MBA Marketing Interview Questions and Answers

January 26th, 2017 by lewis


Are you an MBA getting ready for a marketing interview? It doesn’t matter if it’s a tech or consumer packaged goods company. The interviewers will ask you hypothetical questions about common marketing scenarios. We’ve included some examples below.

The reason interviewers are asking case interview questions at the marketing interview: they need confidence and trust that you can handle the job. If you’ve never answered marketing case interview questions before, be prepared! After all, all of the case questions are modeled after real-world, on-the-job scenarios.

You can find all the sample answers in my book, Rise Above the Noise.

Marketing Strategy Interview Questions

  • What promotional strategies would you use for a Honey Nut Cheerios campaign? Sample answer on page 50.
  • Develop a social good campaign for Teavana. Sample answer on page 57.
  • How would you market Google AdWords? Sample answer on page 63.

Pricing Interview Questions

  • Should Hidden Valley increase the price of its ranch dressing? Sample answer on page 77.
  • Delta just announced a 10 percent across-the-board price cut. As United Airlines, do you stay or follow? Sample on page 82.
  • Should Best Buy change its return policy from 15 to 90 days? Sample on page 86.

New Product Launch Case Interview

  • Should Nike start a dress shoe business? Sample on page 115.
  • Should General Mills use Yoplait or Pillsbury for their new frozen yogurt brand? Sample on page 122.

PR Crisis Interview Questions

  • Customers claim that your drinks, which have been identified with E. coli as the reason for two infant deaths. Walk me through your PR plan for this issue. Sample answer on page 168.

Advertising Critique and Review Interview Questions

  • Give me an example of an effective ad.
  • Give me an example of an ineffective ad.
  • Give me an example of an effective brand post on Pinterest.

ROI Interview Questions

  • What’s the ROI of our email marketing campaign?
  • What’s the ROI of our pay-per-click campaign?
  • You have an opportunity to advertise inside a New York cab. How much should you pay?

Strategy Interview Questions

  • Should Starbucks have an express line?

Photo credit: Rawpixel

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entry level software developer

SEE ALSO: How to Ace the Software Engineering Interview

Trying to get a developer job without a degree? Here are some of the best tips on how to do so from experts in the industry:

  • You need sufficient proof for the fact that you are great at coding. A few projects on GitHub, contributions to other’s projects and some apps on Google Play which have been downloaded a respectable number of times. — Peter Andrews
  • Devote a lot of hours to learning from online resources, tutorials, free courses, etc. — Michael Shaw
  • Try to get some freelance gigs. — Vanessa Williams
  • Make sure your foundational understanding of algorithms, programming concepts and data structures is solid. — Aamir Latif
  • Make a connection. It’s possible to get an interview just by sending in an application online, but it’s hard, and I figure it’s harder for those of us whose qualifications aren’t as obvious on paper. Tell people about your coding projects and they might end up referring you to someone. — Presley Pizzo
  • I strongly suggest you do a few killer GitHub projects and perhaps do some voluntary work somewhere… — Frank Mitchell
  • Have a portfolio with your projects. — Sebastian Gorobievschi
  • Have a solid record of open source work, which says that I know how to collaborate with other programmers. — Owen Williams

Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

acquiring process for startups

SEE ALSO: Acqui hire interview coaching

Getting ready for an acqui-hire? We’ve curated the best group of articles and books on the process here:

Attention Startups: Here’s How To Get Acqui-Hired By Google, Yahoo Or Twitter
This how-to article discusses how to easily get acqui-hired by coveted Silicon Valley firms.

Written by the venerable law firm, Cooley defines the acqui hire process and issues to go over with your board

Ask HN: Talk me through the acquihire process
This HackerNews article discusses the process in detail, including documentation and hand-over processes.

How are acqui-hire valuations calculated?
Startup pundits provide insight on how to determine valuation, including a perspective from venture capitalist Jason M. Lemkin.

The End Of The Acquihire – Silicon Valley’s Startup Severance Package Falls Out of Favor
This article showcases data on recent trends in the acquihire process.

If At First Your Acqui-Hire Sucks, Try Again
This TechCrunch article argue why acqui hiring isn’t as rosy as it seems.

Chaos Monkeys
The author talks about the gut-wrenching thought process that led him to acqui-hire his two co-founders to Twitter while he bailed to join Facebook instead.

SEE ALSO: Acqui hire interview coaching

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acqui hire interview

Is your company getting ready for the acqui-hire interview process?

Acqui-Hire Interview Help

If so, Impact Interview can help you pass those acqui-hire interviews. We provide interview coaching for all job functions including:

  • Software engineers
  • Product managers
  • Designers
  • Marketers
  • Customer success managers
  • Sales

We can also help functions not listed above with standard interview questions such as traditional and behavioral interview questions.

If you’re looking to pass your acqui hire interviews, email, and we can discuss how we can help.
Photo credit: CB Insights

data science interview questions

Here are our favorite data science interview questions.

  • If you’re a hiring manager, select the interview questions based on the competencies you’re evaluating.
  • If you’re a candidate, prepare and practice using this common list of data science interview questions.

Probability and Statistics Interview Questions

  1. Explain what regularization is and why it is useful.
  2. How would you validate a model you created to generate a predictive model of a quantitative outcome variable using multiple regression.
  3. Explain what precision and recall are. How do they relate to the ROC curve?
  4. How can you prove that one improvement you’ve brought to an algorithm is really an improvement over not doing anything?
  5. What is root cause analysis?
  6. Are you familiar with price optimization, price elasticity, inventory management, competitive intelligence? Give examples.
  7. What is statistical power?
  8. Explain what resampling methods are and why they are useful. Also explain their limitations.
  9. Is it better to have too many false positives, or too many false negatives? Explain.
  10. What is selection bias, why is it important and how can you avoid it?
  11. Imagine a test with a true positive rate of 100% and false positive rate of 5%. Imagine a population with a 1/1000 rate of having the condition the test identifies. Given a positive test, what is the probability of having that condition?
  12. What is the normal distribution? Give an example of some variable that follows this distribution.
  13. What about log-normal?
  14. Explain what a long tailed distribution is and provide three examples of relevant phenomena that have long tails. Why are they important in classification and prediction problems?
  15. How to check if a distribution is close to Normal? Why would you want to check it? What is a QQ Plot?
  16. Give examples of data that does not have a Gaussian distribution, or log-normal.
  17. Do you know what the exponential family is?
  18. Do you know the Dirichlet distribution? the multinomial distribution
  19. What is the Laws of Large Numbers? Central Limit Theorem?
  20. Why are they important for Statistics?
  21. What summary statistics do you know?

Data Modeling Interview Questions

  1. What are the most important skills for a data scientist to have?
  2. What types of data are important for business needs?
  3. What data would you go after and start working on?
  4. What are the assumptions required for linear regression?
  5. When you get a new data set, what do you do with it to see if it will suit your needs for a given project?
  6. How do you handle big data sets?
  7. How do you detect outliers?
  8. How do you control model complexity?
  9. How do you model a quantity you can’t observe?
  10. You have one model and want to find the best set of parameters for this model. How would you do that?
  11. How would you look for the best parameters? Do you know something else apart from grid search?
  12. What is Cross-Validation?
  13. What is 10-Fold CV?
  14. What is the difference between holding out a validation set and doing 10-Fold CV?
  15. How do you know if your model overfits?
  16. How do you assess the results of a logistic regression?
  17. Which evaluation metrics you know? Something apart from accuracy?
  18. Which is better: Too many false positives or too many false negatives?
  19. What precision and recall are?
  20. What is a ROC curve? What is AU ROC (AUC)? How to interpret the curve and AU ROC?
  21. Do you know about Concordance or Lift?

