The PMM Guide


Product marketing management (PMM) interviews

An overview of the types of PMM interviews at tech companies and sample questions

Al Dea, Sr. PMM at Salesforce, ex-Deloitte Digital
Published: November 10, 2020

Let's take a look at the PMM interview types, the interview process, and what you can expect.

There are three key types of interviews we'll cover in this post:

  • Product marketing competency interviews
  • Behavioral interviews
  • Case interview / homework assignments

💡 Tip: every company has a unique interview process. This is meant to demonstrate what it could look like. But make sure to *ask* the recruiter what the process is for the role so you can understand the specific process. Recruiters are incentivized to help you and will often share as much detail as they can - don't miss out on it!

Competency Interviews

These types of interviews are meant to test your product marketing skills, general marketing knowledge, and as well as your own methods and approaches to creativity and problem solving. This is done through case style questions or hypothetical or situational questions where you provide not just an answer but an approach for how you arrived at your answer.

By better understanding how you think and how you structure your answers, the interviewer is trying to understand how you might act as a PMM or make decisions as a PMM which will give them a sense of if you would be a fit for the specific role. These questions also tend to require you to share some of your thinking, but it very much is a two way dialogue where the interviewer may either provide her thoughts, probe with further questions, or drill into specific areas of your answer.

The goal here is not to find the one single perfect answer, but to provide a thoughtful answer that demonstrates a clear line of thinking and process. Simply arriving at a great idea or answer is fine, but what they really want to understand is how you think, how you make sense of a vague or limited amount of information, and how you approach problem solving.

Mini Case Questions

These are often open ended interview questions that are meant to test how you think on your feet, your thought process, and your product marketing chops. Sometimes these can be questions based on a real challenge or issue the interviewer is facing, or a hypothetical challenge that a Product Marketer could face. Here are a few examples of some questions:

🎯 Example: "How would you improve the experience at Instagram for Content Creators?"

This is an open ended question which you can take in multiple different directions. There isn't necessarily one right idea, but what the interviewer wants to know is to understand how you would think about solving this problem, and to do so in a structured and logical manner.

In your answer, you might talk about:

  • What research you might need to do to understand the current experience
  • Who might you want to talk to in order to find customer insights
  • What ideas you have to address this challenge
  • How you would measure the success of your ideas.

Another example of a mini case question might be:

🎯 Example: Your product's sales have been low for the past 6 months. As a Product Marketer, what might you do to make improvements?"

While this is a hypothetical question, it is absolutely a challenge a product marketer might face. This is all about being able to think like a product marketer and to demonstrate how you would develop a framework for solving the problem and then showing how you would solve it. In order to answer this effectively, you might talk about:

  • What data you would review to evaluate the effectiveness of the launch
  • What potential challenges arose which led to low sales, and for each challenge, some ways to address it
  • What other stakeholders you would work with to address the challenge
  • Specific examples from your own experiences where you've successfully addressed these challenges and how they could be used in this situation

Even though these are hypothetical questions, they are based on real challenges PMMs face each day, and the better you can show you can solve it, the more likely they'll believe you have what it takes to do the role exceptionally well.

General marketing questions

These questions are geared to test your general marketing knowledge and acumen as well as your creativity and general product awareness.

🎯 Example: What's a product that is marketed poorly, and what would you change about it?

These are typically the types of questions you will see in any marketing interview, and include questions like:

  • Can you tell me your favorite recent marketing campaign. What did you like about it?
  • What's a product that is marketed well?
  • What's a product that is marketed poorly, and what would you change about it?
  • What do you think of the messaging of our product? How would you improve it?
  • What's a product you love? Why do you love it?
  • How do you define product marketing?
  • What companies do product marketing well?

As a general rule of thumb, it's good to have some answers to these questions in your back pocket for every marketing interview you have.

Behavioral Interviews

These interviews focus more on your past skills and experiences, and how they might make you a fit for the role.The logic here is that your behavior in the past reflects and predicts how you will behave in the future. Furthermore, these questions also give the interviewer a chance to know you and your personality better. You're going to be spending a lot of time together, and they want to make sure that you are someone that is going to work well with others on the team.

