So, you have been applying on various job portals for all Associate Product Marketing Manager (APMM) opportunities you could find, you probably sent out a few 100 messages/Inmails on LinkedIn as well. All that work has led you to an APMM interview opportunity! Congratulations!
This is your first step towards paving your path in Product Management’s cooler counterpart - Product Marketing. It is pretty new and is now considered to be one of the most impactful roles in an organization. As a Product Marketer you usually have a 360° view of the entire business and the ability to influence product, sales, customer support, design functions of the organization.
Now, given that this role is very new in the industry, it is still going through modifications and is ever-evolving. The PMM function largely depends on how the organization looks at it, a.k.a what their goals are. Since PMM is not really a standardized function, no one really knows what an ideal Associate Product Marketing Manager interview looks like. There probably isn't one. And that's where your preparation for the interview comes into the picture.
There is no template to work from but I can give you a methodology or a framework if you will, that will provide you with the right way to approach your interview. Here are a few ideas on how you can start your homework.
Investigate the company
Probably the most obvious first step but also the most important, so important that almost everything relies on this. But doing research on the company can also be a very vague activity. Here are a few things you should definitely do.
A very basic idea of how long the company has been in the market, if there were any crucial product pivots, their ‘pie’ of the market share, key competitors, latest product/feature launches and of course the investments the company has raised up until now (if applicable) will give you a good idea of where the company stands today.
One very reliable source of information on how the company is doing, what their vision and roadmaps, strategies and results look like - is actually the CEO himself/herself. It’s a great idea to dig up blogs/articles or interviews from the CEO and make notes. This will also give you an overall sentiment of how the company is doing and how futuristic their products or visions are.
Marketing organization structure
How the company’s marketing team structure currently looks and where you will be fitting into the picture will make a huge difference in how you approach your interview.
If you are going to be one of the very first hires in the company, you may get involved in a number of strategic decisions across functions and play an important role in setting up product marketing foundations.
If you are joining a well established and structured marketing team, your role may be that of supporting the team by efficient execution of PMM tasks, supporting a new product, geography, market segment or supporting a new GTM strategy. Knowing this can give you an idea of what your regular work day will look like. This also brings us to the next point.
Analysing the job description
The job description should give you an in-depth charter of the responsibilities you will have as an APMM. You will also be able to look at the skillset the company thinks their APMM should have. From this, you will be able to derive if this will be a high visibility role or not.
You should try to understand if PMM in the company rolls up to the Product Head or the Marketing Head or someone else! This will give you a sense of which function calls the shots. It is always recommended to have a quick chat with HR about this. Give them a brief about your profile and they will be able to determine if you are a good fit or not. This will also give you and HR a chance to explore if your candidature is a good culture fit. (Some companies really take ‘culture fit’ way too seriously!)
Product trials & reviews
After you have an overall idea of what exactly you are being hired for, you should try the product yourself. If this is a B2B software with a freemium model, sign up for the free version, test it out, play around with the features and note down your experience from it.
Try to focus on the objective you are being hired for. For example, if the company wants you to work on optimizing the ‘Request Demo to Buy’ funnel, concentrate on how you as a user are being nudged to buy - the emails received, the cadence and quality of communications, etc. Become as familiar as possible with the whole product experience so you have an informed opinion during the interview.
Really getting into the skin of the different types of product users will give you considerable headway in your interview. Read reviews from App store or Play store (in case of a B2C app product) or some crowd-sourced review sites like G2 Crowd, Capterra, Gartner. These tools are usually a gold mine in helping to identify what works and what doesn't.
Collect inside intel
Try reaching out to a peer in the company you are interviewing for and have an informal one-on-one chat. Learn about the marketing tech infrastructure that's already setup, the fundamental issues they are facing and the core reason for hiring an APMM.
This will give you some first-hand perspective of what the real problems are and what your challenges will look like once you join. Discuss your understanding of the job description with the person. S/he will be able to give more insight on the issues or more context of the market or give a clearer picture in case you have doubts. This not only makes you look more proactive about the role, you’ll also get a quick sneak-peak into their work culture!
Understand OKRs/current goals
If possible try finding out what OKRs the current PMMs are working towards. This will give you a good idea of what kind of work you will be doing on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, you will now be able to backtrack from OKRs to jot down 1 or 2 action items or ideas that you can present in your interview.
Now that you have done your primary and secondary research on the product, some original ideas on how to solve their problems should be brewing. Do a thorough competition analysis - who are their direct and indirect competitors? Where do they stand on the market share pie? Go back to the product reviews you read and make a list of other products your product was compared to.
Since you also know the problems you need to solve, you will start figuring out what the competition is doing to solve the same problem. Demo some of these rival products as well, build a quick feature grid. Having answers to this will make you well versed in the industry/domain.
Be ready to demonstrate experience
Any company will ask you how your previous experience can be leveraged in the new role. Especially if you are looking to make a transition from a completely different role to APMM. It would be beneficial to list out responsibilities, projects or tasks from your previous stint that will directly relate to the qualities, skills & experience that this job demands.
For example, if you have been a sales professional, you can talk about your customer-facing skills and being empathetic towards their problems. If you have been a technical professional - you can highlight how you helped scope out important features and how you will be able to effectively derive and communicate product benefits to customers from complex technical specs.
Irrespective of the company’s goal or growth stage, there are at least 5 crucial skills that most companies look out for in a APMM:
- Clear & effective communication
- Analytical thought process
- Problem-solving skills
- Marketing know-how
Interview practise questions
Practise a few questions from the list below as they will test you in each one of these crucial skills:
What is your favorite marketing campaign and why?
This question is one of the favorites! The way you communicate about why you picked a particular campaign and what you liked about it the most gives the interviewer a sense of how well you articulate your thoughts. Highlighting points that show original thinking will also be key here.
Can you give an example of a great product currently in the market that you think is being marketed poorly?
Eventually this question will boil down to ‘how do you think this product should be marketed?’ And that’s where your creativity will be tested. Be ready with an answer to this in advance. Having proper reasoning, with supporting data as to why your marketing idea is better will be important.
The Spotify marketing team is experiencing considerable drop-off in their sales funnel for Spotify Premium. What are the key metrics you’d track to identify issues in the funnel? How would you identify these metrics?
Here’s where your analytical mindset and problem-solving skills can be put to the test. The product mentioned here is Spotify but it could be any other tech product as well. When you answer these types of questions you should focus on identifying the problem at each stage, building a hypothesis and building relevant experiments/tests.
Talking about the primary metric you will capture for each stage, your testing process and then defining what ‘success’ will mean for each metric will be key.
How would you change your marketing mix if you were selling a software or hardware product? What about if it was B2C or B2B?
This is a question that generally tests your marketing knowledge. A ‘marketing mix’ usually refers to the 4Ps of Marketing which are Price, Product, Promotion and Place. All the elements of the marketing mix influence each other. They make up the business plan for a company. If you are able to describe how the 4Ps differentiate between a software product or hardware product, or in the B2B and B2C domains, you are good to go.
Get your questions ready
Lastly, always be prepared to ask questions. I would personally recommend against asking broad and generic questions. These don't make you look like you put in the effort to understand more or have dug deep enough into the company. If you have methodically done every step of the research mentioned above, you will find areas that need more understanding or clarifications.
You can also mould some generic questions to be more product/industry/company-specific. Ultimately, for an Associate Product Marketer the learning curve is going to be very steep so perhaps the most important skill to showcase is your ability to learn and adapt quickly. This marks a good Product Marketer at any company. So get started with your preparation keeping this in mind. Good luck!