· 5 min read ·
There are 4 stages to your product management career search:
The work you do for different stages overlaps with each other. For example- You don’t randomly apply for roles. Well, if you are doing that please stop! It won’t get you anywhere.
I tell aspiring product managers that you can’t pack your entire preparation into a small window of time. Think of it as a journey and not a preparation session. You don’t have to cram in answers and then spit them out in the interview. When you are applying to a company you are not applying for a job but for a career.
For example- the effort you put into your application will help improve your knowledge about the company. People you networked with to get the interview will help you prepare for the actual interview.
Our focus in this blog is on number “#3 PREPARE”. In reality though, it is applicable for all the stages.
So let’s go through 6 things you should do to prepare.
It is important to learn what is the core belief and philosophy of the company. Read through their values. Do they align with your own? In the longrun it plays a key role on how happy you are at work. Look at their website and find what’s important for the company and how they inculcate these values in their work culture everyday.
Companies conduct webinars on a regular basis for users and investors. Go through the latest presentation you can find on their site. It gives you an insight into:
For example: Go through Google’s Earning Call if you are interviewing with them.
What is the long term vision of the company? Does it make sense to you? What in particular about the vision excites you. Make sure to put your thoughts down on paper.
Most companies won’t put up their organisational chart on their website. But they do mention their leadership team and key investors. Using that you can look them up on LinkedIn. You can also always ask the HR manager to explain the organisation structure to you. But it will most likely miss a key aspect that we want to surface from our research. The organisational structure will tell you whether it is a:
A product manager would always prefer to work in a product driven organization 😄. This exercise makes you aware of who is the key stakeholder in the organisation. You can use that when framing answers to questions.
Have there been any high profile hires in the company that are expected to bring about big changes? Keep up with the latest news on the org setup of the company.
Who buys the company’s products? Does it highlight important clients and customers. Lot of times, especially in B2b there will be use cases or success stories about how using the product made a big difference for a company. These are a treasure trove of information. Go over them to understand the value proposition that is being highlighted by the company. Do you agree with it? Form your opinion.
Look at what customers are saying about the products. Read reviews sites like Capterra, g2 and trust radius. You will be able to find what people like about the product and what features they are looking for in the future.
It is my personal belief that this is the area where you should spend most of your time. A lot of my friends disagree 😅. But knowing the product that you are going to be responsible for is important. And there are easy ways to do that.
Make notes on the following:
Go over the release notes for the past 6 months. It tells you the pace at which the product team works and where the product roadmap is headed.
You must have networked with people when you started your search for the perfect role. Its time to tap into that network again. Try and find someone who has worked for the company.
Ask them if they’d be kind enough to help you practice for the interview. Use your research above to frame the answers.
Take their feedback on how you can improve and if there are other aspects of the company that you need dive deeper into.
We will discuss mock interviews in detail in a separate blog in the future.
Knowing the landscape where the product competes is important. Considering you have limited time I’d limit this research to the following:
You can read our blog on how to do competitor research here
You want to do all of this. But sometimes you might not have enough time. In that case, talk to people to find out what’s most important and focus on that. You will start practicing the art of prioritising! 🤣🤣