Mid-level PMs, do you find PM interview preparation makes you better at your day to day job?

Asking because most devs will say that leetcode is completely irrelevant for their day to day.

Do you find PM interview prep to be helpful? The product sense and strategy thought exercises? Go to market questions? Other aspects?


Solving product sense, execution and strategy exercises definitely builds your muscle memory to think structurally and creatively if done well. The difference is that an interview setup requires you to think fast and on your feet which is not how you would solve problems in the real setting. Real job requires you to take a step back and gather data points, think deeply about the problem space, uncover nuanced customer behaviors which is very different from the fast thinking required to succeed in interviews.


Really really good call out here. PM interviewers be asking questions like “design a clock for blind people”. like… to do this well would take months if not years of research… :smile:


No, not for someone with experience. Pm interviews are so surface level and rushed so that without being able to go deep on things, you really only ever learn the motions of the end to end lifecycle. As an experienced pm the exercises weren’t that difficult. The hardest part was actually practicing coming up with memorable and effective solutions on the fly. That’s a skill that you’d never need on the job, since you’d of course take your time and consult stakeholders when designing a product.

End of the day, I treat pm interview practice as a necessary evil for career advancement. Similar to taking a required elective in college in subjects that’ll have no practical purpose for me.


Absolutely not. PM interviewing is a skill set that has nothing to do with the actual job. Like you said, it’s very similar to leetcode for engineers.


@YuriRoman, What kind of interview setup would best reflect the actual job?


Reviewing different thought frameworks help early on, but IMO a lot of PM is about collaboration and relationships as opposed to memorizing a bunch of structures to find user problems.


Actual PM work is about building relationships and collaborating, and finding the perfect balance of vulnerability and strength. The PM interview is about exactly none of that. Heavy nope.


Not at all.

On the contrary, I feel that a huge amount of my time is wasted preparing for Product interviews and infact deviate me from my day job impacting my efficiency and draining me out mentally.

And since the question is targeted towards mid career folks, as others have mentioned, the primary job is to build relationships and be more strategic than just following frameworks.

Framework based approach surely helps to evaluate early career candidates but beyond that, I find it a waste of time.


PM interviews are in such a horrific place right now. If anything they probably make you a worse PM.


@RisaButler, I hate how there’s an entire industry evolved to help you pass interviews, it feels like such a waste of time. Companies are looking for a good cultural fit, but these interviews end up favoring young people with tons of time to grind questions or assignments to pass. It doesn’t actually speak to how good / effective they will be as a PM in the role.


@KaranTrivedi, What was your favorite interview and why? Or what would be an idea to find out the effectiveness of a candidate?


I recently finished an interview round so here are some highlights of what I liked best:

  • Meeting with stakeholders that you will work with and have them interview you → this was great because you spend the most time with them and they deserve to have a say in who they think is best too.
  • Select short case questions on key skills that they will need to do in their role - is the role strategy based? heavy on prioritization? heavy on analysis? Have a case question based on that and keep it short so it allows for plenty of discussion and questions to gauge their thinking and working style.
  • No more than 4 interviews - seriously for companies with 5 or more interviews, it’s exhausting to schedule and a waste of time. Interviews are a lot about gut feel and meeting them the 5th time won’t really tell you all that much about a person.

I think it’s useful. It helps you think through all the necessary scenarios and implications.


I despise most product interview approaches that I’ve seen lately. It’s basically getting a Ph.D in their interview process and company and has no bearing on whether you will be a good cultural fit or even good at your job. It just shows that you can memorize examples and potentially think on your feet. I also don’t do homework interviews. Either I have the experience based on my work history and background to have a discussion about potentially working for a company or I don’t. I refuse to study or purchase material in support of “ace-Ing” a stupid interview. It’s such an elitist process that turns me immediately off from a company.


idk I kind of disagree with the general sentiment in the comments so far. Thinking on your feet and improvisation can be super important, especially in tense situations where you need to de-escalate and/or think outside the box to solve some burning fire. I hate the stress of interviews as much as everyone else but having had both developer and PM roles, I would much rather prep for PM interviews and do find the prep more useful day to day than I found leetcode to be when I was a developer.


@MarcoSilva, I am in your boat. Also as someone who started PM’ing internal systems and infrastructure and grew from there, I suspect that the generalist PM prep is more useful, as the problem spaces are different and honestly larger gaps for me.


This is admittedly just a me thing, but I think they’re entertaining in a weird way.

More so like a crossword puzzle, or some IQ test or ridiculous buzzfeed quiz. It’s a break from the day-to-day struggles and that can kinda be freeing which is something. I’d never, ever realistically engage one of these 5min strategy plans on hypotheticals that come up in these interviews to a dev team or leadership be though. .

To answer the question asked- I’m in general agreement with the consensus here, “naw not not really”.


I have to prep for a upcoming 3 hr pm interview and I’m dreading it. I don’t know where to start. he just said we’ll be doing some SQL


I shelled out the dough for the product alliance PM interview course, and going through the grokking the system design course on the side. Least for Amazon, the system design prep seems a tad overkill from what I’m hearing.

I have a pretty heavy tech background though… so calling out load balancers or a read replica doesn’t scare me.

I rationalized it as a couple hundred dollars investment to increase my odds at a pretty big increase.