PM Interview Prep Plan: How I got PM offers from Google, Expedia, Microsoft, and Facebook

Amazon / Product God-father
Jul 30, 2018 99 Comments

Five months ago I got fedup with the crap culture at Amazon (needs a separate post) and decided to start working on my game plan for interviews at tech companies. Now, I have three offers from the tech companies - Expedia is travel not in the same league I know. No trolls please.

Profile: CS Engineer and Ivy MBA
8YOE
L6 PMT
TC 240K (Luckily with stock appreciation. Original grant was just 115K over four years)

Expedia: 220 TC all cash - M5
Google: 380 TC (MV) - L5
Microsoft: 250 TC (Fucking lowball) - 64
Facebook: They asked me to come back for one more rounds of product sense and execution. I refused - no gas left in the tank.

My goal was to land a PM role at Google. This post is about how I prepared.
----------------
Technical
At Google PM interviews, you may have some coding or algorithmic questions, but likely not a lot and possibly none. My friends who recently interviewed got system design Qs and basic data structures like what data structures for implementing load balancer etc. Since, I have CS engg I prepared extra hard to feel super confident going into tech interviews.

1) Week 1: Basic technical prep:
Wanted to get my technical basics refreshed on programming to make sure I can answer questions on recursion, encapsulation, pointers, object oriented programming etc. Read: Let Us C++, a basic undergrad book used in India - free PDF copies circulating online. Took extensive notes on each topic for easy refresher.

2) Week 2: Data Structures deep-dive
Learnt four things: 1.Insertion, 2.Deletion, 3.Search, 4.Sort for these data structures and their time complexities: Queues, Linked list, Stack, Hash Table, Array etc. I watched this YouTube channel https://bit.ly/1ElhMUl and read this http://bigocheatsheet.com

3) Week 3/4: System Design
There are two types of system design Qs
1) Design problems related to real life websites. These problems apply scalability theory, load-balancing, redundancy etc. For example Design Facebook, Design bitly, Design Quora, Design Uber etc.
2)Design Elevator system, design valet parking, design restaurant system etc.

Read about Pub-Sub architecture, Producer Consumer architecture and what AWS services can be used to build them.
This is gold mine to learn about system design.
https://bit.ly/2u72rH7
Practice these problems after you have learned the concepts. https://bit.ly/2hgv0KW
Master scalability concepts such as these
https://bit.ly/1Vc3KNj

My interview Q was design an architecture for video sharing website. It is similar to Netflix that I practiced.

Week 5: Machine Learning concepts
I prepared for it because it is a hot topic. I was lucky that I did because one of my technical interview Q was - If you have records of all tennis matches in the history how will you build a ranking algorithm. I was able to leverage this knowledge.
Read:
1)https://bit.ly/2M3tOso
2)https://bit.ly/2vLrNMU

I took Week 6 just to recompile everything I read so far.
------------------------------------------
Product Design:
Week 7-9
Read 1) Decode and Conquer and another book from Lewis C Lin's website on Google PM interview - this book is good.
Practice with people I used this Slack channel to find partners https://bit.ly/2OuQnI8
I found a friend who was also interviewing with Facebook/Google and instead of interviewing each other we collaborated and solved every product sense question that existed on Glassdoor for FB and Google. This gave us two advantages we were using two smart people's brain to solve problems and learn from each other. Irony to say he got FB offer but not Google and I got Google but not FB.

Product Strategy: Just read some blogs online and revised my Strategy frameworks from Bschool class 3Cs, 4Ps, Porter etc. The Lewis Lin book helped me provide structure to some of these questions.
----------------------------------
Week 10: Behavioral
All standard Amazon Behavioral STAR. Having that internal Qbank (perks of Amazon) helped me. Atleast prepare 1)a failure story 2)diagreement story with manager or team member 3)disagreement with Dev team 4)short time prioritization framework 5)not meeting deadline 6)what makes a team successful 7)what are your design principles. I was able to handle all of my behavioral questions from these 7 stories.
----------------------------------
Week 11: Estimation
I was really good at this but I still ended up spending this week focusing on it. My friend had this book Interview Math by Lewis Lin it helped me give structure to my thought process.
----------------------------------
Week 12: Revise everything

Week 14-16 I did all of my interviews

This is no way an ideal plan but what I did to prepare. By sharing this I wanted to help fellow Blinders.

