Senior Product Manager Interview Questions


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Senior Product Manager was asked...2 August 2010

The manager of component 'A' says his functionality is more important than that of component 'B.' The manager of component 'B' says his is more important than that of component 'A.' You can only implement one A or B, but not both - which do you choose to implement.

14 Answers

The key question to ask is definition of "IMPORTANT". Is it important to the managers (ego equation), important to the end consumer or important for Amazon. The first one needs to be thrown out immediately and the others must be quantified based on achievability, impact on end user and ROI. Less

I would say whichever is more valuable to customer & gives competitive advantage to Amazon. Less

Agreed. Need to drill into what "important" means. Great catch My guess is that Amazon was looking to quantify/define "important" from the customer perspective. Less

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IHG Hotels and Resorts

What do you think of the team?

6 Answers

team is a group of people with different ideas working on a common goal

the team is a group of people who help each other to make the company success

Working a project, a functional team is the one major key to success.

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How would I design the elevators for a new 40 story office building that had an average of 100 people per floor to most efficiently fill and empty the building given a standard 9-5 workday and traffic conditions in my city? The answer needed to be completely detailed, including expected passengers per car, time per stop, average floors stops per trip at various hours, etc.

7 Answers

1) The first advice that I've read is to ask some questions before you start answering. It will show that you are strategic & don't jump to random assumptions. So I will probably ask questions like: Is the efficiency goal focused only at the start & end of day & not in between (i.e. lunch time, breaks)? How many elevators are there? What is the capacity of each elevator? 2) Assuming that everything is average, i.e. 6 elevators, 15 people per elevator, and focus only on start and end date, then the sample data should follow a normal distribution. 730-8 - 2% 8-830 - 14% 830-9 - 34% 9-930 - 34% 930-10 - 14% 10-1030 - 2% 3) I will break this down & solve the worst case scenario first. This means, 34 people x 40 floors = 1360 people to be transported by 6 elevator x 15 = total 90 capacity during 830-9 or 9-930 am. 4) Focusing on this more manageable problem, 1360 / 90 means each elevator will make 15 full cycles (lobby to highest floor and back) 5) Since we want to minimize the cycle time for each elevator, we assign one elevator per subset of 40/6 consecutive floors. This should address the issue on minimizing time per stop. 6) That means, the final design should be a load balancing of the elevators by minimizing the travel time --- Elevator A - 1st to 7th floor, B - 8th to 14th floor, and so forth. Do you guys see anything wrong with this line of thinking? Less

The idea is to "learn" from user behavior. Start with a blank slate where the elevators assume that all floors, except the first floor, have the same probability at all times. Then, based on user behavior, alter the probabilities. If the elevators can talk with the users' phones, via bluetooth, and identify to which floor this user goes, when he/she comes to and leaves work, how often does this person take the elevator to go to other floors or out on lunch, then improve the efficiency based on the aspects learnt. Less

A simple algorithm would be to note that there will be more people during the morning going up and slowly taper this down as the day progresses. For example, during the noon-afternoon period, the frequency and number of people going up or down would be almost the same. So have a priority for the ground floor during the morning hours. Move the elevators as soon as possible to the higher floors. Mandate that people get in regardless of whether the elevator is going up or down, once the elevator reaches the highest floor, it would reverse and go non-stop to the bottom floor. Increase the priority for people for the floors that have the buttons pressed as time passes. Less

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What is the best way to sort a terabyte of array of data, when you have limited RAM (500k), and each array element has a couple of items of data, at about 1-10k each.

6 Answers

External merge sort. First load the data chunk by chunk, sort it in-memory (by quicksort for example) and write it back in chunks. After this, use merge sort on the chunks. This is how most databases do sorting. Less

How is this relevant to a product manager role? This is an engineering problem

External merge sort is the answer

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UnitedHealth Group

Why are you leaving your current position

6 Answers

Hi I have had to relocate to New York because of a need for more opportunities Available within my sports med minor My current employer has been very understanding and has offered me a chance to travel and learn More about my intended career goals Apart from my associate management employment Position a Rittenhouse sports Philadelphia Her names is Carolyn and since maintaining a concise agende and updating with the shop I proved the ability toward making for the best On behalf of Career Volunteering & community Which has its rewards Less

Thank you for writing this comment. It is very good and encouraging for someone who might have applied or about to go through the process. Less

Thank you so much for the detailed review. I have been applying at UHG but still no answer. My current project was affected by a budget cut so I'm really looking for a new project. I am a CMS contractor and I'm really praying to get a position with UHG. I love that company. Less

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Suppose there is a smart phone API that can give you a person's mood and that there are 100 different moods. There can be varying level of moods, such as happy, very happy, sad, extremely sad, etc. You can also have more than one mood at a time (such as nervous and excited). What app would you create to take advantage of this API?

