Senior technical program manager interview questions shared by candidates
A vaguest ion that was asked in a very general way, but which the interviewer clearly had specific answers he was looking for: "what are four components that are included in every specification doc". That sounded a lot like a thing you would find at Microsoft and similar large companies where process is more strictly defined. I answered poorly, I think, perhaps because I haven't worked with that kind of spec in a very long time, and not on any projects that worked out well. Smaller orgs/programs/projects (startups and incubators, for example, where the outcome is always in flux, as I am accustomed to working with) can have poor specs, specs that are centered on marketing, planning documents that are made up of wireframes and time-based stage gates. In any case, I choked a bit, and the interview kind of skated around and became more specific as we went along. I don't think that is inappropriate, though, because Amazon does value and expect the ability to deal with ambiguity.
Description of the current state, problems in the current state, Description of proposed state, advantages of proposed state.
"what are four components that are included in every specification doc" This question is insane, and I would hate getting an interviewer that asks such a question. Correct answer can be: "1. Title, 2. Author, 3. Requirements, 4. Version". If the title "requirements doc" is not there, maybe it is not a requirement doc. Specific sections are: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_requirements_document
The toughest interviewer with the "4 components" question was a dev, in fact. The TPM screen was not so academic, more about challenges and solutions, philosophy, team fit, familiarity with the specific technology and business. That was definitely the screen that didn't go well, although he was wicked smart and wasn't just trying to mess with the candidate or anything.
How would you implement auto-complete on the Kindle? Answered that you first get the use cases: quick searching, better user experience, research. Keywords from the given text could be loaded with the book itself or generated using a scanning process. Put into a datastore in memory cache (quick access), ignoring basic words such as “the”, “and”, “or”, etc. Each letter typed in would reduce the result set. Sort the results user a weighting system, such as number of occurrences, uniqueness, etc. You would know if your algorithm is working by the number of characters entered vs. the word chosen and it’s place in the sorted result set.
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