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What Are the Basics of Product Manager Interviews by Google PM

Ankit walked through an intro to the Product Manager role, the skills needed, and how the role differs between small and large companies. He wrapped up with some advice that's helped him in his Product Manager interviews over the years.

He gave a structured approach to thinking about what a Product Manager actually does (structured, meaning no "top 10" lists) and what are the skills you need to do well as a Product Manager.

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What Are the Basics of Product Manager Interviews by Google PM

  1. 1. What Are the Basics of Product Manager Interviews by Google PM
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  7. 7. Ankit Prasad Tonight’s Speaker
  8. 8. The Product Manager Role Ankit Prasad @_ankitprasad (Medium//Twitter)
  9. 9. TOC My Background What does a PM do The project roadmap Executing Analyzing and iterating Getting a PM Role Skills of a PM The interview process
  10. 10. My background
  11. 11. What does a PM actually do?
  12. 12. A popular explanation... What, exactly, is a Product Manager? Mind the Product
  13. 13. But if someone asked you, “What is the Statue of Liberty?” would you answer, “It’s between Manhattan, Jersey City, and Governor’s Island?” 3 Types of PM, @danieldemetri
  14. 14. Owns the WHAT and the WHY Design & Eng. own the HOW* *All boundaries are soft What problems are worth solving? What features or products should we build to solve those problems?
  15. 15. But really… which PM owns what? VP / Founder What market has a problem worth solving? Student loan process is broken. Let me recruit a team to solve it. Director / Head of Product What should the overall approach be? I’m told we want to solve student loan process. We will build an online website to make applying easy. Senior PM What features should we build? I’m working on this online application. Let’s build a feature to let customers refer their friends. Junior PM What should this specific feature do? I’m working on this referral feature. Let’s make sure inviting friends is easy.
  16. 16. Mission: ship great features Pre-building Execution Launch, analyze, iterate Roadmap Product requirements document UX Eng. design Analysis + Decisions Launch
  17. 17. Pre-building INPUTS: ● Vision/strategy from the top ● Market research (what are competitors doing?) ● Customer/user research (soft-stuff) ● Analytics (the hard data) ● XFN asks - BD, Marketing, Sales, Legal ● Your/team’s understanding *must be validated OUTPUT: ● ROADMAP ○ i.e. a prioritized list of features ○ Big companies: Annual and Quarterly OKRs ○ Start-ups: Backlog
  18. 18. Example of a roadmap
  19. 19. Example of a roadmap Ideas based on: 1. Company vision/strategy 2. XFN input 3. Your understanding of the space
  20. 20. Example of a roadmap Want a combination of small (but high ROI) wins and mountain-movers
  21. 21. Example of a roadmap Impact backed by user research and analytics
  22. 22. Example of a roadmap Here’s where a basic understanding of the tech- infrastructure helps. Talk to your eng. lead!
  23. 23. Example of a roadmap Goal: prioritize!
  24. 24. Small Company (eg. Earnest) ● Pop the next highest priority project into the hopper/sprint when previous one rolls off ○ Esp. for agile teams ○ Show of hands: who’s familiar with agile? ● Urgency from ○ Aggressive growth targets need to be met ○ Launch dates for big projects
  25. 25. Big company (eg. Google): Quarterly OKRs*/Goals Company Ads (owner: xyz VP in Ads team) ● Grow ads revenue by $XX; with YY% growth in Video Ads and XX% growth in user quality Payments (owner: VP of product for payments) ● $YY gross value of txns; Launch in-store payments in XX markets ... Product Area ● Launch Android Pay in XX markets (owner: director of product) ● Launch Android Pay online on YY websites ● Ensure ZZ% of people are in a “ready to pay” state with Google Team ● Improve conversion with push provisioning (owner: PM; eng lead) ○ Launch one-click card save flow ○ Design server-to-server callback ● Take advantage of cards on file to acquire users (owner: PM; eng lead) ○ Launch token upgrade notifications in XYZ market ○ ... ● Launch 3 campaigns with merchants (owner: PM, eng lead, BD) * OKRs are measurable goals. At Google, we shoot for 60-70% success rate.
  26. 26. Execution ● Write the Product Requirements Doc ○ What is the feature trying to achieve? ○ Details of how the feature should work. ● Work with UX to get mocks ● Get involved with eng. to understand (and optionally inform) high-level design ● Collaborative process: you’ll give design input and UX/eng. will have PRD input ○ Should feel like a team. Remember, you’re all on the same side! SECTIONS OF A PRD ● Vision ● Background research ● Goals & Non-goals ● Metrics ● High-level use cases ● Detailed design ● Launch plan ● Risks ● Privacy ● Legal
  27. 27. ❖ Often driven by TPM or Eng. Lead. In that case, attend stand-ups so you know what progress is being made, where engineers are getting blocked, and with micro-prioritizations Task Planning
  28. 28. Launching ● What bugs are left? Which are launch-blocking? ○ Prioritize! ● Are the cross-functional teams ready? ● LAUNCH ● Analyze experiment results ● Decide what to do Team Status VP (Product Area) Pending PM ✅ Eng ✅ Test ✅ BD ✅ Marketing FYI Security Pending Legal ✅ ... ...
  29. 29. Analyzing Experiment Results Start: 10/20/2014 End: 11/7/2014 n=2,040,049 Metric Enabled - Lift (p- value) Client retention (1- day) 1.5% (0.03) Days engaged 0.4% (0.12) Likes -1.2% (0.09) Messages 2.3% (0.15) Posting binary 0.4% (0.59) Thread starters 0.8% (0.77) ● Some stuff went up ● Others went down ● What do you do? Example on right: ● Launched a feature on Yammer* that let users search for a message within a group ● What should we do? * An enterprise communication tool. Think Slack or Facebook for Work for the purpose of this exercise.
