How to Get An Interview for More Product Manager Jobs

When considering how to get an interview at the company they want to work for, many people try to apply to one position at a time. They customize their cover letter and resume each time. It seems obvious, but this is not the answer when asking how to get an interview!

This is not the right strategy because when you’re customizing and applying one at a time, you’re spending too much time on one application that recruiters may or may not even read — unless you have a background that actually matches one-to-one with the job description, the company, and the industry. And that’s difficult to do. If not, it’s likely that your resume and your application won’t even make it to the first page of their recruiting software.

Make Applying a Numbers Game

The key here is to avoid breaking momentum. When you apply for one position at a time, you’re losing momentum. Three and a half hours later, you only applied to maybe one or two positions and it becomes a demoralizing challenge.

Take a Business Development and Sales Approach

  1. Label the worksheet by the location or the date that you applied to the positions you’re about to list
  2. First Column: Put “Status”. This is where you will track it as Applied, Rejected, Interviewing, Followed Up.
  3. Second Column: Put “Position”. This is where you will copy the position that the job posting is asking for, whether it’s Product Manager, Senior Product Manager, Product Owner: B2B, etc. This will help when you get on the phone and you can quickly reference what position you applied to. Especially if they have multiple Product positions open
  4. Third Column: Put “Link”. This is the direct link to where you will apply. Make sure you find the actual site copy the job position link paste it onto where the Excel sheet is and once you get 50 or 30 then you want to apply to all the positions at the same time

Source out all of the positions directly from the company website even when you use LinkedIn, Glassdoor and all those other job boards, unless the companies use those job boards exclusively to manage their recruiting. You’ll know this when you try to go to their site, click on Careers or ‘We’re Hiring” and it takes you back to the job board posting.

Always Apply on the Company Site

  1. Recruiters are incentivized to look at their own internal recruiting software first before they go to sites like AngelList, Indeed, Monster, BuiltinNYC, and anywhere else that they posted. They pay money to each syndication of their job posting to these aggregators. They manage cost by saving on the referral fee if you came through those job boards
  2. Another reason is that when a position is already filled, the first thing they do is remove the posting from their own internal website. They’re not going to be bothered to take down this position from all these other aggregated sites because it’s added work. So you’ll end up spending a lot of time applying for positions that don’t exist.
  3. You want to be able to communicate that you found their position directly on their website because you are interested in it. You weren’t just randomly job hunting and you have a genuine interest in this position.

Before you go to apply on the website, prepare yourself for the application process by answering these questions:

  • What is an app or product that you like using? Why?
  • What is an app or product that you don’t like using? Why?
  • How would you improve the app or product that you like?
  • How would you improve the app or product that you don’t like?
  • In less than 150 words tell me something interesting about yourself

Save these questions in Notepad so the formatting doesn’t change and you can copy and paste directly from notepad to the text boxes that ask you these questions.

Focus on Quick-Wins

This includes companies that use job portals like Jobvite, Greenhouse, BambooHR, LinkedIn direct, Indeed, etc. As you’re applying to these positions, you’re going to find that many of them use the same types of software. You’re going to also find that software such as Taleo and ICMIS is extremely cumbersome. Don’t break your momentum when you get to those positions. Apply for them one at a time in the end or simply just copy and paste from a template that you’ve created for this specific software.

Gamify Your Application Success

Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up Methodology

First Follow Up: 5 Business Days After Application

For example, let’s just say that your email is jamestillman@gmail.com. Change your email to james.tillman@gmail.com. In the event that the company replied, the email will go back to the former. All you have to do is add a period anywhere in your Gmail address and you will be able to receive emails directly into your main Gmail account. A heads up: this works for Gmail, but it may not work for other email domains.

Second Follow Up: 10 Business Days After Application

Third Follow Up: 12–15 Business Days After Application

Be a disruptor! You can not wait indefinitely for them to respond. There may be multiple reasons why a company is not responding. They may not have urgency right now for a number of reasons. For example, another role might be more urgent than the Product Manager position you saw posted. The recruiter may be preoccupied and is not passing your information along. Another reason may be your resume is just trapped under an avalanche of resumes that are above yours. You have no control over any of this, but you do control your effort.

