Imagine you have gone through the hard work of landing your product marketing interview by identifying your targeting, creating a killer resume and personal story, and using referral outreach to secure an interview with your target company.
Now is your opportunity to ace the interview, and see if that role is truly a great fit for you. So today, I am going to walk you through how to ace your product marketing interview.
As a quick note, today’s newsletter is part of a series of 4 newsletters on the entire job search process. This is the line-up of the series - make sure to check back in a few weeks to learn how to ace assignments:
Part 2: How to ace the actual interview process <- this newsletter
Part 3: How to ace product marketing assignments
Part 4: Launch your first 30-60-90 days with confidence
So let’s do this and dive straight in!
Step 1: Prepare before the Interview
Study the role
Before jumping into any interview, you want to understand what the role is looking for. Pay attention to the key responsibilities and the keywords they specify in the job description, and notice words they repeat over and over.
This is important for 3 reasons:
You will want to customize your personal story to the key responsibilities they care the most about. You may even want to create a personal messaging house to match this role specifically. For instance, if they ask you to have experience with building research programs and product positioning and messaging, you should mention these as your key strengths right away.
You want to match any keywords you are using in your examples to what they write in the job description. For instance, some companies prefer to talk about “product narratives” instead of “storytelling” - so using the right keywords here could make your responses sound more relevant.
Last but not least, you will want to prepare 5-10 examples that correspond directly with the key responsibilities they are asking for on the JD. This will help you focus on preparing for the right questions.
Study the company
Next, spend a couple of hours also researching the company - understand its customers, size of the team, investors, competition, and how it’s performing. All this information will help you sound more informed during the interview and also help you determine what questions you want to ask during the interview to give you more valuable answers.
If a company is public, you can learn a lot about the company’s business strategy by browsing through its 10K financial filing.
Conduct a PMM audit
Lastly, I suggest spending a couple of hours doing a product marketing audit. For instance, review the company’s website messaging, social content, assets, ad copies, and anything you can see publicly. Note anything you think they are doing well on and areas they can improve on. This will not only allow you to feel much more confident about this opportunity but also stand out above others in the interview process if you bring them into the conversation.
Step 2: During the interview
Your performance during the interview matters just as much as your actual answer. No matter how well you have prepared on paper, you need to say your answers out loud so your answers are concise, you are seen as more confident, and as having a real conversation. To improve your performance, read this post.
But before you can get there, you need to create answers using the best frameworks. Below, I share my framework for the three most commonly asked questions as well as sample answers.
Question 1: Tell me about yourself
“Tell me about yourself” is the first question you get asked in an interview. It’s also the most important, as it will make or break the rest of the interview.
To answer this most effectively, let’s study this question:
What the interviewer cares about:
They want to learn about your accomplishments throughout your career that are RELEVANT to the job you are interviewing for and why you are a natural fit.
Make your story as relevant to the job as possible, start with a bang, and do the work for them by articulating why you are the best fit for the role. Tie in your personal story/messaging house here.
Intro - Start with a powerful highlight of who you are in 1-2 sentences, including the best attributes that describe you.
Experience highlights - Share 1-2 key highlights from your career that relate to the role you are applying for and call out any major outcomes.
Why you are here - End with why you are looking for a new role and why you are a great fit for the role.
Here is an example:
🔥 [Intro] "Hi, my name is Ashley and I am an empathetic and strategic product marketer with a diverse background in education and building successful businesses.
🔥 [Experience highlights] I started out my career as a small business owner, helping small brands improve their website copy. In this role, I saw firsthand the importance of understanding customers’ needs and translating them into compelling and powerful messaging. My proudest accomplishment was helping a struggling mom-and-pop shop increase its business by 100% through the work I did.
I decided to take a break and pursue my passion in teaching and joined Teach for America, where I taught English for 1 year in Chile. In this role, I conducted deep research to understand what students really want and created a curriculum that allowed them to increase their speaking efficiency by 2x within 6 months.
🔥 [Why you are here] As I think about the next steps of my career, I want to combine my customer empathy, business acumen, and passion for education to create a greater impact. When I saw this role at your company (Edtech startup), I felt it was the perfect fit given my deep understanding of your customers and my background. I am so excited to chat with you today and happy to dig into any areas in more detail.
Note that this framework works no matter your experience level. The key is telling a relevant and compelling story to set the tone for the rest of the interview.
Question 2: Tell me a time when you launched a product
This is perhaps the most frequently asked “technical” interview question you will get, as being able to launch a product is a core skill set of any PMM. Unfortunately, many candidates’ answers sound like a laundry list and are not memorable or structured enough.
To answer this most effectively, let’s study this question.
What the interviewer cares about:
They want to learn whether you can manage product launches. While great results are important, it’s equally important to understand whether you know what the right process should be. Interviewers want you to demonstrate strategic thinking, and collaboration instead of just being a launch machine/order taker.
Make your process easily understandable, and your story easy to follow. Then add one or two deeper highlights to call out specific aspects of your experience to make it stand out.