Skill Based Questions

More established companies such as Google have a series of attributes they want to evaluate across every candidate that they interview. Within these attributes, they have a series of questions they ask candidates to evaluate their abilities against these attributes. The four attributes are:

  • General cognitive ability
  • Leadership
  • "Googleyness"
  • Role-related knowledge

Throughout the interview process, each of the questions that are asked are meant to identify your ability level for the specific competency or skill that they are evaluating.

Your job here is to understand the skill or competency, why it's important to the success of a PMM, and then to provide specific examples with clear outcomes for when you have demonstrated that skill. For example, if they ask you a question about how you've worked on a challenging team and how it goes, they might be testing to see your cross-functional collaboration skills.

STAR Format

The best way to answer your behavioral interview questions is using the STAR format. This allows you to tell specific stories to the interviewer in a way that is easy to follow and to the point. Make sure that you focus on the results, and the impact that you specifically made. Finally, a key skill of being a PMM is the ability to communicate succinctly, so make sure you don't ramble on!

Other Interview Types

Homework assignments

A common part of the interview process at some companies is a homework assignment. There are a few reasons why companies do this. First, they want to see the quality of your work output. While some of this comes out in the initial interviews, when you have to produce something it's a much more realistic example of your work product. Second, it allows them to see your thought process and holistic approach to your work. This is not something that always comes out in a standard question and answer interview.

Typically, the recruiter will send you the assignment, and you will be given a reasonable amount of time to complete it. The assignment is meant to test your abilities to do work that is aligned to the role and often results in some sort of final presentation.

For example, a common example for an assignment is to ask you to put together a Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy for a product. Or, another example might be that they ask you to develop a plan around a product launch for a product that they own. With these assignments, you'll get time to prepare your deliverable (usually a few days to a week) (usually a PowerPoint deck or Word document) and then you'll be given a chance to present it to an audience who will ask questions and provide feedback.

🎯 Example: For my most recent role [at Salesforce], the assignment I was given was to pretend that I was doing the product launch presentation for a specific product. I had to go and research the product and then develop a PowerPoint deck and story around it, and then I presented the product launch pitch to the interview panel. After I finished the pitch, we did a Q&A where they asked me questions about the product, such as:

1) Who was the target customer?
2) What problems did the product solve?
3) How are we going to sell it?
4) How is it positioned against the competition?

After I finished the Q&A, they allowed me to ask some questions, and then it turned into more of a discussion.

Other Interview Considerations

Here are a few additional components that sometimes come up in the Product marketing interview process, depending on the company.

Interviewing Team

A common practice in most PMM interviews is to have some of the interviews conducted by cross-functional partners to the PMM team. This could mean doing an interview with some of the following individual teams:

  • Product management
  • Sales
  • Marketing

Since PMM is a cross functional role, many hiring managers will want their partners to interview candidates, as the person who gets the role will probably have to work with these peers on projects. For example, during my interviews, I had numerous interviews with both product managers and demand generation marketers, as the role I was interviewing for required me to work with both of those stakeholder groups.

For these interviews, expect questions that are often tied to the types of work that you would do with each specific stakeholder. Here's a few examples:

  • Product manager: What's an example of when you used data to prioritize specific features on the product roadmap?
  • Sales: What sales enablement strategies or tactics have you used that have generated the most impact?
  • Marketing: What's an example of a launch campaign, and walk me through the content that you used across the entire marketing funnel.

Before an interview with a cross functional partner of PMM, ask yourself what the person's metrics are, and what they care about.

Executive interview

On occasion, you might also have an interview with an executive or leader of the team in the interview process. This could be a VP of Product Marketing or equivalent leader and is a chance for them to get to know you. Since they have lots of responsibilities, their time is valuable, so recruiters and hiring managers don't tend to schedule these unless you are farther along in the process and they feel confident that you could be a candidate for the role.

Portfolio Review

Oftentimes, companies will ask you to send them a portfolio of your work or past work samples, such as any content or assets you've created (ex: blog posts, ebooks, data sheets) or presentations you've delivered (powerpoint decks) to get a sense of your skills and expertise, as well as assess the quality of your work product.

Some recruiters and hiring managers will be specific about what they want to see, but if they do not provide clear guidance or ask you to pick the materials you want to send, it's best to send just a few (no more than 2-3) and to make sure it's high quality output. Bonus points if the type of work aligns to the specific responsibilities of the role. For example, if the role is focused on sales enablement and you have a training deck that you made, that would be a great asset to share.

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.