Data Science Process Interview Questions

  1. How would you create a taxonomy to identify key customer trends in unstructured data?
  2. Python or R — Which one would you prefer for text analytics?
  3. Which technique is used to predict categorical responses?
  4. What is logistic regression? Or State an example when you have used logistic regression recently.
  5. What are Recommender Systems?
  6. Why data cleaning plays a vital role in analysis?
  7. Differentiate between univariate, bivariate and multivariate analysis.
  8. What do you understand by the term Normal Distribution?
  9. What is Linear Regression?
  10. What is Interpolation and Extrapolation?
  11. What is power analysis?
  12. What is K-means? How can you select K for K-means?
  13. What is Collaborative filtering?
  14. What is the difference between Cluster and Systematic Sampling?
  15. Are expected value and mean value different?
  16. What does P-value signify about the statistical data?
  17. Do gradient descent methods always converge to same point?
  18. What are categorical variables?
  19. How you can make data normal using Box-Cox transformation?
  20. What is the difference between Supervised Learning an Unsupervised Learning?
  21. Explain the use of Combinatorics in data science.
  22. Why is vectorization considered a powerful method for optimizing numerical code?
  23. What is the goal of A/B Testing?
  24. What is an Eigenvalue and Eigenvector?
  25. What is Singular Value Decomposition?
  26. What is Gradient Descent?
  27. How can outlier values be treated?
  28. How can you assess a good logistic model?
  29. How can you iterate over a list and also retrieve element indices at the same time?
  30. During analysis, how do you treat missing values?
  31. Explain about the box cox transformation in regression models.
  32. Can you use machine learning for time series analysis?
  33. Write a function that takes in two sorted lists and outputs a sorted list that is their union.
  34. What is the difference between Bayesian Inference and Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE)?
  35. What is Regularization and what kind of problems does regularization solve?
  36. What is multicollinearity and how you can overcome it?
  37. What is the curse of dimensionality?
  38. How do you decide whether your linear regression model fits the data?
  39. What is the difference between squared error and absolute error?
  40. What is Machine Learning?
  41. How are confidence intervals constructed and how will you interpret them?
  42. How will you explain logistic regression to an economist, physician scientist and biologist?
  43. How can you overcome Overfitting?
  44. Differentiate between wide and tall data formats?
  45. Is Naïve Bayes bad? If yes, under what aspects.
  46. How would you develop a model to identify plagiarism?
  47. Can you outline the steps in an analytics project?
  48. Have you heard of CRISP-DM (Cross Industry Standard Process for Data Mining)?

Data Science Machine Learning Interview Questions

  1. What is your favorite ML algorithm and why?
  2. Describe the regression problem. Is it supervised learning? Why?
  3. What is linear regression? Why is it called linear?
  4. Discuss the bias-variance tradeoff.
  5. What is Ordinary Least Squares Regression? How it can be learned?
  6. Can you derive the OLS Regression formula? (For one-step solution)
  7. Do we always need the intercept term? When do we need it and when do we not?
  8. What is collinearity and what to do with it? How to remove multicollinearity?
  9. What if the design matrix is not full rank?
  10. What is overfitting a regression model? What are ways to avoid it?
  11. What is Ridge Regression? How is it different from OLS Regression? Why do we need it?
  12. What is Lasso regression? How is it different from OLS and Ridge?
  13. What are the assumptions required for linear regression?
  14. You would like to find significant features. How would you do that?
  15. You fit a multiple regression to examine the effect of a particular feature. The feature comes back insignificant, but you believe it is significant. Why can it happen?
  16. How to check is the regression model fits the data well?
  17. Can you describe what is the classification problem?
  18. What is the simplest classification algorithm?
  19. What classification algorithms do you know? Which one you like the most?What is a decision tree?
  20. What are some business reasons you might want to use a decision tree model?
  21. How do you build it?
  22. What impurity measures do you know?
  23. Describe some of the different splitting rules used by different decision tree algorithms.
  24. Is a big brushy tree always good? Why would you want to prune it?
  25. Is it a good idea to combine multiple trees?
  26. What is Random Forest? Why is it good?
  27. What is logistic regression?
  28. How do we train a logistic regression model?
  29. How do we interpret its coefficients?
  30. What is an Artificial Neural Network?
  31. How to train an ANN? What is back propagation?
  32. How does a neural network with three layers (one input layer, one inner layer and one output layer) compare to a logistic regression?
  33. What is deep learning? What is CNN (Convolution Neural Network) or RNN (Recurrent Neural Network)?
  34. What is Regularization?
  35. Which problem does Regularization try to solve?
  36. What does it mean (practically) for a design matrix to be “ill-conditioned”?
  37. When might you want to use ridge regression instead of traditional linear regression?
  38. What is the difference between the L1 and L2 regularization?
  39. Why (geometrically) does LASSO produce solutions with zero-valued coefficients (as opposed to ridge)?
  40. What is the purpose of dimensionality reduction and why do we need it?
  41. Are dimensionality reduction techniques supervised or not? Are all of them are (un)supervised?
  42. What ways of reducing dimensionality do you know?
  43. Is feature selection a dimensionality reduction technique?
  44. What is the difference between feature selection and feature extraction?
  45. Is it beneficial to perform dimensionality reduction before fitting an SVM? Why or why not?
  46. What is Principal Component Analysis (PCA)? What is the problem it solves? How is it related to eigenvalue decomposition (EVD)?
  47. What’s the relationship between PCA and SVD? When SVD is better than EVD for PCA?
  48. Under what conditions is PCA effective?
  49. Why do we need to center data for PCA and what can happed if we don’t do it? Do we need to scale data for PCA?
  50. Is PCA a linear model or not? Why?
  51. Do you know other Dimensionality Reduction techniques?
  52. What is Independent Component Analysis (ICA)? What’s the difference between ICA and PCA?
  53. Suppose you have a very sparse matrix where rows are highly dimensional. You project these rows on a random vector of relatively small dimensionality. Is it a valid dimensionality reduction technique or not?
  54. Have you heard of Kernel PCA or other non-linear dimensionality reduction techniques? What about LLE (Locally Linear Embedding) or tt-SNE (tt-distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding)
  55. What is Fisher Discriminant Analysis? How it is different from PCA? Is it supervised or not?
  56. What is the difference between a convex function and non-convex?
  57. What is Gradient Descent Method?
  58. Will Gradient Descent methods always converge to the same point?
  59. What is a local optimum?
  60. Is it always bad to have local optima?
  61. What the Newton’s method is?
  62. What kind of problems are well suited for Newton’s method? BFGS? SGD?
  63. What are “slack variables”?
  64. Describe a constrained optimization problem and how you would tackle it.
  65. What is NLP? How is it related to Machine Learning?
  66. How would you turn unstructured text data into structured data usable for ML models?
  67. What is the Vector Space Model?
  68. What is TF-IDF?
  69. Which distances and similarity measures can we use to compare documents? What is cosine similarity?
  70. Why do we remove stop words? When do we not remove them?
  71. Language Models. What is NN-Grams?
  72. What is Curse of Dimensionality? How does it affect distance and similarity measures?
  73. What are the problems of large feature space? How does it affect different models, e.g. OLS? What about computational complexity?
  74. What dimensionality reductions can be used for preprocessing the data?
  75. What is the difference between density-sparse data and dimensionally-sparse data?

Data Science Culture Fit Interview Questions

  1. Which is your favorite machine learning algorithm and why?
  2. In which libraries for Data Science in Python and R, does your strength lie?
  3. What kind of data is important for specific business requirements and how, as a data scientist will you go about collecting that data?
  4. Tell us about the biggest data set you have processed till date and for what kind of analysis.
  5. Which data scientists you admire the most and why?
  6. Suppose you are given a data set, what will you do with it to find out if it suits the business needs of your project or not.
  7. What were the business outcomes or decisions for the projects you worked on?
  8. What unique skills you think can you add on to our data science team?
  9. Which are your favorite data science startups?
  10. Why do you want to pursue a career in data science?
  11. What have you done to upgrade your skills in analytics?
  12. What has been the most useful business insight or development you have found?
  13. How will you explain an A/B test to an engineer who does not know statistics?
  14. When does parallelism helps your algorithms run faster and when does it make them run slower?
  15. How can you ensure that you don’t analyse something that ends up producing meaningless results?
  16. How would you explain to the senior management in your organization as to why a particular data set is important?
  17. Is more data always better?
  18. What are your favorite imputation techniques to handle missing data?
  19. What are your favorite data visualization tools?

