Technical Behavioral Questions – Part VI (Product Management Special)

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1 – Talk me through how you managed the roadmap for your previous product.

To manage the product roadmap, I would focus on the following four points. 1) High-level objective of the organization 2) Identify relevant metrics 3) Customers 4) Prioritize

When I was the product manager and co-founder at Neuf Consulting, I worked on a workflow management product from a product vision to product launch. The objective of the product was to keep it plug and play with API integration and implement modules as required by clients so they did not have to switch or buy the entire system. The MVP was focused on SaaS-based. I focused on small to midsize companies working in the eDiscovery industry as my target customers. My initial focus was to have more active users using our system. I prioritized features accordingly so a user can start using the system and tracking the work by creating completely custom templates for them regardless of the industry or domain.

2 – One of your highest paying customers demands a feature from you that wasn’t originally slotted onto the product roadmap and will derail your original plan. What do you do?

First I will try to understand the feature and why the customer is asking for that. I will also clarify what his/her perception is. To listen and understand the point of view of the customer is very important. I will explain why that feature was not included during this sprint by giving some information on resources or other priority features that could potentially benefit customers more. I will see if that feature is coming in the upcoming sprint or if that is high value enough to re-prioritize my product backlog and will assure that we will continue working to their business needs and satisfaction.

I will not change the current sprint as generally Sprints are a couple of weeks and it is not recommended to make any changes.

3 – Talk me through a time where you had to say no to senior management.

When I worked at ABC as a program manager, my manager asked me to give priority to certain projects from the highest paying clients and that means, our good and profitable clients who were still contributing a significant amount of over revenue (5 – 10%) would get lower priority. She was being pressured by high influential stakeholders.

I knew that these small clients could potentially become giving us more work if we give them an equal priority. I talked to my manager about helping other program managers with some system to help them to give a timeline to their clients, so we can keep existing clients happy and bring new business at the same time. 

That worked well and eventually, we ended up growing two of those small programs, one of them surpassed revenue to the point, they became our highest paying clients.

4 – How do you decide what not to build?

1) Brainstorm with the team and potential stakeholders 

2) decide priority features by RICE framework 

3) conduct user interviews and if possible get numbers and make data-driven decisions 

4) Get feedback from the team

Put that against the RICE matrix and determine Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Efforts to make the decision. The feature with the lowest RICE matrix should not be built.

5 – What is your favorite product and why? What will you improve about it?

MyFitnessPal

First, let me explain to you what MyFitnessPal does. MyFitnessPal has a free and paid subscription and it has a mobile app and a website. I use the free version frequently as I like to count my food and calories to maintain my weight. The target user is anyone watching, maintaining or working towards a healthy lifestyle.

The product has a food and exercise database based on food and exercise added by millions of users. I can also add friends, and share quick updates and stay motivated.

I will add specific groups based on diet restrictions or physical conditions, where I can not only stay with my existing contact but I can make new friends and stay motivated with that group. For example, I am vegetarian and I want to share my updates with like-minded people. If I can convert the app to my private social media that will be a great way to future stay motivated to stay on my goal.

6 – How would you improve the restaurant list feature on Yelp?

I am a Yelp Elite user for two years now and I have written 150 reviews in the last two years. When I click on the restaurant list, I am not finding relevant restaurants according to my reviews or interest. 

As a product manager, I will focus on modifying algorithms to show me more restaurants according to my interest. Yelp gathers statistics like check-in, reviews written, found useful, cool or funny, etc. I would prepare the restaurant list based on those activities. I did not see enough useful information for me to determine if certain restaurant takeout is good during COVID time or not. I would also customize a list of user likes more takeout or dine in.

7 – Explain machine learning to a 6-year-old.

When we go to play tennis, you would watch your daddy and try to play like him? Sometimes, your daddy teaches you how to play as well. That is how machine learning works. Robots learn from us how to play tennis by watching us and sometimes we tell robots how to play best.

Next time when the robot is playing tennis, the robot will remember how to play and can continuously learn by practice. 

8 – Pick an industry that will look completely different in 10-20 years. How would you make sure our company would be able to adapt to that industry?

COVID had thought that going to work is optional or flexible in many cases. Working hours will not be 9 to 5 strictly for most jobs. Also, due to Cloud and technologies, people can work from anywhere in the world as long as compliance is not an issue.

In the next 10-20 years, that will impact on adapting to the virtual mindset. I foresee that people will work from home or anywhere and that is why small companies will have rented part of co-working spaces and large companies may not have designated seats for most of the individuals.

First, we want to make sure to sign our lease agreement or to invest in real estate accordingly. Second, we want to have a compatible cloud and data management virtual workspace designed. We should invest in the right security means to help our employees work from anywhere and yet avoid cyber threats. Our managers should be trained well to focus on performance and create a self-managing team. We should also invest more in smartphones, laptops, and other such equipment. 

9 – What aspects of product management do you enjoy the most? What do you dislike the most?

I love to work with a cross-functional team and bring a product vision to reality. That is possible with influence without authority and right communication. 

Not specifically I dislike anything, yet I know sometimes it is challenging to get unanimity of stakeholders and team members when it comes to including or prioritizing certain features. So, when dealing with difficult people and trying to get things going, something is not my favorite part of product management.

10 – In your eyes, what qualities make a good product?

Good products must have good value propositions and solve real problems. It is well understood by target users. It should be easy and efficient to use. 

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