Walmart probably doesn’t spring to mind when contemplating tech jobs, but don’t rule them out. Despite COVID’s significant retail shake-up, Walmart's revenue still trumps Amazon. Walmart Plus is directly taking on Prime. They've even attempted to buy (a portion of) TikTok. And Walmart Labs is at the forefront of the company’s innovative ambitions.
Labs, the high-tech arm of Walmart eCommerce, is tasked with re-imagining the retail experience for over 260 million daily shoppers. As a Product Manager here, you’ll work closely with top-notch engineering, design, and user research teams to bring Walmart’s mission to life: to merge online and in-store shopping in a consistent, customer-first manner.
Background: Walmart Labs doesn’t require a technical background (i.e. a CS degree), but you’ll be expected to have:
Read on to get a complete picture of the Walmart Labs PM interview from start to finish.
To prepare for culture-fit questions, we recommend you browse Walmart’s History, Values, and Impact pages before crafting your answers. Walmart is older than many tech brands, so if you can speak to their history and values, you’ll be well positioned to explain why you’re an asset.
Be prepared to answer questions like:
Next, you will have a ~30 minute phone interview with your potential hiring manager. Expect a greater variety and depth of questions during this call. The hiring manager will want to get to know you but you’ll also be asked:
A recent Walmart Labs PM hire we spoke to reported that the ability to stay on-track and consistently bring the conversation back to the relevance of his past experience helped him immensely. It can be easy to get side-tracked when speaking about your work, but always keep the goal in mind: you want to position yourself as an ideal fit for Walmart Labs specifically.
Following the phone interviews is a case study presentation followed by multiple rounds of product interviews with a high-ranking panel including your hiring manager and several PMs roughly two levels of seniority up. These days, you’re more likely to do a videoconference than onsite rounds, but the format has stayed the same. You’ll be given roughly a week to work through a fairly open-ended, fairly domain-specific case study. Our insider reported that it took him about 3-4 days to prepare his answer, including some back-and-forth with his recruiter to answer clarifying questions.
The panel members you will present to won’t come from your prospective team, and are more interested in your thought process, problem-solving skills, and your cultural fit than your actual answers. On the day of the panel interview, the first hour or so is devoted to the case study presentation. Following your presentation, the panel will ask questions meant to gauge your ability to prioritize, to navigate uncertainty, and to maintain a positive group dynamic. Above all else, Walmart is looking for customer-centric product managers who will champion positive customer experiences. Keep this in mind, and you’ll do well.
Exponent members have reported that they’re often tested in multiple dimensions through the case study presentation, but unlike many interview loops at tech companies, Walmart’s panel interview never broke out into 1:1s, meaning your experience will be streamlined. You won’t be repeating yourself too much. After your presentation and a round of general questions, you’ll enter a product design round and a product execution round. The product design round is meant to gauge how well you can design a product strategy, and the execution round will focus on estimation and metrics questions.
During the product strategy round, you may be asked questions like:
And during the product execution round, you may be asked:
At the end of your interview loop, you’ll circle back with your hiring manager for a 30-minute call. This time, he or she will ask you questions meant to gauge your cultural fit. You’ll be asked Walmart-specific questions (prepare by reading Walmart’s Values page) as well as behavioral questions such as:
The level of technical / coding experience you’ll need will vary depending on the role you’re interviewing for, and you’ll most likely face your toughest technical questions during your calls with your hiring manager, so be sure you’re absolutely solid on any technical topics related to your past experience. At very least, it’s good practice to be able to speak to the base technology behind Walmart and their recent innovations. Walmart’s got a fantastic blog on Medium covering engineering, data science, infosec, UX design, and more. Time spent there will help you get your bearings and tailor your responses to Walmart’s mission. You won’t regret it.
You should 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.
Want to practice technical interview questions? Check out our technical interview question database.
Walmart Labs so prizes product questions you’ll face two distinct interviews centered around each, so don’t skimp here. Product questions are typically vague. They’re meant to test your ability to design a new product or improve an existing one; mirroring your daily responsibilities as a PM. Your actual answers are less important than your thought process, but there are several frameworks you can use to navigate these.
First, be user-focused. This will help you eliminate a lot of potential “answers” as you begin to formulate your answer. If you have lots of ideas right away and are having trouble organizing your thoughts, try The Triangle Method. This framework will help you clarify your own thinking while summarizing your solutions in a way that will be memorable for your interviewer. First list three points and dive into each. Finally, summarize the three points at the end. Practice this graphically to get the gist; we’re sure it will help you articulate your points and sub-points.
If you’re prone to taking too long, try going "going broad then deep". First, list ALL the ideas and solutions that come to mind. Then, eliminate the low-hanging fruit (maybe a fine technical solution, but one that would annoy users), and choose the best of what’s left and "go deep". Be sure to explain why you chose your answer!
Practice product design and product strategy interview questions in our interview question database.
You’ll face behavioral questions at several points during your Walmart Labs interview: during your initial calls with HR and your hiring manager, during your case study presentation, and in your final culture-fit call. The purpose is to get to know you -- how you work with others, how you handle challenges, and whether you’ll act in accordance with Walmart’s values and company culture.
A good starting point in preparing for behavioral questions is to dump your resume into a spreadsheet and create a STAR-based story around each bullet point. You want to make sure you’ll be able to address questions about your own weaknesses, your interpersonal skills, and what you’ve learned from failures.
Practice behavioral interview questions in our interview question database.
Because you’ll be responsible for big decisions, your ability to understand product strategy and to analyze data is important. You 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. 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. We recommend employing the GAME framework for key metrics questions, as demonstrated in this PM lesson.
You may also get a few estimation questions. With estimation questions, interviewers want to see the logic behind your estimations. These can also test your ability to size a potential market. While these questions may at first seem insane, the interviewer isn't really looking to see if your answer is right. Rather, the interviewer wants to see how you are approaching the question. Ask clarifying questions. Break down the problem and make reasonable assumptions if needed.
Practice analytical interview questions in our interview question database.
Know Walmart’s history, mission and values and speak to how you embody each. You should have at least two examples prepared to corroborate why you embody each value, and how the mission resonates with you. You’ll face a lot of "tell me about x”, so take the time to reframe your experience through a “Walmart Labs” lens and you’ll answer these questions with ease.
Prioritize product strategy / design preparation. Though this depends on your specific role, Walmart Labs cares more about your product sense than about your technical abilities. You’ll have a top-notch group of engineers to handle the technical stuff, so focus on product prep: go in with a solid understanding of Walmart’s innovations (read their Global Tech blog for inspiration) and a game plan for product design and strategy questions.
Try to get to know your interviewers and ask lots of questions. Walmart’s case study and product questions are both intentionally vague -- questions are expected. Don’t hold back.