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software engineering interview questions

SEE ALSO: How to Ace the Software Engineering Interview

Here are our favorite software engineer interview questions.

  • If you’re a hiring manager, select the interview questions based on the competencies you’re evaluating.
  • If you’re a candidate, prepare and practice using this common list of developer interview questions.

Thank you Kate Matsudaira for putting it together!

Abstraction & Design Interview Questions

  1. Have you ever seen OO go bad? What happened? What elements of OO design are most prone to abuse and misuse? What are some ways to prevent these mishaps?
  2. Implement a game of tic-tac-toe. How do you represent the game board? What interfaces do you expose?
  3. Implement a stock ticker. How do you handle displaying all of the data quickly to the end user? // Since most people are familiar with stocks I generally have them articulate the requirements and functionality first. The crux of this problem is thinking about the different granularities in which they can view a stock price — real time, hourly, daily, yearly, etc. and modeling their data to support fast querying for those graphs.
  4. You are tasked with designing software that runs and controls elevators. What interfaces and class objects would you use? What configuration options would you need for the software to work in skyscrapers, buildings with only one elevator, and buildings with banks of elevators? How would these use cases change the objects and interfaces in your design?
  5. Imagine you were tasked with designing a text editor (or instant messaging program). What are the primary functions? What are the various interfaces, classes, etc. that you would need to provide those functions? // and feel free to replace text editor with any common small program of your choosing (mobile apps make great examples)

Algorithm Interview Questions

  1. Describe the algorithm for a depth-first graph traversal. // It is also useful to have the candidate tell you about the data structure they are using to represent the graph.
  2. Write a function that takes two strings as arguments and returns a string containing only the characters found in both strings. Have them write 2 versions — one that is O(n) and one that is O(n^2).
  3. You are given a sorted array and you want to find the number N. How do you do the search as quickly as possible (not just traversing each element)?
  4. How would the performance of your algorithm change if there were lots of duplicates in the array?
  5. Given a list of numbers that is a circular list, such that iterating through the list would return the first number after you reached the end. How might you find the minimum number in the list? // It is easier if you can assume all the numbers are increasing, until it reaches the end of the list.Implement a function that will divide two numbers without using the division operator. (solution for dividing a number by 3)
  6. Now find any given number in the list. What is the upper bound on for the running time of this function?
  7. Given two different lists of objects, come up with an efficient solution to find the intersection of the two lists. (solution)
  8. How do you find all the permutations of a string? What is the running time?
  9. Now imagine that the string has repeating characters. How could you modify your solution so it would only find unique permutations as efficiently as possible?
  10. Given a list of numbers, assume each number represents the amount of time it takes to execute a task. How would you dive the tasks across two different servers to they finished in the same amount of time?Write a program that will find the 10 most popular words (popularity is determined by how often they occur) in a file. How can you do this efficiently in terms of space? In terms of time? // Sometimes it helps to tell them it is a really big file that can’t fit in memory if they get hung up on timing
  11. How would you divide them across N servers?
  12. Now assume you want the jobs to finish at the same time, what is the optimal number of servers and how would you distribute the jobs across them to achieve this goal?
  13. Given an array what is the longest contiguous increasing subsequence of elements? (solution) What is the longest increasing subsequence? (solution) (This is a classic dynamic programming problem)
  14. Imagine that you want to return a random number from a really long linked list of numbers. You do not know the length of it, but it is big. Write a function which will return a random number from the list. (solution)
  15. Create an algorithm that will output the results of rolling a die (1–6) using a function that simulates a coin toss (1 or 2). All 6 outcomes should be equally likely. (solution)
  16. Given an array of integers write a program that will determine if any two numbers add up to a specified number N. Do this without using hash tables. (solution, although some use hash tables)

Problem Solving Interview Questions

This is like algorithms, but more general.

  1. If there are N different teams, and over time they are all going to merge into one giant team. How many different ways can the teams merge?
  2. Given a dollar value come up with all the different ways to make change given the standard coin denominations (solution).
  3. Count the 2’s between 0 and N. And every 2 digit counts as a 2, so if N was 7 the answer would be 1 (just the number 2), whereas if n was 23 there would be 7 2’s {2, 12, 20, 21, 22 (this counts for 2), 23}. // This is actually pretty challenging and one of my favorite questions to ask candidates that are doing really well in with lots of other questions. Getting the brute force answer is easy, coming up with an elegant solution takes a little more effort.
  4. How many degrees are there in the angle between the hour and minute hands of a clock when the time 4:15? // You can also use the current time if there is a clock in the room. You aren’t looking for a wild guess but for someone who can rationalize out the answer. For candidates rusty on geometry I will give them the number of degrees in a circle via hints
  5. Imagine that you have a large dataset on disk (or in the cloud like S3), and you have limited memory on your servers but you want to sort and manipulate the data. What is the best algorithm/sort to use in this situation? (solution)
  6. We want to open up another office in a different state. How would you pick the state? How would you go about deciding what salaries to pay the employees? // This is a great question for a leadership role, if you don’t like the salary version you can modify the question to be about opening a data center and partitioning services.

Here are some other problem solving questions too, if you need additional examples.

Data Structure Interview Questions: Trees & Graphs

  1. Given a tree write breadth first search and depth first search, and explain the run time and space requirements.Convert a binary search tree into an ordered array. How do you do this as efficiently as possible?
  2. Now modify your solutions to handle trees with weighted edges and/or loops and print out the path from start to finish.
  3. How do you find the 7th element in a binary search tree? How do you generalize the function to find the Nth element? (solution)
  4. Given two binary trees write a function that will compare the two and see if they are equal — both in terms of data and structure. (solution) // You can also do just data or just structure to mix it up. Just make sure you know how to explain the differences.
  5. Write a function to determine if a graph contains a cycle. (solution)
  6. Give at least two ways to represent a graph in memory. What are the pros and cons of each solution? When would you choose one over another? (solution)

Data Structures: Queues & Stacks

  1. Design and implement a stack. Implement the different methods: push, pop, retrieve the minimum element in constant time. (solution)
  2. Design a queue using stacks as the underlying data structure (solution). Implement a stack using queues as the underlying data structure (solution).

Data Structures: Hash Tables

  1. How do hash tables work?What are some examples of real life hash tables? When is a hash table a poor data choice?
  2. What are different ways of managing collisions?
  3. Implement a hash table.
  4. Find the first non-repeated character in a string.
  5. Implement a spell checker. What are the interfaces you would expose?
  6. What are some ways you could come up with alternative words to suggest?
  7. Write the code that would do the checking on the document.

Bits & Bytes Interview Questions

  1. How much space would you need to store 1 billion phone numbers?
  2. Convert a binary (or hex, or any other base of your choosing) string to an integer. Convert an integer to binary (or hex, or any other base of your choosing).
  3. If you had a product catalog of 1 million items how much space would you need to store all of them? Assume each item has a title, a description and price. // feel free to set limits on the fields or your choosing, or ask the candidate to pick something reasonable.
  4. (There are a ton more of these types of questions online if you want to find more of them. Most of the time I am looking to verify the candidate understands the different sizes of data and how it would be impact their programs. Other interviewers go deeper here, though, so it is up to you.)

Command Line & Scripting Interview Questions

  1. Design an API to provide product data from a supplier to an ecommerce website. What functions do you support? What do the interfaces look like?
  2. Write a regular expression which matches a email address // You can use url, phone number, etc. instead of email address
  3. How would you find all the *.plist files in a directory via the command line?
  4. What is a shell What kind of shell do you use? Have you customized it all? If yes, what are some of your customizations?
  5. How do you copy a file from one system to another?
  6. How do you view all the processes running on a Linux system? When might you want to do this?

