Not technical enough?

Leaf Group srallars
Aug 15, 2018 22 Comments

I have 5+ years experience as a PM. I do not have a CS background. When I interview for new jobs, my technical skills/understanding seem to come up as a shortcoming. Should I do a coding bootcamp to make up for this? Should I just read some books (which ones)? Am I just applying to the wrong jobs for me?

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TOP 22 Comments
  • Lero Labs / Mktg
    lyVd32

    Lero Labs Mktg

    BIO
    Marketing
    lyVd32more
    These boot camps are useless. Real experience is the best. Can you interact more with engineers and understand what APIs, micro services, and CI/CD mean?
    Aug 15, 2018 9
    • Agoda.com qtOm46
      OP: which companies passed with "not technical enough"? At least in my experience devs are really not happy if the PM talks about the how
      Aug 15, 2018
    • Leaf Group srallars
      OP
      I only interviewed with people from PM team last go around and in no way did I ever bring up “how”, or was asked to. I was asked, “what concerns or issues do you foresee coming up with engineering for this” with respect to a product recs doc I had worked up as part of an exercise and I sort of stumbled on the question.
      Aug 15, 2018
    • Lero Labs / Mktg
      lyVd32

      Lero Labs Mktg

      BIO
      Marketing
      lyVd32more
      Yes it is not your job to tell them how a product should be built, but part of building rapport with engineers is somehow knowing how a product will be built so that you can discuss trade-offs.
      Aug 16, 2018
    • Leaf Group srallars
      OP
      Totally! I really do do this in my job all the time. I think I just don’t have enough practice getting into these types of conversations in an interview setting.
      Aug 16, 2018
    • Lero Labs / Mktg
      lyVd32

      Lero Labs Mktg

      BIO
      Marketing
      lyVd32more
      Let’s say I ask you this question: “how would you break down a monolithic system into micro services and ensure that there is good API governance?“ try and answer this question without looking at the Internet.
      Aug 16, 2018
  • IBM / Product
    Gksjfoshtn

    IBM Product

    PRE
    Google, IBM
    Gksjfoshtnmore
    Let’s get this straight, have they legitimately gave you feedback that you weren’t technical enough, or is this just what you are guessing based off your interviews?
    Aug 16, 2018 1
    • Leaf Group srallars
      OP
      That was the feedback
      Aug 16, 2018
  • LinkedIn ogacihc
    What kind of PM background?
    Aug 15, 2018 2
    • Leaf Group srallars
      OP
      Ecommerce
      Aug 15, 2018
    • Leaf Group srallars
      OP
      And stuff that is plenty more complex than Shopify with 100s of skus. No, multiple codebases, multiple databases, tons of external integrations, iOS app, domain model development, third party integrations, etc
      Aug 15, 2018
  • New / Product MXeQ72
    Agree - learn sql because it’s a great tool for PMs to use, you won’t really use ruby/java or whatever a bootcamp will teach you. Get a cloud certification from aws/google. Build a prototype- lots of services to help (Like square space for websites). Seriously, even if it seems kinda easy it shows you’re motivated to learn.
    Sep 2, 2018 0
  • New / Product MXeQ72
    You need to know how to communicate with devs, plain and simple. Don’t waste money on a bootcamp, start with SQL and take some online classes. Cracking the PM interview has some good insight I to tech skills, but it really depends on the company. So a little of maybe you’re applying to the wrong PM roles. Be able to speak to times you had to make a tough decision based off info your tech team gave you.
    Aug 19, 2018 0
  • Hopper / Product Hhuibfdbn
    What kinds of places are you applying to? In my experience, other than Google and Microsoft, never really been asked any coding or architecture questions. The extent of which of my engineering interviews is how I work with devs.
    Aug 18, 2018 0
  • New / Product 1C6TMI
    You need to be convincing enough in your answers that you have the tech chops and can easily connect with engineers in understanding the problem that you are trying to solve for. You can speak to how you use qualitative and quantitative data to find customer pain points to spell out the “what” and “why”. You can say you believe in giving engineers the freedom to execute on “how”. Technical knowledge is not knowing how to code. It’s understanding systems, architecture, internet terms and the ability to make trade offs on what works best in which scenarios. This is where Product can help provide feedback or guidance to their engineering counterparts
    Aug 16, 2018 0
  • New / Eng
    jugm74

    New Eng

    BIO
    Full stack / front end.
    jugm74more
    Agree with previous comments ^

    Domain knowledge is needed. Everything comes down to estimation accuracy and sequencing for project planning in agile/scrum.

    If you don’t have “LEGO block” fidelity understanding, you’re at the mercy of everyone else.

    I’ve seen this many times.
    Aug 16, 2018 0
  • Amazon bicamerall
    For the kind of knowledge you are looking for, a boot camp won't cover it. What kind of products/teams are you applying for? You should have general domain knowledge in the product you own. To demonstrate in an interview you should be able to speak intelligently about the technology your 5+ years of product covered. Ex: if you worked on retail websites it might be good if you demonstrate that you understand tradeoffs such as if marketing schedules 1000 new images to a page you would require some tech work to address latency.
    Aug 16, 2018 0
  • Apple / Eng appsrus
    If you're sufficiently motivated and have the time, teaching yourself can work, but If you can afford it I think a bootcamp will serve you better. You'll get up and running sooner, can ask questions when you're stuck, stay focused on skills that actually make you employable, and they'll help you with placement.

    But do your homework. Not all bootcamps are created equal. Don't go near any that don't publish stats on percentage of grads that get tech jobs within 6 months or a year of completing the coursework.
    Aug 15, 2018 0