6 Answers

Building on Phaedra's point about "what does the client really need?" I think there is a need here. Many people are not immediately aware of their emotions or what may trigger them. Imagine you had an app that could track your emotions and you could see a readout at the end of an hour, day west, etc. That readout could tell you what your location was when you felt that way (e.g., going to your girlfriend's parent's house makes you anxious and mad). Also, imagine the app allowed you to set up reminders or actions whenever you felt a certain emotion or were heading to a specific place (e.g., you are starting to feel sad, and you could set up a YouTube clip of puppies to cheer you up a bit). Or the app could share your emotions with your significant other (e.g., I'm happy at work on the day I thought I was going to get a significant other could get a notification and feel the joy with me immediately). Of course, this is Google, so there could be some ads based on how you feel...though that's a bit intrusive. Perhaps you could just throw in an ad when you visit the YouTube clip of the puppies. Finally, imagine the wealth of knowledge Google could build based on geography, demography, etc. How cool would it be to know immediately how happy/sad/anxious/mad people are in a specific location after a specific event (e.g., France's incumbent Prime Minister lost the election and 78% of French users are happy at the exact moment). Less

I personally think that this question is flawed and would tell the interviewer as such. this approach is a cool technology doo dad in search of a problem, rather than a problem in search of a solution. The core of product management is understanding "what does the client really need?" and then working with your technical leads to figure out the appropriate technical solution. Good product management does not start with "here some cool bit of technology, how can we use it". Yes, it is good to have knowledge of the cool doo dads out there, but they then get filed into your toolbox as available for future use when required. There is no need to pull out a tool just because you have it available. For a baby with a hammer, everything looks like a nail! Less

"What does the client really need" Even I agree, there's a need here. I think a good way would be that when the user is installing/setting it up for the first time, you actually ask him the following questions (a) His favorite food (b) his favorite activity (c) Names of 2/3 emergency contacts I would probably rate his emotions on a scale from Happy to Sad, and maybe from Active to Inactive. Say if the person was super Happy, maybe it's time to suggest him to buy something. If he or she's really sad, and he loves a spiced mocha from starbucks, suggest him to go to the nearest one- might cheer him up. Really happy ==> buy something! Sad ==> have your favorite food or "would you like to hear your fav song?" Really sad=> pull out the list of 3 emergency contacts, would you like to speak to one of them? too nervous==> here's your favorite calvin comic to cheer you up and calm you down Impatient==> I know you are busy, but don't forgot to wish your wife, it's her birthday tomm! I agree with the previous poster that the wealth of information is awesome here. Combine it with any analytics and you have an awesome product. eg. See where people are most happy - best place to open an ice cream shop or an apple store :) Less

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Tell me how you would scale a social media software platform?

3 Answers

Try to define "scale", ask for clarifications. Are we trying to scale to more users or to more ad providers? Are there any current bottlenecks? What is the goal here? How about we improve the experience by providing more relevant ads? etc... Less

Its such a tricky question. I guess its by the analytic we use to know the page views and all.. Less

I didn't have a good answer for this one.


Suppose you are working on a project with an original scope of a few months and you are told that you instead now have a few days -- how would you handle it?

5 Answers

I'd ask 'why'? Something radically changed since the last time this was discussed. Understanding what it was that changed is critical to determining the best course of action. Adding manpower, reducing scope, working 24/7, or pushing back might all be reasonable (or horrible) solutions. By first understanding the (new) need, you can then develop a solution. Less

Depends: Who is telling me this? What stage is the project in on the project life cycle? Review these factors in light of the impacts, set change management process and communication plan. There are no cookie cutter approached - each project is unique. Less

I would say evaluate the overall impacts and risks then communicate it with your sponsor (customer). Let he/she to decide then document it. Less

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The most unexpected question was "What book are you reading right now?" Since I like to read I could answer it easily but if you didn't read much it would throw you for a loop.

1 Answers

i am creativity for photo shop , illustetar , web designer

Dell Technologies

In order of priority what are most important aspects- people, processes, communications

4 Answers

People are the most important aspect. If you don't have the right people, you can have all the processes you want, but it does not mean your business will succeed. It is the people that are at the heart of a businesses success. Less

What if your "horrible resources" are the type who cannot or will not follow processes?... Less

Each of these items substitute each other though I would say communication is the first priority. Through communication we can understand the project criticality and priority to decide the process, patent and people required for the project. And as well we can always set the expectations right through timely communication. Less

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