What's the difference between Decode and Conquer vs. The Product Manager Interview? by Lewis Lin

Since I released The Product Manager Interview, here's the top question I've received:

Could you please tell me what the difference is between the two and if you had to pick one, what would it be?

I'm currently looking for switching my focus from product marketing to product management, and my friend recommended me to read Decode and Conquer written by you. When I searched this book, I found that you also published The Product Manager Interview: 164 Actual Questions and Answers recently. It says it's an ideal complement to Decode and Conquer. Could you please tell the differences between these two books? And which would be more suitable for me as a newbie?

Difference between Decode and Conquer and The Product Manager Interview

Here's my answer:

Which One Should I Get

I'd get both, because familiarity and mastery, are important objectives.

If you'd want to tip-toe your way into PM interviews, then I'd get D&C first.


Kudos in 2018...and more about The Product Manager Interview by Lewis Lin


I woke this morning to this nice note, from one of my readers in Europe!

I'm happy to hear that my books are making a difference in everyone's pursuit of their dream jobs in 2018.

I'm also happy to announce that my new book, The Product Manager Interview, is selling very well and getting some rave reviews, including this one from earlier this week:


Have a good weekend, and I wish all of you a happy and prosperous 2018!

Lewis C. Lin

Kudos for The Product Manager Interview: Lewis C. Lin's New Book by Lewis Lin


My newest release, The Product Manager Interview, is out!

I'm happy to announce that sales have absolutely exceeded all of my expectations. Two weeks after it's release, it continues to hold the Amazon's #1 spot for new release in job interviewing.

And readers are finally getting the book in their hands. Here's a nice note that one reader sent about his experience with the new book.


With the winter break around the corner, I can't think of a better book for those who are getting ready for product management interviews...either for now or for interviews in the new year.

Conquer those interviews,

Lewis C. Lin

Marketing Interview Questions: What to Expect and How to Prepare by Lewis Lin


Today's marketing candidates have to be prepared for a range of questions from traditional, behavioral, case, analytics, and digital marketing interview questions. 

In this blog post, I'll discuss each marketing interview question category and offer tips on how to prepare.

Lastly, I'll include instructions on how you can download my special marketing interview cheat sheet at the end of this post, based on my book, Rise Above the Noise.



Traditional interview questions are used to learn more about your marketing experience or to test your marketing knowledge. Here are some examples:

  1. What is digital marketing?
  2. What is SEO?
  3. What is PPC?
  4. What is on-page and off-page optimization?
  5. How does a "link building" campaign work?
  6. Describe a marketing strategy that failed.


Use the Five Ws and / or the Rule of Three. It'll help structure your response so it's easy to follow. At the same time, it'll help ensure your answer is complete. Your answer should be as credible but as concise as the first paragraph explanation of a Wikipedia article.


See Chapter 9 of Rise Above the Noise and refer to the sample answer for "Tell me about an excellent product that's marketed poorly."

Also refer to Wikipedia definitions for likely marketing trivia questions like:

  • SEO
  • PPC, including PPC, CTR, PPC
  • Page optimization
  • Call-to-action



Behavioral interview questions center around a candidate's past experience. They usually start with "Tell me a time...":

  1. Tell me about a piece of content you edited and how you strengthened that piece of content?
  2. Describe the most difficult scheduling problem you have faced at work.
  3. Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
  4. Describe a time you were faced with stress that tested your coping skills.


While the STAR method may work for behavioral interview questions, I've found that in practice the STAR method leads to answers that are dull and uninspiring, I'd recommend the DIGS method™ instead. DIGS will lead to stories that are impactful and entertaining.


  • Chapter 16 - Answering Behavioral Questions



Hypothetical interview questions asks candidates to speculate how they would handle a theoretical situation. They typically start with "How...?" Here are some examples:

  1. How do you use social media as a tool for customer service?
  2. How could you leverage YouTube in order to promote our brand and increase engagement?
  3. How and when do you evaluate your marketing campaigns?
  4. How do you measure ROI for a social media campaign?
  5. How would you pitch innovative and new approaches to both paid and natural search campaigns?


Answer this question in two parts. Part I, spend the first 30 to 40 seconds to present your approach to the hypothetical scenario, using the Rule of Three to structure your response.

Part II, spend the remaining 90 seconds explaining how you've actually used your approach to generate marketing results.

Part I explains a theoretical approach that not only answers the question but is easy-to-remember and easy-to-understand.

Part II eliminates the interviewer's concerns that you simply memorized a textbook approach. Instead, it demonstrates that you not only had relevant experience, but also garnered results.


  • Chapter 2 - Creating a Positioning Statement
  • Chapter 9 - Critiquing a Marketing Effort
  • Chapter 14 - Strategy Questions



Case interview questions tests the candidate's ability to solve a real-life marketing problem. During a case interview question, a candidate may be asked to:

  • Build or fix a marketing campaign
  • Calculate marketing ROI
  • Critique a marketing campaign initiative

Here are some recent examples:

  1. You are working at an independent search marketing consultancy and begin working with a client who believes they have been penalized. How would you diagnose the problem and what corrective action might you reasonably expect to take?
  2. You are working for a major hotel chain as a PPC manager and you’ve been asked to explore expanding your campaign to target American customers looking to book hotels in the UK. What would you need to know to forecast whether this campaign would be profitable?
  3. Take a look at these 2 different designs for our new website, which one is better? Why?
  4. Create a 1 month content calendar that includes different types of content ranging from videos, ebooks, blog posts to podcasts and social media.
  5. You’ve been put in charge of planning the company’s nationwide conference. Where do you begin?
  6. A customer has just posted a negative review to the company’s Facebook page and you’re in charge of responding. How do you handle it?
  7. What do you think about our blog?


