales and marketing teams use? Walk me through what you would do in your first 90 days if this was your project. What metrics would you look at?  [GD]
  • How would you measure success if you were the PM on FB search? [GD]
  • How would you improve Facebook’s Birthday feature? [GD]
  • As a PM on the Facebook Birthday’s Team, how would you make it better? [GD]
  • What do you dislike about a Facebook feature of your choice, why? How would you fix it?  [GD]
  • If Facebook wanted to enter the food delivery vertical, what would you build?
  • Which product feature are you most proud of at Facebook?
  • How would you improve that product feature at Facebook?
  • How would you design Facebook for blind people?
  • What app FB should build next? How would you improve a FB app of your choice?
  • If you were the PM for FB Pages, then how would you decide what goals and roadmap to have 1 year out? And how would I do it for 50 years out?
  • Please explain why you have chosen this specific metric and how would you improve it?
  • What app should facebook build next?
  • How would you improve your favorite facebook app?
  • How would you bootstrap a product that helps people find apartments and how would you differentiate it from existing competitors?
  • Build a birthday app for Facebook.  
  • As a PM on the Facebook Birthdays team, how would you make it better?
  • What do you dislike about a Facebook feature of your choice?
  • Describe a Facebook Product that I use and how I would make it better.
  • What would you do if you were the editor in chief of a magazine?
  • [Product] is in trouble, numbers are down. How would you improve it?
  • Why launch FB messenger?
  • Design a video experience.
  • How do you improve the photos experience?
  • If you were at Facebook, what would you build?
  • How do you prioritize competing features?
  • Let’s redesign Facebook pages for small businesses.

How do you prioritize a Roadmap? [GD]

By roadmap prioritization we mean how the features/ initiatives will roll out or get built. Any method that you choose to prioritize your features, this should always start with Product Strategy, overall company mission/vision. Assuming you already have list of features that you want to build out for your product. List out all the features with the why for each one of them. Now depending on where your product is in its lifecycle along with product strategy, you should have list of key metrics that you are trying to achieve or hit. Let’s say buckets are : revenue, growth, engagement. Now for each feature calculate a score (out of 5) for each bucket based on your research, data and tests etc. Get a high level estimate (cost) from your dev team.

FeatureRevenue(x%)Growth(y%)Engagement(z%)
F1s1s2s3
F2s4s5s6

Score for F1 = s1*x + s2*y + s3*z | C1

Score for F2 = s4*x + s5*y + s6*z | C2

  • (x+y+z) = 100%
  • C1 and C2 are cost (t-shirt sizes) from your development team
  • There are other costs that can be added: operational or infrastructure costs etc.

Getting scores is full of assumptions, more assumptions you have validated the better impact this scoring is going to have.

How would you increase the number of engineers Facebook hires? Brainstorm some ideas, walk me through your process, etc. [GD]

get more developers to convert/ accept offers? Or create more scope for which new engineers need to be hired? t

What is your favorite FB product, Redesign it. [GD]

Why this app

What does it do that you love or that makes it your favorite

How it compares to competitors

What would you improve

Identify FB Product > Explain why you choose it, ie what makes it special > Identify Users > Use Cases > Goals > Prioritize > Solutions > Tradeoffs

How would you bootstrap a product that helps people find apartments and how would you differentiate it from existing competitors? [GD]

Define MVP. Differentiate by  using FB technology to enhance experience….

First of all: why is FB launching this new product? How does it fit with the rest of FB? What are the goals for FB?

Based upon that I would first understand possible user bases and figure out ways to leverage FB social graph to enhance the experience. Initially aiming at a single audience and then, after having understanding of how the new product resonates with users, expand it to adjacent audiences.

Build a birthday app for Facebook [GD]

Before you build a app, it’s important to understand
1. How people are currently using Birthday feature on Facebook
2. How many people actually engage with Birthday notifications?
3. Talk with user, understand how are they using it.

Based on different data points, you can decide if there is need of separate birthday app or existing app satisfies the need with some improvements etc.

Also it’s important to ask, what’s the goal behind birthday app. Is it more for user engagement or monetization?

And those are questions I asked…and the interviewer refused to answer or provide feedback. So keep in mind that, depending on the interviewer, you may need to make up all the answers to some pretty core questions on your own, without data.

I would establish a framework to answer these questions

Step 1:Clarify
– What are user saying? Is there any data to tell us something is wrong?

