Question: Tell me about a time you disagreed with your manager on an important business decision. What was the reason? What was the outcome?
Answer: It was my most recent experience. I was working for an online travel agency. I worked on the project that is a call center. I wanted to sync the call center and the CRM to save a lot of time for the agents receiving the call. When the customer was calling, we would get all the info from the CRM, so the agent would only answer the call and would not need to collect data from the customer.
I was asked to integrate with Twilio. I told my boss that integrating would take a lot of time, and it would add a lot of time to every new feature development after. We had more important things to handle, such as our pricing is out of date. He was a shareholder. He said to do it. He provided two developers to help. After two weeks, I had managed to complete the majority of functionalities.
Q: What was your main argument when you said that this is not the optimal approach?
A: My main argument was that if we integrate with Flex product instead, it will take us less time to develop and make a better product. Flex was built for companies like us.
Q: Why would it produce a better product?
A: My developing time would be spent adding business logic for our business instead of fixing the bugs in the software. After I’ve completed the integration that the boss insisted on, I’ve spent a day fixing a bug in the phone logic instead of working on my main task.
Q: Why Twillo?
A: Before Twillio, we had to set up everything by hand. Twillio released Twillio Flex that creates a virtual phone, and you can only focus on the business logic – how to answer the calls, sync them with the CRM. The boss wasn’t convinced because it was a new service.
Q: What happened after a couple of weeks?
A: I worked on it with a couple of devs. I managed to do work with what we already have. There was a bug in the workflow that handled call distribution (if the agent is unavailable, it will put the call back to the queue). I couldn’t fix it myself, and I checked with other devs on it, and they couldn’t do it. We talked to the boss, and he agreed to switch to Flex in the long term. As a result, my boss then realized that it would be a better solution to use Flex.
Q: How did you fix the issue with the queuing the call?
A: We haven’t fix it.
Q: What would you do differently if the same situation comes today?
A: I would collect more info about Flex to convince my boss.
Competency asserted: Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
Job title: SDE II
Interviewer role: Software Development Manager (SDM)
I like that in his example with Twillio and Twillio Flex, the candidate disagreed with his manager even though the manager was one of the co-founders, and it wasn’t easy. What I didn’t like is the fact that he didn’t have enough of a backbone to push it further by providing sufficient data that would back his reasoning and might have made his boss changing the view.
This candidate’s story was half-good, as the interviewer pointed out. If the candidate had convinced his manager, they would have saved time and effort, which means more time to create value for customers.