Diagnosing Problems

Frameworks / Generic / Execution

What is this question about?

The interviewer is testing to see if you have an organized and logical approach to solving problems. In this interview question, there is a situation where data could be pointing to a problem or outcomes that conflict with each other. You are asked to discover what the causes are and explain how to solve the problem.

What is the interviewer looking for?

The interviewer is evaluating you on the following:

  • What is your thought process when diagnosing and solving a business problem?
  • Are you logical?
  • Are you exhaustive in listing the possible causes?
  • Are you articulate in your delivery or do you tend to ramble?

How to structure your answer?

  • Clarify. Ask for clarification if you are unclear about what the interviewer is asking.
  • List high-level reasons. Start by listing the high-level reasons, components, or user behaviors that are causing the problem.
    Gather context information. Ask questions to understand the context of the problem. For example, is the problem regional? Is the problem a one-time event or progressive?
  • Discard issues outside of scope. If the answers to questions about context are outside the scope of Facebook Groups features, discard them.
  • Establish a theory of probable cause. For each of the high-level reasons, components or behaviors you mentioned, recursively ask yourself why are these problems occurring, and list possible causes.
  • Explain how to test your theory and fix the problem. Describe how you would test each probable cause. If possible, explain how you would resolve the problem.

Common Problems

Some common problems that you may be asked to diagnose are:

  • Falling revenue — could be caused by a lower price or a decline in sales.
  • Falling profit — could be due to a drop in revenue or increase in cost.
  • Falling sales — could be caused by customers buying less, customer churn, or decline in new customers.
  • Declining new customers — could be due to lower traffic to the website, lower conversion rate.
  • Increase in costs — could be caused by an increase in fixed and/or marginal costs, or increase in supplier prices, or distributor charging more.
  • Decline in traffic — could be due to a decrease in new visitors, or decline in repeat visitors, or customers spending less time on the website (lower engagement).
  • Decline in new visitors — could be caused by a decline in search traffic (e.g., the website has a lower ranking), direct traffic or referral traffic.