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Cracking the PM Interview: How to Land a Product Manager Job in Technology

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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  2,859 ratings  ·  150 reviews
How many pizzas are delivered in Manhattan? How do you design an alarm clock for the blind? What is your favorite piece of software and why? How would you launch a video rental service in India? This book will teach you how to answer these questions and more. Cracking the PM Interview is a comprehensive book about landing a product management role in a startup or bigger te ...more
Paperback, 1, 364 pages
Published December 2nd 2013 by CareerCup
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Adam Zabell
Nov 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
TL;DR - be a wicked smart generalist because the market is still defining the role

Having just added the title of "Product Manager" at my current employer, I needed to know what I didn't know. This book did a fine job of starting that process, but ultimately left me wanting.

The essential job function is to keep your product moving forward. Because the programming staff is the engine for the machine for any software company, the need to "speak programmer" is first among equals. But you also need
...more
WhatIReallyRead
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to WhatIReallyRead by: people holding a meet-up for PMs
I read this book and landed the job of my dreams - so how can I possibly give it anything less than 5 stars? :D

To be serious though: my interviewing process was in some ways very similar to what was described here, some aspects exactly the same. But in other ways, it wasn't. Then again, I'm not in the US and I wasn't applying to Amazon/Facebook/Google. So the book will probably be even more accurate for people who do that.

I found this book to be well-structured, concrete, to the point, and very
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Chris Leung
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for prepping for PM interviews. Delivers on what it promises. But it perhaps underemphasizes that there are many other good ways to skin the cat. In addition to this book, I recommend also reading "Decode and Conquer", which will give you more example answers and offer different solid approaches/ways to think about the interview questions asked.

Will these books alone make you a good PM? No. Gaining mastery over the concepts mentioned in the books and building good product sense
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Pushkar Dongare
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is the complete package for those who are looking for a job in Product Management. It has information about the role, its challenges, how to apply at different firms based on your background, how to make your resume and cover letter, how each firm is different from other and it even has case preparations and coding questions as well. This book is a complete guide on how to get into product management and how to grow as one. Highly recommended to those who are planning to start their ca ...more
Halim
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great read to prepare for PM interviews but also to
- introspect on one's career
- understand one's motivations to apply to a PM role
- revisit the way one thinks about product
- up one's managements paradigms
Great read and highly recommended
...more
Luís Ferreira
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Great book for an extensive overview of how to market yourself, CVs and interview processes. Interesting to peak into the Top Tech (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc) culture and recruitment process - which is not representative of the tech industry.

Lenghty, and anedoctal, description of what is a PM (everything that is in between ~ that makes a product great)

My notes :

What is a Product Manager
*PM is responsible for making sure that a team ships a great product.

*Prioritize - A 1% PM knows how to seq
...more
Kunal Grover
very detailed research ! the book should have annual sequel !

Perfect product .
Addresses all areas and needs refresh cycle like all products do.
This is the first book I ever read on product management.
Jig
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
the chapters on product and problem solving don't only improve your interviewing skills, it helps you think better and become a better product manager. moreover, this book helped me understand how to find a great pm when hiring. highly recommended for aspiring product managers, product managers, and hiring ceos. ...more
Bharadwaaj Rajan
May 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Definitive and Purposeful. Owe my career to this one
Navnish Garg
May 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this book after some work experience. This book gave me a thorough perspective about the PM job. I had to skim through some sections of the book, but overall it was filled with quality material. I am really glad that somebody recommended me this book.
Must read for anyone who is aspiring for a PM role someday.
Oscar Salgado
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Too basic and sometimes far from reality. But it's an acceptable guide for someone just coming out of college and wants to understand the role of a PM ...more
Kresimir Mudrovcic
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting book that covers a variety of areas that different companies ask when interviewing PMs. There are some really great questions and brainteasers which will make your brain busy 😜 overall, It was interesting to see how do most powerful companies interview PM candidates to find the best ones.
Sumit Gouthaman
This book is very similar to it's much more well-known cousin "Cracking the Coding Interview". But due to the nature of the Product Management role, it doesn't suffer from many of the former's issues.

As an engineer, I've not been paying much attention to the Product Management discipline. To add to that, I've found that this role is called by very different names and carries very different responsibilities in different companies.

Some of the things I've actually learnt from this book:
1. What real
...more
Fernando Mata
If you're thinking about starting your career on product management this is a great book to start. It not only helps you to know what an interview would be like, it also helps you to understand the position better and to know if it's for you or not. ...more
Mihai Rosca
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One year ago, without any idea of what I'm getting myself in, I said yes to what may turn out to be a very important decision in my life: a product management job. Being the curious kind, I gave my boss to be a good, throrough interview to make sure I knew where the wind would be blowing from and afterward I simply dove right into it, head first.

What followed was a roller coaster of highs and lows with stuff I felt great for achieving and others that would hit me like a ton of bricks. However,
...more
Luke
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good resource, covers the gamut of what is a PM, what makes a good PM, what experience to gain, how to interview, and how to transition from adjacent roles like development of design.
The format is quite choppy and goes from lists of companies to Q and A sections to example interviews. Though not the best for flow, it is mostly clear why a chosen style was selected, and it is generally with the most efficient way to present the information in mind. This style though off putting on a first read
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Allison
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Packed with useful information but not overwhelming, McDowell does it again with another MUST READ book for any individual in tech. The most useful components of the book were 1) the sample questions and 2) the example responses. As someone who learns best by seeing concrete examples, I felt that this book really helped solidify my confidence and knowledge about the PM role. For those who aren't the same kind of learner as me, McDowell accommodates through other methods of relaying the same skil ...more
Niki Agrawal
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is bread and butter if you want a job in product management. Interviewers practically expect you to have read this (and many use this book to shape their interviews!), and it's the first book in product management that any PM would recommend to you.

