Overview Of Program Manager Interview Question Types
You can expect three broad types of questions in your program manager interviews.
Here’s a breakdown of the frequency with which these question types generally appear during program manager interviews at leading tech companies. The numbers and categories below are based on real interview data from Glassdoor, along with our analysis here at IGotAnOffer:
- Behavioral questions test your ability to work effectively with cross-functional teams. You’ll be asked questions about how you overcame team conflicts, troubleshot issues, etc.
- Program management questions test how good you are at delivering programs. You’ll be asked questions about program management processes and skills, like planning and leading project teams.
- Role-specific / technical questions test your role-specific knowledge and experience. The exact questions you’ll face here depend on the role and functional area where you’ll be working, and could include questions that test your technical depth.
You’ll notice that there is considerable focus on behavioral and program management questions across all the companies listed above. However, you’ll also notice that some companies emphasize different questions more than others.
For instance, Facebook tends to focus more on behavioral questions, whereas Google focuses more on program management questions.
To get more insight into the process and the questions that are asked at a specific company, take a look at one of our company guides below:
How Do You Build And Maintain Functional Relationships With Colleagues Working In Other Locations
Microsoft is an international company with employees scattered all around the globe. Plus, many Microsoft jobs are remote, allowing the person in the position to work without ever setting foot in the office.
Hiring managers want to know that the candidates they choose can coordinate effectively with colleagues with ease, including those they may never meet in person. That makes this question incredibly important for a surprising number of positions.
Ive found that communication is the key to building and maintain all professional relationships, particularly when working with colleagues in other locations. In my last role, I made use of a wide variety of platforms to remain connected with my coworkers. I found collaboration software to be incredibly beneficial, allowing us to have off-the-cuff discussions, share documents, and more.
However, since having strong bond can boost our effectiveness, I also took additional steps to forge meaningful connections. For example, I coordinated monthly video-based team gatherings that were more casual. This allowed us to have a virtual water cooler-esque experience, adding a social element that made us feel like a cohesive unit.
How To Answer Microsoft Interview Questions
Alright, we know that youre here for example Microsoft interview questions, and we are going to get to that. But first, lets pause for a moment and focus on something else thats ridiculously important: how to handle the interview questions youll face when trying to secure one of the available jobs at Microsoft.
Why would you want to do that? Its simple, really. Microsoft hires people for all kinds of roles. Along with tech positions , the company has administrative, financial, human resources, and a ton of other specialist positions throughout the company. Its a giant of a business, so it has to dot the is and cross the ts, ensuring every base is covered.
And why does that matter?
Well, it means not everyone faces the same Microsoft interview questions. While everyone may encounter certain basics, the majority of your interview will focus on the role you want to land. For example, tech interviews are going to differ from administrative interviews thats just a fact.
So, thats why learning how to answer Microsoft interview questions is so ridiculously important. When you have a great technique, youre more agile, allowing you to craft great responses that speak to the job you want with greater ease.
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Whats Your Favorite Part About The Job
I love working with people and building consensus. It feels good when I get to talk to customers and we reach an understanding about how my product can serve them better. I enjoy when I can take that feedback along with product data to create alignment on what my team should build. Holding a meeting with multiple stakeholders and getting to see the nods of agreement as we develop a collective vision of success is energizing.
Its also great to look back after a feature has been shipped and recognize the impact that has been made for customers. It feels good when Im reviewing customer feedback and the comments express gratitude for my feature and how it helped them.
What Is The Most Common Reason Projects Fail
Hiring managers want to avoid failure. That means hiring a program manager that understands what can cause it, allowing them to sidestep it to the best of their ability.
If I had to pick a single reason, Id have to say poor communication. When the lines of communication breakdown, the resulting situation invites failure. For example, team members may not be on the same page, causing one group to prioritize one aspect while others concentrate in a different direction. Details about changes might not be properly shared, slowing progress and potentially requiring some to redo work simply because they werent informed that they needed to take a new direction. All of this elevates costs and lengthens the timeline, increasing the odds of failure. But, with solid communication, much of this can be avoided.
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Can You Provide Some Key Strategies That You Use At Microsoft To Analyze Customer Pain Points
Different teams use different methods as there are vast customer segments that the teams interact with internal, external, direct, indirect, partner, channel etc.
