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Coalition is a rapidly growing Silicon Valley startup providing cyber insurance and security services. The company seeks to combine comprehensive insurance and proactive cybersecurity tools to help businesses manage and mitigate cyber risk in an increasingly digital world.
Businesses of all sizes face an increased risk of cyber security threats such as ransomware, DDoS attacks, phishing scams, and more.
Traditionally speaking, companies would have two primary options to deal with these threats.
First, they could invest in their own cybersecurity infrastructure, whether that means hiring cybersecurity specialists and/or adopting security tools to keep their organizations safe.
Second, companies could decide to invest in a cyber insurance policy.
Well, the minds behind Coalition asked: "why not both?"
As such, the company works to combine cyber insurance and cybersecurity in a unique joint offering to provide their customers with the proactive protective power of the latest cybersecurity tools along with the safety net that comes with a cyber insurance policy.
We spoke with Ketan Nayak, a Coalition product leader, about his experience working there and how candidates can best prepare for their product manager interviews.
Table of Contents:
- What Is It Like Working as a PM at Coalition?
- The Coalition Product Manager Interview Process
- Sample Product Manager Interview Questions
- How to Prepare for the Coalition PM Interview
- How Technical Are Coalition Product Managers?
What Is It Like Working as a PM at Coalition?
Ketan has told us that Coalition is a really exciting place to work, especially as a product manager.
Not only is the company a rapidly growing Silicon Valley startup, but Coalition is also touching and changing several industries simultaneously.
It essentially sits within a junction between the commercial insurance, cybersecurity, and SaaS (software-as-a-service) industries.
As we mentioned previously, what Coalition offers its customers is a unique product offering.
So, as you can imagine, with such a distinctive and innovative approach, product management at the company is very exciting.
As an employee of the company, Ketan told us that the Coalition workplace is primarily defined by its collaborative working environment, a highly diverse team with people from various backgrounds (insurance veterans, cybersecurity experts, etc.), and dozens of challenging, fascinating, and unique problems to solve.
Still, Coalition is growing fast. So if you do become a PM at the company, you should expect your role to change and grow pretty quickly.
The Coalition Product Manager Interview Process
Ketan told us that Coalition's product manager interview process is not all that different from that of other high-growth startups or tech companies.
The primary characteristics that hiring managers at the company are looking to evaluate during the PM interview are product sense and thinking.
Successful candidates can think abstractly about complex, challenging product problems while providing structured solutions.
Of course, behavioral interview questions are another critical part of the Coalition PM interview process.
Given how collaborative the workplace at Coalition is, product managers at the company must be capable of, for example, handling interpersonal conflicts, working alongside various stakeholders, etc.
The behavioral interviews you'll be asked during your Coalition PM interview will also be centered around the company's cultural values.
Ketan assured us that these values are incredibly significant for Coalition (although you should always presume a company's values are essential to uphold during any interview.)
The structure of the Coalition product manager interview process is as follows:
Initial Hiring Screens
The Coalition product manager interview process begins with 1 - 2 short hiring screens, either over the phone or via video chat.
These screens are no different from typical recruiter calls at the start of many interview processes.
You can expect relatively straightforward conversations about your professional background, experience, why you want to work at Coalition, etc.
From there, the company will invite you to participate in a hiring panel consisting of 1 - 2 days of meetings with various product leaders, design leaders, engineering leaders, and business leaders at Coalition.
Remember that Coalition is a hybrid company with many of its employees working from locations throughout North America. So, these meetings could be conducted virtually, if necessary.
While you'll meet with several people during this hiring panel, they'll all be close collaborators or counterparts to the product manager role you are applying to.
If you've read some of our other interview process guides, you'll notice that many companies, especially Big Tech, have very rigid, highly structured interview processes.
For example, Amazon's on-site interview rounds consist of 5 individual interviews at one hour a piece.
However, Coalition is very candidate-friendly and flexible regarding its product manager interview process. This means that there is no rigid timeline like at other companies.
Different candidates will naturally have their own ideal interviewing pace. So, hiring managers at Coalition are very receptive to that.
