Wrapping Up And Next Steps
Many people want to break into technical program management. The role of a TPM is one that will continue to grow in demand as the need for cross-team and cross-functional collaboration increases. Landing a TPM role will require experience and preparation, but were here to help! If you want to get started preparing for your TPM interview, I highly recommend checking out Hacking the TPM Interview.
This course was written by an experienced TPM who has worked with multiple FAANG companies. Youll learn about what it takes to pass the difficult TPM interview, as well as get some practical advice on how to thrive in the role.
S To Becoming A Microsoft Program Manager
The route to becoming a Microsoft program manager can be competitive, but it isn’t undoable.
Here are the common steps you can expect from the application process:
Application: Your best bet is reaching out directly to a program manager or a Microsoft recruiter on LinkedIn. Try to research the technology or product that you are most interested in and contact a program manager currently working in that field.
Interviews: You can typically expect three interviews before the final decision is made:
Hiring committee review: After all interviews are completed, your performance will be evaluated by the hiring committee to determine whether you are a good fit for the Microsoft program manager role.
How Did You Get Your Start As A Tpm
I was in the Quality Assurance side of the technology in the beginning of my career, and then at some point I started to execute several programs on a bigger scale, not just within QA focus. I was partnering with our engineering teams, product managers, making efficient processes of delivery, partnering with the customer support and delivering product releases to a market.
In one of my management positions I was running three different projects within a program, and I really liked that cross-functional leadership, partnership and collaboration. So, at some point in my career I just changed my title to be more aligned with what I do and what I am passionate about. So this is a story about how I became a TPM.
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What Kind Of Person Is Best Suited For A Technical Program Management Position
While the TPM title itself clears all key components of the role that are important as T-Technical, P-Program/process execution , M-Management/Leadership, I will also add strategic thinking, great communication, and people skills as a best fit for this role.
Leadership and people skills are the key points for success because of the nature of the job. TPMs have to work with many people. They need to be really good listeners and exceptional communicators. They need to be concise and to the point. That’s really important.
TPM should also be a strategic thinker and should be able to evaluate and measure program impact that can help in prioritization and alignments toward the company goals. In a lot of cases it may include hard decisions, but prioritization and healthy judgement are a key to success for fast paced environments.
Transition From Tpm > Pm : Seize Your Opportunity When You See It
I moved back to NY during my time as a TPM, working for a manager that I shared my wants of transitioning into a PM position. I was a TPM for the team when their PM left for another team. There was now a PM opening for a position that I knew I could do. I approached my manager and asked him to support me interviewing for the role. I ended up getting his support, and after a few weeks of practicing for the interview, I succeeded. It was a good mix of being in the right place at the right time, and jumping on an opening when I saw it.
To Summarize: Seize your opportunity when you see it .
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Interview With Former Facebook Tpm Liana Gevorgyan
We had the opportunity to speak with Liana Gervorgyan. She’s currently a Senior TPM at WeWork and has previously held Senior TPM positions at Facebook and provided consulting to MIO Partners.
She has over 15 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies and tech startups with all-around expertise in program management, technical project lifecycle, and value-added leadership.
We asked her a few questions about her background, why TPM is important, and who is best suited for a TPM role.
What Types Of Programs Does A Tpm Generally Lead
TPMs are more needed for cross-functional cross-team dependent programs. Like migrations, integrations, systems decommissioning, disaster recovery, capacity planning, performance optimization, DC/AI solutions integrations, software projects delivery are all examples of technical programs a TPM could lead.
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Data Specialist : Become Invaluable
After six months, a full-time position opened on my team. I interviewed for the role and landed it. I was already doing the job since I was asking for more challenging work, which made it a lot easier. I followed the same playbook I had as a contractor. I executed well on any task and then asked for more challenging work.
A key thing in this stage was becoming invaluable by figuring out and managing work no one else wanted to take on. For my team, it meant figuring out timelines on complex data labeling work. The labeling took longer than expected because we didnt have sound capacity plans in place. Once I figured out a system to make project timelines, I became invaluable to my Engineering Manager. He was on the hook for reporting timelines upwards to our Product Director.
