While the right person can propel your product and help smash the business’ targets, the wrong one can hold you back, waste time and chuck money down the drain. Needless to say, hiring the perfect person for the position can make or break your team’s success - whether you’re in the product marketing field or not.
If you’re expanding your team or you’ve got holes to fill, make sure you look at these must-ask questions before sitting your next candidate down.
11 product marketing questions to ask
1. “What kind of products have you worked with in the past?”
This is a great way to get them to open up and see how well they articulate past experiences. At the end of the day, their job will be all about selling your product and the story behind it so it’s pretty important they’re able to do this from the off.
2. “How have you managed product launches in the past?”
Get a feel for how familiar with product launches they are and whether or not they’ve got any new and innovative ideas to bring to the table. If they don’t by default, be sure to ask for some anecdotes of their own - hearing how their colleague handled X, Y or Z has little relevance to their skills and your vacancy.
3. “Can you tell us about a good product out there that you think is poorly marketed? And what you’d do differently given the chance?”
Keeping abreast of product marketing trends, fails and best practices should be part and parcel of the job, so see what their knowledge is like. If they’re up-to-date with what’s going on they should be able to think of one pretty sharp-ish.
4. “Let’s pretend we’re increasing the price of product X by 10%. How would you communicate this to customers?”
Price hikes aren’t anyone’s idea of fun; you’re almost guaranteed to get a bunch of customers kicking off - whether it’s justified or not. So, see how candidates would mitigate negative reactions and churn, and remember to pay attention to how customer-focused their approach is.
5. “Only 60% of our customers are using our online portal. What would you do to drive adoption for the remaining 40%?”
Product marketing goes so much deeper than just selling what you have to offer - we know that, you know that, but do your interviewees know that?
Get an understanding of how they’d take your product or service one step further by asking post-conversion questions and seeing what sort of approach they take to common business obstacles. Even if they don’t get the job, hopefully, you’ll come away with an extra idea or two by the end of the process.
6. “How do you think digital marketing will evolve in the future?”
The product and digital marketing landscapes are constantly evolving. That we know for sure. But while you don’t always know the how, you do know you need to stay ahead of the curve to keep competitive, so see how candidates could help with that.
7. “Can you tell us about a time you went above and beyond at your last company?”
This one’s pretty generic but it’ll give you a great insight into what they consider ‘above and beyond’. If it’s something bog-standard like “working through their lunch break when a crisis broke out” have they really got what it takes to join your team?
8. “What defines a successful product launch to you? And how would you track those metrics?”
See if they lean towards a more business-centric or customer-centric belief, or, if you hit the jackpot, that fine balance between the two.
9. “We’re always open to new ideas, so, if you had to pick one area, what do you think our top priority should be to boost sales?”
This question will arm you with two very important insights around their character:
- Did they do their research to actually understand what you offer? If they didn’t, what does that say about their work ethic?
- Are they a ‘yes’ man? You don’t want or need someone who’s just going to say what they think you want to hear; you need someone who’s ready to bring new ideas, push boundaries, and challenge the status quo.
10. “How have you helped improve conversion rates in previous jobs? And what results did you see?”
They say the proof’s in the pudding, so see how they actually put their skills into practice and what sort of tangible evidence they’ve got to offer.
11. “How do you make sure sales teams are positioning products right?”
Without wanting to cast shade on the entire sales profession, over-selling products to hit targets can be a bit of a time-old problem. However, on the flip side, you don’t want them to head to the other end of the spectrum, under-sell your product, and miss out on revenue.
This is an area most businesses battle with so see how they’ve managed it in the past and what they can do to make your business better.
Task ideas for product marketing interviews
Tasks can be a great supplementary interview tool because they:
- Give candidates a chance to walk the walk;
- Allow you to see them in action in a more real-life setting; and
- Give you something tangible to compare from candidate-to-candidate.
If you want to bring a bit of a practical element to your next interview here are a few ideas to get going:
1. Ideation. The product marketing world can be fact-paced and you never know what’s lurking around the corner, so see how quick candidates are when it comes to thinking on their feet by setting up a task that forces them to do just that. For example:
Leave the room for, say, 30 minutes, and ask them to come up with a brief strategy to communicate a system failure with all customers.
2. Organisation. Come to the interview armed with a list of jobs, along with brief descriptions, and ask them to create a prioritised workflow based on the information you’ve given them. Then, when you re-enter, ask the interviewee to talk you through their thought process.
3. Strategy-planning. Make up a fake product launch strategy with some deliberate, but subtle, flaws in it. Then, allocate candidates a set period of time to analyse your strategy, leave the room, and ask them to provide feedback at the end.