How to Negotiate a Verbal Offer by Lewis Lin

You should always try to negotiate offers, but never negotiate a verbal offer.

If you do get a verbal offer, your next step is to get the offer in writing. Why? Two reasons:

  1. Verbal offers are not documented, so it’s more likely the recruiter can play a “he said, she said” game and claim that they never made an official offer. If there’s no official offer, then why are you negotiating?
  2. Verbal offers usually do not have an expiration date. Without an expiration date, you’ll be more vulnerable and less effective negotiating, fearing that the other party can withdraw the offer with an errant negotiation ask or clarification question.

So get that offer in writing. And from there, you can negotiate your written offer using these 30+ negotiation email templates.

Photo credit: Joe Hall

What Hiring Managers Look for in Product Managers by Lewis Lin

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

As a hiring manager, I'm looking for top candidates that have grit.

Whatever classes they may take, as long as the candidate can demonstrate exceptional grit, I'd gladly have them on my team.

I often deduce one's grit through an interview. However, sometimes I only have the luxury of just looking at their resume. While not perfect, a high GPA can reflect one's desire to excel, which usually requires grit. Other measures that indicate grit (once again possibly imperfect) can include the school they went to, the employers they worked for, and the majors they choose.

How to Prepare for the Amazon Vendor Manager Interview by Lewis Lin

Photo credit: China Business News

Photo credit: China Business News

The Impact Interview blog did a good job showcasing the 9 different types of Amazon vendor manager interview questions to expect.

To prepare for the Amazon vendor manager interview, make sure you go through the vendor manager interview questions featured in my new book, Case Interview Questions for Tech.

Best of luck with your Amazon vendor manager interviews!

How Many People Should Interview a Candidate? by Lewis Lin

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

As a hiring manager, you may be wary about hiring a new candidate. Here are the concerns that may run through your head:

  • Is the candidate a strong performer?
  • Will they hit the ground running?
  • Will they fit with our corporate culture?

As a result of these concerns, many companies have resorted to subjecting candidates to an endless number of interviews.

Google has been one of the most notorious. They were known for subjecting a single candidate to up to 25 interviews.

Interviewing a single candidate 25 times is an inefficient process for everyone involved. Also, it can lead to candidate dissatisfaction, hurting the company’s employer brand.

Thanks to new research from Googlethey’ve found the ideal number of times to interview a candidate: four:

Rule of Four: four interviews was enough to predict whether or not we should hire someone with 86 percent confidence. Each additional int would only increase confidence by 1 percent.

By doing so, Google was able to reduce their time to hire from 135 days in the past to 47 days.

2017 Product Manager Interview Challenge by Lewis Lin


Happy New Year! To help you achieve your dream product manager (PM) job, I'm kicking off the 2017 PM Interview Challenge! Read on for more details; hope to see you on our leader board!


I've been coaching PM candidates for almost 10 years now, and there's a high correlation between the number of practice interviews and successful outcomes. There's no better example than one courageous client who completed a whopping 102 practice interviews during the fall of 2016; it shouldn't be a surprise that he snagged a Google PM job offer!

Here's How to Compete in the Challenge

Schedule mock interviews via my product manager interview practice group. When you complete one of the milestones below, email me at 

  • Bronze: 25+ mock interviews completed
  • Silver: 50+ mock interviews completed
  • Gold: 75+ mock interviews completed
  • Platinum: 100+ mock interviews completed

Indicate the number of mock interviews you've completed in your email, and I'll add you to the leader board below. And remember, this is for your benefit, so no cheating!

Product Manager Interview Leader board for 2017









ROI of Video Interviews by Lewis Lin


Video interviewing is becoming the tool for corporate and academic recruiters to connect with the best applicants for their organizations. Among the many benefits, a few of the most pressing pain points that video interviews solve include:

  • Reducing time spent on scheduling interviews.
  • Increase time spent with the right candidates.
  • Minimize logistical stress for the recruiting team such as traveling and booking meeting rooms.
  • Money spent on entire process such as booking candidate travel, employees’ time.

