Product Marketing
Already a Sharebird user?
Continue with LinkedIn
Want more answers to this question? Add this question to an upcoming AMA.
Head of Product Marketing at Zapier

tl;dr -- define what you need this person to do, then ask for specifics of opportunity identification and execution during the interview.

I think this really depends on the level of seniority/breadth of responsibility you're hiring for, so the first thing I'd recommend is getting crystal clear on what you actually need this person to do. Then I'd make sure that you are aligned with the recruiter on the req (if you have a recruiter) and the rest of the hiring panel all agree on what responsibilities and success look like for this role.

This is important because responsibility-relevant autonomy takes many forms. For example, if you're a 50-person startup making your first PMM hire you need that person to be able to develop a functional vision, establish an internal cross-functional operating model, and prioritize what to execute against given constrained resources and rapidly shifting needs of the business as it grows. This is very different from, say, what you'd need if you're hiring a fresh MBA to fill a role on your team at Microsoft -- especially so since at a larger company this person might be more responsible for coordinating external contractors than on the line execution.

Once you and your team are aligned, the best way to gauge autonomy is to ask someone to walk you through an impactful project they're proud of that reflects their work. Make sure to use follow-ups to:

  • Zero in on their impact by changing from "we" to "I" pronouns
  • Press on end-to-end contribution: 
    • Who came up with the idea for the project? Did they identify the opportunity and if so how, or were they told to work on this?
    • Who made the process/plan for bringing it to life?
    • Who did they work with cross-functionally, and who was playing what kind of roles?
    • How did they assess whether or not it was successful?
    • How frequently did they need to check in with their manager for guidance/problem-solving?

The more specifics you can get to the better! Further, it's usually a sign of autonomy and leadership that the person will naturally be forthcoming with some if not all of the above bullets without too many follow-up questions. If getting to answers for the above is like pulling teeth, this is probably not the right candidate for you.

Director of Product Marketing at Klaviyo
As you can probably tell, I am a big fan of focusing on process, not just outcomes. I like to ask people to walk me through a project they led, and I ask them plenty of questions — things like 'why did you decide to position it that way?' or 'what was the most difficult part of the process, and h...more
GTM Lead at Benchling
If I understand the question correctly, you want to know if the candidate is an independent self-starter or requires more in-depth guidance and direction. Is that correct? I would ask him/her what they consider to be a successful start to their new role and what their 30-60-90 day plan is to hel...more