Non-Technical Rookie Errors To Avoid In Your Product Management Interview

Product Management
Exponent TeamExponent TeamPublished

Are you in the process of preparing for an upcoming product management interview? Whilst strong technical knowledge plays a fundamental role in a successful product management interview, there’s more to a successful PM interview.

Have you stopped to research the common, non-technical, rookie errors that could jeopardize your success as a candidate? In product management interviews, exceptional technical knowledge can only get candidates so far. Tech companies are looking for well-rounded individuals that possess outstanding leadership and communication skills.

The role of a product manager is all-encompassing. On a daily basis, you will need to be firing on all cylinders, utilizing skillsets that extend far beyond technical and product knowledge. The interview is a chance for you to showcase your leadership and communication attributes, allowing you to stand out from the crowd of candidates who may also share exemplary technical skills.

Here are some of the non-technical rookie errors to watch out for:

1. No mention of a high-level product vision

Who doesn’t love a visionary? The interviewers want to feel as though you will bring a fresh perspective to the company and ultimately the product. Whilst bursting with enthusiasm for their product, you should aim to articulate a high-level vision for the product’s future growth.

You don’t need to present a fully-fledged strategic plan to the interviewers. If you go too specific, it may come across as narrow-minded and singular in vision. This could be problematic if the master plans of both parties don’t quite align. Aim to share just a few words on the potential ‘north star’ of the product at a high-level.

2. Lack of research on the company or product

Walking into a PM interview completely blind is never a good strategy. Even if it seems unnecessary, you need to find out every tiny detail about the company before entering. This can be achieved very easily through a simple Google search, or looking up any previous keynotes the company may have posted.

Having a good understanding of the company’s current strategic goals and vision is essential. You will be able to weave some of the key phrases and terminology used by the leadership teams into your interview answers. The interviewers will also want to see that you have a core understanding of the product on both a technical and business level.

3. Failure to give justification or reasoning

The interviewers want to see you give justification and reasoning to all of your answers to their questions. In great leadership, every single decision can be explained and justified because it usually points to a wider, strategic plan. In the interview, you need to have your critical thinking skills on full display. Explaining your thought processes and how you arrive at answers can also showcase your problem-solving skills.

4. Unable to identify examples of your own leadership

As a product manager, you will be required to draw from a broad range of prior professional experience to enable you to succeed in this type of leadership role. How your resume translates into evidence of effective leadership is completely up to you.

You do not need to have any managerial roles on our resume to give an example of your own effective leadership. The ability to take ownership of your workload is something that you have undoubtedly had to do in your previous roles. Recall any situations where you’ve had to independently make decisions or support your co-workers in previous roles, and weave them into your answers where appropriate.

For many, product management interviews can feel like a minefield. At Exponent, we offer a range of free online courses to help you ace your next product management interview. Explore our courses today!

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