Snap, best known for its ephemeral social app Snapchat, believes that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate. Thus, it has been hyperfocused on positioning itself as a camera company, releasing fun filters and hardware like Spectacles.
Snap builds design-heavy products. Product managers at Snap have a tight working relationship with designers. In some companies, the PM "leads" design, engineering, and marketing and pushes ideas when executing. At Snap, product management and design roles are decoupled. Designers at Snap play a much larger role in the development process, working hand-in-hand with product managers to ideate and identify opportunities to tackle. While the PM does not need design skills, general product intuition is important since product managers at Snap have such a strong relationship with designers.
Product managers at Snap focus on the "how" of ideas and the execution. Snap is more strict about PM having technical knowledge than Amazon, but they are not as strict as Google. Snap looks for PMs with solid cross-functional skill sets. This includes being able to execute an idea to launch and communicating well up and down the chain of management. PMs at Snap need to be good at influencing and persuading folks to get their buy-in. They ask the right questions about the data and use the data to understand what's happening. Snap's PMs are crisp with metric recognition and have an intuitive feel with explaining what's happening with the product using numbers. In fact, many product managers at Snap come from data-related backgrounds (eg. data science).
Snap moves pretty fast through the interview process. You can expect to hear back with a few days after each round.
In your initial interview with the recruiter, you will have a 30-minute chat to talk about why you want to work at Snap. You may be asking if you personally use the Snapchat app.
Be prepared to talk about your past experiences (both from work and side projects) and practice communicating clearly. The recruiter may ask you to elaborate on the work listed on your resume. The recruiter may also set expectations for compensation in this first phone call.
After this phone call, the recruiter will give the top candidates to the hiring manager to proceed.
The next round will be a phone call with the hiring manager. This conversation will be either 30 or 60 minutes in length.
The hiring manager will be looking to get a sense of your communication skills and your past work experience. He/she will want to know why you are interested in working at Snap.
You can also expect to potentially face product design questions here. Some of these may be oriented towards the Snapchat app. For example, you may be asked what you like or dislike about particular Snapchat features.
In the last stage, you will reach the on-site where you will interview with 5 people. Each of these 5 interviews will be 45 minutes in length. You'll speak with 3 product managers, 1 engineer, and 1 non-product person.
In your interviews with each of the product managers, you will face product design and strategy questions. You can expect both generic questions such as "design a smart shoe". You can also expect to face questions specific to Snapchat. These can be "Improve the Snapchat discover page", "How is Snap different from other companies in the space", "Why do you think Instagram copied Snapchat stories". Since Snap is a data-driven company, you should be able to show that you work well with data. For any features you discuss, be prepared to also touch on metrics important to track the success of that feature.
In your engineering interview, you can expect to discuss any engineering problems relevant to the team. You will be evaluated based on how good of a partner you are to engineers. This will not be as technical as a Google PM interview where you will be asked in-depth system design questions. Remember that the core product of Snap is a mobile application. So you should know the differences between client-side vs server-side architecture, the android vs iOS experience, as well as differences between working with front-end vs server engineers.
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 or data 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. Snap's main product, Snapchat, is a mobile application on iOS and Android. It is important to understand the nuances of mobile development and any considerations when designing and building for smaller screen sizes.
Also, 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.
Product management candidates at Snap are evaluated against 4 criteria: communications, product intuition, ability to understand analytics, and relevant experience.
Be sure that you are communicating both clearly and succinctly. 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.
To improve your product intuition, it can help to study some of the UX case studies here.
Exponent's data science interview course has good material to help you become more well-versed when dealing with data and analytics.
With regards to relevant experience, be sure to highlight any experience that may be relevant to the specific role you are applying for at Snap. This could not only be work experience but also include any side projects or even university work.
The PM interview at Snap will test your ability to have product intuition, work with designers and data scientists, and be an excellent communicator. While the interviews will not be as technical as some other PM interviews, it can help to brush up on your mobile development and design knowledge.
If you are not already a Snapchat user, download the app and play around with it. Understand why the first screen you see is the camera. How many other screens do you see when you swipe left and right? How about up and down? While being a user of the app is not a requisite to be a PM at Snap, it can certainly help you understand some of the product decisions that went into the app.
If you have time, a good overview of the Snapchat story can be found in Billy Gallagher's book "How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars". This book paints a picture of what Snapchat is, how it is different from other social platforms, and how it evolved to become the app it is today.
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