Database Administration Interview Questions

  1. How can you prevent your DBA (or anyone else really) from obtaining a list of your customers’ passwords?
  2. Imagine your database is having performance issues, what are some things you might consider to speed it up? // Also pay attention to what questions the candidate asks you about the database — hopefully the questions will help clarify assumptions and problems and will likely give you more insight than just the potential solutions.

Data Modeling & Data Schemas Interview Questions

  1. Design a data schema for [insert example here]. // I like to use one of the products or features at my company, but you could also use familiar scenarios like: course catalog for students, a rental car database, a flight database for an airline, inventory for an ecommerce site, etc.
  2. Have you ever had to design a data model from scratch? What project was it? Was there ever any issues? What do you think you got really right, and what could have been improved?

SQL Interview Questions

  1. What is a primary key?
  2. You know that data is in a particular table but you don’t know what the schema is for that table. How could you figure it out?
  3. What are some different kinds of joins? How do they work? Can you give examples?
  4. What is the difference between GROUP BY and ORDER BY?
  5. Write a query to delete duplicate rows from a table.
  6. Describe a schema and ask the candidate to query the table in lots of different ways. Try to pick a schema from one of your databases if possible — it is always nice to use real world data. // If you can’t come up with one an employee or student database are easy to grok examples.
  7. For more SQL questions, check out Jitbit’s guide here.

Networking Interview Questions

  1. What are some common networking protocols and what makes them special? Any of the following will work: TCP, UDP, HTTP, DNS, but there are way more. // In the event the candidate starts to explain one you are less familiar with take notes and ask questions — you can verify their knowledge later and test their communication now.
  2. A customer complains your website is slow. How do you troubleshoot the issue?
  3. Describe what happens when I type “” into a browser and hit return. Be as detailed as possible.
  4. How does TCP handle congestion? How can this impact the performance of applications that communicate across the network?
  5. A member of your team comes running up and says that your website is under a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. How would you verify if this is the case? What could you do to stop it or mitigate the issue?

Systems Design Interview Questions

  1. What is the difference between a 2-tier system and 3-tier system?
  2. What are some alternate ways to store data besides using a relational database? Do you have any experience with other data stores? What was the use case? Why might you consider an alternate solution (to an relational DB) and what would be the downsides of doing so?
  3. What is the difference between stateless and stateful systems? How does this impact scaling?
  4. What is a cache? In your past projects, what types of caches were present?How would you decide if you should buy servers with more memory or disk space? How would you develop a cost model to help you make the decision? // This question is probably best for someone with some experience managing or having exposure to servers. You can still answer it without that knowledge of course, but there may be better questions.
  5. If you had to implement a cache (feel free to pick a type of cache, such as an image cache, or type of data) how would you do it? How do you know which items need to be refreshed? What happens when the cache is full; how do you decide which items to evict? // BTW this is one of my favorite interview questions for phone screens. Mostly because you can go really deep with candidates that really understand this concept and you don’t need a diagram or whiteboard to communicate the question and answer.
  6. What are different cache eviction strategies? // such as LRU, LFU, FIFO etc.
  7. A website with 3 app servers and one database is slow, what are some ways to troubleshoot this system?
  8. What are some ways to scale a read-heavy application? How about a write-heavy application?

API Interview Questions

  1. Why are interfaces important to software and systems? What are some examples of “interfaces” you have built or used in a previous project?
  2. Describe a situation where you had to use a RESTful web service? What were the languages and technologies that you used? Did you learn anything from the experience?
  3. What are some qualities of a well designed API? How about a poorly designed one? // Feel free to replace the example with anything that involves data, hopefully something that relates to your product and business.
  4. How do you keep APIs secure? What are some considerations with API security?

Web Development: JavaScript Interview Questions

  1. What JavaScript libraries (or frameworks if you would prefer) have you used?
  2. Explain AJAX in as much detail as possible. How does it work? What have you used it for in the past?
  3. You want to get a query string parameter from the browser’s URL, how would you do it?
  4. What is the difference between document load and document ready events?
  5. What are ways to write object oriented JavaScript? For example, explain how inheritance works.

Web Development: HTML Interview Questions

  1. What is the difference between cookies, sessionStorage and localStorage?
  2. What are some of the building blocks of HTML5?

Web Development: CSS Interview Questions

  1. How do you organize CSS files? What are the pros and cons of this approach? Have you ever tried other ways?
  2. How do you avoid duplicating colors or fonts in CSS, when those colors or fonts are applied to multiple elements? What are the pros and cons of that approach?
  3. What is the CSS box model? (A: width/padding/border/margin)
  4. What are some clearing techniques and when is it appropriate to use them?
  5. What is the difference between “visibility:hidden” and “display:none”? What are the pros and cons of using “display:none”?
  6. How does the browser determine where to place positioned elements?

Web Development: Web Browser Interview Questions

  1. What is responsive design? What is the difference between fixed and fluid layouts? What are some of the pros and cons with these designs?
  2. How do you do browser compatibility testing?
  3. What are some ways to prevent web browser caching?
  4. What is your favorite browser? What sort of tools do you use to debug websites?
  5. What are some considerations in selecting font sizes? // This question is focused on accessibility
  6. How does the DOM work? Explain in as much detail as possible.
  7. What do you think of “hacks”? When should they be used in your code and when should they be avoided?
  8. What is MVC and why is it useful? When would MVC not be an appropriate design pattern choice?
  9. What are the advantages of client side rendering vs. server side rendering? If you were building our site which would you use and why?
  10. What does minification do?
  11. What are some ways to make websites faster? Name as many different techniques as you can.
  12. How do you test the performance of your code and/or web pages?
  13. What are some common security issues with web applications and how do you avoid them?
  14. What is the difference between Canvas and SVG? Do you have experience with either?

DevOps Interview Questions

  1. Have you ever had to be on-call? How did it work? Did you ever miss an alert? How often did you get paged when on-call?
  2. Have you ever had someone let you down at work? What happened? How did you handle it? What did you learn and did it change the way you did things?
  3. Can you describe a stressful situation from a previous role. What you did to create a positive outcome? How do you manage stress in your daily work?
  4. Have you ever had a bug in your code that showed up in production? What happened? What did you learn from the experience?
  5. Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to complete your work.
  6. Tell me about a situation when you aren’t able to complete you work. What happened? What did you learn from the situation and experience?
  7. Tell me a story about the “best” outage you have ever been a part of. What made it the best and what was your role?
  8. What is the purpose of post mortems, and why are they useful? What are the attributes that make a great post mortem?

Software Engineering Interview Questions

  1. How would you describe the software lifecycle at your last position? What did you like about it? What did you wish you could change?
  2. What is an example of a sandbox? Have you ever used one? What is the purpose of one and what are some potential alternatives?
  3. What does refactoring mean to you? Why is it important and when have you done it? (Some candidates can even talk about different refactorings and design patterns here, but mostly I am looking for someone who wants to improve the code they write — as very few people ever get it all right the first time)
  4. Given the following variables: time, budget, customer happiness and best practices which are most important in a project? Give them an order and explain why.
  5. What is the advantages of best practices like continuous integration, automated testing, and code reviews? What are the disadvantages of these practices? (Feel free to insert your own best practices too, these are just examples.)
  6. Are you familiar with the concept of convention over configuration? What is an example?
  7. How do you design, develop and debug applications? What tools do you like to use best? Have you tried others before? What were the reasons you use the ones you do? // There is really no right answer here, it is mostly just about learning how they do their work, and how it fits into past projects. Good answers usually involve thoughtful responses on trade-offs, technology, and experience.