To address the tangible benefits of video interviews, we decided to figure out a clear number that would help quantify how much people are saving using recorded responses. So, we asked ourselves “Is there a way to get a clear picture of the ROI for using recorded video-interviewing solutions?”

To identify just how much time and energy is spent on the hiring process, as well as the savings these organizations made in switching to video, we compared traditional and video-interview applications cost in a ROI analysis.

As it turns out, most organizations save over $72,000 per year using video recorded responses. To get a better picture of how we came to that number, we used the following information:

  • The average hiring manager salary, as published by The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (1)
  • 500 applicants per year (many universities and corporations have many more)
  • 30 minute phone screening per applicant that gets an interview
  • Total time spent emailing applicant at 6 minutes
  • Number of people involved in screening process from recruiting side (3)
  • Additional time spent when scheduling in different time zones (33%)
  • Additional 15 minutes overage time (pre and post meeting handoffs, interruption)

Apart from the cost and time savings, on-demand video responses are allowing recruitment teams to share and review video responses on their own time — increasing the quality of new hires to their new role.


Photo Credit: Miran Rijavec

The 5 Steps to Finding Top Hires by Lewis Lin


Do you have a dedicated hiring team evaluating tens or hundreds of applicants a month? In 2016, there is a better way of dealing with the demand on hiring managers and admissions teams to evaluate more applicants effectively.

Many organizations are moving to video recorded solutions. They provide the tools necessary to keep up with demand and reach as wide an audience as possible while giving every candidate their own interview.

Here are our 5 steps to better hiring

  1. Create application questionnaire online and fill out questions for candidates to answer.
  2. Candidates receive and submit responses. Either through email, or built into your application, send every candidate a questionnaire automatically.
  3. Hiring team evaluates, takes notes, and shares the best submissions. With built-in tools other team members can review without having to schedule at the same time as everyone else.
  4. Contact best candidates. Information on every candidate, including LinkedIn account and email are provided directly through our system.
  5. Follow up with top interviewees & make hiring decision. Meet the top candidates in person and finalize your hiring decision.

We decided to compare phone screening with video on-demand reviews, below is a breakdown of the differences:

Advantages: Video Recorded Interviewing

+ Reviewable on-demand
+ No scheduling conflicts
+ Access from anywhere
+ You set the time limits
+ Avg. 4–8 minute review
+ Share with recruiting team

Advantages: Phone Screens

- Non-reviewable
- Scheduling conflicts
- Calls from office (can be offsite)
- Long duration (average 30 minute call)
- No sharing capability

How to Post Jobs for Free: Indeed, AngelList, Flexjobs (Updated for 2017) by Lewis Lin

This one surprises even the most experienced of recruiters. That’s right: one of the most highly trafficked websites for job seekers has free job postings.

To start posting, just start here:

AngelList Jobs

Angel List is a new kid on the block. Look past it’s startup and angel community roots. It’s got a robust network of talented candidates.

Start here to post on Angel List:

Flex Jobs

Looking to tap into a large community of folks ready and willing to telecommute to their jobs? Flex Jobs is a fantastic resource.

Post for free here: here:

How to Opt Out of Evernote's New AI Privacy Policy, With Pictures by Lewis Lin

Below, we walk through how to opt out of Evernote's new change to its privacy policy, allowing machine learning and artificial intelligence to read your Evernote files.

Steps to Opt-Out of Evernote's New AI Privacy Policy

  1. Login to your Evernote account.
  2. Select your "account settings" icon in the lower left hand corner.
  3. Click on "Personal Settings" and then uncheck the "Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience."

You're all done!

Scroll down to see pictures for the steps I described above.

SEE ALSO: Evernote's Key Executive Team

Step 1. Login to your Evernote account.


Step 2. Select your "account settings" icon in the lower left hand corner.


Step 3. Click on "Personal Settings" and then uncheck the "Allow Evernote to use my data to improve my experience."


The 20 Best Websites to Post Jobs For Free by Lewis Lin

Here’s our secret list of 20 free job boards

There’s nothing more frustrating than having trouble filling a candidate pipeline. With this list, your friends will come to you for leads and referrals. For each site we determined what’s free, what’s not, and our final verdict. Rely on LinkedIn InMails no more!