In the old Microsoft world, regional leaders were representative of customer pain points. Now, regional leads are involved, however, there is a subset or group of customers that are identified and made part of the early stages of pain point definition, leading to scope/MVP definition and included in milestones for feedback in the product development cycle. Earlier Product teams didnt necessarily have direct access to the customer.
The Product Manager Life
This useful talk by a former Product Manager for Microsoft gives you an in-depth overview into what its like to be a PM. This is especially helpful if youre moving into your first product role, but also if this is your first time working at Microsoft. Every company does PM a little differently, so its good to get some insights before diving in.
You may also be interested in: Introvert or Extrovert: Which is Better for Product Management?
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Tips To Negotiate Program Manager Salary At Microsoft
- Do not share the current compensation you are receiving.
- Do not share the compensation you are expecting.
- Invest in building a good rapport with the hiring manager.
- Do not insist on receiving offers in writing.
- Ask for a relocation package if it applies to your case.
- Compare your offer with publicly available data.
Salary negotiation is a must-have skill. Read The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation at FAANG for Software Engineersto hone your negotiation skills and get an offer that matches your value.
How Does Someone From A Program Management/analytics Side Switch Over To Product Management What Are The Skills To Be Highlighted That Will Make Me Relevant
I would highlight the skills that show how you bring relevancy to data. Also, how to catch trends in data. What were the unnoticed business problems you solved through insights that you brought to the table? Have you streamlined the dashboards to better serve your customer?
Tell a story around that. If you havent done any of these then I would advise you to pick up a business problem in regards to analytics and solve it for them. Take that story to your interview. That journey will speak volumes about you.
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What Do You Feel Are The Key Elements Of A Pms Go
Readiness and Landing are key components to any Product Manager. A key element for me is to start early start building your go-to-market strategy as soon as you have defined the scope/MVP and then Engineering work can kick off. One of my managers said, it doesnt matter how good of a product you build if you dont land it appropriately, all effort is wasted. And I truly believe in the statement as I have seen huge initiatives fail because the Go-To-Market strategy wasnt firmed up upfront. It has a direct impact on adoption.
What Are They Looking For
Ill disclaim that I do not know what they are looking for. This is just what I think they are looking for.
- Programming questions
Finally How Helpful Do You Think Your Mba Has Been Towards Your Pm Career
My MBA was extremely helpful in helping me transition from engineering, while providing a foundation of business knowledge to complement my technical background. The MBA provided me with tools to pitch my transferable skills and a network to help me land and succeed in interviews.
Additionally, the MBA taught me how to analyze business opportunities, develop business strategies, and collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams. I use these skills daily to be effective as a PM and an MBA is just one way to gain them.
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview. Check out my website CareerFair where you can learn about jobs by people who’ve done them.
You can also read case studies about tech careers. Don’t forget to connect with .
Previously published at
Intimidated Dont Be Recruiters Share Tips To Help You Succeed
If youre excited about the possibility of landing a technical job at Microsoft, chances are you have a passion for coding, solving problems and the incredible things technology can do for people around the world.
A technical interview is your chance to show you have the skills to match.
But theres no question that coding on the spot, in front of the very people you hope to work for, can be daunting. What can you expect? How do you prepare? What are your interviewers looking for? Several Microsoft recruiters agreed to share their best tips including a few surprising ones to help you ace it.
- Seema Chandrasekharan, Recruiter at Microsoft
- Abby Arvanitidis, Recruiter at Microsoft
- Kenji Yamaguchi, Sr. Talent Aquisition Manager at Microsoft
- Kenji Yamaguchi and Seema Chandrasekharan on the Microsoft Redmond campus
Hiring managers generally want to see how you think, not just that you can, says Kenji Yamaguchi, a senior talent acquisition manager whose team recruits for various roles across Microsoft Office. They also want to see that you care about the quality of the product you ship and the experience our customers will have.
Technical interviews can vary depending on what team or role youre applying for, but they often involve questions related to problem-solving, analytical thinking and computer science fundamentals, as well as an open-ended problem youll solve through coding.
Getting ready for the big day
The coding portion of your interview
Your ability to innovate
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What Does A Non
I have no meetings! I may spend the day refining my specs, scheduling talks with customers and planning our roadmap. On days like this I like to do big picture thinking and develop the vision for my feature area based on new market research or customer feedback. My vision document includes details on what I think are the biggest opportunities for my team to improve our product for customers.
