We just received an email to help a fellow job hunter right now navigate a technical assignment. For this Podcast, Nkem Nwankwo, Senior Product Manager at BetterCloud, shows us the best practices of how to navigate a technical assignment in an interview. This is a real-life example of what you may be asked. These types of questions are typically asked during on-site interviews, but could also be asked in a second round phone interview.
Product Gym: Here’s the task. Make a payment app for Uber drivers in Brazil
Nkem Nwankwo: The first step is to ask clarifying questions. This is very important. For this assignment, we will ask, is this an app within Uber or a 3rd party?
For example, let’s assume this will be a 3rd party app. We will assume that since it’s a 3rd party, it connects to Uber’s actual app, but is not part of Uber itself. Uber just uses their services
Clarifying Questions to Ask: You want to ask questions such as – who are the users, who are we building this for? Drivers, full-time drivers, part-time drivers, Uber itself, banks/payment processors?
Focus on one user: We’ll focus on one of these users – Uber drivers.
Possible Use Cases – the drivers want to be paid as fast as possible because they’re doing this work, logs of your daily trips to see how much you’ve earned that day, reimbursements for expenses, such as tolls, drivers need to do their taxes, they need to be able to dispute fares, they can use statistics that driving works to maximize revenue.
Features that relate to use cases:
Get paid fast as possible = direct credit to driver & cash transfer from financial institution to Uber can happen later
Daily Trip Log = automated ledger from activity (driving people around), which can include details such as day, time, vicinity, an area the driver can add comments to reconcile disputes, etc
Taxes = generate a report for tax purposes, to file them at end of the year. We can have a monthly paystub that generates a 1040 and is directly emailed to the driver.
Driver Statistics – view miles, view revenue they are bringing in to determine if driving is viable, as well to keep them coming back to the application and use it
Nkem Nwankwo: Now, product management doesn’t stop there – we need to track whether our features will be successful or not. We need to see if we created the right thing or not.
Metrics to track – Such as page views, how often are they coming back and actually using it, we can track these across the app to see the usage levels among those features.
For example. How fast do people actually get their money? That will determine how much people actually come back to the app or how much Uber is incentivized to use this payment app because if drivers have a good experience getting paid quickly, they will use Uber as an app, and the 3rd party payment app will stay on Uber’s platform.
Possible Problems – There could be problems with transferring to/from the bank, which raises friction and could get this 3rd party payment app we are proposing kicked off the platform. We can track how many complaints there are in general (net promoter score), how many financial institutions have signed up? Since it’s a B2B2C situation, the connection from Uber to the financial institution is important for this to be seamless. More frictionless = easier it will be for financial institutions to sign up for this.
If you are 3rd party app (backing Uber in this plan and backing their payment processor), you can use synergy to get other apps and contracts. People will look and say, hey, you made this much from Uber, if you can produce a report that shows you your distribution or split in revenues among all different apps you use, it would be helpful from a consumer perspective, as more people will use you. An end user will want to use your payment app because its streamlined across apps they do their odd jobs on, giving it a good reputation. Ultimately, this makes it harder for another company to come in.
PRODUCT GYM: What is this happens/that happens/tradeoffs?
You would backtrack how you’d investigate this area of the app. Who would you get involved? How would you solve the problem and say whether or not you solved it?
You can compare it to others on the market and see what you are improving and how to continue.
Final Part of the Interview: Now that you’ve laid the framework for your answer, you and the interviewer may go back and forth about details and whatever else you may want to discuss with the product.
PRODUCT GYM: As this prompt is specific to Brazil, what can you say that might help you?
Nkem Nwankwo: Anything you can acknowledge about how it this 3rd party app will affect users, stakeholders, who you are building for and mentioning how these things can change the design of your app is ideal.
PRODUCT GYM: If the interview prompt seems pretty vague, what should I do?
Nkem Nwankwo: Always ask clarifying questions, never feel bad for doing so. Don’t make too many assumptions (as the devil is in the details). You should be comfortable asking clarifying questions when dealing with customers, so you should be comfortable asking them in an interview as well.
About Nkem Nwankwo:
Nkem Nwankwo is a Software Engineer and Product Manager, with a strong background in Computer Science. He earned his B.S in Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech and his M.B.A in Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurial Studies from University of Michigan. Nkem is currently a Senior Product Manager at BetterCloud.
Uber – PM, Financial Products (Driver)
Uber provides a platform for over 3 million drivers to enjoy on-demand earnings. Some drivers choose to do so 40+ hours a week while others do so to augment other income streams. But for all drivers, operating on the Uber platform incurs ongoing operational expenses: gas, food, telecom, car insurance, and more. Further, many of our drivers have limited access – if at all – to basic financial services like checking and savings accounts.
The Financial Products team endeavors to provide drivers both access to core financial services and payment products that improve the quality of their experience on Uber, generate rewards for their activity on Uber, and unlock value for their spend off Uber.
You’re the Product Manager of a team that focuses on Financial Products for our drivers. You’re tasked with designing a financial product (or suite of products) that addresses our driver’s needs in Brazil.
What questions do you have to better understand this opportunity? What objectives and metrics should we consider for this effort? How would you research and validate early hypothesis? And finally, which product(s) should we build and how would you sequence them?
What we’re looking for:
A fun discussion that explores your thought process, demonstrates your grasp of the economics of a financial product, product and customer intuition, and a curiosity for understanding how to address real needs and challenges our drivers face in Brazil.