Process, situation, action, results (PSAR framework). Read more about the framework HERE.
Here is an example:
✅ [Process] - In general, when I launch products, I follow a three-step process to ensure we drive towards results. First, I try to validate the product/market fit to ensure we can answer the what, how, when, and why we are launching a product. From there, I develop the positioning and messaging to articulate the value of the product, and lastly, I move on to determine the promotional and channel strategy, including internal enablement.
✅ [Situation] - Last year, I was tasked with launching a DEI tool to help SMBs track their diversity metrics easily. The goal for this launch was to drive pipeline for our sales team.
✅ [Action] I first tried to understand the product/market fit. I aligned with my PM counterpart on the research to clarify the target persona, the key problems we are solving for them, and the unique benefits we will bring. I captured that in a GTM brief that outlined all the details clearly.
Then I moved on to create the positioning and messaging. Specifically, I realized our tool solved one of the biggest problems SMBs face - capturing DEI information of employees AND protecting their identity easily. I used that as the key insight to drive messaging and shared it with cross-functional teams to get buy-in.
With that, I created a promotional strategy. Given the importance of DEI, I worked with our content team to create a series of webinars with leading DEI experts in the industry to focus on education, and not just pushing the product features.
✅ [Result] The launch was a success and we exceeded the target within the set timeframe. Given the success, my launch playbook also became widely adapted across the team. I’d be happy to dive into any area in more detail.
Question 3: Tell a time you disagreed with a stakeholder's approach
This is a typical “soft” skills question that could be asked in different ways and is generally challenging to answer because most candidates are not strong at telling stories with conflicts. Let’s study this question.
What the interviewer cares about:
PMMs have to influence stakeholders in order to succeed. Since you don’t have authority over stakeholders, it takes great people skills to get buy-in, build rapport, and have the capacity to admit it when you are in the wrong.
Demonstrate that you have empathy (EQ) and a clear, logical process to drive influence. Pay attention to both the softer side of influence (e.g. not burning bridges) and the harder side (e.g. showing objective data). You don't HAVE to show you are right - the key is to find an objective solution that demonstrates your humility even when you are wrong.
Process, Situation, Action, Results -> (PSAR) => I recommend starting with a strong process to show your systems-level thinking.
Here is a sample answer:
🔥 [Process] Absolutely. My process for influencing stakeholders and resolving disagreements is as follows: 1) See others' perspectives first and understand why, 2) Gather evidence and use data to back up my POV, 3)Communicate and collaboratively reach a decision
🔥 [Situation] One of the biggest initiatives I did at company X was co-leading the pricing increase for our product to drive profitability. After spending nearly 1 year on the research, we are finally about to implement the change. However, the product team wanted to implement the pricing change for all customers at once, but I truly believe that could lead to significant churn.
🔥 [Action] To understand the product team’s POV, I first met with them to understand their rationale - they believed that doing it at once is simpler for engineering, and easier to communicate to customers.
After I heard that, I decided to gather some data. I found best practices and benchmark data from leading SaaS companies which showed that a staggered pricing rollout leads to higher adoption and lower churn. I then used the benchmarking data and worked with finance to create a churn scenario analysis to make my case even stronger.
With the data, I developed 2 alternative staggered options for implementation, one with a grace period, and one with a discount coupon. I shared the options and data with the product team. They were surprised by the data and agreed the discounting option would be best.
As the implementation was happening, I also helped the product team answer tickets from support. This earned the respect of the product team and made them feel I got their back.
🔥 [Result] The result is that we experienced a positive reaction from customers and we were able to come 5% within our financial projections. Moreover, I was able to not only maintain but grow my relationship with the product team.
At the end of the interview, you will generally be given some time to ask questions. Don’t blow this opportunity, really make this count by asking 3-5 questions that you prepared to show 1) you prepared for the interview, and 2) you actually care about whether this role is a fit.
Remember to tie in your research from Step 1 to your questions. If you need some inspiration, read this list of 23 questions you can ask.
Step 3: Follow-up After the Interview
Congratulations! You did a great job in the interview, now what? I recommend sending a thoughtful follow-up to the interviewer. Make sure the follow-up is a personalized note that reiterates key points you learned in the interview, and why you continue to be excited. You could also include a useful resource that is relevant to what was discussed in the interview to add an intentional touch.
Generally, the post-interview thank you note won't likely change their decision, BUT it will definitely have a positive impact.
To improve your interview performance, follow the steps below:
Thoroughly prepare for the interview by studying the role, the company, and doing a PMM audit.
Prepare answers using appropriate frameworks for 5-10 interview questions
Practice your responses as much as possible to optimize performance during the interview
Prepare 3-5 reverse interview questions
Send a thoughtful thank you note
With these tips, you will be on your way to acing your interviews and standing out from the competition. But going at it together is much better and faster than going at it alone.
Not sure if this is worth it? Check out the nearly 50 reviews from my clients (recommendations section). 😌
I wish you much success - you’ve got this! 💪