Bring Your True Self: Tips to Ace Your PM Interview

This week, Product School hosted Rani Ghandi, Senior Product Manager at Salesforce, for a special #AskMeAnything session. Rani answered questions regarding metrics tracking, succeeding in Product Management, and tips on how to break into the industry.

Meet Rani

Rani Ghandi, Senior Product Manager at Salesforce

Rani is a seasoned PM with a strong background in a variety of industries.

Not only is she skilled in various systems including Salesforce, Oracle/Taleo, SAP, and Workday, she also has a PHR Certification from San Jose State University and a Bachelor’s from California State University in Sacramento.

She is currently working as a Senior Product Manager for Legal, Corporate Security, and Safety at Salesforce. Rani’s colleagues rave that she is a pleasure to work with; her positive attitude makes her team more productive and efficient.

You can find Rani on LinkedIn.

For Current PMs

Sprout of plant growing

 How can I succeed in a product role?

To succeed in a product role, you’ll need to look into the following:

  1. What does your Stakeholder/Customer need? This would be done through customer interviews to understand their current process (As-Is) and what they’re looking for (To Be process) from a high level perspective, versus a detailed requirements perspective through user interviews and requirements gathering.
  2. How do you prioritize these needs in a short term and longer term roadmap plan?
  3. The requirements and roadmap planning will drive conversations around Resources and Capacity Planning. Do you have the right amount of team members to drive this project to completion, and if not, what budget do you need to make this happen, or what can you do with the budget you currently have?
  4. Relationship Building (Soft Skill) – A PM needs to really focus in on this skill. Having this skill goes a long way. You can be in a difficult conversation, but knowing your stakeholder has a level of trust for you, can really help to drive conversations better.

Check out: The Importance of Coalition Building in Product Management

Any advice on how to grow within a Product Management role?

I focus on gaining hands-on experience. I volunteer for projects that will help me gain the knowledge I need in certain Products or areas. I feel that having that real experience goes such a long way.

The other thing I do, which has been extremely beneficial, is building my network. Reach out to people that you feel are doing things you’d be interested in doing and ask if you can shadow them or ask for mentorship! These things have been a game-changer for me. Good luck to you!

Read next: Your Guide to Associate Product Manager Roles

What metrics do you usually track for your product area?

Great question! The metrics I keep in mind are based on what can drive user adoption, and depending on the data that is available.

For example, If I’m launching a Product in a specific location, who are my users, what’s their age group (if available), how many times are they logging in, what functionality is being used the most, and can this data give me an understanding of the use cases the user is leveraging the product for? Data gives me a story to help build on top of the Product for better user adoption.

For Future PMs

What tips would you give a newcomer to Product Management?

The Product space is an exciting one! A few things that will make you successful in this area are: keep your eye on the “experience,” and “adoption.”

When you’re implementing a Product, you want to keep the user experience in mind and build in a way that will enhance user adoption. Another key thing to keep in mind is the big picture! Who are your stakeholders, and what are the dependencies?

Four aces from a deck of cards

What is the interview process/structure for a Product Manager role?

The general structure or interview process for a Product role focuses on:

  1. Getting to Know You type questions. Talk about your background in a story format. Give an understanding of what you’ve done and highlights of things that brought you to where you are today.
  2. Behavioral Questions that test your knowledge of general Product Mgmt skills, possibly scenario driven. For example, what would you do if you have stakeholders that have competing urgent priorities? How would you drive these conversations? Can you describe an experience of dealing with challenging stakeholders?
  3. Metrics and Mathematics! How would you measure a successful Production launch?

These are just examples. Take a look at resources that give you examples of the types of questions that can be asked in a Product interview and the types of responses.

What are the major things that you look for in a candidate who is applying for a PM Role?

Things I look for in a candidate are their experience and personality.

  • Experience: I look to see what type of technical experience the candidate has. For example, how many products have they had the opportunity to work with and in what timeframe? The candidate doesn’t need to have Salesforce experience, but its a big plus if they do (and you can gain this experience by going to Trailhead and taking courses for free), but if I see that a candidate has experience with other similar systems/products, that gives me an idea of how quickly this person can get up to speed.
  • Personality: When we hire a candidate, we want to make sure they’ll fit in. The best way to know this is by focusing in on the candidate’s personality and if they’re being authentic, or bringing their real self to the interview. My way of doing this is by breaking the ice in an interview so that I can actually see the person’s real self.
Pineapple wearing sunglasses against yellow background

Any final advice?

Bring your true self to any interview. Companies want to know who they’re hiring, so try to avoid imposter syndrome. Be yourself 🙂 

Product Podcast Season 7

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