Step 2: no input / data given the assume your own use case / problem to solve
– E.g Birthday notifications getting lost in the slew of notifications

Step 3: Identify goal of the improvement. e.g perhaps more user saying happy birthday

Step 4: Create a metric to judge success

Step 5: Voice out possible solutions and go through pros / cons

Step 6: Implement and Track improvement
– Was it successful?

Let us say you are sitting with a mobile analyst whom you can ask any question. You are looking at DAU data across the world and notice that there has been a jump of 5% compared to yesterday in Malaysia. What would you ask the analyst?

I am assuming this jump has only happened on the mobile channel, is that a fair assumption?

First I would like to understand how do we define active user?

  • Logged in the mobile app and took some action (like, comment, share etc)
  • Logged in mobile app or might have taken some action other than feed views

Let’s assume it is the latter

Probably not a questions for the mobile analyst but would like to know, if there was major news event that happened in Malaysia or neighbouring countries

I would like to ask is there increase across all regions, and if there is did we change any metric calculation or definition?

I would also like to look at the breakdown by iOS vs Android, this might help in chasing down the issue/s. Let’s say if it was one of the two operating systems then we can check if the respective teams launched a new feature

I would also like to know if there was a similar spike last year at the same time

How would you use groups to promote an event?

What kind of an event are we talking about?

Is it a family event, a business event ? Is it a small event or a big event? Is it a public or private event? Does the event cost money ? Should the attendees pay money to join the event ? How many people should be attending? Is it a global event happening at the same time? Is it a gathering of people in a physical place or a virtual event (like mother’s day) ? Are there any requirements for the event (dress code, BYOB?)

What is my role in the event?

Am I the event organizer? Am I just helping a friend to promote it? Do I get paid to promote the event? Is it my job to promote it ?)

Let’s make an assumption that I’m organizing by myself a public professional event about product management for around 100 people in a shared workspace.

Now that we have some more information we can solve the specific question. Since I’m organizing the event by myself I will use groups solely for promotion of the event and not for self organising. I will start by posting about the event, by also creating an event object in facebook. Then I will share the post in other groups that are related to product management. I will be checking the group size prior to posting to prevent a situation where I’m posting potentially to too many or not enough people. As the event gets close, I will probably send a few reminder posts in the groups and see who is also replying and engaging and then maybe contact them directly to help promote the event and invite their friends to invite friends.

Execution:

Types of questions

  • Trade-off Questions (Shows ability access Pros and Cons)
    • Pros and Cons, show 4-5 different dimensions…
    • This and That Framework:
      • Comprehend the Situation
        • Ask the 3 W’s & H
      • Goals and Trade-offs
        • Determine the goal and then solutions towards that.
      • Metrics
        • What are the metrics that need to be looked at?
      • Calculate the Estimated Impact
    • Ability to show the pros and cons of the decisions
      • Rule of Three
  • Questions about Setting Product Goals
    • Evaluate Metrics
      • What metrics would you evaluate to measure success of a product
    • Interpret Test Results
      • How would you read the metrics?
    • Recommend Actions
      • How would you act on the metrics?
  • AARM Metrics
    • Acquisition
      • How do you get them to sign-up?
    • Activation
      • How do you get them to do the desired action
    • Retention
      • How do you get them to use the product often
    • Monetization
      • How to do the action that brings revenue.
  • Questions about Comparisons – How to compare products against one another
    • Use Rule of 3
    • This and That Framework
  • Diagnostics (Diagnosing Problems)
    • Brainstorm, Pause, think, then share
    • Ask Clarifying questions

Things Facebook is looking for

  • Credibility
    • Owner vs Participant
    • Good vs Great Achievement (Due to your input, or could be without you)
  • Likeability
    • Chemistry
    • Rapport & Similarity to interviewer… talented and entertaining (Keep them wanting to hear more)
    • Stories w/ Colorful characters and settings
    • Conflict of some sort
    • Resolution – definitive….  Valuable lessons

Tell Stories

Consider using DIGS Method: (Do you understand, Are you enjoying the moment..)

