Apple Interview Question: You have a program with somet... | Glassdoor

Interview Question

Engineering Program Manager Interview Cupertino, CA

You have a program with something or component that fails

  1 week before launch. What do you do?
Answer

Interview Answer

5 Answers

1

I said you look for other solutions, off the shelf parts. I "think" the answer was go ahead and launch and do a redesign after launch. Of course, if it fails how do you launch right?

Interview Candidate on May 21, 2010
4

You always have a have a back-up part ready, fully qualified and and waiting in the wings! There is no way to launch an iPhone 4 and sell millions of units on a tight schedule without a backup plan for every part.

Robert on Dec 2, 2010
43

I believe the point here is not saying that you should/have a back-up plan for this (you can mention that at first, but then assume that something went terribly wrong)... So in my case I would go through the how crucial is this program/component for the launch? can be fixed with an update? how much time/resources are needed to meet the deadline? what would be the impact of delaying the launch until the problem is solved? is it feasible? after the brainstorming and impact analysis you could take the decision of delaying, solve the problem or ship everything as-is and fix the problem afterwards. Once the problem is solved you should go through the situation again and understand what went wrong and prevent it from happening again.

Álvaro on Aug 12, 2013
4

Alvaro is right. The question is about how pragmatic and adaptable you are.

Fernando on Nov 23, 2014
1

this would normally be a dire situation for any high volume, high profile product launch and we would hope good PM'ing would prevent this sort of thing. But for sake of the interview question, we have to accept that stuff does happen. First get clear articulation of what has failed. A clear problem statement. A cryptic mail from the factory prepping the line for launch "omg, the touchscreens from units on line 2 aren't working" isn't going to cut it. Form a team - typically pulled from that products PDT that your running - the HW, SW, FW, Ops, Q&R, factory rep and start brainstorming and reviewing the data. Where was the failure found? in Validation - in a hardware or software lab? at a customer site during their beta testing? during volume production line prove out... if it's a software bug, get it entered in the bug management system if there is one so you can the brightest minds working on it globally. Filing a bug formally forces definition of the failure, setup so others can root cause it, etc. did a hardware component fail? is it random? It would be hard to imagine someone picked one lemon component supplier and it systemically fails at launch - such a bad part would have failed much earlier in tests. If it's randomly failing, get clarity on the conditions under which it fails - certain power conditions? temp/humidity conditions? is some aspect of the electrical design on the edge of one of the IEEE specs and tolerance stack ups have occurred. Schedule is king usually. So is cost. To protect schedule, do we launch anyway? again it goes back to the nature of the failure. Do you launch and jeopardize the valuable brand of your employer? The salient point is - form a team, gather data, understand the failure, and forumulate recommendations for management. All quickly. I wouldn't want to make an uniformed decision, and give direction to launch anyway without advising everyone that will affected later if it blows up post launch of all the risks.

MTC on Dec 8, 2016

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