So, if you were a PM candidate wanting to move quickly, you could do that. But, by the same token, if you want to take your time and move a little slower, you can do that too.
Sample Product Manager Interview Questions
Examples of Product Design Questions:
Examples of Product Execution Questions:
- Diagnose an issue with Lyft: driver cancellation rates have increased by 5%.
- Diagnose why Facebook friend requests are down by 10%.
- Nike's sitewide conversion has declined year over year. How would you evaluate this?
Examples of Product Strategy Questions:
- Should Apple go into modular phones?
- Should Google go into the ride-sharing market?
- What is the biggest threat to Youtube?
Examples of Behavioral Questions:
- Tell me about a time you had to make a decision to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.
- Tell me about a time when you raised the bar.
- Tell me about a time you solved a pain point for customers.
How to Prepare for the Coalition PM Interview
So, the best way to prepare for the Coalition PM interview is to, of course, prepare for these interview questions.
Luckily, plenty of tools are at your disposal to do that quickly and effectively.
For example, you can take Exponent's Product Management interview course.
This course will teach you the essential skills to ace your coalition PM interview with hours of example questions, videos, and interview tips.
Regarding the behavioral interview portion, we recommend you create your own story bank.
A story bank is a list of 5-10 stories you know well and can speak quickly about during your behavioral interview.
You'll never know what questions you'll be asked precisely (unless you can read minds). But a story bank will help you effectively answer any behavioral interview question that comes your way, even if you haven't prepared for it explicitly.
Truth be told, during your day-to-day duties as a product manager, at Coalition or otherwise, you likely won't need to answer product design or strategy questions that you would during a PM interview.
So, even if you're an accomplished product manager with many years of experience, you should still practice answering them beforehand - as they can be a tad awkward if you're not used to doing so.
Not only that, tech interviews can be undeniably stressful and high-pressure situations. So, another great way to prepare is by completing some mock interviews.
Feel free to check out Exponent's peer-to-peer mock interview tool to get started in minutes.
Going through some mocks, given that they are literally simulated interviews, will give you a lot of confidence going into the real thing and really help calm your nerves more than anything else.
With plenty of prep and homework alongside them, you'd be in a great position to ace your product manager interview at Coalition.
How Technical Are Coalition Product Managers?
Again, Coalition is a tech startup that works at the intersection of commercial insurance, cybersecurity, and SaaS.
So, if you're interested in one of their product management positions, you're likely asking yourself: how technical am I expected to be?
Of course, some tech companies, such as Google, want and expect their PMs to be highly technical. Others, not so much.
When it comes to its ideal PM candidates, Coalition wants product managers who can solve complex, ambiguous product problems using strong product sense and deep customer empathy.
Of course, being a company that offers cyber insurance, you'll be expected to learn about commercial insurance, but the company doesn't expect you to have much industry experience or knowledge beforehand in that regard.
Coalition product managers are members of the highly collaborative workplace that exists at the company. As a result, they'll be working with many different teams and stakeholders, including engineers.
So, while PM candidates aren't expected to know how to code, for example, they must have enough technical knowledge and understanding to communicate effectively with the engineering teams at Coalition.
For instance, suppose an engineer approaches a product manager to discuss the trade-offs of either rebuilding the architecture of a technical system or building something on top of existing system architecture.
Of course, in that case, the product manager isn't expected to have the technical knowledge or skills to do that themselves. Still, they need to have enough understanding of what that means and the ramifications of such approaches to accurately gauge the trade-offs of either.
If you're interested in becoming a product manager at Coalition, be sure to check out their careers page and apply below:
Exponent has helped tens of thousands of product managers, program managers, and more land their dream jobs in tech.
Be sure to check out some of our interview prep resources before your upcoming Coalition interview:
💬 Study up on example PM interview questions
📚 Brush up on your strategy with a list of the best PM books
📖 Read through our company-specific Product Management interview guides
👯♂️ Practice your behavioral and product sense skills with our interview practice tool.
👨🎓 Take our complete Product Management interview course.