Here is exactly what you want to do: Look up the company page on LinkedIn and click on See all employees.

There will surely be many contacts on there, so you want to be sure that you are only focusing on contacts that are located in the city of the position you applied to. You will find this bar on top and click on All Filters.

If the company is large enough with there will surely be multiple offices you need to update the location of the position you want to land.

You also want to Type in Product under the Title search bar to only view contacts that are Product Managers at this company.

You will now see a list of people that are working as Product Managers in this organization. The people that you want to reach out to specifically are people with the title Chief, Head, Vice President, or Director of Product.

You want to connect with all of them and include a message where it says “Add a note”.

Here is how the message should read:

Hey X! I am reaching out because I applied to the Product Manager position you have posted twice on the company website and never heard back.

Can we chat for 15 minutes this week?

Your Name

We accomplished a few objectives in this one single message contained within the connect request.

First, you are showing this person respect for their internal process by stating you have applied directly on their company website, twice! Why? If somebody reached out to you on LinkedIn wanting to work at your current company right now, what is the first question you will likely ask this person? Probably something along the lines of, “Did you apply to the position already?”, because if the applicant’s information is not even inside the systems of the organization then any further conversation is irrelevant. Furthermore, it would probably be the first thing you suggest that other people do immediately if they have not done so already.

Second, since you have not heard back from the recruiter, that means you have not yet been rejected from the process. Every day there are applicants who get rejected and because they are such big fans of that company they find new ways to wiggle their way back in looking for how to get an interview. It is tasteless for someone to do so, but it does happen: you’re letting them know this isn’t the case with you.

Strip and Rip Methodology

But you are probably thinking if these companies are hiring for Product Managers; why is there no posting on a Job Board?

Working with Technical Recruiting and Staffing Agencies

How Staffing Agencies Work

In essence, recruiting agencies have resources most internal recruiters do not have because their end product is recruiting. Agency recruiters are incentivized to get you the most money possible because the more money they get you, the more money makes in commission. The commission structure varies from agency to agency and is also dependant on the recruiter’s standing within their own company. More seasoned recruiters are better skilled and thus earn more.

How to Get an Interview Through Recruiting Agencies

Inquire about the roles you interview for through Staffing Agencies. Understand that there agencies that specialize in staffing for Product Manager positions and those that do not. This is also dependant on the specific recruiter that you are working with. There are Recruiters that Product Gym has worked with in the past that our members have found to be very helpful: not all Technical Recruiters are out to put you in the wrong position.

How to Get an Interview: Your 7 Biggest Challenges

The initial challenge you will have is finding out where these other Product Manager openings are located.

Challenge 1: Where to Find Product Manager Positions?

The Solution: Create New Interview Funnels

There is no other choice: only 10 to 20% of the Product Manager positions that are posted on LinkedIn, Indeed, or Glassdoor are actually hiring. For another job board to add to your list, check out our exclusive Product Manager job board: we put this together using our insider knowledge and extensive PM network.

Challenge 2: Recruiters Don’t Respond to Your Application

Many times, a recruiter’s weekly deliverable is to hand over 3 to 8 resumes to a hiring manager before recruiting for another hiring manager. If you did not get a reply, then chances are they did not even review your information. Think about it, if you found 3 to 8 decent resumes within the first 29 resumes you sifted through 80 or more resumes in your inbox, would you be motivated to review the rest of the pile? The answer is probably not.

Another reason why recruiters do not respond to your application is that they are not serious about hiring, which leads us to:

Challenge 3: Companies Aren’t Serious About Hiring Product Managers

One of the biggest challenges in staffing is having to fill a role for somebody that just quit the organization. Companies spend a lot of time and more importantly “money” on recruiting, retaining, and developing their talent; so it always hurts the organization when somebody says they want to leave. Giving companies who just lost somebody they valued only 2 weeks to find another person either internally within the company or outside the company is not a realistic expectation.

In the case of Product Managers, this fact is doubly true. Hate it or love it, many professionals venture into Product Management to start their own businesses. They either have ideas that they do not know how to launch or are trying to figure out what their business idea will be while learning practical Product Management experience. Therefore, companies know when they hire Product Managers, that this person will most likely leave at some point. The question thus becomes, when are they leaving?

