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

    The List App Review: Why BJ Novak's App Rocks by Lewis Lin

    In list format, here's why li.st rocks.


    Here's why people like it

    1. Easy to read. Lists are super scannable. Especially on a mobile device, on the go.
    2. Easy to write. Lists are fast and easy to generate. They're short.
    3. The community. If you've been on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Quora, you know what I mean
    4. BJ NovakHe posts a lot.
    5. Tweetstorm-esque. Not as awkward to use as the Twitter (hack) version.
    6. Addicting. The Travel Channel in the late 90s discovered a trend that every single publisher has copied in the last 20 years. Audiences love lists and rankings. And the numbers (below) back it up: 45% of content with 20k social shares revolved around a comparison or ranking. Look no further than Buzzfeed, and you'll find that lists are super addicting. Examples include top 10 European beaches, top 10 U.S. colleges, and the 5 Best Seattle Restaurants 2016.


    Here's what they use it for

    • Share opinions.
    • Share favorite things.
    • Share things they hate.
    • Share general purpose information. It's easier including party / event notifications, for sale items.
    • Share stories. Below is a great example. It's like Snapchat Stories but in a different format.

    Will people keep using it

    • Yes
    • Absolutely
    • For Sure

    Final Thoughts (not in list form)

    The list revolution is on. It's similar to when Twitter introduced 140 character messages, Instagram introduced filters, or Vine revealed 30 second videos.

    By adding constraints to communication (aka list format), it will ironically increase creativity for the medium.

    And just like Twitter, Instagram and Vine -- this is perhaps the first time the "list medium" is wrapped up with a social network.

    Hundreds of people at Medium, Facebook, and Google are kicking themselves right now for not developing their own li.st competitor.

    Well done, li.st team.


    PS Find me on li.st @lewislin

    PPS Photo credit: TechCrunch, Fractl, Hobvias Sudoneighm

    Why Secret App Failed in 2015, and Why Anonymous Social Network Sites Will Come Back in 2017 by Lewis Lin

    Why Anonymous Social Network Sites Will Come Back in 2017

    I don't believe there's a lack of utility with anonymous networks. Anonymous can be useful. A few examples:

    • Anonymous questions and answers on Quora
    • Anonymous Twitter accounts, like FakeSteveJobs on Twitter (before Dan Lyons' revealed himself)
    • Reddit

    As a new Reddit user, I've discovered how powerful the Reddit community is, and most of its users are anonymous. Its users are brave and courageous; arguably, I don't believe your average Reddit user would be as outspoken without anonymous protection.

    Why Secret App Failed in 2015

    My conclusion on why Secret failed: poor competitive strategy. And here's why:

    • YikYak dominated location-based, anonymous discussion at schools, so Secret could not occupy that space.
    • If Secret was competing in anonymous discussion in general (non-location based), it could not overcome Reddit's strong user base and community.

    I'm not sure if Secret could have done something different with its assets, but competing head-on with YikYak and Reddit was a losing proposition.

    Deflect Salary Questions From a Recruiter Like an Expert by Lewis Lin


    SEE ALSO: 60+ Brilliant Salary Negotiation Scripts

    One of the pinnacle rules of negotiation is to not to give a number first. In salary negotiations, revealing your current or expected salary can be detrimental to your success. If you reveal a number too high, the company might screen you out. If you reveal a number too low, they might try to get you for less money than you're worth. Avoid both of these scenarios by avoiding talk about salary until you receive an offer. If the recruiter explicitly asks for this information however, use these phrases to deflect the dreaded salary questions.

    The phrases will work for both phone and email.


    The Very Nice Approach

    "Why don't we first complete the interview process? If there's a good fit on both sides, I'm sure we can figure out a compensation package that works for both of us."

    The Practical Approach (Alternate 1)

    "It's too early to talk about compensation, especially since you don't know the value I can bring to your company. Let's do the interview first, and we can talk about compensation later.

    The Sensitive Financial Information Approach (Alternate 2)

    "I am uncomfortable sharing my current salary. I do not disclose my personal financial situation to others. I keep that information private."

    The Corporate Confidential Approach (Alternate 3)
    "I signed an NDA with my current employer to not divulge corporate information to others. If you signed a NDA, you wouldn't divulge confidential information to others would you?"



    Some recruiters will persist in asking for your current salary. Some can't help but to ask again; others feel offended when you decline to share. They might say something to the effect of, "I've talked to four candidates today, and all of them have divulged their current salary info."

    Resist the pressure. Stand your ground and repeat your earlier explanation in a matter-of-fact, without emotion or any other language that might offend the asking party.

    SEE ALSO: 60+ Brilliant Salary Negotiation Scripts

    Photo credit to Hector Alejandro