Interview Questions about Teamwork & Collaboration

  1. Give examples of project that were completed as a team. Were there any that went better than others? Why? What was different?
  2. What is the best way to collaborate on a coding project?
  3. Have you ever had to deal with features that involved multiple people working in the same areas? How did it go? Was there anything that could have been done to improve it?
  4. Do you do your best work alone or in a group? Does the type of work matter?
  5. What does it mean to be a good teammate? Have you ever had any bad teammates? If so, did you tell them and give the feedback?
  6. Have you ever had to work with someone else that didn’t pull their weight on a project? How did you handle it? Did things ever improve? If you had to do it all over again would you change anything?
  7. We are in the middle of a development cycle (or sprint if you use agile) and there is a major change in the functionality of a feature you have been working on. How do you respond? What questions do you ask?
  8. Have you ever worked on any open source projects? If so, what were some of the issues within the project? If you haven’t worked on any projects what do you foresee as potential issues?

Interview Questions about Product Sense & Judgement

  1. What do you dislike about our website/product/service? How would you improve it? Which of those changes would likely have the biggest customer benefit?
  2. What is a really well designed website that you use? What makes it great? // This is also a great question to ask if you have a web browser and can pull it up and have the candidate walk you through it
  3. Describe the structure and contents of a design document. What do you consider the minimum amount of information for development to start building something? Give an example of when you didn’t have enough information, or when you had too much/unnecessary information.
  4. What do you think makes [insert product here — ideally one they would have heard of] successful? What is the appeal? What made it special?
  5. Create a scenario and design a product. // I have heard everything from an alarm clock for the blind, a parking lot, internal reporting tools, a slot machine, replacement for Google Maps, and more; the possibilities are endless. If I ask this question though, I always try to pick a feature or potential product we might be building (or have recently built but not released) — ideally the candidate might offer some new ideas. Although it is really about the process and how they arrive at their ideas.
  6. (For more questions on this note, there is an amazing post here on hiring a product manager but a lot of the questions could easily be adapted here as well)

Interview Questions about Customer Focus

  1. You join a team and discover most of the people are spending their time handling customer issues. What kind of process would you suggest to help the team be more proactive about addressing what needs to get fixed?
  2. Tell me about a time when you were wowed by the service you received. What made it special? How could you apply those lessons to our product/service? What are some ways we could wow our customers?
  3. Have you ever worked on a “customer first” team? What was it like? What policies or processes could a software team employ to be a “customer first” team?
  4. A customer is complaining about a particular issue [it is great if you can pick a particular issue or problem with your site that could (or did) happen] but you can’t reproduce it. How would you handle this situation?

Interview Questions about Productivity & Ability to Get Things Done

  1. Tell me about a time you did something that you were really proud of but no one else knew about. // Ideally they should answer with some sort of cleanup work, like refactoring, or fixing other issues, or maybe even something as simple as cleaning up the kitchen. You want a sign that they care about work that is more than just the tasks they are assigned.
  2. How do you manage your tasks and stay organized?
  3. Tell me about a time when you were the most productive. What made that time special? Did you change anything about your day to day work to take advantage of those same attributes?
  4. You have been assigned to a project in a new technology you haven’t worked with before. How do you get started? Have you ever done this before? How did it go?

Interview Questions about Focus on Quality

  1. When do you consider a product to be finished? // My favorite response is ‘it’s never finished’ but anything about some level of testing or verification is generally acceptable.
  2. When do you know your code is ready for prime time (shipping to production)?
  3. What is the role of QA in previous roles? How do you like to work best with quality teams?
  4. Explain a feature or product. How would you test this feature (or product)? You can also ask how to test a specific function after a coding problem.
  5. You have just been put in charge of a big legacy piece of software with some serious maintenance issues. What do you do first? // This question works best if you have a product or example with some issues in mind — otherwise it can be a pretty abstract question.
  6. Have you ever done TDD? Do you like it? Why or why not?
  7. There are all different types of tests — unit tests, smoke tests, acceptance tests, integration tests, etc. What sort of tests have you written? What’s the difference between [insert test here] and [insert different test here]?

Interview Questions about Intellectual Curiosity

  1. How do you stay on top of current trends and innovations?
  2. What sort of websites or blogs do you read regularly? What do you like about them?
  3. What was the last new technology or tool you learned? Where did you learn about it? Have you used it since?
  4. What is the last programming (or technical) book you read?
  5. When was the last time you got something wrong? How did you know? What did you learn from it?

Interview Questions about Communication Skills

  1. Teach me about something for the next 10 minutes. // You are looking for them to select a topic they know (I generally don’t care if they are technical or not) and how well they communicate and break things down.
  2. How did you communicate progress in your previous role? Did that process always work? What could have been done differently to keep everyone on the same page?
  3. Tell me about a time when you had a miscommunication at work. What happened? If you could do it all over again would you alter your actions? Why or why not?
  4. How would you explain the Internet to a child?
  5. Have you ever disagreed with your boss or manager? What did you do? If you haven’t had this happen, imagine that it did, how would you handle this situation?
  6. Explain the concept of cloud computing to my older (not-very-technical) mother. // I actually had to do this in real life and it was harder than I expected. Another example is explain a database to someone’s grandparents.
  7. Give me an example of a time when you were able to communicate and work with another person even when they may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).

Interview Questions about Passion

  1. Do you have any personal projects? Tell me about them. // This is probably one of my favorite and most important questions. When I hire I like to hire candidates who are very passionate about what they do, and so programming isn’t something they just do at their job. They are actually passionate about it and pursue their own projects outside of work.
  2. If money weren’t an issue and you had to work on a project for 3 months, what would you create?
  3. What are 3 big contributors to your success?
  4. Give me an example of a goal you set for yourself and how you achieved it.
  5. What are some of your hobbies or passions outside of work? How did you first get into them?

Interview Questions about Culture Fit

  1. Tell me about 3 times you have failed. // Almost anyone can come up with 1 or 2, but it can be hard to think of 3. Be sure to wait and be quiet while the candidate thinks and ponders the answer — I often feel like the most insightful answers come towards the end of this question.
  2. Do you still write code in your job? Do you love it? // This is more targeted at managers or leaders, since many do not need to be writing code to do their jobs. Hopefully this question could lead to an interesting conversation on role, etc.
  3. What do you want to do in 5 years? How would this job fit into your plan and help you toward your goals?
  4. Why do you want to work at [company name]? Have you used our products? Is there a particular area or feature that got you excited?
  5. Give an example of when you completed a task without being asked. Can you give me another example? Another?
  6. Tell me about a time you improved a tool, task, or project you were working on. What was the circumstances? Why did you do it? Do you have any other examples?
  7. If you were hiring someone in this role, what would you look for? What sort of interview questions would you ask? Do you have a favorite question?
  8. How did you prepare for this interview?
  9. Do you consider yourself weird? Why or why not?
  10. Are there any questions that we didn’t ask you that we should have?

SEE ALSO: How to Ace the Software Engineering Interview

Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

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Marketing Interview Questions

SEE ALSO: Marketing Interview Questions & Answers

Here are our favorite marketing interview questions.

  • If you’re a hiring manager, select the interview questions based on the competencies you’re evaluating.
  • If you’re a candidate, prepare and practice using this common list of marketing interview questions.

And if you’re looking for tips to prepare, along with sample answers, refer to my marketing interview prep book: Rise Above the Noise.

Digital Marketing and SEO Interview Questions

  1. What is digital marketing?
  2. How would you categorize digital marketing?
  3. What is SEO?
  4. What is a keyword in digital marketing? How important is it from the point of SEO?
  5. What are the key areas where you can use keywords to optimize the site ranking?
  6. What is PPC or Pay Per Click advertising?
  7. What are the primary models for determining Pay-Per-Click?
  8. What is Google Adwords?
  9. What is an effective PPC keyword?
  10. What are the key elements to optimize the conversion rates per PPC
  11. What should be the approach for effective Pay Per Click campaigns
  12. What is on-page and off page optimization?
  13. What are the characteristics of “bad links”?
  14. What is Inbound Marketing?
  15. What are some of your favorite inbound marketing tools?
  16. How does a “link building” campaign work?
  17. What’s the difference between ‘On Page’ and ‘Off Page’ optimization?
  18. Tell me about the latest Google algorithm changes.
  19. What are 3 factors that influence the ranking of a page?
  20. Are you familiar with SEM? What SEM tools have you used?
  21. Has marketing been affected by Big Data? How?
  22. What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?
  23. What recently-developed marketing strategy, technique or tool interests you the most right now?

