3 YOE - 5 Offers - Seattle

Expedia Group / Eng 72ja9ak
Sep 12 477 Comments

I’ll lead with this: I’m a straight white guy with a neutral-American accent and US citizenship, so I have a lot of unfair advantages in life that not everyone is lucky enough to get.

Blind was a big part of what inspired me to seek out higher compensation and gave me confidence in my negotiation, so thank you! This is me trying to give a little bit back to the community. I’m not looking for input, per se, as I’ve already accepted an offer to work at IMDb/Amazon.

Prep:
I spent about 3 months studying in preparation for these interviews. It was about 20 hours a week (0-4 hours per day) and I was pretty consistent in my time investment. 85% of my time was spent on DS/A, either via Leetcode or EPI. 10% of my time was spent on system design, and 5% on rehearsing behavioral questions with friends.

Elements of Programming Interviews - I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough. I credit it as the biggest cause of my success on the algorithm interviews. I read every chapter (not in order) and solved every problem presented as part of those chapters. I did not solve any ‘ninja’ problems at the back of the book.

Leetcode – In addition to the EPI problems, I solved 67 Leetcode problems. I did these problems in parallel with my EPI readings, picking problems based on tags. 6 hard, 23 medium, 38 easy. If I ever failed to solve a problem, I would invest hours ensuring that I fully understood the problem and solutions approach. I did that via Leetcode discussions, YouTube videos, and random articles. Then I would complete that problem before moving on.

System Design – I already do a decent amount of this at my current job, so I didn’t have to invest a lot of time into this. I used the free, YouTube version of “Grokking the system design interview”. And I occasionally followed some ‘related video’ links if there was a technology I wasn’t familiar with.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL73KFetZlkJSZ9vTDSJ1swZhe6CIYkqTL

The Interviews:
As part of my prep phase, I took 2 weeks PTO in August and planned to fill that with back-to-back onsite interviews. This also kept my lazy ass motivated to keep to my study plan, because there was a tangible deadline.
About a month before my on-site block, I starting applying for companies via their website. Simultaneously, I sent a quick message to a Seattle-area recruiter for each company and mentioned that I had just applied online and wanted to reach out to them. This really helped because a lot of companies auto-rejected me due to keyword filters(?), but the recruiters that responded were able to pull my resume out of the trash and move me forward!

I was ghosted by: Lyft, Facebook, Tableau, and Dropbox.
Insta-rejected by: AirBnB, Zillow, Nordstrom, Splunk

eBay:
Withdrew my application after the phone screen. Their interviewer was really, really bad at interviewing. The questions were too easy, technology-specific, and it felt like the interviewer was making it up as he went along (and this guy was a Principle MTS!!). To their credit, the recruiter seemed to take it seriously when I cited this as my reason for withdrawal.

Disney:
Fuck Disney. It took 4 weeks from the time of on-site to getting a response from them because their hiring manager was on vacation (why even schedule me…?). Additionally, they contacted my current company before even making an offer!!! WTF. They ended up rejecting me because they got mixed feedback from the toxic team I’m leaving, despite “stellar feedback” from the on-site, according to the recruiter (well before the rejection). Because of that, my team and manager knew I was interviewing after I got back from PTO.

Two-Sigma:
Passed the phone screen. It was a pretty difficult question. I eventually decided I didn’t want to leave Seattle, so I cancelled the on-site.

Salesforce:
The interview process was pretty arduous, and I didn’t really like it. 1 hour HR phone screen, 1 hour manager phone screen, 3 hour take home project (more on this later), 1 more hour manager phone screen, all-day on-site. The take-home project seemed pretty big considering a hard 3 hour deadline. I was told I would complete the project, then get on a call with an engineer or manager to discuss my decisions and trade-offs, but that turned out to be a lie. I was rejected (by that team) with the feedback ‘not senior enough.’ The recruiter sent that project around to other teams and eventually found one that liked it. I talked to that new manager and had an on-site. Offer below.

Zulily:
I was surprised with how interesting and competent this team felt. The interview process was pretty standard, and the questions were Leetcode easy. Offer below.

Uber:
I bombed the online test because I didn’t memorize the syntax for sorting based on two fields. Oh well.

Qualtrics:
Standard interview process. Team seemed pretty cool. Offer below.