  30. 30. Analyzing Experiment Results Wrong answer: more things are green then red, so success! Correct answer: Global metric: what metric most closely represents the top-level goal of the company? What happened to it? Local metric: How do you explain what happened to the local metrics? Cheat sheet when defining the global metric: companies are either ● Transactional - key metric is # of funnel completions. ○ Loans and loan applications on Earnest, orders on Amazon, etc. ● Engagement - key metric is long-term usage, retention ○ Days engaged and retention (1, 7, 30 -day) for Facebook ■ So if # of posts read go down, but days engaged goes up… Let’s look at those metrics again...
  31. 31. A single project may follow this nice schedule... Pre-building Execution Launch, analyze, iterate
  32. 32. ...but your time doesn’t Time distributed amongst (changes week to week): ● Product strategy & planning (20%) ● User & partner research + meetings (20%) ● Design sessions with UX team (10%) ● Working with engineering (20%) ● Metrics/analysis (20%) ● General coordination (10%) Since you have projects in every stage of the funnel.
  33. 33. So how do I interview for a PM role?
  34. 34. What do companies look for? GOOGLE (and EARNEST) ● Hard skills ○ Analytical ability ○ Technical ○ Product & strategic insight ● Soft skills ○ Communication ○ Creativity ○ Culture-fit YAMMER ● Needs ○ Product intuition ○ Strategy ○ Product Passion ○ Critical thinking ● Wants ○ User empathy ○ Communication ○ Math ○ Design sense ○ Technical competence
  35. 35. Interview Questions ● Product ○ Design X for Y (design an alarm clock for a blind person)? ○ How would you improve product X (or pick a product and how would you improve it)? ● Analytical ○ Metrics focused: We ran an experiment that increased the font-size on Google search. # of searches went up. What do you do? ○ Math focused: How many people fly out of SFO every day? ● Technical ○ What factors would you consider when deciding which videos to show in the “suggested” column on YouTube? ○ SQL Basics: Given the following {SQL} tables, how would you produce this other output? What about the soft skills: Creativity Communication Culture Fit 1 2 3 4
  36. 36. Design X for Y (“the blue sky”) Ask clarifying questions ○ What are the 5 questions you’re going to ask first? Start with the user ○ Who is the user? What are their needs? ○ If you’re not given a user, list some options, then prioritize (quickly). ■ Eg. for each user base, think through needs (unmet), ease of meeting those needs, etc. List ideas/features ○ Have at least 4-5. ○ Try to have at least 1-2 “out-there”, more creative options Prioritize and pick A.B.S. : Always Be Structuring If I ask you to design a toothbrush, I haven’t really told you much. 1
  37. 37. Example: Design a Music System for a Car Ask clarifying questions: - Who is the user? - Where do they live? - What type of car? - .... Start with the user: - Pick a user base: - Mom driving SUV, lives in appt. - Student in college - Working dad in house - What are their needs? Feature Ideas/Options: - What features does it have? - Where does it get music from? - Phone - Local Storage - Sync with home wifi? - How do you control it? - Voice? - Bluetooth/phone? - Touch? - ... Pick/prioritize between options and why: Pros Cons Phone ... ... Local ... ... Sync ... ... 1
  38. 38. How would you improve X? Pick your favorite app? How would you improve it? (“the improvement question”) Similar to previous, with the added complexity of: ● What is the current vision of the product? ● Who are the users, and what are some unmet needs? ● What is the top-level goal/metric of the product? ● How would you structure an experiment to test movement in those metrics? However, do NOT dive straight into the ideas. Laundry lists != good Go through the process! Have some “favorite” apps and 3 ideas to improve each in advance 2
  39. 39. Example: Favorite app//improve it Recently been using UberEats Start with the user: - App designed to help you get food you want quickly - User bases: - Single working men/women - Office workers during lunch - … - Pick one - Single working men/women: - Care about time - Convenience Improvement ideas: - Single working men/women: - Pre-selected menu of “top nearby items” that are quick to make and deliver. - One click order that lets you order these popular items. - … Rank/prioritize - Estimated impact of each feature? - How hard will it be to build? 2
  40. 40. Analytics: Metrics focused Often follow-on of improve X question: How would you test the one-click order of popular items on UberEats idea? (contd. from last Q) Think: MVP experiment Maybe start with a one-click “repeat last order” button? Who would you test on? What metric are you trying to move? (Think: engagement or transactional?) 3
  41. 41. Analytics: Math focused How many planes fly out of SFO every month? Lay out complete formula first: # flights = # of days/month * minutes/day * take-offs/runway each min * # runways Then calculate Then gut-check Then stress-test Always surprised how few do this. Formula first is key for this. 4
  42. 42. Some resources I’ve found useful... Cracking the PM Interview (Gayle McDowell) Good for understanding the role Good for technical parts Decode & Conquer (Lewis Lin) Good for practice to product questions Good, short, behavioral section Quora/Medium/Google search More prep on specific company
  43. 43. Questions? Ankit Prasad @_ankitprasad (Medium//Twitter)
  44. 44. Part-time Product Management Courses in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, London, Toronto