For case questions, you want to apply the appropriate framework from Rise Above the Noise. For example:

  • Marketing plan questions: Use the Big Picture Framework from the book.
  • PR disasters: Use the PR disaster framework from the book.
  • Critiquing a blog: Use the MOB Framework from the book.
  • Evaluating marketing campaign perfomrance: Use the before-and-after analysis framework from the book.


  • Chapter 3 - Developing Marketing Campaigns
  • Chapter 6 - Launching a New Product
  • Chapter 9 - Critiquing a Marketing Effort
  • Chapter 10 - Critiquing Advertising
  • Chapter 11 - Dealing with PR Disasters
  • Chapter 13 - Getting Analytical: ROI Calculations

One more thing, if you're interested in getting my special one-page marketing interview cheat sheet featured at the top of the blog, you can download the PDF version here.

    What is the AARM Method™? by Lewis Lin


    Sometimes referred to as AARM Metrics™, the AARM Method™ is an analytical framework that defines the metrics for a product. This four letter acronym refers to acquisition, activation, retention, and monetization:

    • Acquisition: Tracking customer signups for a service. The bar for signing up for a service has gotten lower and lower, thanks to the popularity of free signup and pay later “freemium” models. The typical acquisition metric to track is lazy registrations or app downloads.
    • Activation: Getting users that have completed a lazy registration to register fully. For a social networking site like Google+, this may include uploading a photo or completing their profile page.
    • Retention: Getting users to use the service often and behave in a way that helps the user or business. Key metrics include adding more information to their profile page, checking the news feed frequently or inviting friends to try the service.
    • Monetization: Collecting revenue from users. It could include the number of people who are paying for the service or the average revenue per user (ARPU).

    For more information and examples on how to use the AARM Method™ refer to Lewis C. Lin's book: Decode and Conquer.

    How Many MBAs Do Google, Amazon, and Microsoft Hire by Lewis Lin

    Credit: Lewis C. Lin / Data compiled from school employment reports, Fall 2016

    Credit: Lewis C. Lin / Data compiled from school employment reports, Fall 2016

    The answer is a lot...and Amazon wins by a big margin. A couple of big takeaways from the data:

    • Michigan Ross MBA grads are beloved by Amazon. They lead the pack with 60 hires.
    • Northwestern Kellogg MBAs are the top school at Google. They win out with 20 hires, followed by MIT Sloan and Duke Fuqua.
    • Michigan Ross is again the favorite at Microsoft with 30 hires, followed by Duke Fuqua at 22 hires.

    A few notes about the data:

    • Numbers were compiled from official MBA employment reports.
    • All reports were published in fall 2016, which includes numbers for both class of 2016 and class of 2017.
    • Cumulative hire numbers include both full-time and summer internship hires.
    • Other schools were not featured because they did not provide the appropriate per-company breakouts.

    Practice for Case Interview Math by Lewis Lin


    On our Slack interview community, Jennifer asked:

    Does anyone have a suggestion on how to practice estimation interviews without a 2nd person helping you out?

    Announcing Case Interview Math Practice

    The answer is yes! We've recently launched our case interview math practice software just a couple of weeks ago. You'll find over 50 practice questions including:

    • Estimations + guessestimates
    • Profitability
    • Breakeven
    • Price elasticity
    • Lifetime value
    • Stating assumptions

    There are a few more reasons why you should check it out:

    1. This is perfect for those who are preparing for quant. heavy interviews such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.
    2. The practice problems are the same ones featured from my #1 Amazon.com best selling book on case interview math problems
    3. It's free.



    Another Win for the PM Interview Community: Amazon Web Services by Lewis Lin


    I'm happy to announce another win for the product manager interview community: a job offer with Amazon's AWS team!

    If you're looking to the join the PM interview community, you can find details here.

    Lastly, you mind find these two remaining Amazon product management resources to be helpful:

    More Kudos for PM Interview Questions & Decode and Conquer by Lewis Lin

    Woo hoo! Great news from one of my half-day workshop attendees! They landed an Amazon PM internship! Read their full comments here:

    I'm a first year MBA student at [West Coast University] and we met when you were on campus at the end of last year for a Product Management workshop. I got my Decode and Conquer copy signed by you after the session. I wanted to inform you that both Decode & Conquer and 150 PM Interview Questions books helped me immensely in my preparation for PM interviews, particularly since I was trying to transition from a Consulting background. I have successfully landed the Sr.PM internship role with Amazon for this Summer, and it was my target company. I would like to thank you for the content you've provided and material covered in your books! Hands down the best questions I've come across in my preparation. Thank you again, and good luck with your future work. :)

    Screenshot: LinkedIn

    Screenshot: LinkedIn

    Product Management Mock Interviews: More Wins from Our Community by Lewis Lin


    I'm happy to announce yet another win for our product management mock interview community.

    One of our long-time members just nailed offers from Amazon and OpenTable. You'll see in the note below the amount of effort and practice she put in.

    All of us at the Product Management Interview Community is incredibly proud of her. We wish her the best on her new journey!

    PS Her old PM role is now open at a leading consumer brand. Find more details at the community.

    Photo credit: Amazon, OpenTable, Lewis C. Lin's PM Interview Community