Smallcase Product Management Interview Handbook 2022

Content:

  1. PM Interview Structure
  2. PM Interview Questions
  3. Negotiations
  4. Product Organizational structure
  5. Asking the Right Questions
  6. Conclusion

PM Interview Structure

The process of getting the call from HR to obtaining the offer letter takes about 3-4 weeks on an average.

Phase 1 (Exploratory Round and Problem Solving)

1. Introductory Discussion and Assignment

A short introductory meet with the hiring team that provides general information about smallcase, its businesses, and the general trajectory of the company. The interviewee is also assigned their case study assignment which they have to solve before the next stage of the interview starts.

🔓The intent of this round is to understand you and your aspirations well, understanding how they fit in the company’s vision, and informing you about the company’s initiatives and resolve basic doubts.

Common mistakes: Not being able to tell your story effectively and not knowing what your aspirations clearly are.

2. Problem Solving And Discussion

Discussion of the interviewee’s solution to the take home assignment, the frameworks used, and how the solution came to be. This is done to understand how the thinking process went and how the interviewee approached the problem statement itself.

🔓The interviewer will evaluate you on the breadth and depth of your thought process through this exercise. Be as exhaustive and thorough as possible.

Common mistakes: Thinking that there is a single universal solution and not exploring different possibilities, restricting yourself to artificial constraints. Not being open to corrections or not being able to defend their reasoning for parts of the solution.


Phase 2 (Understanding Fitment)

1. Culture Fitment

In this round, you are being evaluated for your cultural fitment at Smallcase. The round is meant to assess whether you would be a good fit for the company or not. There are no right or wrong answers. Be honest and think thoroughly before you answer.

🔓There may be questions around your past experiences, career aspirations, hypothetical scenarios, your strengths and weaknesses, etc. We highly recommend that you invest some time in preparing yourself for the interview.

Common mistakes: Lying about your personality in order to seem more aligned with what you perceive the company wants.


PM Interview Questions

  1. What aspects of product management do you find the least interesting and why? (August 2021, PM)

Pro Tip: They are trying to gauge your ability to think critically and from diverse perspectives, try probing the question from different directions.

2. You’re a PM at Amazon eCommerce platform. You released a new feature in the items search functionality recently and found out that searches increased by 10% but the results page load time is 2 seconds longer. What would you do? (Oct 2021, PM)

Pro Tip: They are looking to see how you create a breakdown of product problem, and how you approach problem solving.

3. You manage supply logistics for pepperonis for Dominos for Bangalore. How many pepperoni pieces should you budget for in a month? (Oct 2021, PM)

Pro Tip: They are trying to have a measure for your daily observation skills and ability to guesstimate on the fly.

4. Improve the engagement and revenue metric for Chaipoint. (Oct 2021, Product Analyst)

Pro Tip: They are testing your ability to analyze company, understand the flaws and strengths of a product, and how you would identify and approach problems.

5. How do you go about identifying a Product problem and how do you decide it's worth solving? (Oct 2021, Pavan Kalyan (Upraised Alum), APM)

Pro Tip: They are looking to understand how you go about analyzing products and what tools do you have at disposal.

6. How is smallcase different from it's competitors? (Oct 2021, Pavan Kalyan (Upraised Alum), APM)

Pro Tip: They want you to show how passionate you are for the product and how you think the product adds value to its users.

7. What improvements would you suggest for Google Maps? (Oct 2021, Pavan Kalyan (Upraised Alum), APM)

Pro Tip: They are looking to see how well you can solve a problem on the fly.

8. Root cause Analysis- Amazon's sales start to dip. What would you do? (Oct 2021, Pavan Kalyan (Upraised Alum), APM)

Pro Tip: They are looking for your familiarity with how to do root cause analysis and find out how in depth and from how many diverse perspectives you can approach and solve a problem.

Negotiations

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest, most applicants rated the interview and the salary negotiation process at 8+ points.

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Asking the Right Questions

  1. Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?

Why ask this : Shows your curiosity and enthusiasm for the company & your planning abilities.

2. What does a typical day look like?

Why ask this : Shows you care about company culture, and are curious about how you would spend your time at the company.

3. What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?

Why ask this : Shows you have a planning nature and are eager to learn about the intricacies of the role.

4. What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?

Why ask this : Shows you know how to do expectation setting and want to understand the demands of the company from you.

5. What’s your favourite part about working here?

Why ask this : Shows you are eager to learn about company culture.

6. What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?

Why ask this : Shows you want to understand company vision and how you would contribute to it.

Product Organisation Structure

💡
No of PMs in the team - 15 to 20 PMs currently
PM to Engineers ratio - 1:4

Conclusion

Apart from exceptional PM skills, high growth startups look for a dependable and well rounded individual that operates with a user first approach. PMs have to work in a collaborative environment which makes good communication skills a must amongst other qualities like the ability to prioritise and execute fast.

What makes any candidate a strong YES for everyone on the interview panel is their approach to the problem statement and the structure of their solution. This post has tried to cover all the information one needs to crack a product management interview at Smallcase.

Best of Luck !


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