Notes to Prepare for your Product Manager Interview

In addition to being an open book test, it is also an open note test.  Coming up with detailed thoughtful examples for all 14 leadership principles is not something you want to come up with on the fly in front of the interviewer.  Not only is there nothing wrong with having detailed notes in front of you for the interview, but it also demonstrates that you are serious and prepared.  Writing down your answers will force you to recall good examples and capture the details.

Working Backwards, 10 Tips for How to Ace an Amazon Interview

A Product Manager interview will span a wide-range of topics. Unless you have everything memorized, preparing notes to common questions will ease your anxiety, and help you standout against other candidates.

Over the past 6 months I interviewed for various Product Manager positions. During each interview I always had two Notion pages on my screen. The first page had my job experience notes. The second page had notes about the company and the position.

Here is how I organized my notes.

Page 1: Job Experience

The goal of this page is to capture the key points I want to share during the interview. This template is organized around common product management questions, and projects I’ve worked on.

I write notes in bullet form and organize them using toggle list blocks in Notion. This keeps things simple, organized, and easy to navigate.

notion-interview-prep
How my notes look in Notion using toggle list blocks.

Here are the topics I include on this page.

Group 1, Introduction

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. What are you looking for in your next role?
  3. Common introductory questions
    • What motivates you?
    • Why product management?
    • Why hire you?
    • Least exciting thing about product management?
    • How do you define the role of a Product Manager?
  4. Strengths
  5. Weaknesses
  6. KPIs
    • Examples of KPIs you measured in past roles, and why they were important
  7. Biggest failure

Group 2, Frameworks

  1. Feature Prioritization
    • How would you prioritize two competing features?
    • Examples from past roles.
  2. How do you build trust with stakeholders?
  3. How do you manage stakeholders?
  4. What is your leadership style?
  5. Product Management Frameworks

Group 3, Engineering & Design

  1. How do you work with Engineering/Design?
  2. How do you inspire and build trust with Engineers/Designers?
  3. How do navigate disagreements with Engineering/Design?
    • Prepare 2-3 examples
  4. How do collaborate with Engineering on a technical project?
    • How do you prioritize/navigate tech debt projects?

Group 4, Roadmaps & Projects

To keep your notes concise, use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result).

  1. Roadmaps
    • Context
    • Requirements gathering process
    • Prioritization approach
    • Communication strategies
    • How you manage delays
  2. Main Projects
    • The “if you only had time to share 2-3 projects” projects
  3. Stakeholder Management
    • Projects that highlight your ability to work with stakeholders
  4. Improvements, Creating something to solve a problem
    • Projects that highlight your ability to introduce product or process improvements
  5. Project Management
    • Projects that highlight your project management abilities
  6. Teams with conflicting priorities
    • Projects where you depended on multiple teams with differing priorities, how you navigated those situations
  7. Something went wrong
    • Examples of projects where things didn’t go according to plan, or team conflicts occurred
  8. Failures
    • Projects that got derailed, cancelled, or didn’t ship, and what you learned

Page 2: Company & Role

This is the second page I’ll have on my screen. The intent of this page is to collect all my notes regarding the role, company, and interviewers.

Interview-Company-Role
Notion template for notes on the company and role.

This page will typically have these elements:

  1. Link to job posting
  2. Company mission
  3. Why I am interested in this role
  4. Job description
  5. Interviewer notes
    • Relevant research about the interviewer (e.g. shared LinkedIn connections)
    • Questions I have for the interviewer
    • Notes taken during the interview

Depending on the role I may add additional sections to this page such as notes from a podcast or blog post about the company.

The Amazon Interview Template

An alternative approach to my template, is to prepare as if you were interviewing for an Amazon Product Management position.

Start by reading 10 Tips for How to Ace an Amazon Interview. Then prepare 2-3 examples in your notes using the STAR methodology for each of the 14 Leadership Principles. The FAQ on that page includes examples questions.

Amazon also has an excellent Product Manager Interview Prep page.