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Solutions Engineering Interview Prep Questions, Type of Role and Comparable Compensation to other technical roles?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Other2 months ago

Interview Prep Question

Has anyone ever asked about solutions engineer vs. SWE?

I have heard so many different things about interviews here - that you do NOT need to do whiteboarding and DSA (AI startup series B) for a TPM/solutions architect type of role, vs. you DO need to do DSA for a TPM role at an YC-backed early stage AI company.

Type of Role

Lots of my friends are also solutions architects/engineers and PM types and have recommended I try that as a role instead of TPM (product has too many politics they say), or SWE (too boring being just a regular IC if you have business/PM skills that doesn't let you utilize other soft skill strengths I may have).


I know that it tends to have a bad rap bc of lower pay, customer success or client facing etc. I also have heard the opposite (that it pays more). Thoughts?



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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    2 months ago

    Also note I have done a lot more consulting in the past and client facing type of stuff than most other SWEs that have had no experience there, thought it might be transferable

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    "Solutions Engineer" is a pretty generic term (every person in every company is trying to come up with solutions all the time), so I imagine the job responsibilities vary from company to company. The role also goes by different names. Palantir (in)famously calls it "Forward Deployed Software Engineer" and some companies will call it "Sales Engineer".

    I have interacted a good amount with Solutions Engineers at Meta (one of my coworkers from Course Hero also hopped to Meta but was unable to pass as SWE so he did Solutions Engineer instead). How Meta does it is similar to how I've heard other companies do it as well.

    The Role

    At Meta, Solutions Engineers would work with big ad clients on a case-by-case basis. That Course Hero coworker had the scope of media at some point so he got to work with major players like NY Times and Fox News. It's sort of a mix of consulting and software engineering, but far more of the former. The engineering work came when you needed a code out a custom solution for some very specific ad format the client wanted. He initially enjoyed the role (he had good people skills and got to travel all over the world for free), but it burnt him out over time and he switched to SWE (had to interview again).

    Interview Questions

    My memory here is far more vague (I chatted with this Course Hero -> Meta Solutions Engineer once about it over lunch), but my understanding is that the interview was far more behavioral and not very technical. I remember him telling me that there was DSA, but it was pretty easy, especially compared to SWE loop onsite difficulty. This makes sense as this role is more about building relationships and communicating well, not coding.


    I have never heard of this role paying more than SWE in a proper tech company, and this certainly wasn't the case at Meta. Maybe in an S-Tier pure consulting company will it pay more as every engineer there will effectively be a Solutions Engineer. At Meta, the salary was comparable but the equity portion was far, far smaller, like 50%+ smaller. That's not a big deal when you're L3 (junior) as your RSU grant isn't very large, but at L5+ (senior+), this discrepancy in RSUs means you're making $100k+ less than your peers (in the United States). The pay gap is a big reason my colleague was feeling burnt out as a Solutions Engineer (it's important to not be jealous, but it can be hard seeing your peers make far more than you).

    Overall, Solutions Engineer could be a good role if you want to stay within that technical realm, make solid money (just not top-tier money), and exercise more of your product and soft skills. I have 0 idea how these orgs are affected by the current economic climate though. If you're fine with both Solutions Engineer and SWE, you have an advantage in this market - Apply to both!