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TOP 99 Comments
  • Atlassian YfEJ12
    Wish we had more of this on Blind. Kudos!
    Jul 30, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Thanks!
      Jul 30, 2018
  • Microsoft UMbR31
    Bro you the real MVP
    Jul 30, 2018 0
  • New / Product
    nicebot

    New Product

    BIO
    Smash that Private Message button
    nicebotmore
    Congrats on the offer. You totally deserve it. Did FB interviews have technical questions because of your CS background? What did you mess up? These details will be very valuable as well imo.
    And if you think it'll be worth the time to type it out, I'd be eager to read about the issues you faced at Amazon. Keep up the good spirit!
    Jul 30, 2018 5
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      No technical interview at FB. I met a one year out MBA from Stanford who was very uppity during product sense and I was not able to connect.
      Jul 30, 2018
    • New / Product
      nicebot

      New Product

      BIO
      Smash that Private Message button
      nicebotmore
      Alright. Do you have any company/culture research tips?
      Jul 30, 2018
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      All other four interviews were good so they asked me to come back for another round of product sense and execution which I refused. Actually I felt of all four companies FB Interviewers were the worst. No ability to connect and empathy. Also we had to change the room in the middle of my product sense since recruiter screwed up with booking the room. It impacted my tempo.
      Jul 30, 2018
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Culture and company research - Man! you're on Blind ask folks around.
      Jul 30, 2018
    • New / Product
      nicebot

      New Product

      BIO
      Smash that Private Message button
      nicebotmore
      Figured as much. Was wondering if you had any other sources as well. Thanks a lot for the responses :)
      Jul 30, 2018
  • Intel / Product 1moremonth
    Thanks for the informative post. Hats off ! Was this much technical preparation required for a PM role? Did you have technical rounds ?
    Jul 30, 2018 3
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      I had a CS engg background and I wanted to be over prepared for it. Also the more solid you are on the technical side the more confident a PM sounds. It helped me in many product sense questions where I was able to actually go over and beyond and talk about how will I actually implement the solution. If you have time prepare if not skim.
      Jul 30, 2018
    • Intel / Product 1moremonth
      Thank you ! Any tips on how to create stories that can be drilled down. Like a 1 min version, 5 min version, 10 min version - so that you can go in details as needed; especially for behavioral rounds. Thanks
      Jul 30, 2018
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Prepare a 3 min version and create hooks that you know an interviewer will ask questions on. Leave those hooks unanswered in 3 min version.
      Jul 30, 2018
  • Cisco NQpC38
    Do you have a pdf of Decode and Conquer which you can share? Thanks in advance.
    Nov 14, 2018 2
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Dude, that is violation of copyright and illegal. You are looking to get a 250k+ job and can't buy a $10 Kindle book?
      Nov 14, 2018
    • Cisco NQpC38
      Sorry. Yes you are right. Let me buy this.
      Nov 18, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng
    gundappa

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    500 Startups
    BIO
    Cool guy with love for maths and ml
    gundappamore
    As a sde who wants to shift to a PM role, what would be your advise?
    Jul 30, 2018 2
  • Microsoft / Eng RLeL37
    Thanks a lot for this post. Really helps in providing a direction on what to do. Can you also provide feedback on your interviews?

    You're awesome 🙂
    Jul 30, 2018 2
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      What are you looking for specifically?
      Jul 30, 2018
    • Microsoft / Eng RLeL37
      You've covered preparation so I'd be curious to know how you felt your interviews went.

      Did you feel they were tougher or did you feel you were ready and were able to get through with ease?

      How many rounds were there?

