PRODUCTHEAD: Tricksy interviews

PRODUCTHEAD: Tricksy interviews

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

subterranean homesick product manager


Qualifying yourself to be a product manager

Finding a product manager job

Janna’s advice on how to get into product management

Landing and starting a new product manager job

What it’s like working at a startup

Job fairs and job boards


This week I’ve pulled together a few things to help with the job hunt.

Sometimes s**t happens to the best of us. A good friend of mine, and an exemplary product manager to boot, found himself looking for a new job after the incoming CEO loudly declared he didn’t believe in product management as a practice.

This got me thinking about my experiences on both sides of the interviewing table.

When I interview prospective product managers, I want to know three main things:

  • whether they understand product management;
  • whether they approach problems with the right mindset; and
  • why specifically they want to be a product manager in that particular organisation.

I don’t go in for abstract exercises like, “how would you estimate the number of gas stations in America?” or “how would you prioritise this list of items in a backlog?”

The first kind would at best only tell me a little about your abstract reasoning skills, but little about your ability as a product manager.

If I was the candidate, I’d be hard-pressed to ignore the existence of the internet, Google and other data mining tools to get a reasonably accurate estimate for the number of gas stations.

The second is impossible to answer as it stands (in my view) unless you just want the candidate to roll some dice to decide.

If it was me, I’d need to ask lots of “why” questions about the backlog items first to establish some kind of context and evidence on which to base my decisions.

But maybe they’re meant to be trick questions and point is for the candidate to call out the absurdity of the question and respond with pragmatism―I don’t know.

What I do know is that lots of good people are finding themselves out of work. If you’d like me to look over your résumé, just reply with it, and I’ll do my best to get some pointers back to you quickly.

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

So you want to be a product manager?

Product veteran Teresa Torres pulls together some useful articles by her and others to cover various aspects of getting a job as a product manager.

Yes. Yes, I would like to be a product manager


How to qualify yourself for a product manager job

How to solve the age-old conundrum: in a job market that seemingly always demands experienced product managers, how do you gain experience in the first place?

How to gain experience


Janna Bastow’s advice on how to get into product management

Jason Shah interviews Janna Bastow, co-founder of ProdPad, Mind The Product and all-round product legend.

A product manager who builds software for product managers


Landing and starting your product management job

I’m running a series of four live, conference-style sessions on Tuesdays in October.

The fourth session in the series is an in-depth talk covering how to successfully prepare and apply for, land and start your product manager job.

Each session is USD $20 to attend, and right now if you buy tickets to all four, you’ll get 25% off.


What’s it like working as a product manager at a startup?

“I have just been offered an awesome job as a product manager for a startup and although I studied UX design, I think it could be for me. Just wondering whether you could give me some insight into your day-to-day duties and what the role might entail when working on a product for a startup?”

Tame the chaos


Silicon Milkroundabout

For people in the UK, Silicon Milkroundabout is a bustling and free-to-attend job fair with a slightly silly name that runs periodically in London and Edinburgh. The next one is due to be held on 20th November 2020 at the Truman Brewery in East London, COVID-19 restrictions notwithstanding.

Go and meet your future employer


Mind The Product Jobs

Employers looking for product managers would be daft not to turn to the biggest professional community in the world. Plenty of jobs are posted here, but don’t be surprised if there’s lots of competition.

Online job board for product managers


recent posts

You wouldn’t drive blindfolded, would you?

Imagine yourself jumping into your car, strapping in, and firing up the engine. You have a quick look around then pull on a blindfold before launching yourself into traffic. Likelihood of an accident? (Quite high.)

So why do so many take the exact same approach when it comes to creating products?

Take off the blindfold


Save yourself from product management hell

You know you’re in product management hell when you realise corporate strategy is absent or dysfunctional. I’ve certainly been there. This video shows you how to define your product strategy and use it to (hopefully) influence corporate strategy.

‘Get of hell free’ cards available here


The black art of designing content

While distracting myself from doing real work this week, I learnt the phrase ‘black art’ comes from the world of printing presses. So I delved deeper into the world of content design. Eventually I found a product management angle.

Fonts, content and solid user research


upcoming talks and events

6th October 2020, 16:00 BST / 11:00 EDT

Product Management Digital Masterclass

What Does a Product Manager Do (and Not Do)?


13th October 2020, 16:00 BST / 11:00 EDT

Product Management Digital Masterclass

Understanding User Needs


20th October 2020, 15:00 BST / 10:00 EDT

Product Management Digital Masterclass

The Secrets of Meaningful Product Roadmaps


27th October 2020, 15:00 GMT / 11:00 EST

Product Management Digital Masterclass

Landing and Starting Your Product Manager Job


can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

Product People Limited logo

Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from straight-to-DVD Nicolas Cage movies.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a product management and leadership coach, product leader and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

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