CQ_Product_Series | Shambhavi Dhote | Ather Energy

Communiqué IIT KGP
6 min readOct 26, 2023
Sambhavi Dhote, Ather Energy

Interviewer: Hello everyone, I’m Snehal, a secretary at communiqué. And today we have Ms. Shambhavi Dhote who has been placed at Ather Energy as a product analyst. Hello Shambhavi, first of all congratulations for the placement, how are you doing today?

Shambhavi: Hello Snehal! Thank you very much. I am fine, and you?

Interviewer: I am fine as well. So, basically, in this short interview, I’ll ask you a few questions for our product-oriented blog series. The blog will be shared with the KGP community to guide them about the selection procedure through your experience. So,if you are ready, can we start?

Shambhavi: Yeah, Snehal. Let’s begin.

Interviewer: So here goes the first question.What was the general interview process for the companies you interviewed? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.

Shambhavi: Okay, if I have to say the general interview process, involves two product rounds and the last will be like a mix of product and behavioral. So for different companies, they will vary. So if I start from the first, which I got short-listed for, it was Flipkart which took 3 rounds and in all these rounds questions asked were product based on a mix of product design, improvement, metrics, market entry. So they carry out a one-month session where they guide you on how to prepare for the interview.

If I have to say for the Microsoft Technical Programme Manager, in that there were two rounds, first was a product round, followed by a system design round. As per the role they were looking for people who will be able to coordinate with the software engineers and have better knowledge in that particular domain and thus it was a bit away from the traditional product management role.

Third was Grow which took around 3 rounds a mix of the various product questions as previously mentioned, more focused towards the financial stream.

Then the fourth was Navi which consisted of two offline rounds.In those two rounds, there was nothing like HR round, it was mostly directed to product questions only and also they were inclined on asking hardware questions.

And lastly coming to Ather. In Ather, my first round was based on my technical knowledge as per my profile and problem solving based loosely on my technical and design thinking skills. For the second round, it was dedicated more towards product improvement or designing a new product and my third round comprised of HR and behavioral questions.

Interviewer: Thanks for the briefing about the process. Could you please list down questions you were asked in the different rounds? Puzzles, technical questions, any other discussion in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.

Shambhavi: Okay, so first for product profile, I believe that you should have basic knowledge of SQL for the technical round. So in product management, they do not expect you to know a lot about the tech knowledge or the coding language as well. But what do they expect is that you have a basic understanding of how tech works. Because as a product manager, you will be managing both counterparts of products.

Puzzles and guesstimates are other sectors which companies focus on. For guesstimates there is the book of communiqué : ‘The Guessing Game’ and CIC. So it’s like even if you start from now, like guesstimates, you can keep on doing one per day. And it’s very easy and it will be something that will be asked in the interviews for sure.

Interviewer: That was insightful. Coming to the next question, What are some of the FAQs in most companies that you faced and think students must definitely prepare for? More specifically, in the context of HR rounds.

Shambhavi: The questions that are the most asked are like your favorite product? Prepare for the software as well as the hardware product. And you should have a reason. Why do you like this product? And what makes it stand out from other products as well.

Second would be designing a new product or improving a new product. It can further connect to metrics and market entry questions. These are some of the questions that are asked.

And thirdly, there are the general HR questions. They’d be more interested to know why you want to switch into product management. It can come from your internship or the project you did or some competition you participated in. So you should have a strong story line so as to support.

Other than that, for the specific company, you should be well versed with their background, core values, their product(s) as well. So you should have a basic understanding of their products as well.

Interviewer: So moving ahead, what are 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?

Shambhavi: To align yourself for the role, I believe you can join various cohorts so as to either learn from scratch or polish your knowledge.Other than that, participating in various competitions, doing projects or internships showcase your dedication.

Guys who are preparing for the role should remember that there is no clear crystal line one has to follow. People come from various backgrounds and experiences, learning from them is the key to this role.

Before placements You should read books, install the products to understand their flows. Constant communication with friends prepping for the role or with people in the product sectors,helps you to gain knowledge and empathy for the product .

To prepare for product interviews, ‘Preparing for product interviews’ is the first book you should go forward with. Second of all, the IIT B case book, which helps you understand how to solve cases in a structured manner in under 30–40 mins.

There is this IIMA book called ‘Futuristic outlook to product management’.’Cracking the PM interview’ is another good book.

In Product, interviewers really like it if you have empathy for the users. So understanding UX is important and something you can read into. It can also help in deck making. You can also refer to PM school and exponent in youtube, to help you prepare and practice and solve case studies.

Interviewer: Alright, so moving ahead, how did your preparation for technical rounds evolve once you were shortlisted?

Shambhavi: I have a major design background. So I was not a very technical person per say. But I read and did some coding as well. I’d say SQL was something that I started learning once I came back to campus in my fifth year. It was very early on. And I read the ‘Swipe to Unlock’ which helped me get a grip of theoretical knowledge. I did a course in ML (A-Z ML course from Udemy) a year back. I believe those were sufficient for me to crack the technical rounds.

Interviewer: Thanks for the answer. Anything else that you’d want to share with the students?

Shambhavi: I think placements are close enough now and my suggestion would be to prepare a daily routine which helps you manage time efficiently.

Second would be to make a list of all your achievements, projects etc for CV making.

You can also reach out to your seniors on how to better prepare and get feedback.

Its high time you have a niche case group where you can practice 2–3 cases per week.

Placement preparation cannot be ideally done, especially the product profile which requires constant communication and constructive feedback to improve. Stay connected and practice with your peers.

And spend some time being in constant touch with your family to keep your morals up. I wish all the preparing peeps best of luck for this coming placement season!

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