CQ_Product_Series | Avi Singh Raghuvanshi | Blinkit
Interviewer: Hello everyone, today we have Mr. Avi Singh Raghuwanshi who has been placed at Blinkit. So we are here to interview him regarding his preparations and strategies to crack the interview of this company.
Could you explain to us about the field of ‘Product Management’?
Avi: Hey, that’s a great question because there is a general perception amongst the students in KGP that product management doesn’t require any technical knowledge or coding so let’s get into this field, which is a problematic situation.
It’s very important to understand what this field offers and demands from a person before even starting the preparation.
If you want to understand product management, you can try to look into the general process of how you would deliver a product from scratch.
What will be the basic steps in product development? The first will be identifying the problem, and what problem you are solving. Then try to understand its root cause and validate it through some primary or secondary data. Sit with your team and brainstorm on all the possible solutions and then prioritize the solutions. After that, you’ll have to collaborate with various teams like the tech team, data science team, and others to deliver a product that solves the real-life problem, for which you must have a basic understanding of technology. The work doesn’t end here, you also need to think about the launch and growth strategies for your product. In total, the work is very dynamic. There are many steps and each step requires you to have a different set of skills. For example, if you want to identify the problem you will have to talk to people, you have to conduct surveys to understand their concerns. If you want to validate certain problems through data you must have an analytical mindset. For brainstorming, you need to be aware of the recent happenings and all the available latest technologies. For the launch and growth strategy of the product, you need to have good business acumen as well. In short, if someone feels that they want to work in a dynamic environment then this is the field.
Interviewer: What was the general interview process for the company you interviewed, and tell us how to prepare for that? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process
Avi: In product, I was interviewed for Blinkit and Zomato. They were day 2 companies, the process started sharp at midnight. Surprisingly, both these companies concluded their selection process in just one round, probably because the time allotted to them this year was less. For Blinkit, the interview was only for 30 minutes and Zomato it was for 60 minutes. This is not the usual process of how product managers are hired. According to my understanding, it was because of the limitation of the time that they reduced the number of rounds and tried to judge all the required things in one round only. So, both the companies judged product design thinking, technical understanding, and personality through a mixed set of questions in that particular round only. For Blinkit, it started with basic HR questions. The very first question was to give a summary of myself. They wanted to understand about me, my life, and what I have done till now, and this is a very standard HR question. The first 10 minutes of discussion was around my answer only and why I wanted to go into product when I already had multiple internships in software and data. The next 20 minutes went into discussing the case study that I had submitted for Blinkit. I was grilled on certain features that I suggested in my solution. Some questions were on implementation of those features and that is how they tested the technical knowledge, not exactly how I would write the code but the basic tech understanding and system designing part. In the end, some questions were related to identifying the loopholes and risks involved in implementing my solution. So, these were the basic things that were asked in Blinkit.
In a usual process, what happens is, these things are mostly divided into three rounds, the first round is usually root cause analysis, the second is design thinking/market launch/market entry and the third is the HR round.
Zomato also followed almost the same format as Blinkit. The first two questions were basic HR questions. Why do you want to go into product management and why do you want to join Zomato? Then they asked me one Puzzle sort of question, “Why are manhole lids circular?” and one specific thing they told me was to answer it from a product manager’s perspective. Then they tried to understand my design thinking part. For that, they asked, if given a blank screen of Zomato’s home page, what would I put up there and why? Some technical questions were asked based on my answer to the first question.
Some other questions that I remember are, what all data points are important to estimate the delivery and meal preparation time. This was it for both companies
Interviewer: Should one know how to code for product management roles?
Avi: This question usually arises because of the history of this profile. Companies in the US (mostly tech companies) prefer to hire product managers with an MBA along with a background in computer science which is not the case for hiring product managers in India.
What I would say is if someone is preparing for a product management role only for CDC placements, he or she will not face any direct coding questions. but as far as the off-campus placements are considered there could be a separate round for coding as well, mostly in companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.
Interviewer: Was there any shortlisting round before the PI
Avi: Only Zomato and Ola took a test and other companies gave a problem statement for which we had to submit a deck.
Interviewer: Can you mention what were the problem statements and how much time was given?
Avi: For Blinkit the problem statement was to build an online movie ticketing app to capture some market from BookMyShow which controls 70–80% of the market in this space.
Zomato took a unique test that was common for both BA and APM roles. The test was divided into two sections, the first was very easy math and the second part was a subjective type question on surge pricing, a mathematical model for surge pricing, and two more questions around it.
Interviewer: Was there any cut-off for CG?
Avi: For Blinkit, there was no CG cutoff. but for other companies, there were certain criteria for CG.
Interviewer: What were the criteria for CG?
Avi: Shortlisting was not based only on CGPA, companies looked for terms related to product management in your CV.
People who already had some product internship or a product case study on their CV were preferred.
Interviewer: What are some of the FAQs you faced and things students must prepare for and most companies more specifically in the context of the HR round?
Avi: In the context of the HR round, some of the most common questions are “Why product management”, “what is product management according to you”, “why do you want to join our company”, “why product and not consulting”. One common question that people with no product internship/case study face is “why do you want to switch”? So, you need to have a perfect answer over here. Apart from this, it is very important to have a basic HR round prep that is applicable for all the profiles and companies.
A summary of your resume in a story format, what are your strengths and weaknesses, why should a company hire you, how are you better than other candidates and a set of ready stories from your life which supports your answers.
Interviewer: What are the things students sitting for placements next year can do from now until December to maximize their chances of getting through a company in this sector?
Avi: The first thing is competition in this profile is bound to increase. More or less everyone who is not interested in coding will sit for product management roles. When the competition is so high you need to have certain things in your resume which would help you to distinguish yourself from others. So, try to do some internships and product case studies to write in your CV. Secondly, everyone will do the basic case preparation for this profile and everyone will have more or less tsame approach towards cases. Use this as an opportunity to distinguish yourself from others by improving your general awareness and including ad hoc things during your case discussions. The best way to improve your general awareness is to start following engineering blogs of good companies like Swiggy, Zomato, Facebook, Spotify, etc, or I would say pick one big company from each major sector like Facebook for social media, Zomato, or doordash for food delivery industry, etc.
There are other good online resources as well like Stratechery and TechCrunch which students can start following because these things cannot be done in one day.
Interviewer: How far does the position of responsibility on campus help you? How has life in KGP supported you for this role?
Avi: So PORs are helpful. Speaking about myself, PORs helped me support my point why I wanted to be a product manager because my position of responsibility was also managerial. I framed most of my HR round answers around stories from my PORs only. I tried to portray myself as a very dynamic person with the help of work that I had done in the Students’ Alumni Cell and TSG in terms of sponsorship, team management, leadership, Budget management, etc. I also justified my CGPA of 7.57 and utilization of time on campus with the help of multiple PORs.
Interviewer: Anything else you would like to share with the students other than this?
Avi: For this particular profile, I think there are two very important things. The first one is you need to have people around you with whom you can discuss your ideas and solutions for making decks. So, Start looking for people whom you can trust and discuss problem statements with. It’s good to have a group of 3 or 4 people for doing case studies and deck submissions, brainstorming ideas for deck submission alone is not very fruitful. The second important thing is that the competition is going to increase in the upcoming years and opportunities are limited, a maximum of 7 to 8 companies will come for this role. So, it’s very important to have a backup.
BA roles can be a very good backup option for students preparing for APM roles as the selection procedure for both roles have a major overlap. You are expected to know guesstimates, and the basics of SQL, and have an analytical mindset and statistics in both.