Introduction

The following is a study guide originally created by Mark Stephan Founder of ProductHired, to help others study for the more difficult Product Manager Interviews. It has Facebook, Google and Amazon questions and preparation guides. All content here has been leveraged from public internet sites such as Glassdoor, etc.. and are considered public knowledge, i.e. they should not conflict with any NDA or privacy of any company as their original poster is unknown and the information is generally available online.

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Company Study Guides

Because the original study guide has grown too large, they are broken out here into separate documents.

Table of Contents

Reference Sites

The following are useful sites where you can get extra information.

Technical Sites

Other User Generated Study Guides

Google Interview Summary

The following is one of the emails recruiters send to PM candidates (View Google Study Guide here). Although this email changes over time, the following should give you a good idea on what recruiters tell candidates:

As an overview, our PM’s bring to fruition new products and features that genuinely benefit our users while at the same time make good business sense. They act as general managers of our products, providing leadership across functional teams to conceptualize, build and deliver Google’s next great app. PM’s find our entrepreneurial culture to be exciting and challenging, because they are never stuck maintaining an existing product, but are instead focused on developing new product ideas and strategies.

We have openings across all of our products in areas such as Consumer, Mobile, Apps, Enterprise and Infrastructure to name a few. As a brief outline, we have an agnostic interview process in which we aim to hire PM “generalists”, who may have niche experience but can easily float through our evolving product lines. We find this keeps our Product Managers fresh and with distributed, homogeneous experiences for our project teams. So, in a nutshell, we do not hire for a specific product, but rather, are seeking generalists who can work on multiple products. As such, you’ll interview with PM’s working on any number of our various products. At a later point, our leadership reviews your interests, background, and interviews to identify relevant projects that align with business need.

What to Expect

There are five components to the Google product manager (PM) interview:

  1. Product design

Google PMs put users first. PMs are zealous about providing the best user experiences. It starts with customer empathy and always includes a passion for products, down to the smallest details. They can sketch a wireframe to convey an idea to a designer. Sample questions include:

How would you improve Google Maps?

How would you reduce Gmail storage size?

How would you improve restaurant search?

What’s favorite Google product? What do you like or not like about it?

If you were to build the next killer feature for Google, what would it be?

You’re part of the Google Search web spam team. How would you detect duplicate websites?

2. Analytical

Google PMs are fluent with numbers. They define the right metrics. They can interpret and make decisions from A/B test results.

They don’t mind getting their hands dirty. Sometimes they write SQL queries; other times, they run scripts to extract data from logs. They make their point by crisply communicating their analysis. Some examples of analytical questions:

How many queries per second does Gmail get?

How many iPhones are sold in the US each year?

As the PM for Google Glass ‘Enterprise Edition,’ which metrics would you track? How do you know if the product is successful?

3. Cultural fit

Google PMs dream of the next moonshot idea. They lead and influence effectively They have a bias for action and get things done. If Google PMs were working anywhere else, they’d probably be CEOs of their own company. Sample questions to assess cultural fit:

Why Google?

Why PM?

4. Technical

Google PMs lead product development teams. To lead effectively, PMs must have influence and credibility with engineers. During the final round (aka onsite) interview, a senior member of the engineering team will evaluate your technical competence Be prepared for whiteboard coding questions at the onsite interview. Example questions include:

Write an algorithm that detects meeting conflicts.

5. Strategy

Google PMs are business leaders. As a result, they must be familiar with business issues. It’s not necessary for PMs to have business experience or formal business training. However, they do expect you to pick up business intuition and judgment quickly. Sample interview questions include:

  • If you were Google’s CEO, would you be concerned about Microsoft?
  • Should Google offer a StubHub competitor? That is, sell sports, concert, and theater tickets?

Also be prepared for behavioral interview questions such as Tell me a time when you had to influence engineering to build a particular feature. Google PM interviewers are relying more on behavioral interview questions in recent months.

What Not to Expect

Brain teasers, such as logic puzzles, are rarely used in today’s Google PM interviews. Google’s HR department found a low correlation between job performance and a candidate’s ability to solve brain teasers Examples of brain teasers include:

  • I roll two dice. What is the probability that the 2nd number is greater than the 1st?
  • What’s 27 x 27 without using a calculator or paper?

However, hypothetical questions have not been banned at all. Hypothetical questions are imaginary situations that ARE related to the job. (This is in contrast with brain teasers, which ARE NOT related to the job.) Examples of hypothetical questions include How would you design an algorithm to source data from the USDA and display on Google nutrition?

How to Prepare

Here’s what I’d recommend to get ready for the Google PM interview:

Review tech blogs, such as Stratechery.

  • Product design. Practice leading design discussions using a framework. (Need a framework? Try CIRCLES Method: http://qr.ae/i6kRM). Start with possible personas and detail use cases. Prioritize use cases and brainstorm solutions. Many PM candidates (wrongly) suggest solutions that are incremental or derivatives of a competitor’s feature set. The Google interviewers are evaluating your creativity, and they place a big emphasis on big ideas (aka “moonshots”). Inspire them with unique, compelling ideas. Drawing wireframes on a whiteboard will help illustrate your ideas. To practice, download a wireframing tool like Balsamiq. Also study popular web and mobile design patterns for inspiration.
  • Technical. Coding questions are unlikely during the phone interviews. But if you are invited to an on-site interview, you must prepare for programming interviews. The technical interviewer does not expect your programming syntax to be perfect, but you should have sufficient mastery of technical concepts so that you can participate in technical discussions and help make technical trade-offs. I would recommend going over computer science fundamentals and practicing a couple coding questions One of my favorite resources is How to Ace the Software Engineering Interview Also be prepared to describe key technologies including search engines, machine learning, and MapReduce.
  • Analytical. Prepare for estimation questions such as How many queries per second does Gmail get? Get well-versed in product launch metrics and A/B testing, including interpretation of results.
  • Strategy. Use a framework to structure your strategy discussions If you’re not familiar with strategy or frameworks, Porter’s Five Forces is a good start.
  • Cultural fit. Understand what it means to be Googley by reading Google’s corporate philosophy. Review Google’s Android design principles. Optional readings: Google’s visual asset guidelines and Steven Levy’s 2007 (but still useful) article on the Google APM program Another optional, but more in-depth (and recent) perspective, read Steven Levy’s “In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.”

Facebook Interview Summary

The following is an email from Facebook’s recruiters on how to prepare. The Facebook Study Guide can be found here.

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?

a. 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.


Amazon Interview Recruiter Summary

The following is an email from Amazon’s recruiters on how to prepare. Amazon Study Guide can be found here.

Amazon Phone Interview:

We find that most candidates do best if they are in a quiet place to concentrate and focus on the questions and discussion – please do not drive or commute during your interview.  It may be beneficial to have a copy of your resume on hand. You will be given an opportunity to ask questions, so we recommend having some prepared before you begin the interview. If you are on a cell phone for this call, be sure you’re in an area with good service coverage.

The interview can range in duration from 30-60 minutes.

Be prepared for mostly behavioral based questions, which can typically be answered in the STAR Method. Finally, it will help to spend some time on our Careers Page and read about our company’s Leadership Principles.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.  Thank you!

Credits

Thanks to all the folks who contributed to this guide (names below). If you have something to add, you’ll get your name here too! How nice! Email us if you’d like to add anything to our Study Guides. The study guides are a service provided by ProductHired.com Check them out!