      And while you covered on how devs can prep for such a role, I'd like to learn more about being a PM, roles and responsibilities, goals etc. I get high level stuff like customer obsession, business impact and product vision but it doesn't really help me nail down how different it is from my job.
      Aug 1, 2018
  • Microsoft thebiglife
    Holy moly.. dude - this is awesome.. thanks for sharing such a wealth of info. Work is super busy and i was struggling to get ready for a Google interview. I have a phone call with recruiter this week. I don't think I can buy 12 weeks before the initial phone screen, but will try to cram through the materials you have suggested (I'm in Azure Networking). Thanks again PS- on H1B too
    Jul 30, 2018 6
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      For phone screen keep calculations for certain stuff like number of YouTube videos watched per day, Gmail queries per hour, Standard personas for customers, key metrics on a page in front of you for quick reference. It helped me they asked How much is the storage needed on YT and having the hours of videos watched per day ready helped a ton. Good Luck Mate!
      Jul 30, 2018
    • New NVhQ58
      Hi biglife

      How did the recruiter interview go? Can you pls share the questions that you had? What to focus on?
      Aug 13, 2018
    • New NVhQ58
      OP,
      Thanks ton for the phone screen tip!
      Can you share questions from the phone screen, if you can? Or what segment is it focused on - like purely product design and estimation? Or something more than that.

      Thanks!
      Aug 13, 2018
    • Microsoft thebiglife
      Thanks OP, again. @God-Father, recruiter interview was standard, but I was unprepared on the expected comp question.. i low balled it to $280-300k TC / l64 at MS (240k tc). I haven't responded with my resume and preferred dates for phone screen yet (busy work + un eager after low balling it). Got screwed at MS rewards this year (after working my ass off and making great progress, objectively speaking), so I'm going to get serious abt this job search at FANG
      Aug 16, 2018
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      It doesn't matter. Get a competing offer along with G and you will still be fine. What is your profile at MS?
      Aug 16, 2018
    • Microsoft thebiglife
      I'm a PM in Azure Networking. I create Networking products un addition to managing the vision for certain first party platforms (big names)
      Aug 16, 2018
  • Facebook 49371018
    You're amazing. Thank you.

    What resources would you recommend to someone coming for a biz background? I'm going to spend the next twelve months preparing (currently underleveled so have the bandwidth to do so)
    Jul 30, 2018 0
  • New NVhQ58
    Thanks a ton for sharing OP. I took Lewis Lin’s coaching and per one of his coach that I am working with, the interviews should not be spaced out beyond 3 weeks. Since you are an example so it seems this is absolutely ok.

    And what questions do the recruiter asks? I have my recruiter call on Wednesday. Any red flags to be mindful about or any responses to tailor in a fashion that may delight the recruiter or give the recruiter what she is looking for?
    Aug 13, 2018 4
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Why Google, Why Now, and What are you looking for? Learn about recruiters background on LinkedIn and see the articles she liked. Establish the rapport based on the knowledge you have about her
      Aug 14, 2018
    • New NVhQ58
      Thanks!
      Aug 14, 2018
    • New NVhQ58
      I finished my recruiter round and it was a bummer.

      When the recruiter sent an email it clearly said looking for PM generalist, the standard email I guess.

      During the recruiter call the recruiter asks me all std questions first including what google product I like and would like to work on and then asked how much of pure product manager experience i got. I mentioned I got 2.5 yrs and then she mentions we are looking for more experienced for healthcare vertical. I asked how much and she said 8-10 yrs. I felt that was never communicated or mentioned in her opening email.
      She mentioned i was a good fit for PM generalist position and she would ask someone to contact you.