Sometimes Ill block my calendar for an entire week with back to back interviews or focus groups with customers. I develop a combination of questions, design mocks, prototypes, and surveys, then partner with User Research, Design, Engineering, and PM peers to execute a research study. I use the results of these various activities to discover the biggest challenges my customers face and add new ideas to my product roadmap and vision document.
What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self Or What Do You Wish You Had Known Earlier
Great question. What I learned quickly, thankfully was that you need to draw a line in the sand. As a PM, you have to be the person to create the rough draft of the vision/road mapping/feature list and give teams something tangible/real to noodle and comment on. Take an idea from the conference room to the discussion to paper and to a live product. But it all starts with your vision. You are the creator. As PM you need to LEAD.
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How To Answer Program Manager Interview Questions
First, dont confuse program managers with project managers or product managers. While the job titles look ridiculously similar, and the roles do have quite a bit in common, they arent actually the same. Technically, they all oversee projects, but the niches can vary.
Product managers focus on products. Project managers might work in any niche, depending on their employer. But their work tends to focus on the project at hand, and not on the big strategic picture.
Program managers usually oversee a group of projects , and each one is connected by a common element, like a single company goal. Additionally, they are responsible for guiding strategy, keeping everyone moving toward the right target.
MIKE’S TIP:While some duties are alike, there are nuances to each role.
Now thats out of the way, but before we go over the program manager interview questions, lets pause for a moment to talk strategy. You need the right approach. That way, if the hiring manager asks you something unexpected, you can adapt.
Start by doing some research.
The program manager job description is a great place to start, as it spells out what the company considers must-haves. Couple that with a look at the companys mission and values statements, and you can find out a lot about the skills and traits the hiring manager wants to find.
What Steps Do You Take To Avoid Scope Creep
In the world of projects, scope creep is like the ax-wielding maniac lurking in the shadows in horror movies it can spring out at you quickly and completely destroy everything. Since program managers oversee several projects at once, keeping scope creep in check is essential. Otherwise, a project can careen out of control.
Hiring managers want to know that you actively prevent scope creep. That way, the odds favor you finishing on-time and on-budget.
For managing scope creep, vigilance is key. However, it also requires critical thinking. After all, every project shifts a bit along the way, so having the ability to separate scope creep from genuine necessary adjustments is essential. For every project, I make sure all of the parameters are well-defined before it moves forward. Additionally, I keep the lines of communication open, both with team members and stakeholders, establishing myself as a primary point of contact for questions and change requests. This allows me to remain informed of any requests that fall outside of the original scope, enabling me to step in and assess the situation as quickly as possible. Then, we can work together to determine whether a change is appropriate or needed, and, if it isnt, I can address the situation appropriately.
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Also By Gayle And Jackie: Cracking The Pm Career
|With Cracking the PM Interview focused on product management interviews, Cracking the PM Career focuses on thriving in the PM role.”Our goal for Cracking the PM Career is to be the guide we never had. This book shares the skills, frameworks, and practices that my peers and I have painstakingly learned and honed over the years so that PMs can spend less time reinventing the wheel. It delves into the mystery and ambiguity surrounding career progression so that PMs can focus on the right areas and reach their potential. It connects the dots on how to develop each important PM skill so that mentors can point their mentees towards actionable feedback.”|
Stage : Phone Interview
Your first hurdle will be a phone interview with a recruiter or a hiring manager. This stage is the easiest, but its also the most crucial. Getting through to the next round means connecting with potential team mates, and those connections will be crucial for ever getting hired.
This interview is just to check that you tick all of the boxes required by the product teams. The recruiter is the perfect person to ask about technicalities of the job like location, schedule, remote work opportunities, benefits, etc. They may not necessarily be experts in the software youll be using or the project youll be working on, so save those questions for later down the line.
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Master 5 Great Stories
You can easily ace behavioral questions with some preparation. Create a grid with common behavioral questions as columns. These can include leadership, teamwork, successes, challenges and failures. Add significant work experience and projects as rows. Finally, fill each cell with one or more stories.
Select five great stories that best represent why you are an excellent PM candidate. Each story must have a substantial Situation, Action and Result. You must have at least one story for each behavioral question type. Practice these stories with friends to polish the narration.