Your Solution:

The purpose of this article to provide clarity on what challenges hiring teams to have in recruiting for Product Manager roles and solutions you can use to work around these challenges.

Challenge 4: Companies Looking to Hire Don’t Post on Job Boards

A great question to ask on your next interview is, “How many resumes did you have to sort through before you found mine?” and “What is it about my background that made you want to schedule a call with me?” The answer to the first question is sure to be a lot.

Your Solution:

In fact, it is not even important whether they worked at those companies as Product Managers in the past because those companies might still hire Product Managers. Create a new spreadsheet and start building a list. Before long you will easily build up a list of 100 to 200 companies.

Next, search their website career page to see if they are hiring. If they are, go back to the standard protocol: apply and follow up.

If they do not have a position posted, that does not necessarily mean that this company is not hiring. It just means nobody has gotten around to posting the role. Hiring teams procrastinate on posting roles all the time.

Challenge 5: Companies Procrastinate on Posting Positions

Your Solution:

Hey (Manager Name),

I am reaching out to you because I am a big fan of what you guys are doing right now. I did not see a Product Manager position posted and wanted to inquire if you are guys planning to bring on anybody new.

I am also open to having a conversation with you guys even if you not currently looking for someone.

This message shows a lot of respect for the hiring team. It shows that you are actually interested in what they are doing rather than just trying to update your LinkedIn profile saying that you work there. In addition, it also shows that you have done your due diligence before reaching out: this shows even more interest.

There have been seven Product Gym senior members that have landed Product Manager jobs using this exact methodology. There are no guarantees, but at least you are increasing your chances and knowledge of how to get an interview through another funnel that most people would otherwise not go the extra mile for.

Challenge 6: Recruiters are the Last to Get Hired

Recruiters and Internal Talent Acquisition people do not produce revenue. Hence, they are the last to be hired in any startup. In established organizations, Internal Recruiters are the last to get the fancy computers, new Microsoft office, perks, and basically everything else. So, imagine a startup that just received funding. If none of the people in that startup have done any hiring in their previous careers, how are they going to hire new people? Often, newly funded startups will pay Staffing or Technical Recruiting agencies a fee to help them onboard much-needed talent.

Your solution:

Form a Google news alert for tech companies that just received funding in your local area. Use this message to reach out to them:

Hi Founder,

Congrats on securing X amount in Series ______. I am a big fan of what you guys are doing right now and would love to talk to you about possibly joining your Product team.

Can we chat Tuesday or Thursday / Monday or Wednesday (always space out the days to two days apart) at 11:30 am (this has proved to be a great time because people are waiting to go to lunch)?

Name

If you are living in a big city right now you are sure to generate an extra interview a week from this methodology. The best part though, if you are first then the competition will not be as fierce as a posted position. In all the techniques of how to get an interview, this one promises results. But we urge all of you to be consistent with this methodology.

Challenge 7: You Fall Through the Cracks

The whole recruiting process as a whole is flawed. Think about it! Hiring teams are reviewing your resume and in 2 to 5 minutes have to decide whether or not they want to have a 20- to 30-minute phone call with you, if they want to grill you for 3 to 5 in-person, and if they want to work with you for the next 18 to 24 months. There just is not enough time for the hiring side to really get to know you.

Your Solution:

Hey, I am a big fan of what you guys do! I saw a Product Manager opening and came here to ask you for an interview.

Be bold! Yes, this is kind of scary and there is no guarantee this is going to yield you interviews all the time, but we have seen this work before. A few months ago we had a Product Manager from WeWork present at our New York Campus. Our event staff clearly noticed that many people came because they are interested in joining WeWork as a Product Manager.

Make a list of all the Product Management Meetups there are each week and attend them. You can find these Meetups of course on Meetup.com, but there are other sites as well. Here is a list of other websites that would be aggregating not just Product Management, but also other technology Meetups:

How to Get an Interview With Product Gym

If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of Product Manager interviewing strategies, get in touch with us! We’re offering free career coaching sessions with our in-house team of PM Recruiter experts. We’d love to hear from you.

Want to be a Product Manager? Product Gym teaches you how to act like a PM, think like a PM, talk like a PM, and most importantly, how to interview like a PM.