Getting Hired: How to Get a Job as a Product Manager


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Learn about product management and how to land a job as a product manager.

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Jason Shah is a product manager at Yammer, the enterprise social network used by more than 85% of the Fortune 500. In this role, Shah conceives and leads the development of new features for the product, measuring the impact during experiments and making decisions about what to release to Yammer’s seven million users. Shah is also the creator of HeatData, a TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon winner, which provides mobile analytics to leading ecommerce companies. Additionally, Shah serves on the board of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. Prior to Yammer and HeatData, Shah was the founder and CEO of, an education technology company acquired by CK12 in 2011. He regularly blogs about user experience at and tweets shorter thoughts @jasonyogeshshah.

Published in: Education, Technology, Business

Getting Hired: How to Get a Job as a Product Manager

  1. 1. How to Get a Job as a Product Manager Jason Shah @jasonyogeshshah Product Manager, Yammer Product Manager in Residence at General Assembly Founder, HeatData @jasonyogeshshah You’re Hired: Product Manager
  2. 2. Don’t be shy. Email and take my Udemy course with live videos, answers to the interview questions, conversations with other PMs, and bonus content job-in-product-management/ @jasonyogeshshah Before we begin…
  3. 3. A. Who are you? B. Who is a product manager? Goal: A=B @jasonyogeshshah Today’s Goal
  4. 4. @jasonyogeshshah + Define you. Define the Product Manager role. + Discuss what a Product Manager actually does + Identify key qualities of top Product Managers + Show how to frame yourself as a PM if transitioning into PM from another role + Practice interview questions: brainteasers, reverse engineer features, measuring success How We Get There
  5. 5. Entrepreneurs? Rockstar unicorn hacker? Get out. Designers? Engineers? Analysts? Bankers? Consultants? MBAs? Dropouts? Students of life? @jasonyogeshshah Who Are You?
  6. 6. @jasonyogeshshah Product Manager Identities
  7. 7. @jasonyogeshshah 5 Things Product Managers Do
  8. 8. @jasonyogeshshah + Drive product vision + Spec features + Work with designers and engineers + Work with everyone else + Analyze the performance of features and make release decisions 5 Things Product Managers Do
  9. 9. What crazy thing should our product do 5 years from now? What features or designs in our product don’t make sense anymore? What are our competitors doing, or can do, that we’re failing to do well? Which inefficient behaviors do people exhibit today in the world that our product can help change or eliminate? (...and asking other questions to push your product to ultimate market, and world, dominance.) @jasonyogeshshah Drive Product Vision
  10. 10. + Brainstorm with folks from various teams: design (UX, UI), engineering, sales, marketing, customer success* + Write down the goals of the feature, which metrics should change and in which ways / to what general magnitude, and how the feature should actually look and work + Iterate with designers to build UX mocks and high fidelity UI designs (or build them yourself if needed) to ensure a good user experience + help engineering move faster *Ultimately you are responsible for the product, though. Don’t let other teams, or your users, dictate the feature. That is lazy. Use them as inputs. You’re the PM. @jasonyogeshshah Spec Features
  11. 11. + Come to designers with some sense for the goals of the feature, but give them autonomy over visual design + Negotiate the minimum viable product with engineering and reach compromises that are good for users but not overly expensive for engineering to build + Keep the team cohesive and reduce transaction costs, e.g. designers should work directly with front end engineers on implementation. It’s usually more efficient and helps morale. …and a million other things that don’t fit on this slide that you *hopefully* will learn on the job @jasonyogeshshah Work With Designers + Engineers
  12. 12. + Listen to the problems that customers face and sales / marketing believe that customers face + Communicate likely release dates but don’t overcommit* + Challenge your analytics team to help you ask the right questions and analyze feature experiments accurately** + Be an ambassador of your team. People should understand why the company is building certain features and not others * Product marketing may handle this in some companies ** Some companies don’t have an analytics team. Better remember what a p-value is. @jasonyogeshshah Work With Everyone Else
  13. 13. + Figure out which variations should be included in product experiments + Ensure variations align with your product hypotheses + Accurately interpret multivariate test results and consider implications of choosing certain feature winners + Don’t be committed to features. Winning is about building and testing - not rolling features out to 100% of users. @jasonyogeshshah Measure Features
  14. 14. @jasonyogeshshah Finding the Right PM Role
  15. 15. + Identify the companies you want to work for + Frame yourself as a good PM (resume, then in future interactions) + Phone screens, preliminary assignments + Interviews with PMs, designers, engineers, analytics + Negotiating and preparing to dominate as a PM @jasonyogeshshah Finding the Right PM Role
  16. 16. + Basic: Size, industry, team + Intermediate: Product team quality, relationship with engineers / marketing, nature of role + Advanced: Who do you want to be in the long term? A director of product? An entrepreneur? @jasonyogeshshah Identify the Right Companies
  17. 17. Entrepreneurial Rational but visionary Self-aware @jasonyogeshshah Frame Yourself as a PM
  18. 18. + Looking to assess your degree of interest and qualification for the role + Show you have good product sense, understand engineering tradeoffs, can measure and iterate @jasonyogeshshah Phone Screen + Assignment
  19. 19. + Meet with product managers, designers, engineers, analytics + Questions can be brain teasers (analytics), ask for anecdotes about your experience with teams (designers/engineers), feature-related, e.g. What would you build if you were a PM at Facebook? + Don’t wear a suit. + {Boiler Plate Interview Advice} @jasonyogeshshah PM Interview
  20. 20. + Meet the team after you get the offer. Get as good of a sense for the day-to-day as possible. Interviews can mislead you. Meet for beers or something. Coffee works, too. + Get other offers, don’t sell yourself short, balance equity and salary with your risk tolerance, don’t forget about intangibles (e.g. health insurance, vacation policy) + If they give you an offer, they will pay you well. Don’t be desperate. It’s sort of like dating. @jasonyogeshshah Negotiate Your PM Offer
  21. 21. @jasonyogeshshah Interview Questions
  22. 22. Here’sYammer. What would you add, remove, or change? @jasonyogeshshah
  23. 23. @jasonyogeshshah
  24. 24. Say you are a product manager at Facebook.You released a change to the publisher that increased days engaged meaningfully, but also reduced posting and invites sent. What would you do? @jasonyogeshshah
  25. 25. Many sites have implemented “infinite scroll” in recent years. Reverse engineer this decision for a specific product (Pinterest, Facebook, or another). Why do you think the product manager and team working on this product did this? @jasonyogeshshah
  26. 26. Don’t be shy. Email and take my Udemy course with live videos, answers to the interview questions, conversations with other PMs, and bonus content @jasonyogeshshah Q&A