10 Traits That Separate the Best Interview Candidates from Everyone Else 😇 by Lewis Lin

Ben Horowitz is a venture capitalist and The New York Times bestselling author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Earlier in his career, Horowitz held leadership roles at Lotus, Netscape, AOL, and HP.

At Netscape, he penned a legendary essay titled Good Product Manager/Bad Product ManagerThe essay was riveting. Not only have I referred to it repeatedly over the years, but also it inspired me to pen my own essay, using a similar format, about what good interview candidates do that bad ones don't.

Read on for the entire essay. I hope it demystifies why some people get all the offers while others come up empty-handed.

Conquer those interviews,

Lewis C. Lin

P.S. Thanks to everyone who bought copies of my new book, Secrets of the Product Manager Interview. I'm humbled by your support. Sales have far exceeded my estimates. 😁

Photo Credit: Alex Gorzen

Photo Credit: Alex Gorzen

Good Interview Candidate, Bad Interview Candidate

Good interview candidates apply to a small handful of jobs because they know what they want. Bad interview candidates apply to all jobs because they don't want to miss out.

Good interview candidates write cover letters that are brief, relevant, and when appropriate, entertaining. Bad interview candidates cut-and-paste cover letters, leaving the reader to figure out how they are different from everyone else.

Good interview candidates know the company, the customer, the products and the competition. Bad interview candidates tell themselves that they'll learn about the company, customer, and products during orientation week.

Good candidates anticipate interview questions. Bad candidates don't know what to expect.

Good candidates write interview responses in advance. Bad candidates don't see the value of clarifying their thoughts in writing before they speak.

Good candidates verbally rehearse their written responses so they don't worry about what they're going to say. Verbal practice helps them appear casual, conversational, and relaxed. Bad candidates prepare for interviews by spending countless hours passively reading about the company.

Good candidates know what the hiring manger is looking for. They redline the job description. They've circle all the important keywords including skills and experiences they're looking for. They ask the recruiter (or friends at the company) thoughtful tips and clues about the hiring manager and the position: What is he looking for? What are his pet peeves? What did he like or not like about other candidates or (if applicable) the candidate's predecessor?

Good candidates promote themselves effectively. Good candidates think about the story they want interviewers to share at the water cooler. Bad candidates think about covering every single career moment. Good candidates use the right keywords, using vocabulary and concepts familiar to the interviewer. Bad candidates use language familiar to only themselves.

Good candidates ask the interviewer questions. Bad candidates react to interview questions. Good candidates assume interviewers are really smart. Bad candidates assume that interviewers are dumb and can't tell if the candidate is "winging it."

Good candidates are precise in the words that they use. Bad candidates use business jargon that everyone else uses. Good candidates can explain the meaning behind their words. Bad candidates need more than 10 seconds to do the same.

Good candidates talk about their careers with passion, detail and conviction because they love what they've done, what they're currently doing, and what they will do. Bad candidates avoid talking about their careers. They make excuses for not speaking up, but the truth is that they either don't know what to say or are too afraid to say something that hurts their chances at getting the job.

Good candidates have interview responses that are complete, logical and satisfying. Bad candidates have interview responses that are fragmented or illogical. Bad candidates shift the burden to the interviewer and let the interviewer do the hard work of figuring out what the candidate is saying.

Good candidates explain their careers in a way that sounds fun. Bad candidates explain their careers in a boring way.

Good candidates send thank you notes because they appreciate the interviewer for taking time out of his or her busy schedule. Bad candidates don't send thank you notes because they take the interviewer's time for granted. Or, they don't have the discipline to write a thank you note when they're busy.

Good candidates demonstrate value to the prospective employer before, during, and after the interview. They redesign the company's web page, create a new marketing brochure, or propose a new product and share it — proactively and for free. Bad candidates wait until they are on the job to demonstrate their worth.

Good candidates welcome job offers with excitement and gratitude because they know it's what they want. Bad candidates hem and haw when receiving a job offer because they don't know how a company fits into their life plan.

Good candidates enjoy the new job because they are eager to learn, adapt and change. Bad candidates complain about the new job because it's not comfortable.

Inspired by Ben Horowitz's article

Lewis C. Lin's Newest Book for 2017 – Secrets of the Product Manager Interview by Lewis Lin

I am excited to announce my newest book, Secrets of the Product Manager Interview.

Here's what's new:

I've collected over 10 years of questions from my readers, coaching clients, and workshop attendees. I've answered them and extracted the essence. Now, I'm revealing those secrets with you.

