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Technical Program Manager Interview Questions (TPM Interview)

Careerflow Team

Technical Program Manager roles have become increasingly popular these days in FAANG and other top tech companies. Many candidates we help with resume writing mention that they're targeting Technical Program Manager (TPM) roles and are intrigued by the exciting job opportunities available in the job market for this position.

You must be wondering - what does a TPM exactly do? 🤔

Let us help you learn more about the role before diving headfirst into it! 🚀

What does a Technical Program Manager do?

Technical Program Managers wear many hats in their role. They mainly oversee the technical direction of a program or project while working with different teams of the company to ensure the program meets its objectives.

TPMs make technical strategic decisions to execute technical business programs and manage them from start to finish.

TPMs collaborate with engineering teams to ensure that a program's technical deliverables are met and work closely with the product, sales, marketing, and other teams to ensure their needs are fulfilled. TPMs are tasked with mitigating risks and dealing with issues while ensuring the program is appropriately resourced.

Technical Program Managers work through different stages of the program lifecycle and accelerate the delivery of complicated programs by developing an underlying strategy to make the project successful from a technical standpoint and ensure all stakeholders are happy.

Technical Program Manager Interviews 🧑🏻‍💻

Entry-level TPMs in the United States make close to $166k annually at companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, or Apple.

Most top tech companies would have the following interviews are part of their hiring process for the Technical Program Manager role 👇🏻

Recruiter Screen (30-45 minutes)

This would be a brief introductory call with your recruiter from the company. They will aim to learn more about your background, technical skills, past experiences, and interest in the role and share more information about the position you have applied for. They will also give you insights on the interview process and timeline, plus some material to prep for the interviews.

Pro Tip:
Be ready with an elevator pitch for this round to impress the recruiter and answer STAR method behavioral questions.

Phone Interviews (1-2 rounds, 45 minutes each)

Depending on the company you have applied to, you will have one or two phone interviews with a hiring manager or TPM from the company. They will last 45 minutes each and touch upon the role's technical, program management-related, and behavioral questions.

To ensure you clear this round and make it to the onsite/virtual interviews, prepare well to show a strong understanding of the role, the company's key products/services, and technical or PM fundamentals.

Onsite/Virtual Interviews (3-5 interviews, 60 minutes each)

The number of onsite/virtual interviews would vary from one company to another and one team to another. These interviews will each focus on a specific topic or have a mix of questions from all critical areas of expertise required for the role.

You can expect technical, program management, and behavioral questions for these interviews.

Technical Program Manager Interview Questions 📝

We've curated some example questions to help you practice for your upcoming TPM interviews at FAANG+ companies!

Google TPM Interview

1. Technical Questions

  1. How are passwords securely passed from servers to clients?
  2. Your team can handle only 60 queries, but if you get 100 queries this month, how will you handle this situation?
  3. Given two sorted arrays nums1 and nums2, of size m and n, respectively, return the median of the two sorted arrays.
    The overall run time complexity should be O(log (m+n)). [Solution]
  4. Given a collection of candidate numbers (candidates) and a target number (target), find all unique combinations in candidates where the candidate numbers sum to the target. Each number in candidates may only be used once in the combination. [Solution]
  5. Write a program that traverses a linked list. [Solution]  

2. Program Management Questions

  1. What is an optimal project/program kickoff? [Answer]
  2. If you were given to launch a street view app and 1000 cars with a camera, how would you go with launching it? What are the risks involved? What resources are required, and what is the budget required?
  3. What are the tradeoffs of agile development?
  4. How to find and improve the data throughput rate when there's a problem?
  5. Design a Google Maps program. [Answer]  

3. Behavioral Questions

  1. Imagine you work on a team with an individual or in a negative culture; how would you address the issues with this individual or team? [Answer]
  2.  Explain a time with you failed and how you dealt with it. [Answer]
  3. Tell me about a time when your personal work style hindered project work culture.
  4. How do you handle a team member who may be running behind on tasks?
  5. If your co-worker or another manager is on extended leave and you need to take over their team, how will you do it, and how do you prioritize your work and take care of both teams?

Microsoft TPM Interview

1. Technical Questions

  1. How would you build a phone for the blind?
  2. How do you design an online portal to sell the product?
  3. What excites you the most about technology?
  4. Write code to find even number of occurrences from a given list of integers. [Solution]
  5. Given an integer array nums, return all the triplets [nums[i], nums[j], nums[k]] such that i != j, i != k, and j != k, and nums[i] + nums[j] + nums[k] == 0. [Solution]  

2. Program Management Questions

  1. Pretend you join a project which is only 25% complete and has used 75% of its resources. What would be your next steps? [Answer]
  2. A resource from another team indicates they do not have the time to work on an important project. How will you resolve the situation? [Answer]
  3. How would you build and manage a project schedule? [Answer]
  4. Tell me about a time you used your technical judgment to influence a program that resulted in scope change or change in the project roadmap.
  5. You are designing an A/B test on Bing. When would you choose to run a user-tied flight vs. an un-tied flight? Share the benefits and drawbacks of each. [Answer]