      Any thoughts??
      Aug 16, 2018
    • Cisco Go!
      If this was the PM job for the life science group in MA then it makes sense (by asking 8-10 years)
      Aug 23, 2018
  • Group Health FemmFatale
    Hello OP! Oops! Hello boyfriend! You’re helping me prepare this for after business school right?! When I win, we win together!!
    Jul 30, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Hello GF! You're here too :-) What is MY reward?
      Jul 30, 2018
  • Amazon / Product God-father
    OP
    1) Is this a troll? I said 8 yoe. Amazon does not have part time PMs...lol
    2)Internal referral and recruiter reached out
    3)What would you design for a customer stuck in traffic? Design a vending machine for the hotel, Monetize Maps, Fav product, what will you design next for FB, P2P payments - what will you build, improve Expedia Checkout etc...
    Jul 30, 2018 1
    • Thanks. No. Not a troll. I understand you mentioned 8 yrs in software but some companies do let lead engineers work with PMs in making critical decisions which would help to transition into PM. Hence asked you.
      Jul 30, 2018
  • Amazon / Product God-father
    OP
    H1B here. So small companies are out of scope. Easiest was Expedia. Google was toughest. Facebook is not sure what they want - trying to be both Google and Amazon leading to fucked up process. MS was fairly technical - one of the interviewer thought I was interviewing for TPM.
    Jul 30, 2018 0
  • Apple Google L7
    Breakdown of google TC? Congrats on your amazing offer
    Jul 30, 2018 4
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Pure luck - I had two competing offers
      Jul 30, 2018
    • Apple Google L7
      I meant could you split into base rsu and bonus?
      Jul 30, 2018
    • eBay popin
      Is it 550 k worth rsu or 550 units?
      Jul 30, 2018
    • Apple Google L7
      It is typicall $ worth
      Jul 30, 2018
  • New s-1
    Just accepted an offer from Google today!
    OP, this post helped me a lot with structuring my prep for the interviews. Huge thanks! If I were you, I’d turn this into a blog post for posteriority.
    May 1 3
    • Cisco UPhF72
      Congrats buddy. Can you please share your experience?
      May 1
    • New s-1
      Sure. I’m a PM with 10 YEO. The process was phone screen > phone interview > onsite > offer negotiation.
      I had two competing offers and the process took a total of ~2mo (really long, I know...)

      In my opinion, having a good relationship with the recruiter is really important so you can maintain a good communication along the process.
      May 1
    • Amazon / Product Atheist
      Congrats buddy, glad that post helped you :-)
      May 5
  • New NVhQ58
    Thanks OP. I work full time but plan on taking an entire week off.
    Also, what to expect in telephone interview with PM? I have 2.5 yrs experience as PM.
    Prep strategy for 3 weeks - what areas to focus on - design, estimation, behavioral etc. Will there be any technical questions too?
    Aug 28, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Leave behavioral. Focus on estimation and design. Leave technical too
      Aug 28, 2018
  • Intuit suA2FS
    Congrats OP! Any suggestions for a non-tech background PMs? Any chance you’d be will to share notes via a blog post or something?
    Aug 6, 2018 0
  • New / Product FizzBuzz18
    Thanks for sharing your approach. Definitely helps us while practicing for PM interviews.

    Do you think Google and FB look for that Ivy MBA + 3-5 yoe for their PMs? (Not APM).

    Have a great GMAT score and about 5yoe (both eng and product) but not able to justify leaving a good TC for a student loan at this point, just to get into Google or FB.
    Oct 4, 2018 2
    • Facebook jTWx26
      Try part-time mba in top 5-10 schools? It’ll suck for few years but you still get same degree
      Oct 5, 2018
    • Microsoft LKui75
      Agree
      Feb 19
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Yes, I come from Algorithm trading background - was trading dark pools in Hong Kong for a bulge bracket investment bank. Banking paid for my MBA and I got out debt free. So for me to break into PM, MBA was the only route. Well worth it.
      Jul 30, 2018
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Ping me for more details.
      Jul 30, 2018
  • New NVhQ58
    Hi OP,
    I finished my recruiter round and the recruiter emailed me asking to provide the phone screen interview dates with Product Manager Google to be between 1-2 weeks.
    After seeing your prep and getting a feel of how much preparation goes in, I wanted to have 8 weeks but succumbing to the pressure of being asked to provide dates over 1-2 weeks, I told her 3 weeks. I got an email from coordinator asking to confirm on this and I said yes.
    Do you think I should ask him to reschedule or that will reflect bad?
    Please can you share your thoughts.
    Aug 28, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Three weeks should be fine. Mine took almost 4 weeks after the recruiter call to setup a phone interview.
      Aug 28, 2018
  • Intuit poirot
    This post is very inspiring! How did you manage to stick to your study plan while managing your daily work?
    Aug 11, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      I booked a meeting room at Amazon from 6-9 PM for those 12 weeks. I will just goto Amazon Go store to grab my dinner at 5:30. All socials/drinks were scheduled on or after 9:30.
      Aug 11, 2018
  • Microsoft Boo ya
    I had an offer from Amazon and Microsoft and am about to do Google now. I did none of this prep! You’re hardcore man. Now I feel like I need to brush up on my structures and AI speak. Thanks for the tips !!!
    Aug 6, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      Congrats on your offers and good luck with Google!
      Aug 7, 2018
  • Intel / Product 1moremonth
    Curious if OP or anyone here has gone through PM interviews at companies like Lyft/Cruise/Uber for the PM roles. Are the PM roles/interview process dependent on AV(Autonomous Vehicle) domain knowledge?
    Jul 30, 2018 1
  • Amazon / Product
    🤪☺️

