papanpap in  
Product Manager  

How to bag a FAANG PM Offer in 2024

Most PMs (probably over 90%) don’t realize there’s a big difference between being a good PM and being a good PM candidate. Take it from someone who's failed and then aced a google interview.


I used to think that lots of experience meant I could wing the process with little prep and it backfired, so second time around I took it by the horns or whatever they say. Thought I’d share the three things I did differently this time which led to an offer letter to pay it forward to the community on here that's been helpful at different stages of my journey.


Referrals–In this hiring market, referrals definitely matter. There are two levels on which referrals are evaluated. The first is the seniority of the person referring. A referral from a Product VP carries a lot more weight than a referral from an APM. The second is how the referral knows you. If the person referring you can vouch for having worked with you in the past, that will carry more weight than someone who says they know you socially. If you don’t have any friends who you’ve worked with in the past at your dream company, you might have luck finding relatively senior strangers on Blind or LinkedIn who are willing to refer you. After all, they get a referral bonus if you get the job so everyone wins. It doesn't hurt to have multiple referrals either. For companies like Google that value culture fit, having 2 or 3 referrals can be the difference between getting an interview or not.


Interview Prep–My biggest mistake when it came to prepping for PM interviews in the past was thinking that given my almost a decade-long product management experience, I could just wing the interview. That's just not true at top companies with standardized hiring processes. This time around, I spent 40-50 hours studying and doing mock interviews with people from Blind and Lewis Lin's Slack community. I started by reading Decode and Conquer and then going through Product Alliance's entire Google PM interview course. Between these two resources, I realized my usual interview answers weren’t even close to how thorough or structured as interviewers are looking for. Product Alliance's list of recently asked company specific interview questions was also really helpful. One of the questions I got asked was very similar to one from their question sheet. That was probably just a lucky coincidence but knowing the question types to expect is very important for interview prep as you can learn how you are supposed to structure your responses. The most important thing is practicing though—ideally with people who are calibrated interviewers at similar companies using questions recently asked at your target company. You get relatively affordable mocks from calibrated interviewers from IGOTANOFFER.


Actual Interview–There’s two key mistakes I have made in the past during interviews. The first is I just jump straight into my answer without taking a minute to think and write down some ideas so I can have more structure in my response. For virtual interviews, I even have the frameworks written in my notebook as a reference if necessary. You don't lose any points for taking a minute to think but you do lose points for unorganized rambling.


The second is something one of my friends who is a hiring manager at Coinbase taught me. When you are asked if you have any questions at the end, that’s part of the interview. I used to just ask basic questions like what’s the culture like or how much autonomy do you have as a PM here. Wrong and wrong. If you want to be really memorable as a candidate, come prepared with some interesting product idea for that company and ask the interviewer if their company considered pursuing said opportunity. This is something almost no candidates do that can really make you stand out. One of my interviews at Google actually went 10 minutes over because we were both geeking out about a potential AI play for Google that I proposed at the end of the interview. I think that dude went from a borderline hire to strong hire simply business we geeked out together and he liked the idea I proposed even though it wasn’t officially part of the interview.


Okay, that’s all I got. Although my interview was at Google, I think all the same tips and tricks apply at every other top company. Hope this helps someone

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PaperPlanesProduct Manager  
"You don't lose any points for taking a minute to think but you do lose points for unorganized rambling." This is a great point. So many candidates think the interview is like a quiz with some sort of right/wrong answer so they stress too much about trying to get the right answer as fast as possible. Definitely take some time to think about the response and go about it clearly.
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