Another Win for the PM Interview Community: Amazon Web Services by Lewis Lin


I'm happy to announce another win for the product manager interview community: a job offer with Amazon's AWS team!

If you're looking to the join the PM interview community, you can find details here.

Lastly, you mind find these two remaining Amazon product management resources to be helpful:

More Kudos for PM Interview Questions & Decode and Conquer by Lewis Lin

Woo hoo! Great news from one of my half-day workshop attendees! They landed an Amazon PM internship! Read their full comments here:

I'm a first year MBA student at [West Coast University] and we met when you were on campus at the end of last year for a Product Management workshop. I got my Decode and Conquer copy signed by you after the session. I wanted to inform you that both Decode & Conquer and 150 PM Interview Questions books helped me immensely in my preparation for PM interviews, particularly since I was trying to transition from a Consulting background. I have successfully landed the Sr.PM internship role with Amazon for this Summer, and it was my target company. I would like to thank you for the content you've provided and material covered in your books! Hands down the best questions I've come across in my preparation. Thank you again, and good luck with your future work. :)

Screenshot: LinkedIn

Screenshot: LinkedIn

Product Management Mock Interviews: More Wins from Our Community by Lewis Lin

I'm happy to announce yet another win for our product management mock interview community.

One of our long-time members just nailed offers from Amazon and OpenTable. You'll see in the note below the amount of effort and practice she put in.

All of us at the Product Management Interview Community is incredibly proud of her. We wish her the best on her new journey!

PS Her old PM role is now open at a leading consumer brand. Find more details at the community.

Photo credit: Amazon, OpenTable, Lewis C. Lin's PM Interview Community

The List App Review: Why BJ Novak's App Rocks by Lewis Lin

In list format, here's why rocks.


Here's why people like it

  1. Easy to read. Lists are super scannable. Especially on a mobile device, on the go.
  2. Easy to write. Lists are fast and easy to generate. They're short.
  3. The community. If you've been on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Quora, you know what I mean
  4. BJ NovakHe posts a lot.
  5. Tweetstorm-esque. Not as awkward to use as the Twitter (hack) version.
  6. Addicting. The Travel Channel in the late 90s discovered a trend that every single publisher has copied in the last 20 years. Audiences love lists and rankings. And the numbers (below) back it up: 45% of content with 20k social shares revolved around a comparison or ranking. Look no further than Buzzfeed, and you'll find that lists are super addicting. Examples include top 10 European beaches, top 10 U.S. colleges, and the 5 Best Seattle Restaurants 2016.


Here's what they use it for

  • Share opinions.
  • Share favorite things.
  • Share things they hate.
  • Share general purpose information. It's easier including party / event notifications, for sale items.
  • Share stories. Below is a great example. It's like Snapchat Stories but in a different format.

Will people keep using it

  • Yes
  • Absolutely
  • For Sure

Final Thoughts (not in list form)

The list revolution is on. It's similar to when Twitter introduced 140 character messages, Instagram introduced filters, or Vine revealed 30 second videos.

By adding constraints to communication (aka list format), it will ironically increase creativity for the medium.

And just like Twitter, Instagram and Vine -- this is perhaps the first time the "list medium" is wrapped up with a social network.

Hundreds of people at Medium, Facebook, and Google are kicking themselves right now for not developing their own competitor.

Well done, team.


PS Find me on @lewislin

PPS Photo credit: TechCrunch, Fractl, Hobvias Sudoneighm

Why Secret App Failed in 2015, and Why Anonymous Social Network Sites Will Come Back in 2017 by Lewis Lin

Why Anonymous Social Network Sites Will Come Back in 2017

I don't believe there's a lack of utility with anonymous networks. Anonymous can be useful. A few examples:

  • Anonymous questions and answers on Quora
  • Anonymous Twitter accounts, like FakeSteveJobs on Twitter (before Dan Lyons' revealed himself)
  • Reddit

As a new Reddit user, I've discovered how powerful the Reddit community is, and most of its users are anonymous. Its users are brave and courageous; arguably, I don't believe your average Reddit user would be as outspoken without anonymous protection.

