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How can I better prepare for Big Tech interview with little experience?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

I'm a software engineer with 1 year experience and no degree. I recently got an interview with a Big Tech company for a Full-Stack position. I have the phone screen to do first but I've started studying Leetcode so I'm prepared if it goes forward. I'm honestly not sure what to expect as I haven't done many interviews let alone at Big Tech. What should I expect/what areas should I be focusing on to better improve my chances of passing?

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(6 comments)
  • 17
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    First off, toss the mental shackles of having little experience and no degree out the window. You got the interview and now have a shot just like everyone else in the loop - Be proud of yourself for getting this chance, especially in this economy. πŸŽ‰

    When it comes to Big Tech phone screens, it's generally a mix of LeetCode easy and medium level problems. However, this will vary based on company - Can you respond to this thread with the company name?

    If you haven't already:

    • Go through recent interview data on GlassDoor - Every Big Tech company will have a lot of these; this is one of the huge benefits of interviewing with them!
    • Ask your network for their experience - Maybe there's people you know who also went through the loop recently?
    • Work with your recruiter to clear up the picture - Studying LeetCode is extremely expensive: Make sure that you have high confidence that it will be useful. You can just email them with something like: "I want to make sure I present my best self during the interview. Can you share more details about what it will look like so I can better prepare?" It's in every recruiter's best interest to maximize their candidates' chance of success: If they have info, they should give it to you - Sometimes you just need to ask!

    Lastly, I highly recommend the masterclass we gave on Big Tech DSA interviews: [Masterclass] How To Ace Your Big Tech Interview - Data Structures And Algorithms

    Best of luck!

  • 9
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    a year ago

    HI Alex, thanks for the assurance and the advice, the company is Pinterest. I started looking around and I've found a few resources/examples about what questions may be asked and focusing on those Leetcode problems first to make sure I can do them at minimum. They seem to revolve around practical things you might do in that job which gives a bit of focus to my study plan. The DSA Masterclass has been very helpful as well. As for my network it's very small but I have a couple of people I know who have gone through the process at Google and Amazon so I'll ask them. Thanks so much again, that's a good place to start.

  • 13
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    Nice, Pinterest is a fantastic company! Both of my coworkers come from there - Maybe they can chime in?

    Pinterest is definitely big, but it's a degree of magnitude smaller than FAANG. Based on that, alongside what you said, the interview might be less LeetCode-heavy.

    Pinterest is much closer to Robinhood than it is to Google. At Robinhood, LeetCode was a very small portion of the interview - I actually didn't even finish that round and still got the offer. The focus of my Robinhood interview was to build a small Android app and do system design in Android. However, I was interviewing for an Android engineer position, and mobile loops are generally different from others.

    That being said, I can see Pinterest doing something similar - Maybe you'll need to build a simple full-stack website or something. You can try teasing out more details from the recruiter.

  • 16
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    Software Engineer @ Taro, ex-Pinterest
    a year ago

    Congrats on landing an interview!

    I used to work at Pinterest. The interview process became a lot more standardized from when I first started there to when I left last year.

    The phone screens are one hour long. There's around 5-10 minutes of introductions where you'll talk about what you've worked on, ~45 minutes for answering the technical question, and 5 minutes for you to ask any questions about the team/company.

    You will be asked a Leetcode question for the technical question, so it is important to prepare yourself for these kinds of questions. You'll be using a collaborative web IDE called Coderpad to implement your solution. Each technical question has a scoring rubric attached to it that the interview uses to grade your solution. You need to have a working solution to the technical question to pass the phone screen, or your score won't be high enough to pass the interview.

    Like Alex said above, I would verify with the recruiter about what kind of technical question they'll be asking, because it's possible my info could be outdated.

    Good luck with the whole interview process!

  • 1
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    a year ago

    Thanks for the breakdown Charlie, and thanks for the clarification Alex, didn't know the definition for the term until now, lol. I confirmed that it will be pretty much as you described, Charlie. Currently I've been going over common patterns and then doing 5 easy, 3 med, Leetcode questions for each pattern but I feel like this approach could be optimized, especially given the study time constraint. I've seen some advice online, but are there any specific study strategies that you found effective when preparing for these interviews?

  • 5
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    I've seen some advice online, but are there any specific study strategies that you found effective when preparing for these interviews?

    For me, it's more or less the tactics I talked about in the DSA masterclass:

    • Make it a habit - Study in 2-3 hour blocks 4-5 times a week.
    • Find a buddy - Mock interviews elevate the experience so much.
    • Push your understanding - Never give up by opening the entire answer, memorizing it, and moving on. Extract just the core insight from the answer and go back to the drawing board to force your brain to fill in the pieces.
    • Take breaks and don't cram - If you find yourself getting frustrated, go on a walk or listen to music for 5 to 15 minutes.

    The recent Taro Premium session we did has a lot of good insights around studying and interview management as well: How To Land 18 FAANG+ Software Engineer Offers With Steven Zhang (Airtable, USDR, Tableau)