In essence, the book gives structure to the largely generalist role of PM and the daunting, multi-faceted interview process. It's a great book to reference for areas that YOU need, rather than memorize tactics from. The book is best used as
...more
Paulo
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
The main reason why I read this book was to learn more about data driven products from a product manager’s perspective; to have a different point of view in the way a products are conceived, implemented and launched in the context of tech companies.

This book is an eye opener as to the diverse and complex tasks that product managers take responsibility for. This book also gives you great insights on what the working culture is like at big technology companies, and what background these companies
...more
Cristofer
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I primarily read this book to get more insights on *being* a good product manager rather than attempting to become one, and in that this book is of some assistance, but not a lot. Thus, I am somewhat biased in my opinion of it.

Introductory part of the book was decent, went into product and program management philosophies and practices among several large tech companies as well as startups. These were somewhat valuable from my perspective as comparisons and potential best practices for how produ
...more
Raja Ramesh
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a standard for a quality interview prep book. It's well organized to give the reader an idea of what the Product Manager role is in tech companies, tips to get an interview, and approaches to doing well in the interview (with copious practice questions). I especially enjoyed the clear, easily adaptable approach to answering product design questions. The business strategy section throws too much information at the reader without giving them a good way to incorporate it, but reading a ...more
Ostap Andrusiv
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you ever end up going through PM interviews, check out this book. It provides structure, example questions, and explains PM interview process from the other person's perspective. E.g. think like your interviewer – how would you interview another person for a similar position?

Another good idea of this book is the structure on how to prepare for general interview questions. Sometimes, especially when you're deep into the daily routine tasks, you forget about ways to present yourself and your s
...more
Jessica
Things start getting interesting around the 50% mark, where the authors begin to cover the "meatier" PM questions like estimation & algorithm design (though the second isn't useful for many interviews.

The first half was pretty standard interview prep, which would be good for those who have never interviewed before, but is old hat for those who have. (Examples include: what are your strengths/weaknesses, tell me about a difficult problem you solved, where do you see yourself in 5 years, etc.)

Over
...more
Hachi
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
DON’T take Cracking The PM Interview as the Bible to interviewing for Product Manager positions. In my experience, when applying for anything beyond an Associate PM role, the sample questions in the book are much too vague and more general than what you’ll actually be asked. (No interviewer has ever asked me to brainstorm about vending machines or design a better pen, for example.)

DO take the frameworks presented for answering questions about product strategy, marketing, and launch and prepare t
...more
Nicolas
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cracking the Coding Interview is a book everyone in tech has heard about (if not already read), but I was surprised that Gayle wrote a PM one too!

Want to land a PM/TPM position at a top company? Read this book.

Great example questions and resume advice, and a detailed breakdown of the interview process for major tech companies (and I can attest to this book's accuracy on that front). This is a book I'll re-read anytime I'm looking for a new role or when I become an interviewer myself.
...more
Jenny
This is an amazingly thorough analysis of the qualities of good product managers. I think any product manager looking for career growth should make it a project to work through as many of the chapters and sample questions as possible. And where you don't have great/easy answers, you know what to work on.

I would (and will) use this as an interviewer's guide as well, to find great future colleagues.
...more
Jacky Liang
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I see this book as the introduction to those wanting to get into PM, but Decode and Conquer has better depth in terms of the types of questions asked. I also found this book's framework for Product Design and Improvement to be inferior to CIRCLES. That said, this book has more breadth in understanding what it's like to be a PM and what it takes.

Read this for an intro to getting a PM job, then grind questions on Decode and Conquer.
...more
Cherok
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: r-2018
- This book has some good condensed nuggets in it. Some are specific to Product Managers, but most can be extended to technical roles.
- I really liked the CV examples and commentary. Specifics are great.
- It already baffled me in McDowell's more famous book, but there is no need in my opinion to name and specify concrete company names (big tech companies like Google, Amazon, etc.). The takeaways are general enough to be applied to any company really.
...more
Luke Duncan
May 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this book as an engineering manager just looking to understand the roles of my partners around me through their own eyes. So perhaps not the target audience.

The books is dated, published in 2013, and things move fast in startup land. But it’s clear the authors networks are vast and include inside-baseball names and advise from throughout the industry. It was also nice to see the breakdown of titles across companies and how the roles differ.
John
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We recommend this book to students of Stanford's BUS-62W (Intro to Product Management).

Cracking the PM Interview is a crash course in what it means to be a PM. After all, what makes you a better PM interviewee than being a better PM?

I pick this up all the time as a refresher of the mindset required to be an effective product manager. But the interview-oriented portions are great too! Certainly recommended for anyone interviewing or interested in understanding what makes a great PM.
...more
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Gayle Laakmann McDowell is the founder / CEO of CareerCup, and the author of Cracking the PM Interview, Cracking the Coding Interview, and Cracking the Tech Career.

Gayle has worked for Microsoft, Apple and Google as a software engineer. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Computer Science, and an MBA from the Wharton School. She currently resides in Pa
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“One reason product management is such an appealing career is you get to sit at the intersection of technology, business, and design.” 1 likes
“Behavioral questions tend to fall into one of five areas, so you’ll want to make sure that you have good coverage of these topics across your five key stories. These common topics are: Leadership & Influence Challenges Mistakes / failures Successes Teamwork You should have at least one story per topic. Ideally, several of your stories will fall under two or more categories.” 0 likes
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