If you're interviewing a candidate for a PM job (product marketing, product management, or both), the big challenge is gauging that person's interpersonal, organizational, and political skills. For example, can this candidate communicate and persuade a variety of audiences, both internal and external? And, when the going gets really tough, how deftly can the candidate handle PM's own version of the Kobiyashi Maru-like, no-win scenario?
I'm sure that you, Dear Reader, can devise just such a fiendish and instructive test. Please enter your no-win scenario in the Comments section of this post. The author of the best entry gets an all-expense paid trip to the pleasure planet of Risa.
To get the ball rolling, here's an example:
Tomorrow is a key analyst briefing for a brand-new product. The analyst is already skeptical about both your design approach and your company's ability to execute.
You've had a hard time pinning down the one potential reference customer whom you must cite during the briefing. It's mid-afternoon, and you had planned to call your IT contact to get the final details on their experience during the beta program. That information will then go into the slides for the briefing.
Surprise! On the phone is a bigger group than just the IT manager. Also on the phone is a very angry CEO, fuming about how his golfing buddy, your CEO, promised that testing this new product was going to be risk free. Instead, it managed to bring down e-mail and calendar for everyone in their company, effectively bringing their business to a standstill.
This is the first you've heard of any problems with the software, let alone something that goes off like a bomb in their data center. The last your CEO asked about the beta program, your response was, "So far, so good."