When I was actively looking for a new product manager position, I learned a lot about the interview process for companies large & small and it got easier to spot the good ones.
One practice some companies like to use is asking candidates to do case studies on hypothetical product scenarios to see how we would evaluate & implement some new product or feature. I'm ok with doing interviews like this if it doesn't feel like it is being abused by the potential employer to crowdsource free consulting ultimately never hiring anyone for the role. In my opinion, the case studies should not be related to the interviewing company or even its industry.
A recent interview felt like that & was ultimately a strange experience. I was asked to do the following case study & present it on a 30 minute interview call with someone who never took any interest to get to know me first. I took the interview to get the experience and at the end was excited when he said the next interview would be with the CMO or an engineering leader. He proceeded to email me a follow-up telling me he loved my presentation & to move forward I had to do another case study presentation to him to lay out end to end how I'd execute on a new feature (using my exact wording from the call where I told him areas that would be more important to focus on). I told him I'd be happy to proceed with payment for my time & he just ended it there, very poor recruiting experience. Still nothing from him trying to learn why I applied or what my interests are, just looking for free advice for their current product problems.
Case Study: Peloton In-app Social Community
By the way, it wasn't Peloton I interviewed with but the question was posed as if I was a PM at Peloton. Ok here is what I came up with based on my previous career experience & knowledge building my own mobile applications.
You are a Product Manager for Peloton’s mobile app. Company leadership is evaluating whether or not to build out their own in-app, social community offering that you would manage.
Should Peloton add an in-app social community for users to connect with one another?
While some users may enjoy connecting with strangers about fitness, it won’t be worth the engineering cost & time to pursue. Peloton should continue using existing community building tools such as Facebook groups to empower connection between users.
I used my previous experience building for a social app to inform this hypothesis. I understand the difficulty of building social features & trying to have a positive ROI.
- Engineering cost & time would be too high for meaningful ROI
- Implementation & iteration will be very hard to be beneficial & over time with low ROI the features will just create more issues than successes (software bugs, user reports, and moderation challenges - spam & inappropriate content)
- Budget would be better spent on creating new content and building better relationships with customers through existing marketing channels or creating exciting new corporate partnerships
- Building social/community features detracts from the company mission of producing high quality fitness hardware and virtual class experiences from your home
- Let “community” tool companies be the best & focus on the home fitness experience
Evaluating the Idea: Have we tried before?
- Review company product history
- Is there any past experiment documentation? If so what happened?
- Do we use community in any way for marketing or user growth/engagement already?
- Are there proven ROI metrics behind community (social media & other channels)?
Customer Discovery Phase: Are customers asking for it?
- Do people want to connect with strangers about fitness? Or fitness experts?
- Review quantitative data (if old experiments exist)
- Review qualitative data for trends (customer feedback channels - App Store reviews, customer support, social media, email)
- Design new experiments & data collection (surveys & 1:1 interviews) to learn from users/customers if not enough data to make definitive decision yet
Competitive Analysis: Is anyone winning at social?
- Who wins at social in the fitness industry? Learn from other “fitness tech” companies such as Fitbit (Google) & Apple. Also, look at big brands building software alongside physical products ie Nike & UnderArmour.
- Do any hardware+software focused fitness companies succeed at social to drive business results (bringing more people to the brand & selling more hardware)?
- IF users are clearly demanding a stand-alone social community & it drives better fitness results for users + the business has a path to positive ROI - BUILD
- IF neither conditions are met - AVOID & keep focus on Peloton Facebook group and explore other community building tools (to reduce reliance on Facebook)
Thanks for reading!