    Amazon Product

    BIO
    Engineering + Analytics + Tech Entrepreneurship
    🤪☺️more
    @godfather! Wealth of information on this thread. Thank you for your contributions. I’m curious to know what happened next. Did you join Google? If yes, how do you like the experience?
    Mar 3 0
  • Expedia / IT
    Theek thak

    Expedia IT

    PRE
    Amazon
    BIO
    13 year experience, Sr TPM
    Theek thakmore
    Hello, really informative post on Google interview, I am sr tpm with Exoedia right now, generic program management managing dev projects but not hard core tech guy. Do you think knowing detailed tech is really important for cracking Google, FB etc? Thanks in advance
    Nov 16, 2018 0
  • Microsoft / Product You wish d
    This post needs to be pinned on top...
    Sep 13, 2018 0
  • New NVhQ58
    Hi OP,

    Can you please share if you managed to schedule interview 16 weeks ahead of time OR the prep was something you had been doing and the google interview came along or after you finished the study?

    Im asking this since I am yet to interview with the recruiter and wondering if it is at this time I should plan the schedule before that ice breaker?

    Your help is much appreciated!
    Aug 13, 2018 0
  • Cisco Go!
    Thank you so much for the helpful information :)
    Aug 11, 2018 0
  • New / Product inspirar
    Great preparation & thank you for sharing. You deserve it! I’m hoping I can get hired as Google PM too. Congrats!🎉🎉🎉
    Aug 1, 2018 0
  • Amazon Sfosjo
    Can you share your FB interview phone screening round details? What were the questions asked
    Jul 30, 2018 0
  • Thanks for the detailed post.
    1) is this your first PM job or were you functioning as a part time PM at Amazon?
    2) if this is your first entry into PM role, how did you structure your resume? Most companies ask for few years of PM ex.
    3) did you apply online or did someone refer you?
    4) would you mind sharing product sense questions ?
    Jul 30, 2018 0
  • Microsoft Khtrdgk7
    I'm curious, why those companies? Have you looked at startups or smaller companies that can beat msft lowballs but also give you bigger scope?

    Also what kind of product sense questions did you get from the various companies? Which company do you say was the easiest/hardest
    Jul 30, 2018 0
  • eBay mocambo
    Congratulations on your offer and being generous enough to share your resources and experience :)

    I have few question on product sense and product strategy rounds.

    I hear mixed approaches from PMs at google about product sense round. Some love the CIRCLEs framework, some say be more creative and don't use a framework but show tremendous user empathy. My questions are:
    - what was your product sense approach?
    - How did you come up with creative solutions given Google's?
    10X value?
    - Were you able to come up with creative solutions on the day?
    - If the question is about Google launching a new product, how critical is it to draw synergies with Google's strategic assets?

    I also have a question on product strategy round?
    - Is this meant to be a broader discussion with MBA like case approach where you start with a framework and traverse different paths or should you still focus more on product solution as a strategy?