Social Media Marketing Interview Questions

  1. Why should a company or brand have a social media page?
  2. In your opinion, which social network fits our company best?
  3. How do you use social media as a tool for customer service?
  4. What are the first steps you take when handling a social media crisis?
  5. What are your thoughts on moderating comments?
  6. How does social media affect SEO and your online profile?
  7. What piece of content were you involved in creating that received high exposure from social media channels like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn
  8. Did you optimize this content yourself or did you leverage a team member familiar with social media marketing?
  9. Tell me about a piece of content you edited and how you strengthened that piece of content?
  10. What are the benefits of platforms such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck, etc?
  11. What are the benefits of a LinkedIn group vs. LinkedIn page?
  12. How could you leverage YouTube in order to promote our brand and increase engagement?
  13. Which social media platforms are you best at using and why?
  14. What is a limitation you have experienced on a social media platform? How did you overcome this?
  15. Which social media experts and/or influencers do you follow?
  16. What kinds of skills/qualities do you think you need to possess to be a community manager?
  17. Are there any up-and-coming social media platforms we should watch out for?
  18. What are some of the best practices on Twitter?
  19. What is your opinion on Google+? How should it be used in social media strategy?
  20. What are our competitors doing on social media?

Content Marketing & Metrics Interview Questions

  1. What makes content “successful”?
  2. How do you create a blog post?
  3. What content marketing blogs do you read?
  4. How does Google rank content?
  5. What are some good ways to get other people to link to your content?
  6. What are some effective call-to-action techniques?
  7. What kind of system or method are you currently using for reporting progress on your work?
  8. In your opinion, what are the most important KPIs?
  9. How well do you manage Google Analytics?
  10. Explain what a conversion rate is.
  11. What are these terms — CPM, CTR and PPC?
  12. How do you measure social return on investment (ROI)?
  13. What do you know about our target market?
  14. How do you generate your marketing plans?
  15. What do you use to find out if your marketing plan is working?
  16. What marketing strategies do you consider most successful for our product?
  17. How and when do you evaluate your marketing campaigns?
  18. What do you consider the 5 most important aspects of successful marketing?
  19. Describe a marketing strategy that failed.
  20. Do you subscribe to a particular marketing belief or methodology
  21. How do you prefer to distribute and manage information?

Commercial Marketing Scenario Interview Questions

  1. You are working at an independent search marketing consultancy and begin working with a client who believes they have been penalized. How would you diagnose the problem and what corrective action might you reasonably expect to take?
  2. You are working for a major hotel chain as a PPC manager and you’ve been asked to explore expanding your campaign to target American customers looking to book hotels in the UK. What would you need to know to forecast whether this campaign would be profitable?
  3. You work brand-side for a high street fashion retailer. You’ve been given the responsibility for producing content to drive both social and SEO objectives. You have been given a total content budget of £75,000. How would you decide how to spend this money? Also draw up a provisional allocation of resources.
  4. How would you pitch innovative and new approaches to both paid and natural search campaigns?
  5. You’re working in-house at a travel company that is fourth place for market share in your sector. What strategic approach would you take in paid search to increase market share?
  6. We’re launching a new product in 3 months with (these characteristics). Tell me some of your ideas for the launch.
  7. What do you think about our blog?
  8. Take a look at these 2 different designs for our new website, which one is better? Why?
  9. Create a 1 month content calendar that includes different types of content ranging from videos, ebooks, blog posts to podcasts and social media.
  10. What are your first thoughts about this specific graphic/plan and how would you improve it?
  11. You’ve just picked up a call from a customer who claims to have not received his shipment, even though UPS confirms it was delivered. What do you do?
  12. A customer has just posted a negative review to the company’s Facebook page and you’re in charge of responding. How do you handle it?
  13. An SEO technique you’ve used successfully in the past has just been devalued by Google. What do you do next?
  14. You’ve been tasked with redesigning the company’s brand strategy from the ground up. Walk me through your process.
  15. You’ve been put in charge of planning the company’s nationwide conference. Where do you begin?
  16. One of your employees has just accidentally posted a personal tweet to the company’s account. How will you handle her?

Marketing Culture Fit Interview Questions

  1. What have you done to contribute toward a teamwork environment?
  2. What do you consider your most significant strength as a digital marketing professional?
  3. What kinds of situations do you find most stressful?
  4. What is more important to you: the money or the work?
  5. Describe a time you were faced with stress that tested your coping skills.
  6. How would you define success for someone in your chosen career?
  7. Describe the most difficult scheduling problem you have faced at work.
  8. Do you prefer to work in a small, medium or large company?
  9. How long do you expect to remain employed with us?
  10. How would you decide on your online marketing objectives?
  11. Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
  12. Give me an example when you felt you were able to motivate a group?
  13. How important do you feel it is to communicate with the sales team?
  14. How would you market our products if you were put on a severely limited budget?

SEE ALSO: Marketing Interview Questions & Answers

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Product Manager Interview Questions

SEE ALSO: Product Manager Interview Questions & Answers

Here are our favorite product manager interview questions.

Product Manager Technical Background Interview Questions

  1. Why did you decide to move from engineering to product management?
  2. What is the biggest advantage of having a technical background?
  3. What is the biggest disadvantage?
  4. What was the biggest lesson you learned when you moved from engineering to product management?
  5. What do you wish you’d known when you were an engineer?
  6. How do you earn the respect of the engineering team?

Product Manager Design Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about your product design process and experience?
  2. Have you worked with UX/UI Designers and how so?
  3. A product is ready to ship, but the UX Designer doesn’t approve of shipping because of an UX issue, what do you do?
  4. How do you know when a design is “done”?
  5. Analyze the UX/UI of our product, how would you improve it?
  6. What are pitfalls of being too reliant on hard data in product design?

Product Manager Operations Interview Questions

  1. What software development methods have you used?
  2. How did you work with your engineers in your current or previous role?
  3. What’s a cool innovative technology or product that you’ve seen recently and why?
  4. What do you want to build here and why?
  5. Tell me about that time when you’ve hit a sticking point with your engineering team. What was it and how did you work through it
  6. Where do you think the industry is going? Is it ripe for disruption?
  7. What’s the competitive landscape and revenue model? What’s the value chain?
  8. Can the company position itself for success and what does that mean for the product?
  9. We’re thinking about expanding into XYZ business, should we?Tell me about a great product you’ve encountered recently. Why do you like it? [By the way, it drives me crazy when candidates name one of my products in an interview. I had a hard time hiring anybody at Yahoo! who told me the coolest product they’d come across recently was Yahoo! Good grief.]
  10. What made our product successful?
  11. What do you dislike about my product? How would you improve it?
  12. What problems are we going to encounter in a year? Two years? Ten years?
  13. How do you know a product is well designed?
  14. What’s one of the best ideas you’ve ever had?
  15. What is one of the worst?
  16. How do you know when to cut corners to get a product out the door?
  17. What lessons have you learned about user interface design?
  18. How do you decide what not to build?
  19. What was your biggest product mistake?
  20. What aspects of product management do you find the least interesting and why?
  21. Do you consider yourself creative?

Product Manager Metrics/Pricing Interview Questions

  1. When have you used massive amounts of data to drive a decision?
  2. How would you price a product of ours?
  3. Your sales and marketing team came to you with a feature request, build it and a deal gets done, what do you do?
  4. Tell me about a business or product metric that you were responsible for and how you went about attaining it.
  5. How would you determine the price for piece of wearable technology?

