Published On : August 24, 2010
You have spent hours or even days polishing your associate product manager cover letter and resume. You have tailored them so that each one is unique and fits the job. Now that you have sent in your application materials, it is time to congratulate yourself and to have a little fun. Not too much fun, though, because you do want to be ready for interviews when hiring managers contact you. And contact you they should, since your cover letter and resume shine.
The goal of a first interview is for you and a hiring manager or team to meet face to face. This in-person interaction allows for a lot of nuances that do not show up on paper to manifest themselves. Hiring managers get to see how you present yourself, for example, and you get to see how you like the atmosphere at the company. To do well at your interview, keep a few associate product manager interview tips in mind along with recommended best practices for interviews.
Associate Product Manager Interview Tips
Explain Your Technical Background: Often, associate and assistant product managers are not the same; the term "associate" is used more frequently in technical fields such as engineering and computer science. If this is the case for you, be prepared to explain your technical credentials. Talk about the best advantages and disadvantages of coming from a technical background, and talk about why you moved from, for example, computer science to product management.
Discuss a Favorite Product: You will commonly be asked to talk about a great product you have experienced recently or to talk about your favorite product. Have at least a few products in mind before going in for your interview. Know what you like about the products, why they are user-friendly, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and so on. Think along opposite lines too; you may be asked to talk about a particularly bad product you experienced recently.
Bring a Portfolio: Develop a portfolio, both in physical and online versions, that showcases your experience and successes related to product management. Information that is good to include in such a portfolio are problems you encountered, how you solved them, what you like and dislike about particular products, and who you worked with in management of that product. Furthermore, hiring managers want to know if you can safely cut costs without affecting the bottom line of a product. Your portfolio can give examples of when cutting costs was okay and when it was not.
Be Ready to Discuss Questions That Refer to Your Past Collaboration: Situational questions such as, "What is a time your team did not get along, and what did you do about it?" and "Has your patience for mistakes changed as you gained more experience?" give interviewers insight into how you are likely to act and work with others in the future. Think about notable projects you have done and key experiences and takeaways from each. Consider which types of people you work with best.
Talk About Key Skills for the Industry: Often, the job description for associate product managers convey that candidates need to be adaptable, analytical, and detail-oriented. You must also be a good communicator as you work with different teams, management, etc. Use examples from past situations to illustrate how you've organized projects, handled stressful situations, managed conflict, communicated effectively, and more. Do not shy away from using examples of when you failed or made a mistake. These convey that you are willing to learn from your mistakes and improve upon bad experiences.
Talk About Your Product Instincts: What do you do when you feel something is wrong about a product? How do you communicate a misgiving, especially when most everyone seems on board? If you have prevented product disasters in the past, talk about how you did so and why. If possible, you should also try to tell your interviewer something new about his or her products; for example, a way to improve them or a way to address a flaw.
With these six associate product manager interview tips, you are well on your way to making a smashing first impression during your interviews. Landing a job is well worth the time and effort you expend in interview preparation.