The demand for product managers has intensified over the last decade, particularly for those working
in technology. Product managers are key decision-makers and leaders in their companies,
raising the stakes for the companies that are interviewing and hiring them. To stay relevant and desirable as a candidate, it’s crucial that job-seeking product managers invest time and energy into their interview preparation. While you may benefit from reading product management books like
Inspired: How to Create Products that Customers Love, or hiring a product management career coach, mock interview sessions are a product manager’s most important interview preparation tool.
Mock interviews can be conducted in a variety of ways, and their efficacy varies depending on how.
While you can sit in front of a mirror and judge yourself, or have your partner or best friend drill you
on questions, there’s a better way to prepare as a product manager. Mock interviews, dedicated for
product managers, are the single best way to increase your chances of success in a job interview.
A website that offers product manager-specific practice is Preamp.
All job seekers looking for a new role in product management should probably complete at least
one mock interview before their live interview, especially if they haven’t had a chance to experience
a PM interview in a while.
Reason #1 - Reduce Stress And Gain Confidence
Most of us do not enjoy job interviews. They are nerve-wracking, require a lot of preparation, and your performance can make-or-break your chances of landing the job, no matter how strong your resume and references are. Interviews are stressful for a variety of reasons, but the biggest being that
they are unfamiliar situations that we don’t encounter every day. The average person has n’t completed hundreds or even more than a dozen interviews, so there is no way for him or her to be familiar with all the different questions.
The single best way to reduce stress is to familiarize yourself with the process through mock interviews with other product managers. Using websites that use video chats to pair product managers
for interviews enables you to practice with a real human who understands the complexities
and expectations of a product manager.
A peer will give you actionable feedback, and offer a fresh and honest perspective on your performance, something you can’t give to yourself when you practice in front of a mirror. Feedback and getting a chance to refine your answers is a huge stress-reliever, helping you to conquer challenges before the on-site interaction at the company. By working with someone who also is applying to the same type of role that you are, the feedback you’ll receive will be actionable and productive. You and your peer will benefit from each other’s experiences.
Career coaches and hiring managers agree that confidence is key. Carole Martin at InterviewCoach even argues it’s the most important trait to bring to the job interview. Research shows that most interviewers make their decision about a candidate within the first minutes of meeting them.
Reducing stress before an interview is guaranteed to boost your confidence, helping your chances of making a strong impression.
Reason #2 - Elevate Your Expression
Many people find it difficult to piece together eloquent phrases under pressure without any prior practice. Stumbling through an answer, being unable to recall details that you wanted to mention,
and forgetting what to say are commonly reported by job seekers who failed an interview.
Rehearsing your responses is crucial so that you can not only answer the question effectively but do so in a way that makes you look like the strong candidate you are. An interview is a sales pitch of yourself, and you want to make sure you sound smart while giving it.
The questions aren’t just going to be the basic, commonly asked (general) interview questions.
While you should prepare for those, you also want to study your own resume, think about your achievements, and practice speaking about them with another person.
You’ll have to articulate detailed responses to inquiries into your work experience, the products you've managed, and your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Getting a chance to do this with another individual who can provide a critical set of eyes and ears on what you’re putting out is going
to be valuable to you as a job seeker. Mock interviews will help you practice your answers out loud, and get another person’s feedback, without it being the only chance you have at nailing the job
Reason #3 - Boost Your Position
While there is a large demand for product managers across all industries, the number of product managers is also steadily growing. With this in mind, you need to tap into every resource available to
help boost yourself and your chances of success. Interview preparation for these types of roles isn’t something to be taken lightly. Give yourself an advantage by practicing in a mock product management interview, both the professional and behavioral components. When you walk into the conference room with the hiring managers, you might not know if you’re up against one other person or twenty stellar candidates.
Marketing yourself, having confidence, and demonstrating that you’ve prepared thoroughly for this experience is going to help you to shine and be a memorable candidate. It’s no longer foreign territory after a mock interview.
The competition is fierce and you want to make sure you have done everything you can to have the best chance of landing the job.
Valerie Streif is a senior content manager at Pramp, a free, online peer-2-peer platform for practicing technical interviews. She has been quoted in multiple online publications, including Time Money and Entrepreneur. Valerie was previously a former Senior Advisor at Mentat, where she assisted clients in their job search with interview coaching, resume editing, and networking assistance.