Product Education - RFC assignment [1-2hr (async)]

This step of our interview process is to have you complete a take home writing exercise in the form of a Request for comments (RFC).

RFCs are at the core of most of what we do including helping to inform teams of big changes, ask for feedback, surfacing tensions, and making decisions. Tha handbook provides a lot of great information on how to create an RFC, as well as examples of past RFCs. In fact, here’s an RFC written specifically for improving the IA of our Administration docs.

The assignment

Your assignment is to write a Request for comments (RFC) in a Google Doc for a recent problem you identified, solved, and published technical content for, as if you were writing a proposal to do it.

The RFC should communicate how this problem addressed an issue or gap related to user/product education, how the improvement would tie to business goals for your product/team, and how you would know if you were successful.

In general, it should have our standard RFC structure from the handbook, or see this RFC template: Background, Problem, Proposed solution, and Definition of success.

However, our handbook also states that the precise format is not as important as the content itself, so feel free to improve upon this format as necessary.

Aim for about one page of writing (don’t go over two pages) with standard styling.

This is long enough to give us the signal we want, while at the same time is short enough that you don’t experience “writer’s block” and can write it in one sitting.

We expect this to take you ~1-2 hours.

What’s important is that the writing is clear and easy to understand. It should show us that you care about your writing by making conscious decisions of what to leave in or out, paying attention to grammar and spelling, and phrasing things in an understandable way. The challenge is to explain something to a reader that doesn’t have the same context as you have, making it easy to understand for a wide audience, just like technical writing and content creation.

What we measure

Will the candidate be successful in our all-remote environment in which the majority of communication happens in written form (Slack messages, RFCs, GitHub issues, pull request and commit messages).

  • Is the candidate able to see and communicate the big picture in an inspiring way?
  • Does the RFC communicate the documentation/technical content/product education vision and explain why this is an important problem to solve?
  • Does the RFC have clear writing with correct spelling and grammar? That means: short and non-convoluted sentences, simple words instead of jargon when possible, no mixture of past and present tense, etc.
  • Does it demonstrate empathy with the reader and anticipate what the reader might not know?

Key competencies:

  • Communication
  • Strategic thinking/visioning

Interview questions

Should the candidate move forward to the followup, review call, the focus will be on what collaboration would look like, how they would talk about the RFC, and how they’d work through getting it implemented. Here are a few of the questions the team may ask about your RFC:

Walk us through the RFC from how the idea/need was identified to the final outcome of the project.

Why was this project important from a technical communication or education perspective?

How did you collaborate with subject matter experts (SMEs), especially those from other teams for this project, and what successes/challenges did you encounter?

Did anything go wrong with this project, or did you experience any challenges?

Was the project successful, and how did you know?

How would you improve this if you were to do it again?