The 5 Things You Must Do To Prepare for Your Product Marketing Interview
As an advisor and career coach to many PMM candidates, two of the most common questions I get concern the PMM interview process. Candidates want to know:
- what they can expect in the interview and
- how they can best prepare.
To answer these questions, I spoke to a handful of PMMs from the Product Marketing Alliance community who recently hired PMMs, as well as PMMs who recently got hired themselves. Based on these conversations and in conjunction with my own best practices, I came up with some actionable tips to help you ace your next interview. (Note: It’s important to remember that every candidate’s experience is unique. So, while not all of this will apply to you, the spirit and direction of the tips are fairly typical)
1. Review Your Relevant Work Experience
Conrad Yu recently completed the interviewing process, and one of his key take-aways was the importance of knowing how his past experiences (and the results of those experiences) could be applied in a specific interview. “Prior to my interviews, I reviewed all of my past projects, the KPI’s for them, the outcomes I delivered, and then some thoughts on how I would do them differently or improve them for the future,” Yu said. This process not only ensures you have good examples and stories to talk about prior to your interview, but it also helps you practice how to use storytelling to share these examples in a compelling but succinct way.
Actions to Take
- Write down all of your past projects that you worked on, and identify the key metrics and outcomes of those projects.
- Practice sharing these stories out loud or with a partner to ensure you are being specific and yet also succinct. Use the STAR framework to help you practice.
2.Review the job description
Product Marketing is a new but growing role, but is often hard to pin down. And it can mean something different in any given company. To ensure that you are prepared for that specific interview, make sure to thoroughly review the job responsibilities and role for that company. According to Jenn Steele, CMO at Madison Logic, this is one of the most common missteps she sees. “Oftentimes, candidates will come in with the assumption that PMM at my company is exactly the same as they’ve done in the past, which has led to missed questions and general failures in the interview,” Steele said.
While PMM does look different everywhere, many hiring managers are aware of this, and they understand it may take a little education and understanding to fully grasp the differences. So, don’t feel bad if it doesn’t make 100% sense of the start. “As a hiring manager, I get that PMM is massively different company-to-company, and I wrote my Job Description to try to show what I need for this company. All I want is the candidate to grasp that and translate rather than assume,” Steele went on to add.
2 years ago, I made the transition from management consulting to Product Marketing, and one thing that I did prior to every interview was I took a look at the role and responsibilities listed in each job description, and wrote down specific projects or initiatives that I worked on that aligned to those roles and responsibilities. That way, when it came time to the interview, I had a good way of articulating how my specific experiences and skills connected to the job they were hiring for.
Actions to take
- Review the job description to understand the roles and responsibilities.
- Highlight and call out any specific aspects that you do not understand or that aren’t clear, and make sure to follow up with questions about it.
- Identify your best and most compelling stories, and then practice reciting them using the STAR framework.
3.Practice answers to common questions
It’s virtually impossible to know every answer to every question, but there are some common questions that tend to get asked. If you can get into the muscle memory of practicing how you would respond, you’ll put yourself in a position to succeed, and have more confidence entering the interview.
For practice, you’ll want to practice both behavioral interview questions (ex: what are your strengths, tell me about a time when you had to lead a cross functional team) as well as questions that test you more about your product marketing skills (ex: Tell me about your last product launch and what you would change)
Actions to take
This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s good to practice the following:
- What is “Product XYZ’s” current competitive landscape? What is Product XYZ’s crucial differentiator that gives it a competitive edge?
- We plan to launch “Feature A,” which will be a landmark feature. Will “Feature A” change the competitive landscape? If yes, how?
- Create a wireframe for the website homepage for “Product XYZ” with the new messaging once “Feature A” has been launched.
- Write a press release announcing the launch of “Feature A.”
- Write a Product Update Email to existing customers of Product XYZ announcing the launch of “Feature A” with suitable CTA options.
4.Come up with questions
Inevitably, at the end of the interview, your interviewer will give you time to ask some questions. This is your chance to get deeper insight into the company, role, team, etc., as well as to show off your genuine interest in the role. Jeffrey Voccell, a Senior PMM at Hubspot, went on to add, “The questions you ask as an interviewee says volumes, so we want more than just generic questions that are easily found via a Google search.” The other reason why this is important is that during many PMM interviews, hiring managers may ask or conduct mini exercises where they may ask you questions. By practicing these on your own, you can get ready to handle whatever a hiring manager might throw your way.
Actions to take
- Come up with a list of questions in advance to ask. You can start with some of my favorites
5. Do Your Research
Just like a good Product Marketer will do research, a good PMM candidate will do research to prepare for their interview. So what should you be doing research on? According to Voccell, the following are table stakes:
- Social Media Presence
- Glassdoor Reviews
Doing this research should be enough to come in with an informed opinion to have a strong conversation with a hiring manager. But don’t stop there! Since you’ll have to eventually market a product, make sure you immerse yourself in the company’s product or portfolio. Tejas Kinger, recently did this for his PMM interviews, and he made sure to know the product and the in’s and outs of the company. In order to prepare for his interview, he:
- Downloaded the mobile app, played with it, and wrote down the things he liked and didn’t like. He also went to the app store to read the reviews to get a sense of the customer feedback; and
- Read reviews on places like G2 Crowd, Capterra, and Trust Radius and product hunt.
Actions to take
- Review the company’s presence across the following properties and channels:
- Mobile App
- Analyst Reviews (Forrester Gartner IDC)
- Peer Reviews (G2 Crowd, Capterra, TrustRadius)
For Kinger, this was all about ensuring he know the ins and outs of the product, but he also understood the customer, their aspirations, and their pain points.
A final and closing thought — Interviewing for a Product Marketing role is the ultimate meta-test: Just like a great PMM knows the customer, and how their product/solution delivers value to that specific customer, a good PMM candidate will do the exact same thing. Think of yourself and your candidacy as the product, and that you are the PMM assigned to it in terms of bringing it to market, and making sure it resonates with the customer (employer)
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” So, don’t leave your interview up to chance. Make sure to spend the time you need in order to be successful in your next PMM interview.
This post originally appeared on my blog