Here's what I divulge in the new book:

▪ What to expect at Google, Facebook, Uber & Amazon interviews
▪ How to get your first product manager job
▪ The most efficient way to prepare
▪ What are the biggest interview mistakes and how to avoid them
▪ How to really impress the interviewers
▪ A Google insider's take on how to interpret interviewer feedback
▪ Which companies are the best for product managers who want to make it to the top
▪ The latest advice on how to deal with the dreaded take-home assignments

This book is different from my other Amazon.com bestsellers, Decode and Conquer and PM Interview Questions. On the one hand, those books are focused on frameworks and practice questions. On the other hand, this new book, Secrets of the Product Manager Interview, is focused on my secrets, answers, and everything you need to know about the product manager interview process.

And yes, this book is available in paperback and Kindle.

Good luck with those interviews,

Lewis C. Lin

P.S. I'll be completing my last workshop for the 2016-2017 season on March 25th at the University of Texas! If you're attending, please introduce yourself and say hello!

P.P.S. For those that I met in 2016-2017 at my half and full-day workshops, the honor was mine. Here are my favorite attendee quotes:

Stanford University

"Lewis, your interview workshop was a tremendous learning experience! I sense your passion for product management and your desire to help students like me prepare for PM interviews! I wish I had your workshop before my Google and Facebook PM interviews last year."

Columbia University

"I loved the interactive exercises. It was fun, and I learned. I only wish our regular professors would teach course material Lewis Lin's way."

University of Chicago

"Content-wise, the workshop yesterday was super helpful. Lewis Lin's presentation & training is very professional."

University of Washington

"I learned a lot from Lewis Lin's interview workshop. The best part of the talk, other than the tools and tactics, was the engagement model. You gave us an opportunity to not only exercise our brain muscles but also work in teams. It was a great learning experience."

University of Utah

"I cannot thank you enough for making the trip out to Salt Lake City. You completely blew it out of the water today, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from you. The students got a lot out of the session, and they will surely be more prepared for interviews. You were incredibly inspiring and have a true gift presenting to groups."

University of California, Berkeley

"Having Lewis Lin lead a product management interview workshop is the most relevant and useful PM career prep I've received during my time at Haas."

University of California, Irvine

"It was a pleasure attending your workshop. I admire that your mother had the opportunity to attend. I can imagine how proud she must be seeing the great work you are doing to help others succeed in their career."

"Today's workshop was amazing! The best part is to attend the author's workshop and to meet him in person. It makes my future preparation and reading more interesting. I now have a clearer picture, visualizing concepts described in the book and better connecting the dots better!"

Tech Interview Workshop at UC Irvine. Nov. 5, 2016.

Tech Interview Workshop at UC Irvine. Nov. 5, 2016.

Career Planning: 2017's Best Guide by Lewis Lin

 

Happy New Year! Getting a new job is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions for 2017.

To help you get the career you want, I've got a great list of resources to supercharge your career including:

▪ Resume 
▪ Cover letter 
▪ Career plan 
▪ Interview skills 
▪ Networking abilities
▪ Negotiation prowess

Let's fulfill your career dreams in 2017!

Yours,

Lewis C. Lin

Don't know what to do with your career?

Then build a career plan.

To-do List

▪ Fill out this career plan template

Don't know which companies to target?

Then hitch your career to a company with plenty of growth.

To-do List

▪ Check out this list of companies that are growing 50% year-over-year, before they go IPO.

Having problems getting interviews?

Then upgrade your resume and cover letter.

To-do List

▪ Get inspired with this resume sample from the Kellogg School of Management
▪ Migrate your existing resume to this new resume template
▪ Use this resume bullet format
▪ Get inspired by these action verbs
▪ Ignore the debate on whether hiring managers read cover letters. Use thiscover letter template. It'll make an impression and take you just five minutes.

Trouble getting internal employees to refer you?

Then build you network. The most effective way to network your way to a job is an informational interview.

To-do List

▪ Read this Harvard Business Review article on informational interviews
▪ Build out your targets, using this networking template based on Steve Dalton's 2-Hour Job Search
▪ Save time and get responses by using this 5 Point Informational Interview Template, also from Dalton

No trouble getting interviews, but no offers?

Brush up your interviewing skills. Interviewers love stories. Storytelling works for Pixar, and it'll work at your interview.

To-do List

▪ Brainstorm at least 20 anticipated interview questions.
▪ Put together your interview stories, using the interview stories template.

Collecting offers, but not getting what you're worth?

Negotiate.

To-do List

▪ Negotiation can be super easy. Just use these 31+ killer salary negotiation scripts.

Photo credit: Comedy Central

Black Friday Sale: 30% off Lewis C. Lin Books by Lewis Lin

Get 30% off Lewis C. Lin Books

If you've been waiting to get either one of my new books, today would be a great day to do so. Get 30% off one at Barnes and Noble's website:

PM Interview Questions: Over 160 Problems and Solutions for Product Management Interview Questions

Case Interview Questions for Tech Companies: 155 Real Interview Questions and Answers

To get the savings, use promo code: BNBFRIDAY16Ends November 27, 2016 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Paperback only. Promo code can only be used on one book.

