Question: Tell me about a time you were working on a tight deadline where the requirements were ambiguous.
Answer: I was once given an assignment where I estimated the work to be three weeks. But as soon as I started the implementation, I knew that I needed more time.

Q: What was the project about?
A: I was asked to implement a form with a few input boxes. After I started implementing the feature, I realized that the requirements were incomplete.

Q: How were the requirements given to you?
A: Our UX designer gave me HTML mockups. Implementing the form was straight forward, but the validation was difficult. Previously we had a VB6 application that wrote everything to a database.

Q: Did you not have any of the requirements?
A: No, I had only the mocks.

Q: So you had the mocks but no requirements on the validation. What did you do with that?
A: I ended up talking to other teams like database, product etc.

Q: Was there a deadline?
A: Yes, the initial three weeks estimate I gave was the deadline. I spent a week on this and then raised a red flag that this could not be done within that timeframe.

Q: Why was this not called out when the mockup was given?
A: I was looking only at the mockup and did not consider the validation.

Q: Given that there was missing information, did you do anything specific to move fast?
A: There wasn’t anything specific, I started talking to other teams and waited for their inputs.

Q: What was the result?
A: We launched this feature successfully in 6 weeks as opposed to the three weeks estimate I had.

Q: How did you measure the success of this launch?
A: It passed the QA bar.

Analysis

Competency asserted: Bias for Action

Vote: 👎

The candidate gave an example of how he found new requirements on a three-week project. He ended up getting more details about the requirement after they started the project. When probed on why he did to speed up this, he did not have any action to speed up the requirement gathering from other teams. This example was more of a mixed data for bias for action.

Lesson

Estimates are estimates and should be treated as such. While it is absurd to translate them into deadlines, the candidate didn’t demonstrate proactivity in his way to deal with ambiguity. The candidate should have used another example as he went down a rabbit hole with that example. When rehearsing the behavioral questions with someone, ask the person to probe and challenge anything that you say. Even if the person doesn’t understand a thing of what you are saying: Why did you do that? Could you have done it differently? Why? Why? Why?!

Leave a Reply