Question: Give me an example of harsh feedback you received. What was it?
Candidate: Funny or formal?
Interviewer: You pick.
Candidate: The feedback was to do things in a more hacky way. Startup with the cofounder. For example, when deploying a platform, you need a prod server and a development server. His feedback was that you don’t need a development server, only prod. It doesn’t matter if customers see the development mistakes. I was strongly against it.
Q: Good example of disagreement. But I am searching for a critical piece of feedback.
A: OK, when I was working in the bank, I had the feedback to work faster. I used the Pomodoro technique, daymap of my day and time. Kept tracking of how I spent my time.
Q: Was there something more precise than speedup? Was there an example of a thing that was too slow?
A: Just people waiting for a response in the queue.
Q: What was the ask for improvement?
A: To speed up and the response was to use the Pomodoro technic. Split by 30 minutes.
Q: What was the outcome?
A: Helped to be faster.
Q: What did you discover?
A: I can do more, more productive.
Q: How did you know it was working for you?
A: Graph, and pivot table from my daily measurement.
Question: Tell me about a time you anticipated the customer needs.
Comment: The first example was mainly to improve the internal process to serve the user better. I asked the candidate for another example.
Answer: In a startup, I would be calling people who already had purchased courses. And ask what they would need more—creating user stories, and persona. I had to do the analysis, and I was in direct contact with the clients. By talking to the customers, I identified they were kind of lost in the process. I had an idea about coaches/mentoring.
A customer was asking for more guidance on the experience. If you purchase programming courses, if you pick wrong, you lose motivation. The idea was to have a mentor or somebody to support you.
A business model with personal partner coaches where we get a commission as we would give them a lead.
Competency asserted: Earn Trust
Weak, not a bar-raising example of candidate reacting to a manager asking him to be, faster !?
The first example with the Pomodoro technic is controversial as the ask from the manager wasn’t specific. I find the second example exciting as it demonstrates a capacity to think big and customer obsession.
This example demonstrates that you do not need experience as a software engineer to answer the behavioral questions. You can use any prior experience in another job (like this candidate, in a bank), student project, etc. As an interviewer, I appreciate hearing from candidates with backgrounds different from mine.