Technical Behavioral Questions – Part VII

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1 – How did you work with engineering and QA as a Technical Program Manager?

When I worked at ABC as a TPM, I managed a team of engineers, which included the QA team as well.  I managed a team under the program while I also worked with the team at a centralized processing center at the corporation.

The team I managed handled large data in TBs. I worked with engineers to forensically collect the data from companies or parties involved, cull the data by various filters and analytics, perform ETL, machine learning, and help with the review of millions of documents. For each project, the data is received on a rolling basis.

In addition, I also worked with the team of program managers to decide which application to bring in, which process to improve and how we can generate more revenue by introducing highly complex technical capabilities to our clients.

I could successfully bring in more technical work like mobile, chat data to be processed and increase the revenue of my program by 15%.

2 – Tell me about a time when you failed.

When I worked at XYZ company as a Systems Analyst, I was asked to give an estimate of the number of hours to perform a certain task to give an estimate to the client. I gave 3 hours, while I ended up spending 12 hours on that.

When the bill was sent to the client, they questioned the huge time estimate issue. I had a valid explanation. I gave 3 hours when I thought the process would be highly automated and some minimal supervision would require on my side as we had some ETL scripts designed. However, the file we received was not in the standard format and that is why, I had to spend more time cleaning and wrangling the data, which was manual work and that took me longer.

The client understood my explanation, and how I went above and beyond to make things happen for them by meeting a tight deadline. but I learned that in the future, as soon as I discover such issues that could affect billable time, I should notify the client manager and get the approval. 

3 – What are your weaknesses?

When I work with people, sometimes I am considered too direct. 

I learned that, people do not always take the way I am trying to explain or deliver. With my one of the recent job, when I tried to talk to the data analyst about how something could be executed better way, she thought I was questioning her. 

I had to explain later that she was an awesome employee and highly-technical person and I was so much lucky to have her as part of the team. All, I was trying was to make a suggestion to improve the process a little bit as I understood the process. She agreed with me and understood my intention and we both worked as a team with process improvements and helped other engineers to think that way.

4 – What did you like most about your last job? What did you like least about your last job?

My last job was being a co-founder at a company and what I enjoyed most was to make an impact, wear many hats, and learn new things. I managed data, information, and corporate governance. I worked on infrastructure improvement, data analytics, managing a team of freelancers, and setting up our own podcast. The biggest achievement before COVID was to manage the client, where we helped them with PR and marketing to successfully launch their augmented reality glasses and major 15+ publications like WSJ, Forbes, Washington Post, and other local, national, and international publications picked up in the news.

What I liked least was too much volatility around the industry, where we had to shift our vision a few times due to lack of data. I thought that was an extreme way to describe “throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.”

5 – Tell me about a time where an engineer disagreed with you. How did you work through the issue?

When I worked at XYZ, as a program manager, I proposed certain scripts to be written to make the data migration process more efficient. My proposal was to write a custom php script for certain data cleaning/wrangling issues. 

Initially the engineer showed some resistance as he thought that different data we receive we would have to handle differently and there is no way to standardize some part of the process. 

I did not push my idea, however, I kept bringing up in one on one talk with him to think about that by sharing my stories. Once he understood my technical capabilities and suggestions were coming from my past experiences, he agreed with me to automize, which will help everyone. 

Later we could design few such scripts and that helped us to improve our SLA 25% faster.

6 – How do you know when a design is complete?

When you work on a design, create a Definition of Done, which everyone in the team agrees on. I would focus on building MVP first and keep adding iterations I will add more features during the next iterations. I would focus on build-measure-learn and keep iterating until the product is perfect-market-fit.

7 – Talk me through a time where you had to work with several different teams to coordinate a product launch.

When I worked as a product manager for my recent startup, I would focus on managing podcasts as products for our clients. To launch a podcast is an intensive process, where you deal with multiple teams. Let me give you an example of the podcast series that we prepared for one of our clients. 

First, we worked on planning with their legal and compliance, media and marketing person and designer as well as the organizer of the event. As required, we coordinated with senior management. 

Internally, we coordinated with our procurement, legal, IT, musician, audio engineer, video engineer, designer, voice artists, business development, marketing, data analytics, operations, writer, and PR person.

We also worked with third-party vendors to decide the right platform for the launch of audio and video podcasts.

Finally after a couple of months of effort and working with all these teams, we could streamline to process and released the series.

8 – Talk me through your preferred prioritization framework. What were the pros and cons of using it?

RICE matrix is my favorite approach to prioritize. RICE matrix helps to determine low or high value by calculating a score using Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Efforts.

Pros are that you have numbers in front of you, so you can have a logical argument to go with certain features over others. The loudest voice or difficult stakeholder would not try to pressure or manipulate if you have explanation of each value.

Cons is you must have data backing up. If it is a radically new approach where we do not have enough data, I would focus on a simple method like value vs. efforts.

9 – How did you interact with your users in a previous company?

Your user should feel understood. With my previous company, I dealt with B2B users in the litigation support domain. To make sure they are happy and satisfied and we could potentially get more work, I would periodically check with the users about our process and ask for their feedback. 

If something goes wrong, I will make sure to communicate and be transparent and informative. Customers should feel that they are very important and their success is our success. 

I also go one step ahead to make sure that customers feel WOW with our service or feature. When thinking of new features for the product, think with empathy towards users as that way you can win their hearts.

10 – How do you drive colleagues to adopt your vision and/or ideas? Give an example of a time you successfully persuaded a person or team to follow your lead on an important project or decision.

When I worked at Neuf Consulting, as a product manager and co-founder, the initial idea was to focus on consulting business and be a government contracting company. 

However, I came across the opportunity, where we won work to design a workflow management system for one of the mid-size business. I knew that this particular product was not easily affordable to small to mid-size businesses in the eDiscovery domain. I decided to shift the vision of the company from consulting based to SaaS product based. 

Luckily, my prototype surely was applauded and picked up by other potential small business owners. The product was also selected by Inc. as one of the top three innovative products for potential investors. While the product was being developed SaaS-based, it was paid for by real customers. I could convince my business partners gradually to shift our focus based on all these incidences.

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