I have a L6 equivalent MLE interview from a FAANG company.
Since last time I had interview for L4. I would like to understand what kind of quality difference does L6 show in an interview (coding/behavioral/system design -- ML)?
How would you demonstrate staff level quality in the interview rounds?
When it comes to Big Tech companies, the signal for leveling (especially at L5 and beyond) primarily comes from the behavioral and system design rounds. For the LeetCode rounds, engineers can show more senior signals (edge case coverage, more detailed thoughts on run-time/space analysis, and extension ideas), but they're mainly judged pass/no pass.
The tricky thing about L6+ is that every staff engineer is very different, and I imagine this would apply to MLE as well. Because of this, the signals I'll share are more high-level.
For these interviews, I would look for the following from a staff engineer:
Tactically, my advice for you and anyone else interviewing for a senior/staff role is to prepare a strong narrative before the interview (put it in a Google Doc/Notion). You are almost certainly going to be asked to describe the project you're the most proud of - Make sure that you have something ready that shows as many advanced engineering signals as possible.
Here's some good case studies to help you grok what staff-level behavior looks like - If your story shares similar threads to these, you're in good shape:
It depends a lot on the problem, but here's some ideas:
Lastly, here's another good discussion on L5 vs. L6 expectations when it comes to interviewing: "How to distinguish between the performance of a strong L5 (senior) vs. an L6 (staff) interview performance?"