Our most recent Product Management event brought together hiring managers and job seekers to bridge the gap in understanding what job seekers believe product hiring managers expect versus what they actually expect. Our panel had a mix of backgrounds, which allowed for a varied yet consistent message to the audience.
Jo Wickremasinghe, Director of Product Management at News UK
Marc Abraham, Head of Product at World First
Gareth Owen, CPO at Digital Product Group
Rob Farrell Chief Squads and Service Officer at ANDigital
We will try to summarise the key points from the discussion below. The following five points apply to any job seeker, interviewing at any level, for any industry. The fact remains that the underlying foundation of product management is transferable and so is the foundation of job hunting within product management.
1. Do Your Homework
Having an idea of who is interviewing you, is not enough anymore. This point was really driven home during the discussion, and it’s a common mistake among new job seeking product professionals.
Before you have your interview, even if it is a telephone chat, you need to know the business and product inside out.
Research is paramount. Sign up to the product, pay the subscription fee, and importantly, have an opinion.
You should be entering your interview with a strong curiosity around future plans and what to improve.
Research to understand the challenges that the business will face, and you will face in the role as well. Do your homework!
2. Give examples of your knowledge
It is all good and well saying you know how to be a product manager, but the key insight that hiring managers want to see is that you have put that knowledge into practice.
You should be able to provide the interviewer with tangible and quantifiable examples of products you have been involved with.
Note, it is about your knowledge, not ‘the team’. Working as a team is fine, but what did you contribute and how did this have a positive outcome on the product.
Don’t be afraid to take in examples to your interview, and there was even reasoning for having a portfolio to back up your explanations. Take your tablet device and show them the strength of your work.
3. Show your passion
Be happy and excited! Of course, you need to be professional, but being professional doesn’t mean uninteresting. More on this later.
Based on your homework, you need to show them that you are hungry for the challenge and that you are passionate about the business. You also need to show passion for their consumers, not just their internal stakeholders.
Your CV should be geared towards consumers anyway, but by having them at the forefront of your mind, it shows you want to create reliable and useful products for people. This doesn’t mean you should go in bouncing off the walls and repeatedly saying ‘I love you, I love your product, I love what you do here’. It means asking questions, showing an interest and being curious. It means making suggestions, doing research and being an advocate for the brand.
4. Be methodical and logical
Your role as a product manager is to lead by example. You need to be prepared, you need to communicate like a leader and you need to be fluid but structured.
Being able to deliver effectively, you need to be methodical and logical in your approach. Your role requires you to compromise, negotiate and pitch on a daily basis. In order to keep all the wheels spinning and the teams on the same side, you need to continuously be on point and have a neutral and logical approach to everything.
5. Professionalism is key
All of the above points, if done well and effectively, show the interviewer how professional you are, and professionalism is key. In a world where ‘relaxed’ is now expected in your working environment and where ‘agile’ actually means playing foosball all day, hiring managers have a fear that it is being lost.
When you are interviewing you need to keep a strong focus. Always remember, the interviewer is not your best friend.
Your interviewer doesn’t want to hear your rants and raves about other employers. Someone who is professional is not boring, they are remembered.
There was more information and tips which came out of this event and we will be following up with another article. Hopefully, this is a great starting point to give you an idea of how to approach interviews and the job market overall. These points are from the hiring managers themselves, this is what they look for. If you have any thoughts on the above, or any questions then please get in touch. We will also be releasing information about our next event over the next few weeks, so if you are interested then let us know.