Question: Can you tell me a time when you took a big risk and it failed?
Answer: Estimated a project based on previous iOS knowledge (PDF generator). PDF generator based on the HTML rendering. The tool wasn’t available for android. I learned that I should have done more research/prototyping before providing exact estimates.

Q: What was the impact?
A: I had to work extra hours to reduce the delay.

Q: Was there any impact on the customer?
A: Gave a prototype to the customer middle way. They hadn’t given any fixed date to the customer.

Analysis

Competency asserted: Think Big
Job title: Software Development Engineer II
Interviewer role: Software Development Engineer III

Vote: 👎

The candidate mentioned that he couldn’t remember taking a significant risk, which sounds odd since he has been the technical leader of his team for the past 2+ years.

The candidate could only come up with an example he already mentioned about PDF generation, where he was working on a feature to generate PDF files from an Android app. He had previously built similar functionality for iOS.

The risk he took was to estimate the task based on his experience with iOS. The problem is that iOS offered an easy way to convert HTML to pdf, which wasn’t available in all android versions they had to support.

The only impact was that he had to work extra hours to reduce the project delay.

Learnings

I find the phrase “exact estimates” very amusing as I think it’s a big problem in Software Engineering. Estimates are guesstimates. As Software Engineers, we estimate our work to the best of our ability and knowledge at the time.

It’s a good example where the candidate more likely didn’t prepare enough meaty stories. Reusing the same story over and over for multiple interviewers may work but not for the same interviewer.

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