Intel is one of the leading semiconductor chip manufacturers, who supplies microprocessors for companies like Apple, Lenovo, HP, and Dell. It's said that every few years, the number of transistors on a microchip doubles (Moore's Law). It's also understood that the cost of computing halves in that period of time. As transistors become more advanced, we have benefited from computers becoming smaller and more powerful. This includes being able to use the smart phones, tablets, and GPS systems today as well as being able to play video games with realistic graphics and doing work on spreadsheets.
In order to achieve this, Intel has a very thorough process by which it manufactures silicon chips. This product lifecycle can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years, from ideation all the way to release. First, strategic planning product managers will gather ideas and work with external customers to gather requirements. They will send these to manufacturing. Then in the next phase, or the "post-silicon" phase, the manufactured CPU is tested in the labs where other product managers work to validate what was built. Finally, the chip can be brought to the market and launched.
There are several PM personas in the process here. Strategic planning product managers work with customers and engineers to gather requirements and prioritize them. Then, TPMs work with the engineering team to execute the plans. In the post-silicon phase, project analysts will help product managers build dashboards to monitor metrics. Manufacturing product managers will work to ensure the quality of manufacturing meets requirements and key metrics are being achieved. Finally as the CPU is nearing the end of the production cycle, PMs will validate that the CPU is working as planned, run any final regression tests, and check that all requirements are validated.
If this sounds interesting to you, a PM role at Intel may be the right fit for you! PMs at Intel come from a variety of backgrounds including data analytics, electrical engineering, hardware, and software. Many non-technical folks also join Intel and later transition internally into product management.
Read on to learn more about the PM interview process at Intel.
In the interview process, you should hear back within 2 weeks. It is Intel guidance to try to get back to candidates within a week.
First you will speak with a recruiter or a PM from the team. This will be a 30 minute phone call where you'll go over your resume and learn more about the role. Be prepared to talk about your past experiences (both from work and side projects) and practice communicating clearly.
For most PM interviews, there is typically a phone interview with product questions. However, the Intel PM whom we spoke with did not encounter a phone interview. If you have an experience you would like to share, we'd love to hear from you! Send a message to [email protected].
In the on-site round, you will have 2 interviews. A unique aspect of interviewing with Intel is that you will face 2 people in each interview. But don't be intimidated! It'll be like sitting in a room and chatting with 2 co-workers.
In the first interview, you will chat with 2 PMs. These can be either PMs or junior PMs. You will have 45 minutes of behavioral questions and 45 minutes of technical questions. Remember that you are interviewing at a silicon chip company, so expect technical questions related to that field. For example, understand tradeoffs in power vs performance in CPUs.
Finally, you will have a 2 hour chat with a senior PM and an engineering manager. The senior PM will likely be the hiring manager as well. Here, you can expect to face behavioral, strategic, and analytical questions.
With strategic questions, you will be asked questions about the competitors, market trends, and Intel-related questions around strategy. You may be presented with a scenario and asked what you would do.
With analytical questions, you may be shown a dataset and asked questions based on what's given. Be sure to point out any trends you see and reveal what you would do to gather more insights from the data. Think about how you would present this data to executives and other stakeholders. Which key metrics would you want to monitor?
With behavioral questions, it is important to show that you will work well with everyone: product managers, engineers, designers, sales, and legal. Focus on communicating well: enunciate, speak slowly, and speak with meaning.
Prepare a good talk through of your resume. Have a “60 seconds to wow” pitch and be prepared to provide clear and in-depth explanations of each of your experiences that you’d want to highlight. These experiences can include previous work experience, side projects, classes, or even hobbies. Think about not only what you’ve achieved, but also what you learned, the challenges you faced, and the strategies you used to succeed.
Prepare real anecdotes so you can use specific examples. Your interviewer already has your resume so those anecdotes will add a more human touch to your application, making you more memorable. Think about anecdotes that show off how you were customer-obsessed, dealt with ambiguity, and had a growth mindset in approaching the task at hand.
Why do you want to work here? Why this role and team? Think carefully about why you are applying for this role, and why this team specifically. It helps to know as much about the role and team that you’re applying for. Try to watch tech talks or conference keynote speeches from the team online. It will also leave a good impression if you have previously used a feature of the team and can speak to it. At that point, the interviewer will likely probe you for feedback on the product. Use this opportunity to show how you would converse and work with your interviewer as if you are already a member of the team.
Product design questions test your ability to design a new product or improve an existing one. Be user-focused. The key is to ensure you're organized with your thoughts and have a clear goal in mind that will solve the user's problem(s).
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.
Be sure 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.
Strategy questions assess your ability to reason about competitive landscapes and high-level product direction decisions. The key to success in these interviews is starting at a high-level with the goals of the product, and then drilling deeper into actions and metrics.
With regards to metrics, we recommend employing the GAME framework, as demonstrated in this PM lesson.
Be methodical and show that you make data-driven decisions.
With analytical questions, you will be presented with a situation and asked to provide some analysis. Here, the interviewer wants to see how you reason with metrics and how you can think critically about user feedback and bugs.
Be prepared to face pushback on any assumptions you make. Don't immediately start answering. Have a structure. Successful candidates consider all variables and scenarios before diving into the nitty-gritty details.
With technical questions, you do not need to know how to complete Leetcode-style coding questions. However, you should understand broad principles of software engineering. Be familiar with high-level system design and tradeoffs for the popular data structures and algorithms (including time and space complexity). Solutions should be scalable, reliable, and efficient. Always consider reality and the laws of physics.
Candidates interviewing for a PM role at Intel are measured on the following traits:
To put your best foot forward, record yourself speaking. Many people have weird quirks about the way they present themselves. Some may jiggle or shake their leg. Others may use excessive filler words (like uh or um). It is nearly impossible to catch these quirks on your own. So, recording and re-watching yourself is a good way to be more cognizant of how you are presenting yourself.
A unique aspect of interviewing for the PM role at Intel is that you may be facing 2 interviewers in one session. In other words, it may seem like a 2 vs 1 scenario where two Intel folks are asking questions to you, the candidate. However, do not be intimidated. Intel likes to hire folks who work well with others. You will find that the people at Intel are very nice.
The Intel website and blog has good information on the latest happenings in the company. This site shows how intel makes the chips and contains a deeper explanation of the manufacturing process. Browse and read through the material to get a better understanding of Intel's work.
Then, take a look at the competitors. In the last few years, AMD has made significant strides in its silicon chips. Tim Cook also announced in 2020 that Apple will be producing its own processors for its desktops and laptops, moving away from its reliance on Intel chips. Having a good knowledge of the ecosystem can help you make meaningful contributions to interview discussions.
Finally learn the manufacturing process for chip making. What are the benchmarks and workloads used? How do different CPU chips compare at entry level vs high end points? Again, a lot of this information can be found on the company website.
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