What’s Free: Job postings are free, if you don’t ‘sponsor’ them with ads.

What’s Not: Sponsored ads are charged per click ($0.25 — $1.50). Also has $1.00 charge per contact when you message a candidate through Indeed.

Verdict: It is recommended to sponsor a listing with at least $5/day for jobs with high volume; however, as long as you don’t pay for ads or start resume hunting, Indeed is 100% free.


What’s Free: First three job postings during the 4 day trial, but you must enter in your credit card information.

What’s Not: If you have not deactivated your job postings before the end of your trial, you will be subscribed to the $249/month Starter plan (3 active listings).

Verdict: ZipRecruiter does connect you to hundreds of job boards, but be sure to cancel your subscription or you may wake up with a dent in your wallet.


What’s Free: 15 day trial to post one job listing on top job boards.

What’s Not: At the end of the trial, you will be given the option to continue with a paid service of $39/month (1 active listing).

Verdict: You can only post one job but the service is simple, fast, and easy with no hidden costs or fees.


What’s Free: Job listings and direct advertisement of open positions to known email addresses and social media accounts.

What’s Not: Limit of 200 job advertisements per day can be expanded to 5000 candidates with $79/month Growth option.

Verdict: Useful for recruiting professionals who have built a vast network of referrals and job candidates.


What’s Free: Job postings and resume views for employers.

What’s Not: Batch and bulk import of job listings do have a charge determined on a case-by-case basis.

Verdict: Site revenue is generated through advertising so there are no fees whatsoever. The job requirements can also be filled out on one page with as many details as you need.


What’s Free: 10 resume views and unlimited job listings.

What’s Not: Resume contact information, and sharing of logins can only be accessed through the $89/month Pro Plan.

Verdict: Great site for free job postings, with limited candidate searches.


What’s Free: Free job postings for validated employers.

What’s Not: Requires posters to have a registered domain for at least 6 months and also meet SEO requirements.

Verdict: New employers may not be able to register, but established businesses can benefit from this site. Also provides $1500/year RecruiterSuite package that includes job sourcing from assigned Talent Specialists.


What’s Free: Up to five active job postings.

What’s Not: Resume views are not allowed with the free option. Platinum package provides unlimited job postings and 2,500 resumes views.

Verdict: Limited job postings without access to a resume database.


What’s Free: Postings to multiple free job boards.

What’s Not: ‘Advertised’ packages to premium job sites like LinkedIn or Team/Corporate plans at $3500/year offers a personal career page, analytics, and staffing agency management.

Verdict: Jobs can be picked up by multiple job search aggregators, but avoid upgrades or advertising.

Other Free Job Board Sites

Post Job Free (Free)

Free job listings that only requires email confirmation. Can also view resume contact information with premium subscription.

Need Job Soon (Free)

Free job board that allows jobseekers to contact employers without registration. Requires maximum of 48 hours for listings to get approved.

Craigslist (Free, By Region)

Provides free job postings to some regions in the United States. As of December 2015, Craigslist charges for job ads in these cities/areas.

Trovit (Free)

Online classified ads site for real estate and vehicles that also lets you post job listings for free. (Free)

Online classifieds section provides job listings for free, but also requires Facebook login information to post.

Jobbossit (Trial)

6 day free trial for unlimited job postings and resume views. Can purchase access to resume database and job postings separately.

JobShouts (Trial)

30 day free trial to list one job posting. Purchased job postings are listed for 30 days and can be used within a certain time period.

Employment Crossing (Trial)

3 day free trial for unlimited job postings and resume views, after providing credit card information.

Social Media (Twitter, Facebook)

Personal contacts can provide you with quality applicants and referrals.

University/Alumni Job Networks

Support your local university and/or alma mater by posting jobs on recent graduate career pages.

Are there any free job boards that we missed or you'd like to add? Tell us in the comments!

