I interviewed earlier this year and did well except for this assignment. I'm hoping to better prepare for similar situations. Here's the quest: As mentioned, the next part of this process is to complete a brief assignment. The purpose of this assignment is just to see your methodology get some insight into your approach to tasks. For this assignment, I'd like for you to create a high-level go-to-market plan and strategy for our flagship product our event marketing platform. Our company traditionally has targeted enterprise b2b companies. I'd like you to come up with high-level messaging, define who the target audience is, and then detail your strategy for informing the market about our event platform and getting more leads. Please identify which channels you would use, and what you would need for this go-to-market launch. Please keep your response under 2 pages
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Rekha Srivatsan
VP of Product Marketing, SalesforceJuly 26

Sorry, that didn't work out! Here's how I would approach this assignment: 

  • Study Certain's website to understand their current product messaging and positioning. And make sure your draft is different from this but not drastically different. 
  • Play closer attention to their customer stories/testimonials to understand their use cases. This gives you a glimpse of what features to highlight in your GTM strategy. 
  • The goal is to get more leads, so take a look at their pricing and packaging to see if there can be a better approach. 
  • Understand Certain's key competitors in the enterprise segment. How do they market, what do they advertise, their customer testimonials. 
  • Try a peer-to-peer software comparison site like G2 crowd to understand real customer POV for Certain and their competitors. 

Bonus: If an interview does not work out, I'd recommend you reaching out to ask for feedback from the hiring manager. Most hiring managers will share feedback to help you grow. 

Good luck with your next interviews!

Hien Phan
Director of Enterprise Product Marketing, AmplitudeOctober 5

I have no idea how you prep your presentation. But for an assignment like this one, I think what employers want to test is your ability to assess the problem and provide a solution. So before I would even start on the assignment, I would try to highlight the problem statement. What problem is this product trying to solve? Who are you solving it for? And importantly, is this a problem, the user recognizes or not at all? These questions will help you detail your strategy before you go into messaging and GTM strategy. Start with the problem statement and how said product solves it. Then flow into details about the problem and then approach to solving it. 

Priya Gill
Vice President, Product Marketing, MomentiveJune 30

First off, I'll say that I'm never a fan of making someone create messaging/positioning and defining a GTM plan about the interviewing company's product because you're never going to get to the level of knowledge as someone in the company...and it takes way longer to do it right. OK, rant over. :)

Typically when I ask candidates to give a presentation, it's less about the specific products they're presenting, but rather HOW they present it. Can the candidate articulate how they effectively approached their GTM strategy, from ideation to execution and beyond. Can they clearly understand the customer pain points and technical capabilities of the product, and translate that into clear marketing messages that resonate? Can they effectively launch a product/feature and properly engage the right cross-functional partners to make that launch a success? Are they outcome-oriented and think about the metrics they're trying to drive with a given launch? Those are just a few things that I would be looking for in a presentation. My hunch is that you were missing some of these things in your presentation.

Grant Shirk
Head of Product Marketing, Cisco Meraki, Cisco | Formerly Tellme Networks, Microsoft, Box, Vera, Scout RFP, and Sisu Data, to name a few.July 6

Pulling this one up. It's outside the realm of KPIs and measurement, but I think it's really critical. And I have a few strong opinions here. 

If I can summarize this back, as part of your interview process, you were given an assignment to build an overall strategic plan to take a flagship product to market, do it under extreme time and emotional pressure, and summarize it all in a few hundred words. 

To put it bluntly, this is a terrible way to assess someone's skills, is antithetical to what we should expect of someone in the interview process, and really sounds like unpaid consulting work. How is anyone going to do a meaningful job of this if they don't spend hours and hours learning, thinking, and evaluating options?

You have the right in an interview to challenge or shape the assignment. I personally will never ask a candidate to "do work on my behalf" or tackle a project where success is dependent on context and expertise. I want to see how people think. A better way to frame this is to ask a candidate to tackle maybe ONE of these items (how would you break down or improve our current persona work? Can you describe how you built the messaging for a recent launch you did?).

If you do find yourself stuck in this situation and you're given a similar exercise with no flexibillity (for any reason - I acknowledge that sometimes it's hard to push back on these assignments), there are a few things you can do:

  • Define and manage the scope yourself. Not only time-box your own investment in the project, but document your assumptions. I love seeing this. One slide that says "to focus on what's important here, here are the assumptions I made." Hard to argue with that... you can focus on your thinking
  • Ask what is the criteria for evaluation. Once you know what the hiring manager is really looking for, focus on that. If it's a persona exercise, spend 80% of the time there. If it's positioning, learn the competition and focus on gaps. 
  • Overdeliver on one thing. You can't cover it all, but figure out what you are best at and highlight that. 

Exercises when done well should be a showcase for what makes you great, not a way for the team to get free feedback and ideas on their own strategy. Be wary if that's the vibe you get. 

Jeff Hardison
Head of Product Marketing, CalendlyAugust 10

I’d have to see your assignment response to make recommendations! And I probably shouldn’t print my recommendations here publicly, as this company probably wants to keep the assignment confidential. Feel free to befriend me on LinkedIn, and I'll take a look at your assignment and give you feedback. 

Zachary Reiss-Davis
Head of Industry/Audience Marketing; Director of Product Marketing, Procore TechnologiesJuly 13

I don't think I can help you on the full assignment within the scope of an AMA; especially since the sub-question reads like the company probably is going to be using this question for other candidates in the future. However, here are a few tips for any take-home interview round like this:

  • If you're given the opportunity to ask follow-up questions, make sure you do so; one key part of the exercise is seeing how you learn and research.
  • Make sure you do your homework; know what the current messaging, positioning, audience, and content available is.
  • Spend the time to proofread and polish your content. It should sing, and show you know how to both write, edit, and (lightly) design.
  • Know the "brand voice" of the company interviewing you, and stay within it.
  • Edit, edit, edit. If someone asks for two pages, don't get them three. Brevity is hard, but very important.
Tracy Montour
Head of Product Marketing, HiredScoreJuly 28

I often find these assignments are about your approach to problem solving, positioning, and alignment rather than the work you actually produce. This is how I evaluate candidates. To me, it's all about their approach, rather than their output. You can't be expected to be an expert on the product or target audience before you even join an organization. I would recommend "showing your work" and helping the interviewing team understand your approach, as well as how you would measure success if you were to join the team.