To Summarize: Become invaluable
How To Answer Behavioral Questions Using The Star Framework
These types of questions are answered using the STAR framework:
|What happened in the ende.g. you got an award/promotion, the project launched on time and the company earned $XXX
|In the end, the project launched according to my plan. I got lots of visibility within the VP team and a promotion. Based on conservative estimations by the revenues team, the company saved at least $10M by launching before our competitors.
Please note the following:
- Prepare 3-5 answers using the STAR framework before the interview and write them down
- Your answers should not be longer than 2 minutes
- Remember to use I instead of we in your answer, because the interviewer is interested on the actions that you took and not on what the team did
You can find lots of resources about these questions on the internet , so I wont go deeper into these questions. Here are some good links to start with:
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Transition To Technical Program Manager : When You Encounter A Roadblock Find An Alternate Route
After two years as a Data Specialist, I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to be a Product Manager, but I was still in an entry-level role with no Product Management experience under my belt. Luckily, Facebook had a Rotational Product Manager Program geared towards entry-level Product Managers. This was perfect for me! I had an interview scheduled, I practiced many questions, and on the day of I completely froze. I couldnt connect the problems I practiced to what the interviewer was asking me. A recruiter called me the next week and confirmed this. I felt embarrassed. I had a lot of help practicing, I felt I had not only let those folks down but myself down too. I wanted to bury my head in the sand, but I resolved to be flexible, and think of other ways to get PM experience.
The two key interview loops for a PM are Product Sense and Execution. I needed to get more experience in these two areas so I could hone these skills and be more prepared the next time. There was another role at Facebook called Technical Program Manager. This role had a heavy execution focus and some exposure to Product Strategy. As s a plus the role would allow me to deepen my technical knowledge.
My current team had an opening for a Technical Program Manager role. I interviewed for the role and succeeded.
To Summarize: Be flexible, find an alternate route if the first one doesnt work out.
Project & Personnel Management
All TPMs must coordinate several interrelated technical projects across the many teams that are involved. They must develop their program’s roadmaps and strategies while also leading all the teams that ultimately execute them. This is where great people skills come into play, allowing TPMs to work with various teams, influence and get buy-ins in various situations, make strategic decisions, and to be able to get the team’s trust. Previous experience managing people may be very helpful in this regard.
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How I Went From An Entry
Five years ago, I felt lost. I switched industries and roles a few times , but nothing stuck. I decided to take an entry-level contractor job at Facebook while I studied for the GRE and applied to graduate school.
Once I was at Facebook, everything clicked. I loved working in an engineering-driven culture, I thrived working cross-functionally and rallying team members around a common goal. I knew in my first six months, that I wanted to be a Product Manager . It would take me about five years, Id fail my first PM interview, but eventually, I got there.
Below, is my journey of going from an entry-level contractor to a Product Manager at Facebook. Ill talk about what I did at each step, what I learned, and how it brought me closer to my goal.
What Is The Role Of A Technical Program Manager
Are you interested in making the leap into becoming a technical program manager ?
You may be intrigued by the exciting job descriptions and lucrative salaries. But you also want to learn a little more about what it means and what it takes to be a technical program manager before you dive in headfirst.
We had the opportunity to interview Liana Gevorgyan, a senior technical program manager at WeWork, and formerly at Facebook as a senior technical program manager. She gave us an insider’s look into the world of technical program management, and we’re more than happy to share.
So let’s get to it.
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How To Answer Program Sense Interview Questions
Ownership & Status Quo
So, you want to ace your technical program management interview. Youre in the right place! Introducing the Exponent TPM Course – your best ticket to a successful TPM interview.
As the name suggests, a critical part of technical program management is, of course, the managing of programs. That is managing technical processes designed to actualize the goals of an organization.
A TPM’s “program sense” is their capability to comprehend and build upon these technical programs.
Ultimately, there are four main aspects to program sense. These are:
A cornerstone of managing programs is managing the people involved in them. This means that TPMs must know how to effectively influence these teams to achieve the program’s goals.
