Cutting the case study out of my PM hiring procedure?

Hello All!

I’m considering doing away with the case study from our hiring for Product Managers and replacing it with a presentation of work from the applicant’s portfolio.

My justification is that the discovery process is incredibly crucial, and it is challenging to determine how the applicant manages it when they are hindered by bogus case study material. I would prefer to learn what they discovered and accomplished using actual data.

Please provide some justifications as to why I shouldn’t do this. Is there anything that a case study offers that a portfolio presentation doesn’t specifically?


In PM interviews, I’ve hardly ever had to do either. Because I had that position at reputable companies in related fields, they were typically already confident that I could perform my duties. As a result, the interview was more about getting to know me to determine whether I can contribute to the team’s efforts to solve the problems at hand.

I’ve never given a portfolio presentation, and unless I was extremely enthusiastic about the position, I would definitely decline if a company asked me to. Yes, feel free to ask me to discuss a feature that I was very happy to release or one that made me feel bad or humiliated. However, I’m not creating a ppt.

When I had about a year of PM experience, is when case studies really started to happen. Personally, I dislike them since I always go talk to actual customers or prospects before developing any feature, product, etc. It seems absurd to act out the interview with just one interviewer. Yes, with the disclaimer that 80% of it will change when I validate it against real people with real problems, I can provide you a very tentative strawman.


Yes @NathanEndicott, I feel the same way about them as you do. They don’t, in my opinion, show key aspects of PMing.

I’m so relieved that everyone agrees with me, lol. I hate case studies so much.

I’m really cutting it.


In the >=GPM role:

As a candidate, I’ve never been a fan of the case study because it’s typically copied from somewhere else and never customised for the company I’m speaking with or the abilities required for the position. Case studies are effective if they are created to place candidates in very precise circumstances and see how they behave in them (through which I am able to detect what portion of the work they are great at/not so great at). They should also be properly chosen for the role.

The disadvantage of portfolios, in my opinion, is that candidates can stack them with items that make them appear good or use data you don’t have access to to justify poor decisions. And you still don’t know any more than you did before about whether they are suitable for the position you are looking for. may not be much better than a double-down interview for former employment. To get this correctly, you’ll need to consider the limits far more than you would with the case choice.

Most of the aforementioned still holds true, albeit to a lesser amount, for a more junior-looking function. With simple restrictions, I believe any approach should work.

(And yes, one of the greatest benefits a product manager can bring to the team is a solid discovery process.)


I will want for you and your business to fail and withdraw from the process if you force me to submit something made up or complete a case study.

No time for that nonsense. It takes time to conduct interviews at several companies at once. particularly when working a full-time job.


You’re misusing them if you don’t like them.

Case studies should be a tool for you to look for very precise signals of behavior and cognitive process that strip away rehearsed answers or specialized experience rather than being about finding the right or witty answer to an unclear question regarding your business.

These signals ought to include things like:

  • How are priorities determined

  • How do they view success? (metrics)

  • How well-organized is their communication style? How do they approach new problems they are unfamiliar with?

Sure, dump me if you don’t have interviewers or yourself trained to look for these kinds of standardized signs during case interviews.


It is more productive and conversational to ask the candidate to walk you through the steps they took to launch their product or products, from discovery through launch. Through Q&As, you could change the topic of conversation.

It’s quite transactional to ask someone to put together a presentation. A presentation may be biassed if a member of the interviewing panel doesn’t like the aesthetic appeal even when the content and story are compelling. In this case, the presentation may still be weak as a whole.

I once advanced to the level of creating a presentation after applying for a product lead position. When the HR informed me a few days later that the lead position had been filled, they still wanted me to apply for a possible PM position. “Potential” is the key term. I responded, “Thanks but no thanks,” and I withdrew my application for this “possible employment” because that raised a red signal for me. SMH.


For anyone who might be interested, I have a little rant that might not be relevant to the issue.

I had a job interview earlier this year for my ideal PM position. Three case studies and roughly seven interviews spread out across four rounds made up the 2.5-month-long interview procedure. Although the hiring manager was eager to bring me on board, it’s likely that he was unable to persuade the management to take action. I chose to leave the interviewing process after all because

  1. The company did not value my time.
  2. There should be no cookie cutter approach to hiring but on the other hand it should also not be as chaotic. Case studies with multiple revisions and conflicting inputs from 4 different people. It is normal on the job, but for a candidate with other active interviews (and a full time job), this is unprofessional.
  3. How do you profess Risk-taking/Decision-making if you need so much time and information before making your own decision?
  4. It is easy (for a hiring manager) to get lost in the details.

