What a pleasant interview experience overall [4.0/5.0]
How it started
Someone told me once that it is a good idea to explore other companies every once in a while to stay on top of interview skills and awareness of the current market value of my role. So I applied to Indeed via a referral I got by connecting with an Indeed employee on Teamblind, an anonymous community app for the workplace.
My Indeed connection asked me to send a paragraph about why I wanted to work at Indeed, my updated resume, and the roles I was interested to apply. I read through the job descriptions of the 3 roles I was interested in and tried to relate to them in my one paragraph. I also revised my resume to highlight experiences that might be more relevant than others. After a couple of days, she submitted my application to the internal job site. I then got emails notifying me that I got referred to the roles I chose and that I needed to complete the application.
Research on salary
While waiting for a recruiter to reach out to me, I research what compensation I should expect for the role. My go-to place for salary transparency is levels.fyi. Below is a snip of Indeed’s product manager levels. I was now equipped for any salary conversations with recruiters.
snip from levels.fyi
Once I submitted the applications, I waited about 2–3 weeks until I heard back from an Indeed recruiter. We set up a time for a brief phone call. During the call, the recruiter asked about my experience, how I heard of the company, and what I was looking for in my next role. She was delightful to speak to and told me some highlights of working at Indeed. For role-specific questions, she had to check with the hiring manager. Before the end of the call, she told me she will brief the hiring manager and get back to me within the next few days.
The following week, I got an email from the recruiter that the hiring manager wants to talk with me. So we set up a 4 call for later that week. The video call was using Indeed’s in-house video conferencing tool, which was surprisingly easy to use. The recruiter gave me a couple of pointers on what I should be prepared to answer. As with any hiring manager calls, they were focused on high-level questions aimed to gauge my experience, philosophy, and leadership style. The last 20 minutes were spent on a case study where I was given a feature and I had to analyze why the feature existed and what pain points it resolved for which user segments. The case study was very structured. My recommendation to candidates is to not spend too much time in one area. Glance through the steps and move on. This should be a fun back-and-forth exercise.
After a couple of days, I got an email from the recruiter that they moved on with another candidate due to my experience as a senior product manager managing other ICs in the software space (at that time, I was a product manager with less than 1 year of software experience). However, the recruiter recommended me a couple of L3 product manager roles. I was interested in one of them and the recruiter set up a call with the hiring manager. I was impressed by how the recruiter communicated the bad news and the good news. She framed it as if they were redirecting me for a better fit rather than telling me I was unqualified for the role. I was convinced at this point that they really care about the job seeker experience.
Hiring manager 2
I knew exactly what to expect in my second hiring manager call. The first part was to learn about my experience and the role. The second part was a case study where the hiring manager shared his screen to walk through a workflow of a feature set. He asked me several questions like who would benefit from these features, which area I would improve, and how I would assess the success of the product. The case studies were really practical and something that any product manager would have to go through every day.
Yay! The hiring manager wanted to move forward with the panel interview. I was set up for a 2-hour video call with the hiring manager and two product managers. Prior to this interview, the recruiter called me to tell me what to expect. The way the panel interview is structured is something I haven’t seen before. I was expected to work on a case study for the first hour individually. Then for the second hour, I was to join the panel to present my findings. During the start of the first hour, the hiring manager walked me through the case study and the questions I should touch on before leaving me to work individually. I worked through the problem using my own framework which was a big mistake! My recommendation is to stick to the structure and questions provided to you. Make sure you hit on all the questions even if they are not complete.
I did not get the green light to move on to the final round. In the email, I did not get any details but I knew exactly what to work on.
Here are my 4 takeaways from my interview performance:
Adapt your framework of solving problems to the company’s framework. Not the other way around! This way, your presentation will be much clearer and easier for the panels to follow you during the presentation.
Make sure you hit on all questions. Even if you don’t have a full solution, at least touch on how you might approach it.
Learn when to bend vs stand your ground. Product managers work with many people and there are times when they must be adamant but there are also times when they have to bend a little. The panels will ask you questions that will test you by creating these situations.
Make things simple. Your features must be simple to implement, adopt, and measure. Keep your 50k feet viewpoint to the side and come down to 10k viewpoint.
As always, after every interview, I take some time to reflect and gather takeaways so that I can be more self-aware of the areas I can improve on. All in all, the experience with Indeed was a pretty good one. I would try it again in the future.