Product Manager Strategy Interview Questions

  1. What is the most efficient way to sort a million integers?
  2. How would you build a website for blind people?
  3. How would you re-position a company’s offerings to counteract competitive threats?
  4. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
  5. How many bottles of shampoo are produced in the world a year? Solution
  6. You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
  7. How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
  8. How would you find out if a machine’s stack grows up or down in memory?
  9. Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
  10. How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?
  11. You have to get from point A to point B. You don’t know if you can get there. What would you do?
  12. Imagine you have a closet full of shirts. It’s very hard to find a shirt. So what can you do to organize your shirts for easy retrieval?
  13. You have 15 horses that run various speeds. You own a race track on which you can race the horses, and this track holds a maximum of 5 horses per race. If you have no stopwatch or other means of telling exactly how fast the horses are, how many races would you need to run between the horses to be ABSOLUTELY SURE which horses are first, second, and third fastest? Solution
  14. Every man in a village of 100 married couples has cheated on his wife. Every wife in the village instantly knows when a man other than her husband has cheated, but does not know when her own husband has. The village has a law that does not allow for adultery. Any wife who can prove that her husband is unfaithful must kill him that very day. The women of the village would never disobey this law. One day, the queen of the village visits and announces that at least one husband has been unfaithful. What happens?
  15. In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country?
  16. If the probability of observing a car in 30 minutes on a highway is 0.95, what is the probability of observing a car in 10 minutes (assuming constant default probability)?
  17. If you look at a clock and the time is 3:15, what is the angle between the hour and the minute hands? (The answer to this is not zero!)
  18. Four people need to cross a rickety rope bridge to get back to their camp at night. Unfortunately, they only have one flashlight and it only has enough light left for seventeen minutes. The bridge is too dangerous to cross without a flashlight, and it’s only strong enough to support two people at any given time. Each of the campers walks at a different speed. One can cross the bridge in 1 minute, another in 2 minutes, the third in 5 minutes, and the slow poke takes 10 minutes to cross. How do the campers make it across in 17 minutes?
  19. You are at a party with a friend and 10 people are present including you and the friend. your friend makes you a wager that for every person you find that has the same birthday as you, you get $1; for every person he finds that does not have the same birthday as you, he gets $2. would you accept the wager?
  20. How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?
  21. You have eight balls all of the same size. 7 of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more. How can you find the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?
  22. You have five pirates, ranked from 5 to 1 in descending order. The top pirate has the right to propose how 100 gold coins should be divided among them. But the others get to vote on his plan, and if fewer than half agree with him, he gets killed. How should he allocate the gold in order to maximize his share but live to enjoy it? (Hint: One pirate ends up with 98 percent of the gold.)
  23. You are given 2 eggs. You have access to a 100-story building. Eggs can be very hard or very fragile means it may break if dropped from the first floor or may not even break if dropped from 100th floor. Both eggs are identical. You need to figure out the highest floor of a 100-story building an egg can be dropped without breaking. The question is how many drops you need to make. You are allowed to break 2 eggs in the process.
  24. Describe a technical problem you had and how you solved it.
  25. How would you design a simple search engine?
  26. Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.
  27. There’s a latency problem in South Africa. Diagnose it.
  28. What are three long term challenges facing Google?
  29. Name three non-Google websites that you visit often and like. What do you like about the user interface and design? Choose one of the three sites and comment on what new feature or project you would work on. How would you design it?
  30. If there is only one elevator in the building, how would you change the design? How about if there are only two elevators in the building?
  31. How many vacuum’s are made per year in USA?

Product Manager Leadership Questions

  1. Is consensus always a good thing?
  2. What’s the difference between management and leadership?
  3. What kinds of people do you like to work with?
  4. What types of people have you found it difficult to work with?
  5. Tell me about a time when a team didn’t gel. Why do you think that happened, and what have you learned?
  6. How do you get a team to commit to a schedule?
  7. What would somebody do to lose your confidence?
  8. Do you manage people from different functions differently? If so, how?
  9. What have you learned about saying no?
  10. Who has the ultimate accountability for shipping a product?
  11. Have you ever been in a situation where your team has let you down and you’ve had to take the blame?
  12. How has your tolerance for mistakes changed over the years?
  13. Which do you like first, the good news or the bad news?
  14. What’s your approach to hiring?
  15. How have you learned to work with sales?
  16. What is the best way to interface with customers?
  17. What makes marketing tick?
  18. How do you know when design is on the right track?
  19. How should a product manager support business development?
  20. What have you learned about managing up?
  21. What’s the best way to work with the executives?

SEE ALSO: Product Manager Interview Questions & Answers


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amazon vendor manager interview question

SEE ALSO: Case Interview Questions for Tech: Sample Answers

This article describes what interview questions to expect at the Amazon vendor manager interview including sample questions. You’ll find the corresponding sample answers in my new book: Case Interview Questions for Tech Companies.

Introduction to the Amazon Vendor Manager Interview

There are nine different categories of questions at the Amazon vendor manager interview:

  1. Inventory management
  2. Pricing
  3. Demand forecasting
  4. Strategy / new market entry
  5. Hypothetical
  6. Off-the-wall
  7. KPIs
  8. Vendor management
  9. Phone screen

There are also may be Amazon product line specific questions, especially if you’re interviewing as a vendor manager for Amazon Fresh, Prime, or Prime Now.

The questions below are equally likely at the onsite interview along with phone interviews, especially if the phone interview is with the hiring manager or a member of the team (not a recruiter).

Inventory management interview questions

As a vendor manager, careful inventory management is a critical responsibility. Have too much cash tied up in inventory means you can’t reallocate that cash to profit-generating activities. Have the wrong inventory means customer satisfaction issues and not fulfilling the promise of being the world’s largest store on Earth.

Expect interviewers to ask you a variety of inventory management interview questions to demonstrate your ability to manage a lean, optimal inventory operation to maximize profits.

Sample questions

  • Amazon’s pick and pack operation has the following throughput. Pick: 7 orders per 10 minutes. Pack: 11 orders per 10 minutes. What’s the utilization of the pack station? Sample answer on 172.
  • During the holiday season, Amazon customers shipped 200 orders per second. Amazon’s data science team discovered that the average number of orders waiting to be shipped was 20,650. How long did the average Amazon order wait to be shipped? Sample answer on 173.
  • You have two options to receive and stow a product: option A and B. After I give you the details, which one would you choose and why? Would you answer change if you had a different target goal? Why? How about if I told you we needed to produce the maximum number of units possible? Sample answer on 174.
  • Something breaks in the project at the last minute, and it is from a supplier. How will you solve it? Sample answer on 176.
  • How would you solve supply constraints and expand the supplier base in the face of an imminent product release? Sample answer on 178.
  • I’ll give you revenue, COGS, and inventory information. What are the annual inventory turns? And what is the average inventory? Sample answer on 230.

Pricing interview questions

As the vendor manager, you’re responsible for reporting and consequently managing your business. During those dreaded Wednesday weekly reporting meetings, Amazon execs will ask ask what you can do to increase profitability of your business. Pricing is one of the most important levers for profitability.

Hence, expect interviewers to ask you questions about pricing existing products and new products. They expect you to make pricing recommendations by maniupating data and in the face of uncertainty.

Sample questions

  • How would you reprice Amazon Prime if your goal was to increase profitability? Sample answer on page 50.

Forecasting interview questions

Good vendor managers accurately forecast demand. Inaccurate forecasts from bad vendor managers have consequences. Insufficient inventory & shipping capacity means Amazon loses profit with stockouts. Excess inventory & shipping capacity leads to the same result, Amazon profit loss, but for different reasons: profit loss is due to unnecessary salvage waste, warehousing costs, and opportunity costs.

Sample questions

  • How many lotion bottles are produced in the US each year? Sample answer on page 33.
  • How many printers are sold each year? Sample answer on 37.

