This article brings together a post I shared on Linkedin in September 2023 and the questions I received in DMs. Thank you for taking the time to read and engage with my content.

Where are we now?

It’s September 2023.

I’m about to hit my one-year mark at Mastercard and thought it was a good time to share some insights from different #recruitment processes I went through last year.

The structure of recruitment processes

🏬 Most recruitment processes consisted of four meetings. Most of them took place online, but some required face-to-face interactions.

Here’s what it looked like:

✅ Quick chat with a recruiter over the phone or online – Google Meet, MS Teams, Zoom, third-party apps (15-30 minutes)

✅ Talk with a manager or a technical test (30-60 minutes)

✅ Another technical or managerial chat (30-60 minutes)

✅ Final conversation (10-15 minutes)

  1. The first chat was mostly about my resume, past jobs, why I was looking, and what I wanted next. Salary expectations often came up here. Interviews were mostly conducted by agency recruiters. There wasn’t a lot of room to discuss #productmanagement stuff.
  2. The next step varied. It could be a deeper talk about the company and the job with a manager or a technical chat with a team. This was where we got into the details of the role and the company’s goals. Two times I was involved in a game and role-playing (that was a great experience!).
  3. The third step was similar to the second, just mixed up a bit.
  4. The final talk was straightforward – a decision to hire or decline the application.

Not all my interviews followed this pattern. Some ended early because they chose someone else, put hiring on hold (quite frequent back then), found our expectations didn’t match (salary, contract type, responsibilities), or simply didn’t get back to me.

Interestingly, some roles labeled as “Product Manager” turned out to be more about sales or project tasks.

Let’s wrap it up a little bit

I’ve taken part in recruitment processes for both large corporations and small startups, from well-known brands to emerging unknowns. Whenever I was in an interview, I felt empathy from the recruiters.

Many of my applications went without a response, but that’s the nature of job hunting 🙂

For anyone considering or actively seeking a new job, here’s my advice: prepare thoroughly for interviews. Review the company’s official website, understand its mission and values, test company products (if applicable), read opinions from media outlets or current employees, familiarize yourself with the job requirements and responsibilities, and whenever possible, apply directly.

Questions from DM

First of all – thanks for the response in the DMs! I didn’t expect additional questions about my job hunt for a #ProductManager position last year.

I’ve taken the liberty to compile the questions and answers and publish them below.

How did companies respond to my application?

If you’re job hunting, remember it’s a process, and many of your applications might go unanswered. It could be as many as 3/4 of all your applications.

That’s normal. It’s often not about you but due to the high volume of applications, internal recruitment processes, automated filtering systems, lack of resources or time, or recruitment freezes.

Here are some statistics:

  • Companies that confirmed receipt of the application via email, without any further information – 37%
  • Companies that rejected my application with a generic message – 35%
  • First and/or second interview (company overview, job description, introduction) – 9%
  • Third interview (deep dive into product management and/or product) – 13%
  • Final interview – 7%

How did the role-playing during the recruitment interview go?

I participated in two interview games:

  1. The first involved playing a Product Manager approached by two key stakeholders. Each had a feature they wanted in the next sprint. With limited resources, I had to decide: choose one feature, both, none, or add them to the backlog. After deciding, one stakeholder escalated the matter to the CEO, leading to a discussion with the CEO, and another set of challenges/questions.
  2. The second scenario was about planning work with the team for the next sprint. Participants included product team members and stakeholders. My role was to ask pertinent questions to decide the direction. The exercise tested team collaboration and whether I was a team player.

How did I fare?

  • The first scenario went well. I quickly asked questions and assessed the evidence for two features. There were a few challenges included: the first feature was vital for our biggest client, while the other could attract many smaller clients.
  • The second scenario didn’t go as smoothly. With many participants, I couldn’t engage everyone. Stress, time constraints, and striving for the best solution affected my performance.

Did you have to prepare a presentation?

As I recall I had to prepare a presentation in the form of a pitch deck. I was asked to prepare some sort of “sales” presentation (mission/vision – problem/scale – product/solution – target group – monetization models – plans). It took me one day to prepare it with research.

Were there any challenging questions?

Most of the questions were about my professional experience, plans (where you see yourself in 1-5 years), opinions on the best and worst products, sharing ideas for improving a specific product, challenges, and failures, or about various stages of product development (discovery, delivery, growth). There were no unusual questions like – what kind of soup are you? 😊

In several interviews, there were questions about conflict resolution, work and time management, KPIs and other metrics, prioritizing techniques, ways of dealing with stress, and cooperation with people from different cultural backgrounds, and I must admit, these were very relevant questions.

Final note

Looking at it from the outside – on one hand, companies are looking for someone with the right qualifications and experience, but on the other hand, it’s also about ensuring that this person mentally fits into the team, shares similar values, and can handle various life situations. Remember that.

Sometimes, it’s all (or mostly) about the chemistry 😊

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