Screening

Frameworks / Generic / Behavioral


Behavioral interview questions are about you and your work experience. During the phone screening call with the recruiter, you will be asked questions to evaluate your fit with the job description and your level of interest. Once you pass the recruiter call, the hiring team will ask you questions about your past experience across five different areas: leadership, challenges, successes, failures, and teamwork.

There are three basic questions a recruiter will ask you during a screening call, among others, depending on the company. You need to have strong and succinct answers to all of these three. Here are some frameworks to follow.

Tell Me About Yourself

You are making a pitch. Tell a compelling story about why this particular job is the next logical step in your career based on your background, experience, and interests. For example, see chapter 11 in Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell and Jackie Bavaro.

Your answer to this interview question should connect your experience with the job you are applying for. Tell a cohesive story about what you are good at and how you would be an excellent fit for the new role. Your story should provide highlights that would make the interviewer want to ask you for more details. Your pitch should be less than 3 minutes long.

One suggested structure is:

  • State your career theme (1-2 sentences) — something that summarizes who you are, in a way that is relevant to the product management role you are applying for.
  • Share items from your career that support your theme in chronological or reverse chronological order
  • Wrap up by proving that this job is a logical next step (1-2 sentences) — and include why you are uniquely qualified.

Do’s

  • Understand the description of the position you are applying for.
  • In your pitch, connect your experience and accomplishments to the position.

Don’ts

  • Don’t speak abstractly about your experience.
  • Don’t recite a laundry list of tasks you have done. Instead, focus on selected experiences where you learned something valuable and changed a product based on that learning.
  • Don’t use phrases or words or phrases that have become platitudes like “I am passionate about…”

Why do you want to work here?

For this interview question, your answer should demonstrate that you know precisely what the company does, what the role is about, and what you bring to the table.

Answer Structure

Structure your answers as bullet points. Start by saying, “There are three reasons why I want to work for your company.”

  • Firstly,…
  • Secondly,…
  • Thirdly…

Tips

  • Research the company and know its culture, business, and products.
  • Talk specifically about the product, company, or group that made you very interested in the position. For example, you could say: “I am fascinated by the advances Google is making in AI. The story about Deepmind’s AlphaGo program that beat a professional player for the first time was particularly interesting. This year, I have been studying machine learning because I want to understand better what other types of problems it can solve that could become products. For example, I built…, and that is one of the reasons I am interested in this position.”
  • Mention relevant experience—what experience or skills you have for the job.
  • Communicate passion—tell a story that shows enthusiasm for the company’s vision, for example.

Don’ts

Don’t give general answers like:

  • “Because I’ve heard Google has a great culture.”
  • “Because Google has changed the world.”

Why should we hire you?

This interview question is similar to the “Why do you want to work here?” question. Your answer should be a sales pitch. We suggest stating the following in your answer:

  • How you have the experience and skills to be a successful project manager,
  • Why you are a good fit for the particular role you are applying for,
  • And explain why you are a good fit for the company’s culture.

Suggested Structure

One approach is to start by saying, “There are three reasons why I am a great fit.” and then proceed with elaborating those three points.

  • Firstly, I have years of experience as a PM and consistent success in…
  • Secondly, I have the technical and quantitative background for…
  • And thirdly, I love the product! I am an extreme athlete and… (the company makes a sports product)

Tips

  • Research the company and know its culture, business, and products.
  • Understand the position’s requirements.
  • Target your examples to the job requirements.
  • Support your answers using real examples.