Wishing you the best this holiday season,

Lewis C. Lin

PS And yes, you can apply the coupon toward my four other books too!

Lewis C. Lin's 10-School Tour 2016 by Lewis Lin

LEWIS' FALL TOUR 
My fall workshop tour is underway, and I'm thrilled to lead students through marketing and product management best practices.

You'll find the schools, locations, and dates at the end of this email.

If you're a student, please say hello and introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you in-person!

GOOD NEWS...2X 
Last week, Google officially endorsed my product management (PM) interview frameworks & techniques, including the CIRCLES Method™, for prospective Google PM candidates. Woo hoo!

Also, my book sales have exceeded expectations, partly due to Google's announcement. I'm particularly pleased with the sales of my two newest books: PM Interview Questions and Case Interview Questions for Tech Companies.

Thanks for reading, and I'm grateful for your support!

See you soon,

Lewis C. Lin

--

TOUR SCHEDULE 
Jul 24 UC Berkeley Haas MBA Berkeley, CA
Sep 23 Texas A&M University Mays Business School College Station, TX
Sep 24 University of Texas Austin McCombs School of Business Austin, TX
Oct 1 Univ. of Washington Foster Seattle, WA
Oct 21 Cornell University Johnson Ithaca, NY
Oct 28 Columbia Business School New York, NY
Oct 29 Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business Houston, TX
Nov 5 UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business Irvine, CA
Nov 30 Duke's Fuqua School of Business Durham, NC
Jan 12 Stanford GSB MBA Stanford, CA

lewis-c-lin-school-tour-2016

Case Interview Questions for Tech Companies: Announcing a New Release from Lewis C. Lin by Lewis Lin

Thank you for making my recent book, PM Interview Questions, the #1 new release in Amazon's job interviewing category.

It's an honor to be considered in the same breath as Martin Yate's legendary job hunting book Knock 'em Dead 2017.

top-release-job-interviewing

NEWS FLASH: I just published a NEW book.

It's called Case Interview Questions for Tech Companies.

I'm ready to tell you about it. Scroll down!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why did you release this new book? 
Over the last couple of years, I visited US business schools, teaching interview skills to students who wanted to switch careers into the tech industry.

Students asked, How do I prepare for: 
* Marketing management interviews at Dell? 
* Supply chain interviews at Apple? 
* Vendor management interviews at Amazon? 
* Corporate strategy interviews at Microsoft? 
* Partner and business development interviews at Google?

Together, we uncovered a gap in preparing candidates for those types of roles. And like PM interviews, all of these roles have tough case interview questions, just in a different domain.

So in response, Case Interview Questions for Tech is that case interview prep book tech industry candidates have been waiting for.

What are case questions? 
Case questions are interview questions based on hypothetical business scenarios. Here are case question examples, which are featured in the new book (along with sample answers):

Marketing 
* Create a marketing campaign for Microsoft Office 365. 
* Write a media statement to respond to Uber mischaracterizations voiced in a taxi leader’s newspaper op-ed.

Operations 
* What’s the bottleneck for an Amazon Robot Picker? And what is the capacity of the assembly line, in units per hour? 
* Amazon ships 200 orders per second. Amazon’s data science team discovered that the average number of orders waiting to be shipped was 20,650. How long did the average Amazon order wait to be shipped?

Finance 
* What should Apple consider before implementing a shop-in-shop store inside Best Buy? 
* If you projected a $500M expense and the variance came in at $1M, what are some of the explanations for why that is happening? Be prepared to give more than three scenarios.

Business Development 
* A car dealer partner wants to stop doing business with Uber. What should you do? 
* How would you identify university faculty to source content for an online university?

Strategy 
* If you could open a Google retail store anywhere, where would it be and why?
* Give your analysis of several recent acquisitions that Google has made.

Analytics 
* What top metrics would you track for the Tinder online dating app? 
* If 1,000 people opened the Uber app during one hour, how many cars do you need?

What's in the book? And how is it different from PM Interview Questions? 
Case Interview Questions for Tech provides 155 practice questions and answers to help you conquer case questions at tech industry interviews.

Think of Case Interview Questions for Tech as broadly covering case interview questions for a variety of business-oriented roles in the tech industry, whereasPM Interview Questions focuses only on PM case questions. But we have included a healthy dose of new PM case questions and sample answers in this book too!

Who should get this book? 
This book is particularly ideal for folks who are:

▪ NEW TO TECH...and looking to transition in
▪ IN TECH ALREADY BUT NON-BUSINESS SIDE...and looking to transition to business-side
▪ IN TECH ALREADY AND ON THE BUSINESS-SIDE...and planning to upgrade into a dream job and need to brush up on case interview skills first

Did you write the book in two weeks? 
I wish!

