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How to distinguish between the performance of a strong L5 (senior) vs. an L6 (staff) interview performance?

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Senior Software Engineer [L6] at Better.com2 years ago

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?

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  • 8
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 years ago

    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 system design round, a senior engineer can have a nuanced discussion about tradeoffs, while a staff engineer would go further to talk about what may break in the future and how to guard against that.
    • In the behavior round, the main requirement I look for in a staff engineer is that they have influenced the roadmap for a team, and I’m looking for how they did that. How are they able to convince leadership and junior engineers, technical and non-technical parties, about the importance of their plan?
  • 4

    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:

    • Do your roles and projects paint a picture of expanding impact over time?
    • When projects don't go as planned, do you have a good handle on why and how you'd apply those lessons in the future?
    • When you talk about moving between companies or teams, do you have a compelling explanation on what you hoped to get out of the move?
Better.com) is an American company which operates an online platform for mortgage origination and related services. Founded in 2014, Better.com launched its first business, Better Mortgage, in 2016 and later added subsidiaries dedicated to real estate, title and homeowners' insurance services.
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