The perfect product manager candidate will have several core attributes. For an entry-level candidate, it’s almost impossible to tick all of the boxes. This is why you need exceptional communication skills to stand out from the crowd in the interview process.
Depending on your background, the weighting of the skills that you bring to the table is likely to be lopsided. For instance, if you have a lot of technical skills, this is probably because you studied computer science or were a developer. Someone who has just graduated with a business degree is unlikely to have any technical skills that can be applied to software development or user-interface design.
Product management roles are quite broad. They cover a lot of different bases and demand versatility. This means you can enter this field from many different angles. There’s no single path to securing a product manager role. With this in mind, the pool of candidates who have made it through to the interview stage are likely to come from a variety of backgrounds, each with their own unique attributes and skillsets.
Before heading into the interview room, you should use self-awareness to take ownership of your resume and any presumptions or stereotypes that may come with it. This doesn’t mean that you should go into the interview feeling combative and confrontational. Instead, focus on your verbal and non-verbal communication to convey strength and capability in any potential areas of weakness. Here are four communication tips for excelling in your product management interview.
1. Use Body Language To Show Optimism & Resilience
Actions speak louder than words! We’ve all heard the saying and it’s true. When you’re looking to express a characteristic or emotion, it’s naturally assumed that speech is the most impactful form of communication. However, the subtle use of body language can powerfully influence the perceptions of observers at both a conscious and subconscious level. You should look to maintain good eye contact with the interview across the table, whilst sitting with an authoritative posture and speaking in an appropriate voice tone.
Note: Phone interviews make this tip tricky. If you’re looking for phone interview specific help, you can check out Exponent’s guide to acing the product management phone interview.
2. Demonstrate Your Thought Processes
Product managers spend large chunks of their day problem-solving, brainstorming creative solutions, and communicating cross-functionally. As you’re posed questions, the interviewers want to see you not only demonstrate your ability to solve problems, but also to peer into your mindset as you solve those problems. One of the biggest mistakes in PM interviews is failing to explain your thought process behind your answers. It’s far more important to demonstrate your thought process, even if it brings you to the wrong answer, than to not explain your thought process at all.
3. Don’t Talk Too Much
There’s only one thing worse than talking too little in an interview: talking too much. It’s about striking a balance. As the interview progresses, you will gain a sense of the room’s speed and rhythm. Based on this, you can adjust the length of your answers and make them more appropriate. Be sure to check out Exponent’s lesson on how to use active and passive check-in’s in a PM interview effectively to ensure you’re on the same page as the interviewer.
4. Share Your Knowledge & Research
Prior to the interview, if you’ve spent some time researching the tech company and their product, try to incorporate what you know into the answers you offer. This will demonstrate t your interest in the company and the role.
For many, product management interviews can feel like a minefield. At Exponent, we offer a range of free online courses to help you ace your next product management interview. Explore our courses today!