How to answer "Design a mixer/grinder/blender for a kid"

As an aspiring PM I’ve gone through many interviews. But the one that isn’t getting off my mind is this:

Interviewer - Design a mixer/grinder/blender for a kid

Me - Can i ask some clarifying questions?

Interviewer (visibly impressed) - yes, pls go ahead

Me - Whose kid? Yours or mine?

Interviewer (confused) - what’s this? I don’t have kids

Me - Then who’s the mixer/grinder for?

Interviewer (annoyed) - it’s a hypothetical question

Me - Ok then can i think of my kids and design? It will help me relate better

Interviewer - sure

Me - i have no kids too. So, i think as a PM, we shouldn’t waste time solving problems for users that are non-existent.

Interviewer - Buzz off

Me - Is that a new framework?

PS - high five if you’re as annoyed as me with PM interviews :stuck_out_tongue:

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I would ask for some children to be brought in so I could watch them interact with a refrigerator and then I would question them about their experiences with refrigerators.

Using a textbook opening would still irritate interviewers: wink:

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@BethanyGrey, I’d actually be fine with this response, as an interviewer. To keep things moving, I’d just ask you to make up some reasonable assumptions about what you’d learn to drive the rest of the interview.

“In the real world, I would do X. For the purposes of this interview, let’s assume that after doing X, we learned A, B, and C. Can I continue with those assumptions?” <— perfect way to answer these sorts of questions.

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Completely true. The phrase “start with an observatory focus group to hone in on user specific wants and concerns with standard mixies” may be better phrased. Then, you could create a list of presumptive needs (which would typically be the product of that focus group) to employ in the following phase.

Likewise typical of engineering job interviews. one does not necessarily need to have all the answers at hand, but one must be able to articulate their method and approach.

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PM interview prep is about having all the answers for on-the-spot questions. Smile, pretend you’re thinking, and as if you deeply care about designing a diaper bag for blind people. :smile:

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@PouyaTaaghol, As a PM, I firmly oppose “thinking on the fly.” It takes intention, process, experimentation, and careful consideration to design amazing goods. I’m not interested in hearing the first thought that comes to anyone’s mind.

In my experience, this method of working is all too widespread and highly regarded, and it soon throws everything off course.

Give me some actual data so that we can brainstorm and come up with some potential ideas.

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@AnaRodriguez, If I could come up with world-changing ideas on the spot on any given topic… I would not be interviewing at someone else’s company.

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I enjoy it when they combine strange terms as if their business would ever be interested in creating anything for babies who are blind, have no sense of smell, are unable to swim, and reside on Mars.

Additionally, avoid mentioning that you are optimising for monetization and seem as though your primary goal is to make your people happy, not to make money.

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Yes. I don’t mind when interviewers ask you to go over your previous work or offer advice on a real issue they’re facing, but I’m weary of those who behave like they’re the host of a game show or the Sphinx.

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Another instance, I had an interview with a FAANG company last quarter (regret my life for doing that).

The interviewer performed in a robotic manner. did not greet or introduce himself when he joined.

Additionally, it prevented me from thinking and interrupted me whenever I did.

Then, when it made me lose faith in myself and my judgement, he literally began laughing and making faces at me.

Terrible encounter I hate FAANG.

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@AngelaBlue, I had an interview last month with a big company. What a horrible situation that was.

In addition to the bizarre format, the first interviewer would cut me off if I spoke outside of a predetermined script. The second interviewer seemed preoccupied. who knew the whole time, scarcely listening to the interview.

Moreover, the format, oh gosh. I wanted to embed my keyboard keys into my forehead when I read statements like “you can use any framework you like but use this one” and “you can exhibit your work any way you like but use this tool.”

0/10 would never recommend.

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LOL, same exact thing happened.

He said he didn’t know how to utilise the tool when I mentioned that I was using it.

So I said, “Let me share the Google doc link,” but he replied, “Just share your screen.” He stated this because he found Google Doc to be too complicated.

He instructed me to speak instead of writing when I shared the screen.

What a disorganized bunch! :roll_eyes:

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Asking an interviewee about a genuine issue the interviewer is facing is extremely bad practice. The interviewer has an absurd amount more context, which makes it very difficult to be objective.

You are also directed to interrogate PM aspirants in an open-ended manner. Most large IT organizations have a variety of requirements that are difficult to evaluate without asking a complicated inquiry. It also enables you to ask senior and junior students the identical questions; nevertheless, you assist youngsters much more.

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That depends on whether you want them to provide a solution or just to explain how they would approach the problem and come up with a solution. Additionally, it need not be a problem you are currently experiencing; for instance, at my former employment, we would utilise examples from other products A when conducting interviews for positions on product B.

It’s not a flawless approach, but at least the use cases and questions we asked applicants to consider were pertinent to the position they were applying for in the first place. If anything, I believe that would be more fair to the applicant because they should be better equipped to respond to inquiries regarding the sector or field they are applying for than a series of unrelated inquiries.

I’m quite interested to see how well those questions reflect the characteristics they’re ostensibly screening for.

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@MarcoSilva, Hiring a candidate with industry-specific knowledge is typically less significant at large firms than hiring a candidate with good generic PM skills. The interview (and evaluators) must concentrate on more all-purpose talents because the objective is to select someone who might function productively practically anyplace in the organisation.

There are exceptions, typically determined by seniority or the establishment of a new business unit. I believe the term “generalist” is misleading because it suggests a lack of targeted talents; the term “chameleon” is more accurate because it describes someone who can swiftly become an expert in a variety of subject areas. The majority of the workforce comprised of individual contributors hunt chameleons.

As an interviewer, I find B2B questions in general quite challenging since I feel like I receive too many false negatives. To the OP’s point, when the topic is about a familiar object like a mixer/grinder, it’s difficult to conceal a lack of invention or imagination behind bloviating subject-matter expertise. If adding a touchscreen and some basic Alexa compatibility is your “huge” solution, you shouldn’t be getting past a junior level interview. And that’s what 90% of candidates’ answers to these kinds of inquiries come down to.

Closed-ended inquiries Check your ability to handle tasks with a lot of flexibility. Executives have essentially added me to email threads with nothing more than “contralle will handle this,” and I’ve been surprised by how little information they provide.

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@NaomiNwosu, but did you have to respond to them immediately without any planning or prior knowledge?

Naturally, you choose a solution that is within your reach rather than a moonshot that will never gain clearance or is not required by customers.