The PMM Guide

Product marketing interviews: key soft skills tested

Guidance on which soft skills PMM leaders test in product marketing interviews

Francisco Bram, Head of PMM, Uber Business, Uber Eats, Uber Health
Published: November 10, 2020

Successful product marketers are both right and left brained. Thus, in addition to the hard skills, they must possess soft skills to rally teams behind their ideas.

There are five fundamental soft skills that product marketers must demonstrate:

  • Passion
  • Adaptability
  • Cross-functional leadership
  • Prioritization
  • Executive presence

I've unpacked each of these categories to help PMMs get all the info needed to successfully prepare for their interviews:

Customer Empathy

PMMs must have empathy and a deep understanding of customers' pain points.

💡 Tip: Some tech companies will refer to this as being customer-centric. Regardless of the term, the skill is all about digging to truly understand the customer pain.

Customer-centric PMMs have a relentless pursuit for customer truth. They represent the customer internally and translate research and product features and technical language into tangible benefits that meet customers' needs. It's this passion that drives them to push back product teams, sales teams and even executives when their goals don't align with customer needs and wants.

For example, it is not infrequent that engineering and product teams are asked to work non-stop to meet an aggressive launch date defined by an industry external event (e.g., major annual conference). While it would be ideal for marketing to launch a new product at a major annual conference, PMMs that are customer-centric will understand that "quality-to-market" takes priority over "time-to-market". They are customer experience champions and are willing to work with product managers to adjust timelines even at the cost of a more impactful launch moment.

Sample interview questions:

  • Tell us about a time when you had to push back on product development. Why did you do it?
  • How do you balance business objectives with customer needs?


Ancient Greek Philosopher Heraclitus said: "There is nothing more constant than change" and with change comes opportunity.

There are very few medium-to-long term plans that end up being executed the same way they were planned. As the owner of product GTM plans, PMMs need to be aware of this truth and be able to quickly and easily adapt to change. Change isn't always obvious and PMM's ability to quickly adapt to new business priorities can help them navigate an uncertain environment and thrive.

🎯 Example: Consider the scenario where PMM has spent several weeks building out a product narrative supported by 4 core product features. Product informs PMM that one of the features is not going to make it in the first release, hence impacting the overall narrative and content already being developed.

Adaptable PMMs are able to quickly adjust to unforeseen "bumps in the road" like the aforementioned example without losing the narrative's premise and storyflow. They use this opportunity to simplify the product value proposition, brief content writers and update the editorial content calendar.

Sample interview questions:

  • Tell us about a time when business priorities changed as you were planning to launch a product. How did you react to it?
  • Walk us through a time when an unexpected market event forced you to change your GTM plan.

Cross-functional leadership

Even as individual contributors, PMMs have the opportunity to lead people. Great PMMs are able to take others along with them, rather than telling cross-functional teams exactly what they want them to do.

PMMs are known for creating strong relationships across the company, with researchers, marketing managers, product managers, engineers, sales managers and even customer support. Without any official authority, they need to be able to command the GTM that involves multiple workstream leaders and rally them behind the same set of goals and objectives.

Sample interview questions:

  • Tell us about a time you led a large cross-functional project. How did you get everyone to agree to your plan, objectives and timeline?
  • Imagine you're trying to launch a project but you are having a difficult time getting other teams to commit and support your plan. What would you do to get everyone aligned?


This is definitely one soft skill that is not unique to PMMs. Most functions such as product managers, engineers and marketing are expected to be able to ruthlessly prioritize in order to be effective and efficient. Like most of these functions, PMMs are very often tasked with multiple projects and initiatives that they must prioritize according to the company's and customer needs.

In most companies, the ratio of PMs to PMMs is off balance, tipping in favor of PMs. This means PMMs will be asked to support multiple product launches that are likely to have conflicting timelines. PMMs must ruthlessly push back, prioritize and know when and where to focus their efforts and which of those efforts is most time-sensitive.

💡 Tip: It's not uncommon to have a product area with ~10 PMs and only ~1-2 PMMs. This imbalance will quickly create a challenge where there are simply too many releases and features to get full PMM support and PMMs will likely have to put a triaging and prioritization system in place.

Sample interview questions:

  • You are being asked to manage a portfolio of products. Some of these products are launching new features during the same time period. With limited resources, how would you prioritize which products to launch first?
  • Tell us about a time you had to manage multiple leadership requests. How did you prioritize them?

Executive presence

Due to the highly visible nature of GTM work, PMMs are often expected to present to senior leadership their plans in order to get budget approval, communicate targets and report progress. The more impactful the work, the more PMMs are expected to present to senior executives and often to the entire organization in town hall meetings or company retreats. Executive presence is therefore a critical soft skill that PMMs need to master.

Executive presence is multi-faceted, it combines how you are seen, understood and experienced by peers and senior leadership. You may have a lot of experience as a PMM and even as a leader, but without executive presence, your chances of getting things done in a very collaborative environment are low. A PMM that has executive presence is able to read the room, be prepared to answer the non-obvious questions, predict potential areas of discussion and anticipate conflict. They deliver their message with confidence, clarity, are very succinct, don't read from slides and most importantly connect with their audience.

Executive presence also means PMMs know how best to leverage an executive's priorities and time and use it strategically to take them along their GTM journey and get early buy-in.

Sample interview questions:

  • How often did you have to present to senior leadership the projects you own or manage?
  • How do you prepare for an executive leadership meeting?
  • Imagine a scenario where you have to present to your leadership team negative results from your product launch. Walk us through your thought process in putting together your presentation.

P.S. Are you preparing for PMM interviews?

Real interview questions. Sample answers from PMM leaders at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, PayPal and more. Plus study sheets on key concepts like positioning, GTM & more.