A lesson I learned as a PM on how to answer Complexity and Ambiguity questions in REAL interviews

A failed answer and a successful answer

Ram Pulipati

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Failed answer

I interviewed for this e-commerce company in India and when they asked me this question, I think i failed miserably. But the interviewer was nice enough to ask me the other questions and carry on with the rest of the interview.

Question:

Tell me the most ambiguous and complex problem i solved.

Answer:

Here, I will write a very brief answer — here was a time when at Wildtrails we were doing Fashion business. A customer ordered a t-shirt but we sent a wrong size t-shirt to him. So we raised a return for the t-shirt, the shipping vendor failed 2 times to pickup the t-shirt and it was during covid time. We were helpless, our customer was angry, but the third time it was successful — i did a trick and it worked.

I explained the whole situation.

This is a cakewalk to a failure interview.

Result:

I failed the interview.

Why its a failed answer

  1. When asked for this question — talk about an IT product, not an e-commerce return process :) especially something that’s manual.
  2. Know what complexity means: complexity is something about layers. when a problem has so many layers to be solved, then that’s a complex problem or situation
  3. Know what ambiguity is: ambiguity is something about uncertainty. when a problem’s scope, success and timelines are uncertain until it is executed, then that’s ambiguity. For example: a red button is most clicked or yellow button is most clicked? you have to do an A/B test and solve, then its an ambiguous situation. You launch and learn for ambiguous situations !
  4. my answer is supposed to have situations like this — that covers both complexity and ambiguity
Comlexity vs Ambiguity as per HBR.org

Successful answer

Question:

Tell me the most ambiguous and complex problem i solved.

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Ram Pulipati

10yrs exp as a PM, Dev and Co-founder. Studied, lived & worked in US, Canada & India. Want a FREE PM resume consultation? -> www.linkedin.com/in/janakiramvit.