Getting a Product Management Interview is not always an easy task, especially if your a career switcher. In this article we will explain how to get your through the door to that Product Manager (PM) interview. Your success will be defined both by your resume and your networking efforts. Thus, we will focus on three steps: building your resume, networking, and applying for the role.
Building Your Resume
To increase your chances of getting a PM interview, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. What is the recruiter searching for to qualify you for a PM role?
We interviewed 50 MBAs who applied to product management roles and observed the following patters:
Product Management Experience (or Relevant Experiences)
Experience in building roadmaps, customer and industry research, writing requirements and user stories, defining use cases, project management, sprint planning, implementing GTM (go to market) strategies. These are all examples of skills prospective PMs need to demonstrate in their experience. Even if you don’t have experience as a product manager, be sure to highlight the relevant similar experiences in your past.
Management and Leadership Skills
Examples of managing and particularly creating alignment among many different stakeholders, delivering documents and presentations, demonstrating good communication and soft skills. People management is sometimes also important as some PMs will be required to manage engineers.
Strong Analytical Capabilities
Signs that you are comfortable with numbers and like working with data. PMs usually use data to help them determine how to improve products, so being good with numbers is very important.
Familiarity with coding, programing or databases can help. In most companies it is not a must for landing an internship or a full time post-MBA job. But being able to speak the language of software engineers will give you an advantage.
With those 4 things in mind, review your resume to highlight those skills.
Need more inspiration?
You can look for good examples from the resume book of second year students. Asking for best practices and examples from your PM/Tech clubs in your schools can also help.
Having a “killer” resume is worthless if no one can see it. Therefore, you must network to help getting a PM interview. We know, we know. Not many love mingling and jumping from one event to another, asking questions your probably already know the answer for? But if you do your research and genuinely find interest in a company, these events might be the difference between getting an interview, and not getting one.
Here are your common options.
Coffee or informal chats with:
- Companies when they come to campus
- Second year students who interned in the company or worked there prior to school
- Your classmates who are former employees of the company
- Alums that work in this company (each school has an alumni database)
- Company’s HR – shoot them an email to show excitement about the role
Search for people with similar background to you that work at the company. Send them a tailored message asking for some time to chat and learn more about their experience in the company. Bonus points if they are graduates of your program.
Professors / Faculty
Ask for warm introductions by faculty. Most MBA students would not do that, which is exactly why it works great.
Keep in Mind!
There are few companies such as Google that highly regard internal referrals. As noted, the networking pass can be the difference between getting an interview or not. It can also often make a difference between getting an offer or not.
Last Step: Applying
First, apply via the school career office or any other on-campus application process. If you got an interview – well done!
If not, it is not over yet. Use the network you created and apply via the company website or directly with the HR and let the network work its charm. If you’re a first year, ask for a second year who interned with that company to refer you to the company’s HR.
Now that you succeeded getting a PM interview, read the next article covering preparation and mastering of your PM interview.