I got contacted by a Big tech recruiter recently to interview for Sr. SWE/L5/E5 level. The recruiter said they can skip the phone screen round for me and advance me to virtual onsite interviews directly, probably due to my relevant experience for the team/role.
My question is regarding how to know how much time to buy for interview prep. Since one hurdle (phone screen) is already cleared and this company is one I would like to join, I want to buy enough time to prep well and give my best shot. At the same time, I don't want to give an absurd number of months for this opportunity to go away, and for me to lose momentum which I can use for other companies too.
Sorry I know this is a very non-generic and personal question depending on my skillset to clear this interview. Just sharing some info if it helps you answer -
My current situation - I started preparing for interviews in general a month ago. So I started with brushing up on DS concepts + Algorithms and learning Coding Patterns, and about to start Leetcoding soon. I have not done any preparation for System Design and Behavioral rounds as of now. I have not interviewed since a long time, so my interview skills are quite rusty. I'll probably need to take some mock interviews/practice interviews with other companies as well before this Big tech company's interview.
My question is regarding how to know how much time to buy for interview prep.
This varies a lot from person to person, but for what it's worth, I spent ~3 months preparing for Meta with ~1 month for the phone screen, and ~2 months for the onsite. However, I'm an exception as I was only interviewing with Meta during that job switch. I have an entire video about my journey getting into Meta.
When it comes to conversations with the recruiter, pitch it in a way where it seems like a benefit for them (and it likely is): You are very excited about the company and want to make sure you have adequate preparation time to show your best self during the interview. I have found that Big Tech companies are generally not in a huge rush to close out a headcount, especially Google and Meta as they have team-matching processes. Interviewing with companies that are lower on your "wishlist" to train your interviewing muscle back up again is always a good idea.
If you want to get an idea of what L5 expectations look like, check out the "E5" portion of my Meta E4 -> E5 growth plan.
When it comes to interviewing resources, I highly recommend these:
Thanks a lot for responding Alex. I will surely checkout the links you pointed to.
Do you code every day? Are you able to fluently code in your language or choice? If so, grinding leetcode likely isn’t where you need to focus. Do a few of these, and make sure you cover some major DSA categories. Work on speed a little, mostly just write scenarios out (loop types, graph traversal, cycle checking, etc) and be sure you can frame the approach in low ones of minutes so you can focus on the real work.
From there, START with a mock interview right now, before you tell them your timeframe. Know what you need to prepare, otherwise you’re just blindly throwing out a time more based on fear of underprep or of them pulling the plug without any objective plan with a timeline.
Do not overprep. Do not psych yourself out. Being ready is one thing, but trying to “crack it” with study and not having the skills is not a recipe for success even if you do get an offer.
After your mock interview, get detailed notes, choose a shortish turnaround, and do it again with someone else, or see if they can ask different questions.
Read a few tech blog entries or white papers addressing some of the company’s problems (or similar companies) to have an understanding of the current state of the art.
Write down the impacts of any significant work you’ve done so you have it handy for the interview. Have more examples than you expect to need.
Don’t endlessly ask for extensions. Get six weeks or whatever you decide now, and stick to it. If you are sick or have an emergency fine, but dragging it it will hurt your confidence.