3. Behavioral Questions

  1. How do you determine the impact of a changing timeline?
  2. Tell me about a goal/mission you did not think was achievable. How did you help your team to achieve this goal? [Answer]
  3. Give me an example of when you had to work outside your comfort zone. How did you build expertise in that area to meet your goal?
  4. What are some domain-specific technical challenges you have encountered during program execution, and how did you solve them?
  5. You have 12 months to deliver on a project. After six months, you found out during a meeting that another team is working on the same project. What would you do? [Answer]

Amazon TPM Interview

1. Technical Questions

  1. What is the computational complexity of hash tables?
  2. Design AWS.
  3. Write a program to find common items between two linked lists. [Solution]
  4. Given reverse polish notation, return the integer value of the expression aka "5,3,+,2,/" would be 5 + 3 = 8 and then 8 / 2 = 4. [Solution]
  5. Given an array stones of length n where stones[i] = [xi, yi] represents the location of the ith stone, return the largest possible number of stones that can be removed. [Solution]  

2. Program Management Questions

  1. How do you make prioritization decisions?
  2. Tell me about a time you could not get a program launched on time; how did you prioritize, and what changes would you make this time that you didn't before?
  3. How would you start a new program from scratch?
  4. How would you handle a performance decline in a program? [Answer]
  5. If you are asked to deliver a project, the deliverables and engineering effort won't be changed, but the time period would be cut in half. What would you do as a TPM?

3. Behavioral Questions

  1. Tell me about a time when you gave a simple solution to a complex problem. [Answer]
  2. Tell me about a time when you had to work with limited time or resources.
  3. Give me an example of a time you were able to deliver an important project under a tight deadline? Did you have to make any sacrifices to meet this deadline?
  4. What was the feedback in your latest performance review?
  5. Describe when you proposed a non-intuitive solution to a problem and how you identified that it required a different way of thinking.

Apple TPM Interview

1. Technical Questions

  1. Talk about a technical blocker and what you did to remediate it.
  2. How do you think the iPhone is machined?
  3. If you had to float an iPhone in mid-air, how would you do it?
  4. List all material properties that affect the frequency of a cantilever beam.
  5. What happens if a web page is timing out when downloading?

2. Program Management Questions

  1. Describe an example of multiple workstreams you've managed.
  2. You are working on a high-volume product, and the product has very low yields. How do you go about addressing this issue?
  3. You are trying to solve a production issue on the shop floor, and there is only one technician on the shop floor to who you can talk. The problem is this technician does not speak good English, and you can only ask him one question to help you figure out the problem. What question do you ask and why?
  4. How would you make a decision on a product that has an increasing reliability failure rate?
  5. Walk me through how you execute a project from start to finish.

3. Behavioral Questions

  1. Tell me about your project in an 'X' company. What was your experience?
  2.  How do you handle conflict? [Answer]
  3. Are your skills transferable within Apple?
  4. What are your best three qualities?
  5. Tell me about a time you had to say no to someone after promising them something.

Meta / TPM Interview

1. Technical Questions

  1. Describe the architecture of an app you used to work with.
  2. How would you build a weight-loss app?
  3. How would you design a messaging app?
  4. Design a system to prevent adverts from foreign actors from interfering in domestic politics.
  5. How would you improve the accuracy of GPS data?

2. Program Management Questions

  1. Explain how conflicts were resolved in a project with conflicting resource demands.
  2. What approach would you take to launch a new feature for a Facebook group to increase user interaction?
  3. Do you use any project management methodology in the process?
  4. Tell me how you designed the end-to-end system architecture.
  5. Hypothetically, how would you design a live streaming service that serves large traffic when a celebrity/popular user live streams/publishes a pre-recorded video?

3. Behavioral Questions

  1. Tell me how you managed technical skills for a program.
  2. Describe the most challenging situation you've encountered and how you deal with it. [Answer]
  3. Tell me how you kept stakeholders updated with project progress.
  4. How do you ensure that teams are able to deliver?
  5. Give an example where you had to convince/enroll your team from your point of view. How and what did you do to achieve that? [Answer]  

Tips To Prepare For Your Upcoming TPM Interview

Here are some tips our FAANGPath mentors would give candidates preparing for their technical program management interviews.

  1. Brush up on your data structures and algorithms for the interview. Besides that, also focus on technical architecture and details of the programs you have delivered to answer any technical questions.
  2. Focus on program/product sense questions. You can use the CIRCLES or Jobs-to-be-done frameworks to draft answers for this topic.
  3. Practice answering using recent examples from the past for behavioral questions. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, or Result) or CAR method (Context, Action, Result) to frame your responses.
  4. Research the company and its products/programs well. Understand what problems they are trying to solve and how you can contribute to them, considering the larger picture.
  5. Focus on your communication skills. Technical Program Managers work with many teams daily, and people management is a part of their job. Communicate confidently in your interviews to leave a positive impression.

Conclusion 🎯

Focusing on the above-stated topics will help you clear your TPM interviews like a pro. Also, consider practicing these questions with a friend or an expert to ensure you are confident when interviewing. If you need help with mock interviews, get in touch with us to connect with a FAANG+ mentor who can guide you through their feedback on areas you can focus upon.

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