As such, you should expect program sense questions to evaluate how you as a candidate can navigate all the stakeholders of a program.
How do you pitch your ideas around these programs to the teams involved in them?
Navigating Technical Dependencies
A centerpiece of a TPM’s role is navigating through technical dependencies. This is especially important considering TPMs are usually tasked with driving deadlines and business processes to completion.
A crucial piece of a TPM’s program sense is knowing how to best work around technical constraints.
Data Labeler : Flawless Execution
I moved to California to take a three-month entry-level contractor role at Facebook. Contractor roles tend to be for a set time span, and lack the benefits of being a full-time employee . The role was itself tedious. I answered yes/no questions for thousands of pieces of content. The work wasnt thrilling but I took it seriously and executed it quickly. When I finished I asked for more challenging work. Doing the first let people know I was capable and willing to work on something at 100% even if I felt it was a menial task. Doing the second showed I was hungry to learn and opened the door for new opportunities.
The projects thrown my way were team-level process improvements. Working on this allowed me to work side-by-side with my manager, and learn her priorities. This helped me identify new opportunities where I could lean in.
To summarize: Take tasks seriously and execute flawlessly!
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Salary Negotiations After A Job Offer
Did you get a job offer and you want to maximize the compensation that you are being offered? If so, then you have 2 main ways:
Types Of Tpm Interview Questions
System Design: These interview questions evaluate the ‘technical’ in technical program management. The responsibilities of a technical program manager are a little more big picture than that of a software engineer. For example, these questions are typically focused on system design. In many instances, TPM candidates are asked to think through and design a product’s system architecture.
- Program Sense: As the title suggests, another critical piece of the TPM role is managing programs. These kinds of questions evaluate your ability to think and work through technical dependencies, product context, execution strategy, and impact on a team.
- Cross-functional Partnership: As we mentioned, technical program managers sit at a crossroads between many different teams and departments. Cross-functional partnership questions, then seek to discover your capability at managing these cross-functional relationships.
- Behavioral: Behavioral questions are common in many interviews. Chances are, you’ve been asked plenty of them interviewing for your previous roles. Nevertheless, behavioral interview questions are meant to get to know you better based on how you performed in past roles and situations.
Below, you’ll find several sample questions for each category. We recommend practicing one type of question at a time. That way, you’ll get a better idea of your particular strengths and weaknesses.
We also recommend brushing up on key concepts in our technical interview cheat sheet.
Why Should I Sign Up For This Course What Are The Advantages
Planning & Strategic Thinking
Program Management positions are deeply strategic in nature, with their focus being on long-term, big picture initiatives intended to meet an organization’s business goals. TPMs must be able to develop programs that can accomplish some aspect of a business’s larger strategy. And, as such, an enthusiasm for high-level planning and strategic thinking is the cornerstone of being a technical program manager.
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Whats The Best Part Of Being A Tpm
You get the chance to work with a lot of smart people. You really need to learn fast, and you’re in a continuous learning process. Being a TPM you need to move fast, collaborate, and you’re striving to be the best at whatever you’re doing. The level of Impact that I make and that continuous growth is what really inspires me.
And that about sums up the TPM role. If you have a knack for managing both a company’s people and its technology, then technical program management may be a perfect career for you.
The role is complex, requiring a collection of both soft and hard skills in terms of leadership, management, communication, technical expertise, and strategy. A TPM may have several responsibilities in their portfolios while working alongside several teams.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in pursuing, check out Exponent’s technical program management interview course to learn all about TPM interviews and land your dream job as a technical program manager!
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Deep Understanding Of A Business Goals
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a successful TPM must have a deep understanding of the goals and objectives of their company. Otherwise, the TPM would not be in the position to develop and deploy programs that would actually result in success and create an impact. TPMs must be prepared to have an intimate understanding of their organization’s particular goals, both big and small, to be most effective in their role as a technical program manager. Along similar lines, domain expertise is also a crucial piece of successful strategy definition and execution. Aspiring TPMs should always be sure to gain deep knowledge in their company’s particular domain to best prepare themselves for the role.