Salary Negotiation Tips: 3 Mistakes to Avoid by Lewis Lin

Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

SEE ALSO: 60+ Brilliant Salary Negotiation Scripts

When I think about the underhanded negotiation tactics that others have used on me over the years, three categories come to mind:


"You want to pay $1 for this t-shirt?!? You are a rich Google employee. I work hard. You insult me."

Why does guilt work
Exploits a person's ego. 

In this example, the buyer sees himself as a fair, generous person that doesn't insult others.

What usually happens
"Ok, how about $10 for the shirt?"

The buyer could have bought the shirt for $1.50 from another seller. However, they rationalize the $10 purchase by saying the same shirt would have cost $45 in a Manhattan boutique.
How to counter
Don't take it personally. Be assertive instead. E.g. "I understand you worked hard to sell this shirt. However, I could buy this shirt from a different vendor for $1.50." You are no longer insulting the vendor. You are now explaining to him that you would do what any other rational person would do.


"If you don't accept this offer in the next 24 hours, I'll cancel it."

Why does it work
Loss aversion. 

We get upset for days (sometimes years) when we miss an opportunity.

What usually happens
"Ok, I'll take it."

How to counter
If the proposer has a mutually interchangeable option, then their threat is credible. However, this is not as likely as it seems. For 99.9% of all negotiations, plan B is rarely as good as plan A.

So the response here should be, "I understand you want to move quickly. However, this is a decision that I'm not taking lightly. I'd like to have 5 business days to evaluate your offer before giving you my final decision."


"How do I know you're a cop?"
"The Constitution says all cops have to admit whether or not they're a cop when asked. So ask me."
"Are you a cop?"
"Ok, here's your dope."
"I'm arresting you. I'm with the Albuquerque police."
(dialogue paraphrased by Breaking Bad, the TV show)

Why does it work
Overconfidence bias. 

We feel strongly about our abilities (in this case, intellect) that we conclude that this must be true, even though we're not an expert in Constitutional law.

Ideal response
Do your homework before you go with your gut.

SEE ALSO: 60+ Brilliant Salary Negotiation Scripts

Famous Negotiation Example from Silicon Valley by Lewis Lin

Photo credit: Fumi Yamazaki

Photo credit: Fumi Yamazaki

One of the most famous negotiation examples in Silicon Valley will absolutely blow your mind:

Evan Williams' buyback from Odeo's investors allowed him to own more of Twitter.

The clever part of the negotiation: how he positioned Twitter's potential (see bold).

Then, one day in September 2006, Odeo's CEO Evan Williams wrote a letter to Odeo's investors. In it, Williams told them that the company was going nowhere, that he felt bad about that, and that he would like to buy back their shares so they wouldn't take a loss.

In his letter to Odeo's investors, Williams wrote this about Twitter:

By the way, Twitter (Twitter), which you may have read about, is one of the pieces of value that I see in Odeo, but it's much too early to tell what's there. Almost two months after launch, Twitter has less than 5,000 registered users. I will continue to invest in Twitter, but it's hard to say it justifies the venture investment Odeo certainly holds -- especially since that investment was for a different market altogether.

Evan proposed buying back Odeo investors' stock, and, eventually, the investors agreed to the buyback. So Evan bought the company – and Twitter. The amount he paid has never been reported. Multiple investors, who had combined to put $5 million into Odeo, say Evan made them whole.

Five years later, assets of the company the original Odeo investors sold for approximately $5 million are now worth at least 1000X more: $5 billion.

Source: The Real History Of Twitter

PM Practice Interview Community: Our Wins by Lewis Lin

Our PM interview practice community has grown to nearly 1,000 members, and we're getting a lot of good wins including Google and Uber. If you're interviewing coveted PM interview roles, find PM interview practice partners and join the community today!

Uber PM Job Offer

This community and @lewislin is the best. just heard back from Uber, it's a yes! I had interviewed there twice before over the years, but it wasn't until I encountered Lewis, his materials, and this community that I was finally able to crack it.

Google APM Job Offer

Hey everyone! Just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for the practice sessions! I heard back from Google yesterday and got the APM position I wanted this group was extremely helpful to me! Thanks @lewislin for setting this up!




Customer Journey Map: The 5Es Framework by Lewis Lin

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map reveals the step-by-step process of a customer's experience. It helps designers, product managers, and engineers to understand how customers interact with your product and uncover opportunities for improvement.

Do you have any customer journey examples?

Here are some of my favorite customer journey map examples:

What customer journey map template do you recommend?

My favorite customer journey map framework is the 5Es framework.

What is the 5Es framework?

The 5Es is an acronym and checklist to help brainstorm different stages of the customer experience. The 5Es helps you build a customer journey map quickly and easily.

Here are the 5Es:

  • Entice. What event triggers a user to enter into the UX funnel?
  • Enter. What are the first few steps in the UX funnel?
  • Engage. What task(s) is the user trying to accomplish?
  • Exit. How does the user complete the task?
  • Extend. What follow-up actions occur after the user completes the task?

A customer journey map can help you uncover product improvement opportunities.

Do you have an example of applying the 5E framework?

Here's a customer journey map example, based on the 5Es framework. For more examples, refer to my book, PM Interview Questions.

Does my customer journey map need to be elaborate?

Make the customer journey map as elaborate as it needs to be, no more. 

A good customer journey map is less about whether it's aesthetically pleasing and more about whether it helps you:

  1. Empathize with the customer
  2. Discover product improvement opportunities

Furthermore, if you are drawing out a customer journey map at product manager job interview, keep your time constraints in mind. The customer journey map should only be one part of your overall product design answer.

Negotiation Tips for October 2016 by Lewis Lin


Earlier today I emailed a friend with some negotiation advice. I thought some of you might find it helpful, so I've decided to share those tips here. For more tips, refer to Five Minutes to a Higher Salary.

Put all your asks at once.

If I'm reading it correctly, it sounds you've put out your base salary request, but not your title change request.

I'd put in an email ASAP and say, 

"One more thing I forgot to mention, I'd like to have a title of X instead of Y because ...."

Last thing the hiring manager wants is a protracted negotiation or the feeling that you're stringing them along.

Explain your reasoning.

I'd prefer the title X because...

(Your explanation sounded reasonable to me: entry-level, limits future prospects because it sounds niche, etc.)

Prioritize, if asked.

It's absolutely okay to ask for multiple things (salary and title change). You might get both!

However, if they ask which one is important to you, do be clear on which one is more important. Not stating can come across as being difficult, unreasonable, greedy, etc.

Be nice.

I can't imagine you not being nice. :) 

I know you don't want to lose this offer, and just a reminder that offers *only* get lost when candidates take the offer personally (aka low offer = reflection of self-worth), get emotional (e.g. "you make me go through this crazy job process and you insult me with this") or tries to copy actors in TV shows (e.g. "this is my final offer" -- i.e. no ultimatums).

Photo credit: Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design

A simple process to negotiate your starting salary by Lewis Lin

Lewis' Note: Today we have a guest blog post from Josh Doody, the author of Fearless Salary Negotiation. It's a honor to get different perspectives on how to approach a salary negotiation.

Josh Doody

Josh Doody

Salary negotiation can seem like a big, scary topic. Most people know they should negotiate their starting salary, but because it's a big, scary topic, they often just throw their hands up and accept the job offer. Or maybe they make a half-hearted attempt at a counter offer and back down immediately if the company pushes back.

A great way to manage big, scary situations is to follow a process. A good process gives you small steps to take so you make progress a little bit at a time without feeling overwhelmed. So here's a process you can use to negotiate your salary without feeling overwhelmed.

Keep your current and desired salary to yourself

The first step in the salary negotiation process usually comes up early in the job interview process, so it might catch you off guard. I call it The Dreaded Salary Question, and it might sound familiar:

“So where are you right now in terms of salary, and what are you looking for if you make this move?"

Don't disclose your current or desired salary in your job interview or salary negotiation.

Later on, you hope to get a job offer. And you want that offer to be as strong as possible, reflecting the value you'll bring to the company if you get the position. Throughout the interview process, you'll continually demonstrate that you'll be an asset to their team, and you want your job offer to reflect that.

When you disclose your current and desired salary, it's more likely that your eventual job offer will reflect those numbers rather than the value you bring to the role.