    Thanks in advance!
    Oct 4, 2018 3
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      My approach was entirely different. I ended up creating a Google Fly wheel imagine Amazon Fly wheel but customized for Google. That was my start to Product Sense Q's and then I flushed out what I want to focus on from that flywheel be it the user (customer for Amazon), bet it the company, improving the product...etc.. and why.. you can further divide the users based on their impact on the flywheel and the persona you want to focus. It also enabled me to see a complete pic and come up with creative solutions..
      Oct 4, 2018
    • Cisco What!!?
      🤔
      Oct 4, 2018
    • Microsoft LKui75
      Sorry I am not too familiar with the flywheel approach. How do you approach q’s like what do you want to work on, or, your favorite product and how would you improve? How much did you stress on the 10x idea part? Examples will help a lot
      Oct 5, 2018
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Facebook 49371018
      I've ready Swipe To Unlock and found it quite high-level as I'm currently working with Eng atm. Would you recommend more low level stuff?
      Jul 30, 2018
    • Amazon / Product God-father
      OP
      It is pretty basic not much help for PM inteview I agree. You said you have 12 months why not do a course from course era on product management
      Jul 30, 2018
  • Amazon / Product nomad9876
    Which interview was behavioral? The recruiter did not mention a behavioral round to me
    Jan 23 1
    • Amazon / Product Atheist
      Behavioral Qs pop up in the middle of any interviews as filler or starter.
      Jan 30
  • Accenture inspirit
    Fresh grad here. Looking to get into SDE or PM but prefer PM (sde only cus it seems like a lot of PM have sde experience). Should I start by just studying for PM or still try for SDE? Thank you
    May 6 0
  • Disney / Product aHzn32
    Thanks for this detailed post with experience and resources. I wish I read it before screwing up my Google interview earlier this year. Now using this guide for Facebook
    May 4 0
  • Cisco UPhF72
    Just sent a private message
    May 1 0
  • Apple akvino
    Thanks for posting this
    Feb 18 0
  • Cisco NQpC38
    Congrats on your offer.
    Nov 15, 2018 0
  • Amazon Jm22
    Gold mine. Thanks dude!
    Oct 4, 2018 0
  • Starbucks / Mgmt
    JayCee

    Starbucks Mgmt

    PRE
    Amazon, Microsoft
    JayCeemore
    Thank you!!
    Aug 22, 2018 0
  • Cognizant eyes4blind
    Great post!! Thanks for sharing. I know there are no short cuts but given the situation, I have a week to prepare for a already scheduled TPM phone interview. How do I pick and choose what I can do from the list? My background is slightly different. I don’t do coding in my current job and haven’t for a while. Thanks!
    Aug 18, 2018 0
  • Amazon / Product God-father
    OP
    My timeline: Initial call with the recruiter in Feb. My prep started. Phone screen in mid April. On-site in June (I pushed out my on-site by two months). Decision in July.
    Aug 13, 2018 0
  • New NVhQ58
    Congrats on your offer mate. Thanks so much for sharing this wealth of info. I have the very first phone interview with the Google recruiter for PM position this week. She mentioned it will be a quick chat. What to expect and prepare? Should i postpone the interview so as to prepare for 16 weeks first or this interview is relatively about all background and experience and behavioral interview? Your help is much appreciated. Also, how to schedule future interviews meaning how much gap can I take for prep?
    Aug 11, 2018 0
  • Microsoft LKui75
    One of the most informative posts on Blind. Really hope we have more of these... thanks OP.
    Aug 10, 2018 0
  • Expedia SfNl71
    Great post thanks for sharing.

    Which Lewis Lin book about Google are you referring to?

    Thanks
    Aug 7, 2018 0
  • Microsoft EPjy31
    Thank you!
    Aug 6, 2018 0
  • Microsoft / Other blUKh
    Good stuff. Thanks!
    Aug 2, 2018 0
  • This is for product management correct ?

    Which college you did MBA in ?
    Jul 30, 2018 0

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