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Starbucks interview experience for a product manager technical role

Rating [3.0/5.0] How I landed an interview and my result after 9 long interviews…


This was my schedule for my final round of virtual onsite interviews with Starbucks for a technical product manager role. I have to say, it was pretty intense. If you plan to apply to Starbucks for a PM role, this short read might be helpful.

Let’s talk about where product management lives within Starbucks. Starbucks did not seem to have a standalone organization for product management. So the role that I applied to was within the Payments organization, which to me felt heavily business driven rather than engineering driven. Now, I know Starbucks also has a technology division but I had the feeling that the brains were within the business org and then the technology team for execution. I could be wrong but this was what I gathered from my conversations with directors and a VP at Starbucks.

How I landed an interview

LinkedIn. Yup, I sent out a bunch of connection requests to people who went to the same school as I did and who worked at Starbucks. I had several matches and one of them was a director of digital customer experiences at Starbucks. This is the exact LinkedIn note I sent when connecting.

Hi xyz! A Starbucks contact guided me to you for the product manager role. I am a product manager with global launch experiences paired with technical knowledge of CS. I very much enjoy the company values and culture. I would like to discuss more if you have time.

Notice how this note shows that I did my research by asking a contact at Starbucks to find the hiring manager for a particular job posting.

I got this message back from HM right away.

Hi zyx— I would love to chat with about the open role on my team. Ironically, my 9am (PST) meeting for tomorrow morning just cancelled. Any chance you could chat then? Thanks, xyz

My call with the HM was super easy, informal, and helpful in learning more about the role. I also got to talk about my previous experiences. The HM encouraged me to officially apply to the role and that a recruiter will reach out to me to schedule interviews.

Recruiter call

My call with the recruiter was mostly about salary expectations and logistics.

First round interviews

I had a call with two people. One was a product manager that I would be replacing (he was planning for paternity leave) and I don’t remember the other one. We had great conversations about the role and product experiences. I remember one person asked me about the difference between KNN and k means. He also asked how to explain API to a 5-year-old. After the interviews, I waited for the next steps.

Final virtual onsite interview

The final interviews were 6 rounds and spread apart 3 days. This felt really dragging and long. I don’t think I rested well during the weekends. I don’t want to get into details of the actual interviews but I do want to highlight my observations.

Observation 1: interview as a whole felt fragmented. I had to context switch constantly by talking with director-level individuals from various functions

Observation 2: little structure to the interview. After brief introductions, most of the questions were about if I had experience or how I can bring value to the team. There were multiple rounds where I had the same questions.

Observation 3: This role specifically was very much business-focused. There was little to no discussion on technical knowledge.

Conclusion

Like with any interview, I came out with many learnings. I learned about how to present myself when talking to directors to VP-level individuals. I mastered how to introduce myself thanks to 7 different interviews. I learned that I don’t need to try to bend myself to fit into the role. And that it is much easier to fit the role to me.

How I prepared for the interviews

These are affiliate links and will help me support my blog!

Product manager interviews: Exponent.

If you are looking for a one-stop shop for product manager interviews, Exponent is the best bet. I have subscribed to them and used them to watch 20+ hours of content, go over the interview question bank and responses from peers, and practice mocks.

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