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Big Tech Companies vs. Non-Big Tech Companies : Is Focusing Just on DSA/System Design Better for Interviews?

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Senior Software Engineer at Taro Community23 days ago

What I've noticed is that FAANG companies don't seem to look beyond Data Structure and Algorithms (DSA) or system design in interviews, whereas medium-sized companies also consider other skills. For example, for a Python web framework, they might look at Django, Flask, or FAST. For a data engineer role, Apache Airflow might be important. ATS may not even pickup your resume unless they see very specific word like Django or Apache Airflow in your resume. It seems like it might be easier to prepare for big tech companies since they focus only on DSA, System Design, and behavioral rounds. In contrast, other companies look for such a wide range of skills that it's hard to master and work on all of them.

Let me know your views.



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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    23 days ago

    So I have given ~100 interviews on behalf of FAANG. When it comes to FAANG interviews, they're generally more streamlined than what you find outside of FAANG, but I wouldn't say it's exactly easier. Big Tech gives a narrower range of interview types but expects a far stronger performance from each one. It's classic breadth vs. depth, and Big Tech heavily prefers depth.

    I also think you're sleeping on behavioral (and I'll cover this more in my upcoming behavioral interviews course). Behavioral interviews, especially at your level, will look for a wide range of skills:

    1. Project management
    2. Prioritization
    3. Communication
    4. Conflict resolution
    5. Leadership
    6. Technical depth
    7. Mentorship

    The list goes on and on and on, and it's much bigger than people think.

    At a high level, Big Tech is less concerned about specific technical skills as everything there is so custom, and for companies like Google/Meta, they do centralized hiring so they don't even know what team you'll end up on. So testing on very specific technologies is low ROI for Big Tech.

    I talk about all of this in-depth in my job searching course, specifically starting here: https://www.jointaro.com/course/ace-your-tech-interview-and-get-a-job-as-a-software-engineer/data-structures-and-algorithms-dsa/

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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    22 days ago

    Big Tech company interviews have less variance since they must create a system to interview and evaluate thousands of applicants every year. At that scale:

    • Hiring is usually done centrally, and engineers are assigned to teams later. The usage of a specific technology is therefore less important at the interview stage.
    • Larger companies will standardize the interview training and types of questions being asked.

    Startups and mid-size companies interviews can be way more random. This can be both good (if you happen to know the specific tech they're looking for) or bad (if you get unlucky with a random interview question).

    Mock interviews: Better utilized for Systems Design or DSA?