  • Dramatization of the situation – Details and context that matter
  • Indicate the alternatives – Explain the choices you could have done
  • Go through what you did – Show that you led and decided what to do. Put the interviewer in your shoes.
  • Summarize your impact – Show what you did, show numbers, but you need to validate your impact.
  • Possibilities:
    • Introduce features that send more notifications that make the users ‘engage’ with the platform.
  • [Follow-up] What Metric might you put in place to track this bad behavior?
    • Average session duration
    • Average notifications/user
    • Notifications/user over time

Unanswered Questions

  • Tell me about a time you had a difficult time with a colleague. [GD]
  • How do you handle a challenging situation? [GD]
  • Give the pros/cons of a product decision. [GD]
  • Questions asked about product metrics [GD]
  • Describe a Facebook Product that I use and how I would make it better. [GD]
  • You see a 5% traffic increase in indonesia. What questions will you ask the mobile analyst?
  • What are the analytics you will track to increase usage?
  • News feed engagement has decreased 2% week over week. What questions would you ask the analyst?
  • You are the PM of the Facebook timeline – how would you  measure retention?

Answered Questions

You’re the PM for Facebook pages. What features would you prioritise? [GD]

  • Rate and rank revenue vs customer satisfaction vs ease of implementation
  • What are the goals here? Do we want to get more individuals using it? Do we want to have more people sharing live videos from it?
  • Do we want biz to start using it as their solo website (if what types of business are focus?)
  • Let’s say the goal is to have more individual artists using it to market their own work, then I would look for insights on how current users are using it and come up with a few hypotheses on what they like / dislike about the process and whether they have all features they need. Let’s say they find the creation process obscure and some features are missing.
  • I would then come up with a few ways to solve for it and prioritize them based upon impact versus ease to implement.
  • Last, not least, I would come up with a few KPIs that would tell me is I was successful, this would provide information for the next iteration.

Leadership Questions

[These questions are typically given only onsite.]

Type of Questions:

  • Why questions:
    • Why Facebook?
    • Why product Management?
    • Why leave your current job?
    • ….
  • Past experience:
    • Tell me about yourself…
    • Tell me a time you led a team?
    • Give me an example of a time you made an important decision?
    • …….

Unanswered Questions

  • How would you deal with someone who fundamentally disagreed with what you told them to do.  
  • Tell me about the time you experienced a challenge building a product. What did you do?
  • What’s your biggest accomplishment?
  • A scenario where a project didn’t go according to initial plan, and what you did overcome that change/roadblock.
  • Why Facebook? What is something interesting about you?
  • what would you do if a partner doesn’t agree to the way you work?

Answered Questions

What do you think are the most important skills to being a strong PM? [GD]

Communication

Analysis of problems

Big picture

Details

Cross-functional leader

Technical understanding

Business understanding

Metrics and analytics

etc.

See – https://www.quora.com/What-distinguishes-the-Top-1-of-Product-Managers-from-the-Top-10

What makes great PM:

Basic

   • Communication

   • Prioritization

   • Delivery

DeMastery

   • Industry insight

   • Networking

   • More than the product

Estimation

[ Not Certain these type of questions are used any more]

Unanswered Questions

  • What are the “costs” involved in maintaining feature X.
  • Let’s say you wanted to build the world’s most popular mobile messaging product, and you needed to estimate how much network bandwidth would be used in a year. How would you go about doing this?

Answered Questions

How do you calculate the daily number of registrations that facebook has?

  • Not sure about estimation. I would register two times with 24h delay and check profile IDs. Difference between them  is daily number of registrations.

Estimate the number of airports in the USA.  

  • Approximately 320M people in the USA
  • Approximately 8.3M people in the New York
  • Three airports in NYC area
  • Calculations
    • People per airport = 8.3m people in NYC / 3 = 2.8M
    • Airports in the USA = 320m people / 2.8 people = 114 airports in the USA
    • NYC airports bigger than airports in the rest of the USA (JFK has 128 gates), let assume that average airport has 10 gates.
    • Result is 114 * 12,8 = 1,459 (real number: 19,536 – Public: 5,136, Private: 14,112, Military: 288)

Strategy

[ Not Certain these type of questions are used any more]

Unanswered Questions

  • What do you think was Facebook’s interest in acquiring Oculus Rift?  
  • How do you calculate the daily number of registrations that facebook has?
  • Pick an industry that will be different in 10 years and and how can be facebook a part of that?
  • Choose a technology that is new. Discuss advantages and disadvantages. How could you integrate it into facebook’s product?
  • Why do you think Facebook bought Parse?
  • What big idea / areas do you think Facebook should invest in?

Technical

[ Not Certain these type of questions are used any more]

Unanswered Questions

  • How are users presented various modules (i.e. People you may know vs an ad) on the news feed?
  • What would you do if Mark Z. asked you to investigate whether we should switch from low-res images to hi-res images for the whole app?
  • How do you determine how to rank posts in news feed?