Strategy and new market entry interview questions

Vendor managers own the P&L. As a P&L business owner, they need to think strategically. Strategic issues include competitive moves, new markets, and geographic expansion. A good strategic answer appeals to Amazon’s leadership principles of:

  1. Thinking big
  2. Have a backbone
  3. Dive deep
  4. Are Right, A Lot

Sample questions

  1. Tell me about a competitor’s move in the past six months. What do you think about it? Sample answer on 129.
  2. If you could start a company with $1,000,000 right now, what would it be? Why? Sample answer on 134.
  3. If you could open an Amazon store anywhere, where would it be and why? Similar question and sample answer on 140.
  4. What markets or categories should Amazon launch and why? Similar question and sample answer on 141.
  5. What would you do to bring product X to the global marketplace? Sample answer on 205.

Hypothetical interview questions

A variation on behavioral interview questions, Amazonians like to also ask hypothetical interview questions, especially as they relate to their Amazon Leadership Principles.

Interview tip: answer the hypothetical question with an answer that describes your hypothetical approach. From there, back it up with a real-life example of when you used the hypothetical approach. To create satisfying stories, use my Amazon stories template for Amazon leadership principles interview questions.

Sample questions

  • How do you deal with defeat? Sample answer on 135.
  • Could you deal with complex problems? Sample answer on 137.
  • Let’s say you don’t have all the information you need. What would you make a decision? Sample answer on 182.

Off-the-wall interview questions

Jeff Bezos is a quirky guy, but that’s not why Amazonians ask off-the-wall interview questions like “What is your superpower?” Instead, Amazon interviewers ask off-the-wall questions because they want to see how you deal with ambiguity. And those feared bar raisers in your interview loop, some believe off-the-wall questions are a great way to see if you exceed the bar. Their reasoning: most candidates don’t prepare for off-the-wall questions.

Be warned: the punishment may be self-inflicted! Amazonians have been known spot, on a candidate’s resume, a foreign or programming language skill. From there, the interviewer then tests your Java programming skills or Chinese language skills. Java and Chinese might not be related to your job, but in their mind, it’s a great interview question to see how you react to ambiguity!

Sample questions

  • What is your superpower? Sample answer on 133.

KPI interview questions

As the P&L owner, Amazon vendor managers must track key performance indicators or KPIs. While it may seem like the more metrics the better, more often than not, too many metrics can be overwhelming.

Sample questions

  1. What top metrics would you track for the Amazon Seller Marketplace? Sample answer on 110.

Vendor management interview questions

This one shouldn’t be unexpected. As a vendor manager, you’ve got to work with suppliers. Also known as vendors, these suppliers might not always easy to work with or align to Amazon’s goals. These questions test how you would influence or convince vendors to do what you want.

Sample questions

  1. A lighting company CEO has a long tradition of working with showrooms and physical distributors, what do we say about their perception that Amazon poses a threat to their business? Sample answer on 139.
  2. Let’s say a supplier does not answer your calls or reply to your emails. What will you do? Sample answer on 180.
  3. How would you convince a vendor to sell on Amazon? Similar question and answer on 195.
  4. What would you do to increase vendors who sell on Amazon to expand selection? Similar question and answer on 199.
  5. If operating margin decreased from a year before, name some reasons why this could be happening. Sample answer on 227.
  6. What would you say to a vendor who does not want to sell on Amazon anymore? Similar question and sample answer on 232.

Amazon Fresh interview questions for vendor manager

Product design questions might seem appropriate only for product managers.

However, vendor managers, as P&L owners, should have a point of view on all aspects on the business. After all, the product experience can affect sales. Refer to CIRCLES Method™ Product Design Framework to provide a complete and satisfying response.

Sample questions

  • What features would you suggest for a grocery app? Sample answer on 68.

Interview questions for vendor manager on Amazon Prime or Prime Now

Similarly, certain businesses may have to think more deeply about customer acquisition. In your mind, when you think of customer acquisition, you should immediately think of the Big Picture marketing framework covered in Rise Above the Noise.

Sample questions

  • The sales team’s goal is to achieve $5M in new revenue each quarter. What’s the one metric we should focus on? Sample answer on 114.
  • How would you advertise to entice Amazon members to upgrade to Prime? Sample answer on 197.

Phone screen interview questions

These interview questions are more likely during the phone screen rounds, especially with the interviewer is the recruiter. They’re less specific to the business and product domain. Here, the recruiter is trying to assess cultural fit. That is, what are your internal motivations and passions? Do you align with Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles? Are you likely to stay with Amazon for the long-term?

These phone screen interview questions may seem easy, but you’ll be surprised how many candidates have trouble crisply answering these questions. To get crisp, use my template for Amazon behavioral interview questions.

Sample questions

  1. You have 5 minutes to tell me why I should hire you over the other candidates. Sample answer on 248.
  2. Why do you want to join the company? Sample answer on 251.
  3. What is an example of a time you failed? Sample answer on 257.
  4. Tell me about a time when you used data to solve a complex problem. Sample answer on 259.
  5. Tell me about the last time you used data to inform your decision making. How did you acquire the data? If you had to make that decision again, what would you do differently? What data would you like instead? Sample answer on 261.
  6. Tell me about a time when you made all the decisions for a project or task. Sample answer on 266.
  7. Tell me a time when you demonstrated a bias for action. Sample answer on 268.

SEE ALSO: Case Interview Questions for Tech: Sample Answers

case interview questions for tech

Career Plan Example

Source: Ryan Allis

Career plan templates are helpful, but all the blank fields can come across as intimidating, especially if you don’t know where to start!

To guide you along, we’ve included:

  1. Above: a filled out example
  2. Below: commentary on how to fill it out and in the best way possible

Life purpose

The first section is life purpose.

Before you get into the success metrics, qualitatively define your life purpose. Another way to think of it is your mission statement or how you want to make your mark on the world.

Ryan does a good job showing how he’s trying to help the greater good with his life purpose.

Success metrics

The second section is success metrics.

Use the acronym SMART as a checklist. That is, be specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound in your goals. And don’t be afraid to shoot high. Failure is okay if you don’t meet your goals. Because if you set readily achievable goals you’re less likely to get satisfaction from your (likely smaller) accomplishments.

Action plan

The third section is action plan.

It’s not enough to set goals; you need to define the specific steps that you’ll take to make it happen. I call that an action plan.

In Ryan’s example, he spells out how he can make it happen. On the one hand, it’s nice that it’s succinct. On the other hand, I would have liked it if Ryan provided more details. It would clarify the specific next steps Ryan should take to make his career goals happen.

Desired way of being

The fourth section is desired way of being.

This is a list of adjectives that expresses how you’d feel after achieving this goal. If you’re a fan of visualizing success, then you’ll appreciate writing down your desired emotional state here.

Lifetime goals

The fifth section is lifetime goals.

This is where one discusses lifetime objectives. What’s commendable about Ryan’s example is that while this is a long-term goal, he uses specific and measurable goals like establishing Hive in “1000 cities around the world.”

10 year goals

The sixth section is 10 year goals.

When putting down goals for the 10-year horizon, you’ll notice that Ryan includes both work and personal goals. He’s also think about building scale behind his career efforts with specific goals like “Train others to hold Hive gatherings.” With an objective like that, you see that Ryan is considering how to build an organization that can build and extend upon his personal efforts.

1 year goals

The seventh section is 1 year goals. Ryan does a good job once again in being specific. What’s noteworthy is how the goals are connected from the 90-day, 1 year, 10 year and lifetime goals. They’re not discrete or independent.

90 day action plan

This section is a chance to discuss near-term objectives. I like what Ryan did in the example. He was very specific about who, where, and what he wanted to do. He mentions people like Nadia, deliverables like the “Everything I Learned by 30 Presentation” and specific targets like 1M users.


The signature and date is a nice addition that one normally doesn’t see in most career plan templates. Scientific research shows that people who sign and date their commitments are more likely to achieve their goals.

Final thought

Don’t waste time trying to attain your career goals. Click on the template below, fill it out, and start achieving your dreams. Good luck!


Source: Ryan Allis

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