I’m about to start interviewing and will be borderline between senior and staff eng. What does the interviewer look for to distinguish between the two? Is it mainly in the behavioral portion?
The interview is intended to predict on-the-job performance. An L6 (staff) engineer is expected to lead a team of 6+ engineers in technical direction, and to represent the team in XFN collaboration. An L5 is expected to independently lead and own a project.
So in terms of interview performance, a staff-level performance should indicate some technical leadership and foresight when it comes to direction. The main ways these will be evaluated are through system design and behavior rounds.
In the behavioral interview, some hiring managers will also give you a shot at a higher level if you've demonstrated a steep growth trajectory over the course of your career. Here are a few thoughts on how to do that in an interview: