Lewis C. Lin's Spreadsheet for Product Management Interview Preparation by Lewis Lin

I've made many of my product manager interview resources available for free on the web.

There's one item that's coveted more than anything else: my Google Spreadsheet that recommends topics to study and exercises to do for:

  • Product design questions
  • Metrics questions
  • Estimation questions
  • Lifetime value questions
  • Behavioral interview questions
  • Technical questions
  • New market entry
  • Go-to-market strategy

It also includes links to my two company specific guides: a 30-day study guide for Google PM interviews and a 30-day study guide for Amazon PM interviews. (I do have a 30-day study guide for Facebook PM interviews, in my book The Product Manager interview.)

Best of luck with your PM interviews,

Lewis C. Lin

 

Lewis C. Lin's Slack Community by Lewis Lin

It's been almost three years since we launched the Slack community. 

I'm very proud to see all the PM mock interviews completed, connections made, and most importantly, PM offers won!

Here's what some participants have said about the PM interview community:

  • This community and Lewis Lin 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.

  • Hi Lewis, I wanted to say thanks for putting together the books and community for PM prep. It’s been extremely helpful to me and many others.

  • You’ve created a super awesome community, especially the Slack channel. It is the best Slack channel out there! Thanks for all your contributions to the PM community!

  • Thanks a lot @lewislin for publishing the books and creating this community. This helped me get an offer.

  • Your book, Decode & Conquer, has been immensely helpful for me understanding "product speak", since my professional background is actually in Sales & Marketing. I hope you're having a great Labor Day weekend! I'm spending most of my time off practicing for my Facebook rPM interview in about two weeks. Thank you for creating an amazing community on Slack as well to practice mock interviewing!

  • Hi Lewis. Firstly I want to thank you for creating such an awesome platform for learning for product manager community. While browsing the content of your books on Amazon i was really amazed and really became your die heart fan. It is such awesome content. For people like me who were struggling to find the right content and direction in this domain you have given us a clear direction. Thanks a lot!

If you're not part of the PM interview community already, sign up following the instructions here.

lewis-lin-slack.jpg

The Marketing Interview by Lewis C. Lin: eBook or PDF Available? by Lewis Lin

The Marketing Interview: eBook is Available

Is The Marketing Interview available on Kindle or another eBook format?

The answer is absolutely! You can get the eBook for The Marketing Interview here.

EBOOK VERSIONS OF MY OTHER BOOKS, NOT AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

While we're at it, here are the links to eBook versions of my other books, not available on Kindle:

Here's What People Say about The Marketing Interview

For aspiring marketers, Lewis Lin's The Marketing Interview provides a solid grounding, with concrete examples and exercises, on how to stand out during a marketing interview and land that job of your dreams. — Luanne Calvert, Former Chief Marketing Officer, VIRGIN AMERICA

There’s so much confusion on how to succeed at the marketing interview, especially tough case questions. The Marketing Interview examines the most common and challenging interview questions including developing marketing plans, launching new products and dealing with private label competition. — Philipp von Holtzendorff-Fehling, Former Vice President Marketing, T-MOBILE USA

Lewis Lin presents both classic and new marketing cases, along with right and wrong approaches, to sharpen your interview impact. Useful for new graduates and mid-career professionals, The Marketing Interview contains marketing analogs and role plays to help you elevate yourself above other candidates. —Dan Frechtling, Former Vice President, MATTEL

I have interviewed countless candidates for marketing roles, and I wish more of them could attack problems this smartly. Follow the step-by-step guidance in this book, and you will set yourself apart from other candidates and succeed in your marketing interviews. — Scott Shrum, Former Brand Manager, S.C. JOHNSON & SON

 

Bad Product Names: How They Happen by Lewis Lin

There are several reasons for the poor product names.

Uninspired marketers
There are simply some marketers who didn't care enough about their product to put proper effort into coming up with a good name.  I would put Microsoft Family Safety in this category.  And it looks like the executive in charge didn't care either.

Opinionated bureaucrats
Sometimes, the influential executives care too much.  Decision makers with limited marketing experience start throwing ideas out.  And unfortunately they're influential enough to have these bad names stick.  That's why you get products with "RT" appended to it.  Apparently RT doesn't mean real-time; instead it's much, much geekier.  Yes, some engineering VP cried and moaned enough to get their way.  Good luck explaining that one to a 55 year old small business owner.  (Details: What Does the ‘RT’ In Windows RT Stand For?)

Indecisive and weak marketing leaders
The role of a strong marketing leader is to clarify the brand strategy & hierarchy.  For example, P&G's leadership team made a conscious decision to have strong product names (e.g. Tide, Swiffer, Pampers).  They opted out of using the corporate brand as an umbrella brand.  In other words, it's not "P&G Tide" or "Procter and Gamble's Pampers."  At Microsoft, there's no clarity around the brand strategy.  Sometimes Microsoft is the umbrella brand e.g. "Microsoft Office."  Other times, the umbrella brand is left out such as "Xbox" or "Bing."  At other times, Microsoft uses multiple umbrella brands such as "Microsoft Windows Live Hotmail Premium."  Microsoft has no shortage of run-on product names -- and it's largely because of indecision.

The Product Manager Interview by Lewis C. Lin: eBook or PDF Available? by Lewis Lin

The Product Manager Interview: eBook is Available

Ever since I published The Product Manager Interview last November, the most common question I get is:

Is the book available on Kindle or another eBook format?

The answer is absolutely! You can get the eBook for The Product Manager Interview here.

EBOOK VERSIONS OF MY OTHER BOOKS, NOT AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

While we're at it, here are the links to eBook versions of my other books, not available on Kindle:

Strong Demand for The Product Manager Interview's ebook

  • How can I purchase "The product manager interview" on kindle/other E-Book method? If I order today to my country, it'll arrive after my interview date!!
  • Urgent Help Needed: Do you have the ebook version of "The Product Manager Interview: 164 Actual Questions and Answers" I can purchase... I have a couple of important interviews lined up in a week and really would love to read the new edition of your book. I'm based out of Mumbai and the paperback will take too long to get here..
  • I want to prepare further on more q&a and I think that this book of yours- The Product Manager Interview: 164 Actual Questions and Answers. can help me with that. is there a way to get it digitally? my interview is on the coming Monday and I live in Israel- ill be getting the book only after the interview :(
  • Do you have an ecopy or pdf version of these that I can buy? 
  • Do you have a kindle edition for the pm interview book?
  • Any chance we can buy an electronic version of the book?
  • Thank you for sharing this information. I've benefited a lot in the past by reading your books. I have an interview coming up this Monday and was hoping to get my hands on your new book, however due to shipping delays with Amazon it doesn't look like I'll be able to get the book in time. Is there an e-book version that I can purchase or a faster way I can get the book? Would really appreciate your response. 

Identifying Proactive People in Interviews: How I Do It by Lewis Lin

s2.jpg

Here's how I evaluate initiative in an interview:

Behavioral interview questions

I'd ask, "Tell me a time when you took initiative." or "Tell me a time you volunteered for a project that everyone else thought was dull or boring."

Most candidates would give an example of a task their boss or some other person asked them to do. This is not initiative. It requires some careful listening and follow-up questions to determine whether or not the candidate was truly proactive.

I would also ask, "Tell me a time when you were given a project without guidance. How did you figure out what to do?"

Here I would evaluate how thorough they assessed different options before deciding on a course of action. If there was only 1-2 options that may not indicative of a truly independent individual.
 

Hypothetical questions

Before the interview, I'd tell the candidate to do some pre-interview homework. For instance, "Re-design our website and bring mock-ups to the interview." or "Take a look at the Google Maps API, and hack together a mobile app."

Based on their effort, you can evaluate their initiative.

The truly proactive ones would likely do this anyway without prompting. ;)

Creative Recruiting Ideas, Updated 2018 by Lewis Lin

s1.png
s2.gif

Negotiating Tech Salary: Using a Professional Negotiation Expert by Lewis Lin

Recently, I was asked: 

Why isn't it appropriate for an interviewee to be represented by a negotiation expert like companies do for salary talks?

You're absolutely right. It is unfair to the employee to NOT get professional representation.

Negotiation is not as easy as it seems. In 2016, one NFL player decided that it was "easy to negotiate" and tried to represent himself. The deal he self-negotiated was widely panned as one of the worst labor contracts ever:

“I think the Russell Okung contract might be the biggest debacle of a contract I have ever seen. Okung, who at this stage of his career is somewhere between the 10th and 15th-best left tackle in football, eschewed an agent, decided to negotiate his own contract, and signed with Denver for a non-guaranteed $5 million for 2016. … For a player of his stature, it’s a ridiculous contract.”

- Peter King, Sports Illustrated, March 20, 2016

On the other side, most recruiters are TOUGH negotiators. They absolutely DESTROY candidates. It's not so much that recruiters are the Navy Seals of negotiation. That is, most recruiters haven't had extensive negotiation training and their tactical (negotiation) moves are only a slight cut above the average person's.

It's more because recruiters have two MASSIVE innate (not trained) advantages that candidates don't:

  1. Information. In addition to knowing internal compensation tables, they talk to 20-30 candidates every single day. And each one of these candidates is (usually) handing over their personal compensation details. So recruiters have a VERY ACCURATE sense of what the market is paying. Last time I checked, few, if any, candidates are asking 20-30 peers for five years straight what they're making.
  2. Leverage. The company has the offer. If this candidate doesn't accept, there are lots of others to choose from. The candidate needs the offer (aka money to go clubbing, pay the mortgage, etc.) BADLY. And most candidates have few, if any, competing offers.

For professional athletes, actors, and singers, it's appropriate for them to have representation at salary talks because it's the norm.

For executive-level compensation or organized labor, professional representation is also the norm.

But for standard employee-to-employer negotiations, professional representation is not appropriate only because it's not commonplace. During the offer discussion stage, if you told a recruiter to "talk to my agent," they'll either mock you, get scared, or both. If you want a good negotiation outcome, last thing you want is to deal with another party that either despises you or is afraid of you.

But as Bobby Arora puts it, you can create a "synthetic situation" where you can have a simulated professional agent representing you. I'll call it a "shadow negotiator."

It would be exactly as Bobby puts it. You relay the compensation information you're hearing from the recruiter, and the shadow negotiator (behind the scenes) tells you what to say and do. Thanks to the digital age, negotiation via email is becoming more commonplace, so it'll be even easier to relay information to your shadow negotiator.

SEE ALSO: 60+ Killer Salary Negotiation Scripts