Even though I am still searching for a similar position (in an incredibly specialised industry) months later, I don’t regret quitting that process.

So, as a job seeker, I’d advise doing away with the case study. It is a huge waste of time and energy, especially for candidates who may be attending five to ten different interviews. Investigate their claims further and probe them with fundamental inquiries.

I could be totally off. I am a little frustrated, but I don’t regret it because this is the first time in my life that I have chosen to “persevere” over “pivot” in terms of my career choices.


Comparing myself to some other commenters on this page, I’ll argue that I’m not as anti case studies:

  1. Frequently, a person’s portfolio work more accurately represents the team they were on than they do themselves (think about senior designer vs junior designers working on same product). Additionally, I believe you can probe further into their experience by asking questions throughout the interview.

  2. I feel like I would have an easier time of understanding and comparing the same case study that multiple people present vs vastly different types of portfolios.

  3. I don’t believe the business is using you for free labor. I don’t think anyone can make truly well-considered conclusions without having a thorough understanding of a product beyond a case study. In my opinion, there are times when candidates will propose ideas that were already in motion and feel as though they were the ones who came up with it when they see those elements in the final result.

Nevertheless, I think it’s really tough to recognize talent, so it’s probably still worth trying.


I support this. I personally wouldn’t do a case study but I’d be happy to walk your through a previous product I launched.


I advise doing away with the case study. I haven’t come across this request, but I would think it is pretty strange. Portfolio of products I don’t believe that demonstrates anything more than a resume; but it is more homework and, in all honesty, not the greatest option: some topics cannot be discussed in length as you may desire owing to non-disclosure agreements, and other persons may embellish to suit your preferences. I think the cv is more trustworthy because it has more legal constraints and you may ask for references if you want to confirm certain details.

The best technique, in my opinion, to choose PMs is: Define the behaviors you want, experience you need (in the industry, with specific tools, methodology, what is required to know and what can be learned), and skills you want and need (if you have a highly political organization or very challenging clients, etc.) before asking about them in an interview. instead of a use case and homework, dedicate a session to that. Apply the star system. Ask for references for a particular project they frequently referenced if you still have your worries. Ask them in the first interview, after you explain the role, how their 30-60-90 days would look in the role you’re giving, if you want to observe how they organize things. More can be learned from a 5-minute conversion on this than from any case study.

In this manner, you will receive the most genuine comments and have a better understanding of how your prospect will approach situations, whether they will dispute presumptions or seek for clarification, as well as their communication style and organizational skills.


PM interviews are a skill you can develop. Given the variety of frameworks for this, you can pass in a sense with some preparation and study. Since case studies can be manipulated, I believe that. A case study is something you can get “excellent” at if you do enough of them. Consider hiring a ghostwriter to write your thesis or dissertation. They only require a prompt and some free time. We are all aware that a great interviewer is not usually a wonderful colleague. How many people have you encountered who have questioned how you both work at the same location.

PM interviews are a skill you can develop. Given the variety of frameworks for this, you can pass in a sense with some preparation and study. Since case studies can be manipulated, I believe that. A case study is something you can get “excellent” at if you do enough of them. Consider hiring a ghostwriter to write your thesis or dissertation. They only require a prompt and some free time. We are all aware that a great interviewer is not usually a wonderful colleague. How many people have you encountered who have questioned how you both work at the same location.

What I’ve discovered to be helpful is a kind of reverse case study where I’m attempting to learn and comprehend the critical features of a product a candidate has previously owned. If they are succinct and clear, my queries can go further, and the conversation moves along.


I avoid working with companies who need writing samples and presentation materials. It frequently breaks NDA.

Case studies are useless. I can teach it more quickly than I can teach domain knowledge. Go extremely in depth on resume items and see when they start to hurt.

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I really love your drop the idea of case study. A candidate’s true worth is revealed in talks where you can see them being comfortable in their own skin, not in what they have been doing or in an assignment that is handed to them to put together in a short period of time. If you did it, I would be really proud of you.

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