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#18: 5 Interview Qs for PMM Managers

I just finished drafting a job description for a new role on my team, so I’ve got interviews on the brain.

Hiring the right talent is one of the most important responsibilities of a PMM leader, and it’s not easy. Not only do you need to assess their skill level as a product marketer, but you also need to determine if they will balance out the skillset on your existing team.

Plus, their soft skills are equally as important as their hard skills. It’s difficult to really understand a candidate by just spending an hour together. After 10+ years of building PMM teams, I’ve gotten fairly good at optimizing this hiring process.

As I prep for my upcoming interviews, I wanted to share the 5 interview questions I turn to time and time again.

My Essential PMM Interview Qs

Any Google search will turn up hundreds of PMM interview questions, but I find most of them fall flat. Here are five interview Qs that you can steal for your swipe file (plus, explanation into why they work).

Question #1: How would you describe product marketing to your parents or grandparents?

Why It Works:

  • Successful product marketers are able to take complex concepts and simplify them for various audiences. If the candidate can’t explain PMM in a clear way, they will probably struggle with more complicated products and feature sets.

  • Their answer will give you insight into how they view the role of product marketing. Do they over-index on any particular part of the role? Do they explain it as a strategic or executional role? What do they leave out?

Question #2: Is it more important to move quickly and get things done or to move slower and get things perfect?

Why It Works:

  • It forces the candidate to demonstrate their ability to make tradeoffs. Many folks will be tempted to answer “move quickly” (especially if it’s a role at a high growth tech company), but it’s not always that simple.

  • A strategic candidate will be able to walk you through their thought process in how they would make this decision, and the different scenarios when it would be more appropriate to choose one answer over the other (balancing factors such as urgency, importance, risk).

Question #3: If you had to give a 5-minute lightning talk on any PMM subject, what would you choose and why?

Why It Works:

  • You get a glimpse into an area of product marketing that the candidate is particularly passionate about. Most often, when I’ve asked this question, the topic they share has ended up being the superpower of that candidate.

  • The candidate gets space to talk about any PMM topic they’d like, providing them with the opportunity to shine.

Questions #4: Tell me about a time when you should have delivered difficult feedback to a coworker, but you didn’t. What was the impact of not giving that feedback? How would you do things differently next time?

Why It Works?

  • You get insight into how they approach feedback. Many interview questions focus on receiving feedback, but few focus on giving feedback. How do they speak about their coworker - is it with respect? What is their approach and framework to giving feedback?

  • The candidate is able to show their ability to be self-reflective. Are they able to identify opportunities for behavioural change and show their ability to grow?

Question #5: What’s the biggest impact you’ve had on a customer?

Why It Works:

  • You’re able to assess if they are customer-first. If a PMM truly lives and breathes customers, they will have a handful of stories ready to share. If they haven’t spoken to a customer in months, that will be clear immediately.

What are some of your fave interview Qs? Reply back and I’ll add them to my list.