My contributing author, Teng, and I have been working on both books for the last 12 months.

We wanted to launch both books at the same time, but many of you told us, "Don't stall. We need the books ASAP for our interviews."

So we've released the books as soon as we could.

Is it available in digital format? 
It is available in PDF format. This is perfect for folks who can't wait for Amazon to deliver it or if Amazon won't ship the book to their home country.

Are you planning to launch a third book in 2016? 
No. I've got Halloween plans to think about. 🎃

Enjoy the new book and best of luck with the fall 🍂 recruiting season,

Lewis C. Lin

Lewis C. Lin's New Book Now Available – PM Interview Questions: Over 160 Problems and Solutions for Product Management Interview Questions by Lewis Lin

I'm thrilled to announce that my new book, PM Interview Questions: Over 160 Problems and Solutions for Product Management Interview Questions, is now available on Amazon.

If you're looking for product management (PM) practice questions, this 317 page resource has over 160 PM interview questions with sample answers. It features real questions from the following companies:

▪ Google
▪ Facebook
▪ Amazon
▪ Uber
▪ Dropbox
▪ Microsoft
▪ And More

Many of you have read the PM interview frameworks revealed in Cracking the PM Interview as well as Decode and Conquer, including the CIRCLES™, AARM™ and DIGS™ Methods. PM Interview Questions is the perfect complement to both books. With this new book, you'll see what the best PM interview responses look and feel like.

Here's what early readers have said:

What an excellent resource! I've already attempted the questions.

Thanks to this book, I snagged an Amazon Technical Product Manager role at Amazon. You have no idea how grateful I am!

Thanks to all of you for your support. One last thing, before you go, check out one of the most anticipated sections from the new book: the 30-day Google PM interview study guide.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and crush those interviews,

Lewis C. Lin

4 articles you missed, 1 exclusive invitation and 1 special annoucement from Lewis C. Lin by Lewis Lin

Welcome to the latest edition of my newsletter. I've got some outstanding news! My new book, PM Interview Questions: Over 160 Problems and Solutions for Product Management Interview Questions, is almost ready for publication and general release.

This is, by far, the most anticipated book I've ever written. Here are some of the emails I've received in the last couple of weeks:

Is there a chance that I can get the book earlier, for a higher price? Will you consider it?

I'm planning to tackle the Facebook product growth manager role. I would like to get an early copy of your book. I am happy to send payment through Paypal or other ways, thank you.

I've got a Google interview coming up in late August. Can I buy an early copy before then?

A select few had a chance to see an early release. Here's what one had to say:

Thanks to this book, I snagged an Amazon Technical Product Manager role at Amazon. You have no idea how grateful I am!

As a special bonus to my readers, to celebrate PM Interview Workbook's imminent release, I'd like to invite you to an exclusive PM Interview Practice group that I created.

Once you're in the group, you can find other PMs who want to: 
* Find practice partners
* Share PM job hunt advice

To get an invite, just enter your email address and follow the signup instructions.

So stay tuned for the book's release. And finally, scroll down for some amazing career-related articles that you don't want to miss.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and stay cool,

Lewis C. Lin

Product Management

Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager 
The bad PM gives excuses, lacks directions, focuses on competitor features, and doesn’t value discipline. The good PM takes responsibility, leads through example, targets market share, and delivers weekly status reports. 
Which PM do you want to be?

Career Knowledge and / or Interview Prep

2016 Tech Trends to Read Before Your next Job Interview 
If you’re sending Snapchat selfies through Siri, shopping for personalized deals on Amazon, and cruising around in your automated Tesla, congratulations: you represent the future of the Internet. Social media advertising, speech recognition, e-commerce, big data, and the car computing evolution will drive the next wave of growth in tech, according to the KPCB 2016 Internet Trends report. Remember these trends and you’ll be golden when answering that dreaded PM interview question: “Is our industry ripe for disruption?” China alone also represents 37% of total GDP growth in 2015, so don’t forget to learn Mandarin too!

Marketing

Dead Simple Way to Build Your Marketing Plan 
Dealing with a poor marketing effort? Whether it's a hypothetical question on the interview or on the job, get marketing going again with Jon Westenberg's brainstorming canvas. Organize your thoughts, find your target audience, and introduce your product to people who actually want it. Westenberg, as he puts it, makes it f#?!ing easy.

Negotiation

Which hostage negotiation skills do you use in your everyday life and how? 
The strategy for a successful hostage situation and salary negotiation are pretty much the same: ask for details, make reasonable concessions, and slowly break their morale. Read invaluable negotiation advice from Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator.