CQ_Product_Series | Keertimaan Nayak | Kotak

Communiqué IIT KGP
6 min readSep 13, 2023
Keertiman, Kotak

Ananya: Hello Keertimaan! This is Ananya from Communiqué. Congratulations on being placed at Kotak. I will be asking you a few questions about the selection process, so shall we start?

Keertimaan: Hello Ananya! Thank you for your congratulations. I’m more than happy to answer your questions. Please go ahead and ask your questions.

Ananya: So first of all, what was the general selection process for the company? Also, the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process?

Keertimaan: I had an interview with 3 companies that were Rakuten Inc, Kotak Mahindra and Axis Bank on the same day. So it was a hectic schedule but the placement drive for Kotak Mahindra was a seamless process.

The general process for Kotak Mahindra consisted of a CV shortlist process at the beginning. Then they had an interview process that consisted of two rounds simultaneously, the first round being the Technical round which was then followed by a personal interview round. The major focus was on the Technical round that consisted of Guesstimates, Puzzles as well as questions on Product improvement or design and also estimation and problem solving. Normally many companies for the product role have a deck submission process where we first have to submit a product deck, that later on gets shortlisted and we are eventually sent for further rounds.

Ananya: Okay, that’s awesome. So moving on, could you please list down some questions that you were asked in the different rounds, like puzzles and other discussions in general that you think will be helpful for the students?

Keertimaan: Initially I was asked to solve a guesstimate. As I was sitting for the process of Kotak so the question was related to it. I was asked to estimate the number of people that are going on a foreign trip or vacation and would take foreign travel credit cards from us. The main thing in solving the question is to first clarify the doubts or ifs and buts related to the problem. For example whether we have to consider people going on trips throughout the year or just during summer or winter or the people that are going will be a family or a couple or a single person and whether we need to consider one credit card per family. There are several questions that might arise and we must be good enough to discuss all of them with the interviewer and then get on with the estimation. Normally the interviewer is friendly enough to clear all the doubts related to the statement. Then after getting cleared with the statement we can solve it. One of the major things to keep in mind while answering the statement is that we have to discuss every step with the interviewer and let him run through the whole flow of our solution. We shouldn’t directly jump to our final answer at once. That creates a bad impression. I was also asked to solve a puzzle which was easy. Then I was asked to do a product improvement by also providing a product solution for an existing product. Then I was asked about my previous internship experience as a Product Manager. It included many technical questions related to my work. We need to be clear with what we did during our internship period and also be clear about the metrics of the product one worked on. One of the major things that strengthens your chance to get a product manager role is that you have to let the interviewer know about the percentage improvement in the business metrics because of you and what all measures and steps you took. We should be clear with discussing the contributions and also the improvement in metrics with the interviewer. It increases the chance for the interviewer to know about you and get to know about your ideas in certain situations. Apart from this I was asked a few HR questions which were pretty easy to handle as I had prepared for such questions.

Ananya: That gives us a great idea of everything, I guess. So moving on, what are some of the frequently asked questions in most companies that you face and think students must definitely prepare for? More specifically in the context of HR rounds?

Keertimaan: In technical rounds specifically for Product Role students have to have a good practice of puzzles and guesstimates. Guesstimates are the method by which any organization or the interviewer checks your capability of handling new situations, and how you manage to come out of these questions. So the more practice in this type of questions ensures that more exposure you have to such types of questions. There are 42 Puzzles on Geek for Geeks which are a must solve if you are sitting for any role in placement. For HR Rounds the most important preparation is that you have an idea about all types of HR questions and you have your best possible answer prepared for it beforehand. You don’t need to mug up the answers for all HR questions, rather have a basic frame for every question. The HR questions that are asked by most of the companies are always pretty common questions.

Ananya: Wonderful, that covers everything I guess. So, moving on, what are things students sitting for placements next year can do from now to maximize their chances of getting through a company in this sector?

Keertimaan: If students are preparing for a product role for next year’s placement the most important thing they should focus on now is to solve as many puzzles and guesstimates. And apart from this the most major thing is to practice questions on product improvement, product design, problem solution, metrics. These are the major things the student needs to have a practice of before placement drive. There is a site named PMExercises that has around 400+ product improvement, problem solution, product design questions along with solutions that will help us carve our thinking and solutions in the right way. For puzzles the book Heard On the Street is the best as it has covered all types of puzzles.

Apart from this the company or the interviewer mainly looks for Product Mindset and Data proficiency of a student during the interview. So many questions are asked to gauge your understanding of how a product works. They also want to know about your data proficiency so they normally ask about the amount the data you have worked on during previous work experience.

Ananya: All right. Very well explained. Furthermore, how did your preparation for product case rounds evolve, once you were shortlisted?

Keertimaan: After I got to know about the interview, I prepared more for the HR questions as I was well prepared for my technical round so I didn’t need to work on it. I just went through the frameworks for solving guesstimates and also the values that we need to remember related to guesstimates. Apart from that I revised all the main puzzle questions. Then as said my main focus was on HR questions so I went through all of them and had answers in my head that best suited my profile and also aligned with my technical skills.

Ananya: Right. So these were some of the basic questions from our side, before concluding, anything else that you would want to share with the students in general?

Keertimaan: Apart from all of this I would ask the students to have timely practice and also have practiced as many number of problems as possible on product improvement cases with help of which they can be more sure on how to solve cases or product problems or provide a solution. At the end of the day of the interview it is just about how much we interact with the interviewer and let him know about all of our technical skills through problem solving. Be free and confident enough such that you ace interviews with ease.