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I have had two different interviewers, in two different occasions, asking me one similar question.

What is the number of end users of the application that I am currently working on?

I gave a rough figure to which the panel mocked and said it is very small.

In one case, it was ~ 100 to 200. But, that amount of data that was generated was huge and this has to run 24x7, 365 days. It could have been scaled up later but I was not part of it. Till the time I was involved in it, I was part of the coding team.

I do understand that different applications cater to different users and the numbers vary significantly based on the domain and also on the requirement. I could have been rejected based on this alone or many other factors.

I guess their main intention was to see if I can be a part of applications with bigger user counts. However, I do not have experience working on applications with a large number of users.

**My question is, how should I answer questions like this - where my experience doesn't match what they're looking for - in a way that minimizes the negative effect on me?

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    I don't understand the interview question. What application? Theirs? The one your wrote at the last company? – nvoigt Jan 1 at 19:29
  • @nvoigt yes, the applications that I am working at present and the previous ones too. – WonderWoman Jan 1 at 19:46
  • @JoeStrazzere The application had already gone live to production and was in maintenance/upgrade phase. I was speaking to my other friends and this seems to be a very common question here. – WonderWoman Jan 2 at 5:44
  • @nvoigt I have edited my question. Would be glad to add more details as needed. – WonderWoman Jan 2 at 5:56
  • "a rough figure to which the panel mocked and said it is very less." - Do you mean they mocked it and said the figure was too low? E.g. "About 100 to 200 people use the app." "Bah! So few? Are you even trying?" – Brandin Jan 2 at 7:11
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I agree with being honest like @Sascha mentioned. Let me provide a parallel example. I work as a cybersecurity professional - security analyst and former auditor. In much there is a tradeoff between well supported software vs efficient software, there is a tradeoff between security vs end user acceptance / friendness.

I have frequently encountered questions in past interviews about how I would handle end user complaints / support their needs while not compromising security of the systems or compromise to the minimum degree required to satisfy end users, assuming end user requests were reasonable.

To draw a parallel, about how reducing the security of a system can be mitigated as a negative, I answered that supporting end users is important, and that no matter how secure the system is, if end users cannot use it, then security is irrelevant. In your situation, if the system cannot be easily scaled to support the growing end user base, then if even the system can easily handle large amounts of data, that capability is reduced due to limited numbers of end users being able to use such functionality simultaneously.

Summary: Think about how to balance opposing needs and answer accordingly.

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You should answer it honestly and with thinking. This is a typical question where they want to test your ability to separate very different aspects of professional SW development processes. The number of users has a different impact than the data size.

Data size is usually a pure infrastructure and mathematical/computational problem, while number of users has impact on your development cycles, required stability of data format, software quality, release planning, and testing.

A typical though process which I would expect of an experienced professional SW developer is e.g. the tradeoff between a more stable and/or well supported, but less efficient solution and a cutting-edge technology, where your team has potentially to give support to every end-user.

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