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Capital One Associate Product Manager (APM) Interview Guide

Learn how to prepare for the Capital One Associate Product Manager interview and get a job at Capital One with this in-depth guide.

"They don't expect you to know the details about how credit cards work. But they do expect you to ask questions."

Capital One's APM program is young but competitive. Grads report solid product and finance experience in a friendly, welcoming environment. The tech stack is modern and management works to nurture innovation - something lacking in many banking firms due to regulatory red tape.

If you're early in your career, interested in finance and tech, and the idea of working at a big company with lots of resources excites you, Capital One's APM program might be a great fit. A recent APM grad gave us the scoop on the interview process. Let's take a look.

Interview Process

Overview

The loop typically takes around four weeks but this can be accelerated if you've got competing offers or if you've previously interned with Capital One.

Recruiter Screen

First, a recruiter will get in touch. You'll be asked a few questions about your background, but mainly he or she will describe the APM program. APMs have shared with us that throughout the entire process, Capital One goes the extra mile to provide you with the information you need to do well in your interview loop, so don't be afraid to ask questions about next steps.

Case Interview

Next, you'll have a case interview with a senior PM, likely on one of Capital One's financial products.

The format follows consulting interviews where you're given an ambiguous problem and asked to provide a recommendation. Capital One likes to hire folks with technical backgrounds, so if you can demonstrate a methodical thought process and show an affinity for numbers, you're well on your way. You'll also get to use a calculator, unlike most other case interviews.

"Power Day" (On-site)

Next you'll be called back for what Capital One calls "Power Day". This is similar to on-site interviews in tech, where you face a panel of interviewers (mostly Senior PMs) and back-to-back rounds each focusing on a different dimension of product management.

"They really want you to do well" reported an Exponent community member and new APM. "They want to assess how you think, so they're not trying to trip you up." This supportive atmosphere permeates all of Capital One. Before Power Day, you'll receive videos of people asking sample interview questions to help you get an idea of what you're in for. Feel free to reach out to your recruiter with any questions and reach out to past APM interviewees for advice.

Power day structure is as follows:

  • Business case
  • Product design round
  • Project round

The business case will be similar to your first - open-ended and data-driven. The product design round will be more collaborative than you might be used to, and you're encouraged to change directions mid-way if you realize you made a mistake. Our interviewee was asked how he would reimagine the DMV experience.

"I wasn't expecting the hand-holding" he says. "If you're not used to working with someone else's thought process, it may trip you up." That said, the vibe was overwhelmingly positive.

Finally, you'll present one of your own project. You won't prepare slides or handouts - you're simply expected to talk through a (preferrably technical) accomplishment. This is a great opportunity to shine - our interviewee recalls that his interviewer said he'd invest in the project. Your communication skills are being tested as well as your technical expertise here, so be ready to answer lots of questions about why you made the decisions you did.

Sample Interview Questions

You should be prepared to answer case study (prioritization, strategy) and product design questions as well as some light behavioral assessment.

Behavioral

There's no specific "culture fit" round at Capital One, but interviewers like to ask a few behavioral questions before diving into the more technical questions. First and foremost, they want to get to know you so that they can put your experience and thought process into a coherent context as you work through the case study questions.

Don't worry too much about these, but don't neglect them either. Make sure you can walk through your resume and highlight the experiences which make you a great fit for Capital One. And make sure you demonstrate that you're friendly, helpful, and all-in-all a pleasant person to work with.

Here's is a list of behavioral questions PM's are commonly asked.

Case Study / Analytical

PM's constantly make strategic decisions which affect the bottom line. Analytical questions test your ability to understand data and make decisions accordinglyYou will want to demonstrate competency in defining metrics as well as understanding what to do when metrics change. Be methodical and show that you make data-driven decisions.

Here's is a list of analytical questions PM's have been recently asked during interviews.

As with all open-ended questions the key is to start at a high-level (in this case, with the goals of the product) then drilling deeper into actions and metrics. We recommend employing the GAME framework for key metrics questions, as demonstrated in this PM lesson.

Product Design

Product questions test your ability to design a new product or improve an existing one. These questions can be overwhelming at first - until you remember to step into the user's shoes. Pain points and areas for improvement should then become clearer. The key to giving a coherent answer is to ensure you're organized with your thoughts and have a clear goal in mind that will solve the user's problem(s).

Here's a list of recently-asked product questions to help you prepare.

One of the best frameworks is to go "broad then deep". First, "go broad" by listing all the ideas and solutions that come to mind. Then, pick one to "go deep" on and explain why that is the solution you chose.

Another approach we see candidates have success with is The Triangle Method. This framework will help you articulate your thoughts and help nail your points into the interviewer's mind. To accomplish this, first list three points. Then, dive into each point. Finally, summarize your three points at the end. This will help you articulate your points and subpoints.

Tips and Strategies

  • Don't be afraid to reach out to those who've been through the APM loop in the past. Our interviewee did this and got some incredibly valuable tips. Capital One clearly selects friendly candidates, and you will find help if you search for it.
  • Start over, if you need to. You might be surprised to learn that Capital One interviewers are delighted when you ask to start over, given you can identify where you went wrong. They value honesty, and are happy to allow you a second-chance if your chosen strategy during a case has led you down an unproductive route.
  • Show quantitative skills. You're not expected to have a CS degree or highly specialized financial skills, but you should be comfortable working with numbers. You will get a calculator for your case studies, but don't rely on that - the cases are numbers-heavy and to do well you'll need to be comfortable manipulating data.
  • Have an interesting project to share "...that I had something real, that I was able to bring something to life - that really helped me" says our interviewee. Your project doesn't have to be professional - it can be something you worked on in your free time - but having completed something new and interesting is invaluable.

Learn everything you need to ace your Associate Product Manager interviews.

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