So how do respond when asked for your current or desired salary? Try this:

"I’m not comfortable sharing my current salary. I would prefer to focus on the value I can add to this company rather than what I’m paid at my current job. I don’t have a specific number in mind for a desired salary, and you know better than I do what value my skillset and experience could bring to your company. I want this move to be a big step forward for me in terms of both responsibility and compensation."

Set your "walk away" number before you get a job offer

Your minimum acceptable salary is your "walk away" number—your line in the sand for the minimum salary you will accept if you take the job.

This number—your minimum acceptable salary—is how you guarantee that your salary negotiation will have a positive result. You will either exceed this number and take the job, or you will walk away from the opportunity satisfied that it wasn't a good fit.

Ask for time to think it over

The first thing you should do when you finally get a job offer is to ask for time to consider it. This will give you time to objectively consider the job offer, compare it to your minimum acceptable salary from earlier, and calculate your counter offer.

Here's one way to ask for a couple days to thin it over:

"Thanks so much for the offer! I would like to take a couple of days to think it over and discuss it with my family."

Always negotiate

You should always counteroffer, even if you really like the offer. Why? Because there's a lot of upside and virtually no downside.

The upside is that the company may be willing to pay more than they offered. Sometimes, they will leave room just in case you negotiate. But the only way to find that out is to counter offer.

There really is now downside. Many people are afraid the company will retract the job offer if they negotiate, but this just doesn't happen. There may also be a fear that they'll "start things off on the wrong foot" with their new hiring manager by negotiating. But most hiring managers anticipate that some employees will negotiate, and they often perceive a savvy negotiator as a good business person who will be good to have on the team.

Counter offer in an email if you can

I recommend countering between 10% and 20% above the base salary in the job offer. Counter closer to 10% if you need the job pretty badly and you don't sense that the company is desperate to hire you. Counter closer to 20% above the job offer if you have other options and you sense the company specifically needs you to do the job.

Once you've determined your counter offer, deliver it via email if you can. Not only will this help ensure that you can articulate your complete case very clearly, but it will create a document that can be circulated internally at the company as they discuss your counter offer.

Here's a salary negotiation email sample you can use as a template to help you get started.

Maximize base salary, then negotiate other benefits

Counter offering is a big step, but it's not the last step in your negotiation! Once you deliver your counter offer, the company will likely come back to you with a response somewhere between their initial job offer and your counter offer. Spend some time considering how you'll respond to each increment in that salary range to attempt to increase your base salary or add more benefits to your total compensation package.

It may sound overwhelming to consider all of their possible responses, but remember that there is a pretty narrow window of possible responses between their initial offer and your counter offer. For example, if they offered $50,000 and you countered at $60,000, then there's only a $10,000 window to plan for.

For each base salary increment in that window, consider whether you'll accept their response or counter again. Once you've maximized your base salary, you can ask about other benefits as long as they don't say "Yes." to your last response.

Here's what that may sound like in practice:

"You offered $50,000 and I suggested $60,000. You came up to $55,000—which I appreciate very much!—but I was hoping for $60,000. If you can do $55,000 plus an extra week of paid vacation, then I'm on board!"

This way, you can maximize your base salary, and work to improve your benefits package during your negotiation.

That's a simple, step-by-step process you can use to negotiate your starting salary. Follow this process and you'll find that salary negotiation is much less intimidating than it may have seemed before.

Get a free step-by-step guide to negotiating your starting salary including how to calculate your counter offer and a script for your final discussion: Get the guide

Interview Evaluation Sheet for PM Roles by Lewis Lin

Five Interview Evaluation Sheets

Here are five interview evaluation sheets for product manage roles including:

Use it for:

  • Evaluating your next PM interview candidate 
  • Assessing with your PM interview practice partner
Screenshot: PM Interview Evaluation Sheet for Product Design Questions

Screenshot: PM Interview Evaluation Sheet for Product Design Questions

Screenshot: Interview Evaluation Sheet for Behavioral Interview Questions

Screenshot: Interview Evaluation Sheet for Behavioral Interview Questions