About 15 minutes before the interview, you should ideally stop any last-minute preparation and calm yourself down mentally. Remember: an interview is just a conversation between you and the interviewer. You may have spent countless hours preparing for this role that could be your dream product management job. However, you should treat the interview as any other you have ever given. Setting unrealistic expectations will only fray your nerves even further. It is okay to be a little nervous. It just shows that you are invested in this endeavor. Just take deep breaths and clear your mind. You will be fine no matter the outcome of the interview. If your interview is an audio call, keep your phone close by. If it's a video call, join the meeting 1-2 minutes early, and test your webcam and microphone. If it's an in-person meeting, wait outside the room at least 1-2 minutes before time.
When you eventually meet/hear/see the interviewer, greet them confidently and smile if they can see you. In any standard interview, the interviewer will introduce themselves and share their background. After spending 2-3 minutes on themselves, the interviewer will ask you to introduce yourself. Be fully prepared for this moment. You must have rehearsed an elevator pitch about yourself at least ten times. However, ensure you don't sound robotic and rehearsed when you share your background. Keep your tone conversational. If you have prepared thoroughly for this part of the interview, you will be more confident in your response, and the rest of the conversation will be easy. It will also make you more immune to nerves if you stumble later. Remember that interview decisions are frequently made within the first 10 minutes and often come down to likeability.
During the core section of the interview, the interviewer will probably ask some behavioral questions regarding your experience (e.g., tell me about a time when you had to decide without data or tell me about a time when you had to share bad news with your leadership). You should leverage the 5-10 stories you have prepared to answer these questions. The same story can be used to answer different questions by just changing how you narrate it. Do not repeat the same story for more than two questions. Use the S.T.A.R. framework (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to describe your experience. Remember that situation and task should only constitute about a third of your story. You should focus on the action and the result and spend most of your time explaining those two components. It is also crucial to show that you are data-driven. Weave how you used data to make decisions throughout your story rather than just using data to quantify the results of your actions.
Once an interviewer has made up their mind in the first 10 minutes, they are usually just looking for additional data points in the rest of the interview to prove to themselves that they are right. You cannot fight this phenomenon as this is subconscious human behavior. Once an interviewer is satisfied that they have what they need in the time frame given to them, they will start wrapping up the interview. They will usually leave about 5-10 minutes at the end of the interview for you to ask any questions. Be prepared with questions. It reflects poorly on you if you have no questions or generic questions. The trick to asking good questions is to listen very carefully when the interviewer is introducing themselves at the start of the interview and then use that information to formulate questions at the end of the interview. For example, if an interviewer shares how they have switched roles within their organization, a good question could be, 'How have the roles differed, and what do you like/dislike about the current role?'. Keep an eye on the time and try to wrap up your questions 1-2 minutes before the interview's end. You don't want to keep the interviewer till the last minute. They may have to jump to another meeting. After you are done with your questions, the interviewer will wrap up the interview and just let you know if you need to take any further actions (e.g., 'We will get back to you in a week' or 'Please reach out to your recruiter for next steps' etc.). Thank the interviewer for their time and let them know you enjoyed the conversation with them. You can then drop off the call or leave the room.
Congratulations on completing that interview! Once you're done, you can take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. At this point, you should not spend any time second-guessing yourself. The immediate action item is to send out a thank you note within 24-48 hours of the interview to your recruiter for giving you this opportunity. After you have had a chance to relax, you should spend some time introspecting and finding improvement opportunities for the future. Knowing these focus areas will help you get even better in other interviews!