Why Secret App Failed in 2015

My conclusion on why Secret failed: poor competitive strategy. And here's why:

  • YikYak dominated location-based, anonymous discussion at schools, so Secret could not occupy that space.
  • If Secret was competing in anonymous discussion in general (non-location based), it could not overcome Reddit's strong user base and community.

I'm not sure if Secret could have done something different with its assets, but competing head-on with YikYak and Reddit was a losing proposition.

Deflect Salary Questions From a Recruiter Like an Expert by Lewis Lin


SEE ALSO: 60+ Brilliant Salary Negotiation Scripts

One of the pinnacle rules of negotiation is to not to give a number first. In salary negotiations, revealing your current or expected salary can be detrimental to your success. If you reveal a number too high, the company might screen you out. If you reveal a number too low, they might try to get you for less money than you're worth. Avoid both of these scenarios by avoiding talk about salary until you receive an offer. If the recruiter explicitly asks for this information however, use these phrases to deflect the dreaded salary questions.

The phrases will work for both phone and email.


The Very Nice Approach

"Why don't we first complete the interview process? If there's a good fit on both sides, I'm sure we can figure out a compensation package that works for both of us."

The Practical Approach (Alternate 1)

"It's too early to talk about compensation, especially since you don't know the value I can bring to your company. Let's do the interview first, and we can talk about compensation later.

The Sensitive Financial Information Approach (Alternate 2)

"I am uncomfortable sharing my current salary. I do not disclose my personal financial situation to others. I keep that information private."

The Corporate Confidential Approach (Alternate 3)
"I signed an NDA with my current employer to not divulge corporate information to others. If you signed a NDA, you wouldn't divulge confidential information to others would you?"



Some recruiters will persist in asking for your current salary. Some can't help but to ask again; others feel offended when you decline to share. They might say something to the effect of, "I've talked to four candidates today, and all of them have divulged their current salary info."

Resist the pressure. Stand your ground and repeat your earlier explanation in a matter-of-fact, without emotion or any other language that might offend the asking party.

SEE ALSO: 60+ Brilliant Salary Negotiation Scripts

Photo credit to Hector Alejandro

Book Publishing: How It's Been Impacted by the Digital Age by Lewis Lin

A reader asked me, what's been the biggest shift in publishing since the digital age began? Now that I've published eight books, publishing is a topic I definitely have my two cents on. So here we go:

Publishing in the Digital Age: The Top 7 Impacts

  1. Self-publishing. Createspace has made it super easy for new authors to write a print book.
  2. Distribution. Authors no longer have to beg Barnes and Noble to carry their books.
  3. Editing. The digital age has placed a premium on timely information, and editing is often sacrificed to publish books quickly.
  4. Niche content. Thanks to changes in 1 and 2, the number of niche titles has flourished.
  5. Author marketing. Partly due to self-publishing and partly due to social media, the burden and efficacy of marketing now falls more on the author than the publisher. Authors can engage readers through social media, email marketing, and upcoming tools like Evan Jacobs's Bonus points if the author is a social media celebrity like Kim Kardashian.
  6. eBooks. Popularity of eBooks has absolutely changed the game. From a readers' perspective, the benefits of eBooks include: lower price point, instant delivery, and easy portability. For a vacation, it's a lot easier to carry 40 books on a Amazon Kindle than it is in paper form.

Photo credit: Brenda Starr

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!

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








Aadi Deshmukh: 28

Dorothy Barger: 26

Anthony Basler: 25

Siddharth Kapur: 25

Klara Liu: 25

Almost there

Avni Khanna: 21

Ahana Chaudry: 19

Sana Dutta: 12

Fiona Hodges: 7

Prateek Mittal: 6

Theo Huang: 5

Mira Gupta: 3

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.

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