Ready to dive into the role of a Product Marketing Manager with two feet? Then you’re probably wondering how to ace your next interview. But before we get stuck into the nitty-gritty, for anyone who’s new to the role, let’s take things right back to basics.
What’s product marketing?
Simply put, product marketing can be summed up as the driving force behind getting products to market - and keeping them there. Product marketers are the overarching voices of the customer, masterminds of messaging, enablers of sales, and accelerators of adoption. All at the same time.
The finer details of a product marketer will vary from company-to-company, but to give you a flavour, here are a handful of the role’s most common responsibilities:
- Product messaging and positioning
- Managing product launches
- Creating sales collateral
- Customer and market research
- Reporting on product marketing success
- Content marketing
- Managing the website
- Product roadmap planning
- Onboarding customers
Sound like your cup of tea? Then let’s delve a little deeper into how to prepare for your next interview.
Scrutinise the job description
Unfortunately, in 2020, the role of a PMM is still largely ambiguous and misunderstood, meaning what’s expected of you in one company could be vastly different from another. So, to ace your interview, you need to get to grips with the business in question and what they want in their next PMM.
How? Go through the job advert with a fine toothcomb and look at the responsibilities the company’s listed. It’ll give you a better idea of exactly what you’re walking into and how you can ensure you not only meet the criteria, but the role is what you’re after.
Tip #1: check out our jobs board to compare the variety involved in product marketing descriptions.
Tip #2: sign up to our Slack channel. Everyone’s super friendly and we’ve had tonnes of PMMs jumping on a call to help each other prep for an interview.
Link to your experience
For each of the responsibilities listed, think about all your previous work experience and pair specific examples to each - ideally, with some bottom line business metrics, too. For example, if you’re talking about a new product launch, what were the data-driven results of that? How many leads did it bring in? How many of those leads converted? And what was the monetary value of those conversions?
Or even if it’s something on a smaller scale, like a customer case study, who utilised that asset? How often was it used? And what level of influence did it have in the buyer’s journey?
If you’ve got a project or initiative in mind for each responsibility, when it comes to the interview, you’ll be ready to easily link your experiences and skills to the job. Not only that but you’ll be demonstrating an understanding of the role in question.
For example, if you’re talking about your collaboration skills, don’t just limit your response to “I think I’m really good at collaborating with other teams.” Think about a testing situation you overcame thanks to smashing the collaboration side of things and talk the interviewer through it from start to finish - it’s all about showing, not telling.
Plan your questions
There’s a time in every interview when you’ll be asked if you have any questions of your own. This is the perfect opportunity to:
- Demonstrate a genuine interest in the role and business, and
- Get a better idea of the role.
So, do your research into the organisation and write down anything you’d like clarifying. Hiring managers love a candidate who shows initiative, so you’ll be earning some brownie points and probably discovering something about the company you didn’t already know which’ll help you answer other questions fired your way, win-win.
If you’re struggling, here are some broad questions you could start with:
- What’s the size and structure of your product marketing team?
- How long has your company had a product marketing function for?
- What do your interactions with sales and product teams look like?
- How do you measure the product marketing team’s success?
Don’t ask questions you could and should know the answer to yourself though - like “What’s your main customer market?” A bit of online research gives you this answer and just highlights a lack of preparation on your part.
4. Immerse yourself
A good PMM will know their product inside out. Adopt this methodology in your interview.
We just talked about doing your research into the organisation, but take things one step further and do your homework on their products - old and new. Once you’ve got your hands on them you can test them out and make notes on your favourite features as well as what you think could be improved.
Tip: if they’ve got a freemium version, download it and have a nosey around and feed your findings into your prep.
Don’t fall into the trap of being a yes man either - that’s not what hirers are looking for. If they walk away from your interview with an idea on how to improve X, Y or Z, you’re guaranteed to be in their good books. So, with that said, go into the interview armed with positives and areas that could be enhanced.
Tip: be mindful of how you frame the negatives. Saying “I didn’t think this was very good” can come across arrogant, saying something like “I noticed ____ and had an idea of how it could perhaps be improved by doing ____ instead.”
5. Know the industry
To get a competitive edge, it’s a good idea to do some research on the sector you want to work in as a whole. Who’s the main competitor? What’s their rival product? What issues is the industry facing in today’s market?
Get to grips with this and you’ll be able to have an informed discussion, demonstrate a concrete interest and even discuss ideas for future strategies.
In the run-up to your interview, our top tip is to set up news alerts for industry-related articles so you’re up-to-date and in the loop on all the most relevant info. You might also glean some interesting insights on social media.
6. Practice makes perfect
Unfortunately, there isn’t a set guide to the questions you’ll get asked (although how sweet would that be?), but there are always some pretty standard questions you can expect nine times out of 10.
Generally, during interviews, you’ll be faced with two types of questions: behavioural and role-specific. Here’s a couple of examples to set you on the right track:
- What would you say are your strengths?
- Can you tell us about a time you managed a cross-departmental team?
- How would you say you cope working in pressurised environments?
- Can you walk us through your last product launch?
- What went well and what would you do differently?
- What were your main responsibilities in your last job?
It’s a good idea to practice answering some common questions so you develop a comfortable flow when the time comes and boost your own confidence.
Remember, your answers should highlight how your skills are relevant and add value to the business, and always keep your responses structured.
Tip: plan a few answers that you can mould to generic questions and conclude your response by bringing it back to the question asked so it doesn’t seem like you’re just reciting a script.
7. Don’t forget the customer
The ultimate goal of a good PMM should be to put the customer at the core - after all, they represent the consumer’s voice at every stage of a product launch. So, with that in mind, it’s a good idea to dig a little into the company’s existing customer base.
Read as many reviews as you can find to get an idea of the customer perspective - Product Hunt and G2 Crowd might be good places to start, but you’ll find feedback in loads of places depending on the nature of the organisation, like:
- Trust Pilot,
- TechRadar, and
- Social media.
Doing your research will open up the door for a well-informed and rich discussion about the future goals of the business and where you think you can add value.
Ultimately, to give yourself the best chance of success you want to approach the job interview like you would the role of a PMM. A PMM knows their customer inside and out and uses this information to deliver a solution or product that meets their needs and solves their problems.
So, do your homework and get to know the business you want to work for in detail, and then work out how you and your skillset will add value, meet their requirements and help solve their problems. You are the solution and the employer is the customer.
All that’s left for us to say is good luck!