How to Nail the Atlassian APM Interview
Associate Product Management Programs are a great way for entry-level PMs to get real product management experience and add top companies to their resume. Here is one expert coach's advice on Atlassian's APM interview.
By Mike Mella
October 24, 2022
As a former Atlassian APM, I have personally gone through the interview process. I also have product management experience at start-ups and brand-recognizable companies. From first-hand experience, conversations with colleagues, and research, I’ve put together this guide on the Atlassian APM interview to help you navigate the application. While it covers the particularities of Atlassian’s process, preparing for one interview will help you with others.
If you’d like one-on-one guidance for any part of the PM application cycle, from finding which companies will fit your candidacy the best to practicing common interview questions, work with me on Leland. Book a free intro call on my profile to get started.
Atlassian Interview Process
At Atlassian, interviewing is broken down into seven steps. The first, which doesn’t appear in the diagram above, is the resume screen. Following that, there are five different interviews and a take-home challenge. In this article, we’ll look at what happens during each round as well as how you can stand out.
Interview Grading Criteria
Atlassian PM recruiters are instructed to look for these four qualities in candidates. All of the interview questions are targeting one or more of them.
- Great communication skills
- An ability to easily articulate ideas
- Leading and inspiring
- Have they led challenging projects in college?
- Strong product intuition combined with thoughtfulness
- Early signs include being inquisitive and observant about products they use every day
- An ability to move work forward
- Often demonstrated by startups or other side-projects developed while at university
While you answer questions and choose which stories to tell, keep these qualities in mind. In general, the better you can demonstrate them, the better your interview score will be.
An Overview of the Interview Rounds
Admittedly, this is the step I am the least familiar with. I won’t pretend to know what they do or don’t screen for, but I will offer some insights that I’ve picked up from working there. First, it’s very difficult to get an interview without any product experience. On the other hand, almost everyone with two or more previous PM roles does get an interview. Secondly, Atlassian doesn’t seem to care as much about technical skills as other APM programs. It definitely won’t hurt you to have technical experience, but it’s not necessarily a requirement.
The phone screen is a quick thirty-minute interview. Atlassian tends to invite a lot of people to this round, but only advances a few of them. Last year, I had seven friends get interviews, but only one made it past this step.
The recruiter is looking for three main things in this interview: first, is the candidate serious about product management; second, is the candidate serious about both Atlassian and B2B Saas; and lastly, is the candidate able to communicate effectively?
You will likely be asked a combination of the following questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why Atlassian?
- Why product management?
- Walk me through your resume.
- What is your favorite Atlassian product, and why?
- Tell me about your favorite product, then tell me how you would improve it.
- What is your favorite Atlassian Value?
- Why are you excited about the APM program?
All of the APM interns in my year chose to talk about B2B tools for their favorite product, and two of us talked about Notion (one of Atlassian’s biggest competitors). Not sure if that is a coincidence or a deliberate decision to move people who know a lot about the space. Regardless, don’t pick a product that you think they “want” to hear. Pick a product that you genuinely love. The second part of the question–how you would improve it–is where you can really make an impression with your answer.
This round is composed of a ~48-hour, take-home problem that gives the candidate the opportunity to showcase their skills.
Below is last year’s prompt. For aspiring Atlassian APMs, I recommend running through it with a PM coach to get an idea of the flow and to practice in real time.
This is what’s known as an “execution interview.” They tell you exactly what they’re looking for and want to see if you can fulfill the requirements. During my take-home challenge, I chose Quizlet. Here are my responses to a few of the questions:
Conversation With An APM/PM
In my opinion, this is the hardest part of the interview process. In this round, the APM/PM will run through a case with you. As mentioned above, they’ll be looking for someone who: has great communication skills, is inspiring and a leader, has strong product intuition combined with thoughtfulness, and has the ability to move work forward.
The APM/PM will also ask questions specifically about Atlassian, its products, and what you believe some of its strengths and weakness are. Before this interview, you should have a deep understanding of Atlassian. Read about the company here and its top values here.
There are three parts to the final round. After making it past the APM/PM round, I received the following interview from my recruiter explaining the three final parts.
- Leadership & Values: This section will focus on how you have led and inspired teams in the past. We’ll dig into the teams you've worked with in the past, and your role on them, including going into your leadership style, how you've handled things (when they went right/wrong), and your strengths/weaknesses as a leader. We’ll touch on a lot of your experiences and tie that into the Atlassian values.
- Design & Whiteboard: In the whiteboard interview, you’ll be asked to speak about a project for which you were a key contributor. Please do not prepare content on your whiteboard ahead of the interview. Instead, self-reflect on a specific project where you feel you were able to make an impact. You should feel comfortable discussing the problem you solved, the challenges you encountered along the way, the trade-offs you made, and the impact achieved. Consider what went well, what didn't go well, what you learned, and how you would change your thinking on future iterations of the project.
In the past, candidates have chosen to speak about projects from their past work experience, hackathons, or university projects. As your interview will be conducted remotely, please familiarize yourself with the virtual whiteboard. We will have you utilize AWW during the interview. You will share your screen with your interviewer to walk through the whiteboard.
- Hiring Manager & Values: This will be a general interview on your past experiences and how you became who you are. Once again, the values would be great to show here.
Now that you know what each round of the interview will entail, here are some overarching tips for standing out.
Be familiar with B2B
Showing passion and understanding about the space will go a long way to differentiating yourself as a qualified and interesting applicant
Be familiar with Atlassian
If you don’t know what the company does or have a good reason for wanting to work there, there is no way the recruiter will move you on.
These interviews are difficult but predictable. Do the work necessary to nail the interviews and give yourself the best chance possible to get an offer.
Atlassian is a great company with an amazing APM program. While it's hard to land a job/internship, knowing the process and being thoughtful in preparation can drastically increase your odds of getting an offer. If Atlassian is one of your target companies for an APM program, work with me on Leland.