Amazon:
I was initially opposed to Amazon due to WLB issues and overall culture, but I managed to find a team that seems really healthy and interesting (IMDb). Their online editor for the code screen is the worst I’ve ever used. The on-site DS/A questions were somewhat easy, and half of each interview was based on the leadership principles. Offer below.

Pinterest:
Fairly standard interview process and I enjoyed meeting the team. Offer below.

Twitter:
I passed the phone screen, but the team I was interviewing for moved to Boulder, CO mid-interview-process and I didn’t want to relocate. I had to withdraw my application due to time constraints with other companies.

Google:
Passed phone screen, but they ended up having no headcount available for Seattle, so I can’t move forward unless I want to relocate to the Bay Area.

Offers:
An arrow “->” denotes negotiation. I just used the standard negotiation tactic of not giving a number first. From there, it was just bidding companies up since I had multiple competing offers.

Zulily: SDE II @ 184k

Salesforce (Bellevue): MTS @ ~170k -> SMTS @ 236k -> SMTS @ 267k

Qualtrics: SDE II @ 198k w/ 20k sign-on

Amazon/IMDb: L5 @ 226k -> L5 @ 261k
[Amazon breakdown]: 160k base, 115 RSUs (212k vests 5/15/40/40), sign-on of 101k year 1 & 78k year 2

Pinterest: SDE II @ 247k

Final Decision:
I accepted the offer to work at Amazon/IMDb. I was really impressed with the team’s enthusiasm during the on-site, and I feel like it’s a super healthy part of Amazon, culture-wise.

My Expedia TC was 140k as an SDE II.
I’m happy to answer any specific questions, but I’ll probably respond slowly.

comments

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TOP 477 Comments
  • Apple darkMod
    Wait how does being straight and white and male confer advantage? I can understand US citizenship and neutral accent tipping job odds in your favor though.
    Sep 12 19
    • Hallmark yomamatb
      @muffin man There is no doubt in my mind. It doesn't mean that the interviewers are all "racists". I just think there is mostly an unconscious bias towards hiring white men, for whatever reason. It runs rampant in the tech industry, but it is a global problem.
      Sep 15
    • Microsoft muffin man
      Meanwhile there is a conscious bias for companies to hire every minority possible to better their diversity numbers.
      Sep 15
    • Amazon / Eng gldnhndcfs
      Yes. There is a conscious bias for diversity nowadays.

      But the fact is that that conscious bias hasn't had an overall impact to the numbers. We can reevaluate in 5 years so we'll see if it even matters long term. If it turns out that there's a disproportionate number of Asian men being shafted then I'm happy to have that conversation again. All I know is right now as an URM I can go months at a time without seeing anyone that looks like me at work, and I see more Indians/native Chinese in one lunch rush in SLU than I ever did before moving to Seattle.

      So it's hard for me to feel sorry for the majority feeling bad because they failed their Google interview. Guess what; I fall phone screens and interviews too. Being a minority isn't gonna help me with dynamic Programming. Even if just maybe getting a screen was easier, the whole point is to balance out the unconscious bias during the on-sites and I fail those too. I actually fail them more than my Asian/white friends but I'm not complaining about biases in my personal life like y'all im just focusing on making myself get better.
      Sep 16
    • Expedia Group Kennewick
      @yomamatb I see a lot of groups that continue to add more to whatever majority already exists: I worked in one place where the majority of the BI team was Russian. I worked in another place that had a higher than average number of Muslims. A third place had a single Tamil Indian that felt quite excluded among his Hindu-speaking peers.

      Even if we exclude bias, the reality is that we’re most likely going to get referrals from people in our peer group. I don’t believe any of those groups deliberately discriminated but I’m sure that each group’s minority felt left out and more likely to leave.

      I’m curious if you’re lumping all Caucasians in a single bucket or if you’re implying “white American” because I don’t see a lot of the former and I see even less of the later.
      Sep 16
    • Expedia Group Kennewick
      @muffin man: I think it’s a problem when we assume diversity means “non-white people”. If you give majority to any minority group (or majority group) you start to see failure in group thinking.

      Diversity only works when there’s a good balance of people. That means we put Russians, Americans, Chinese, Indians if different regions, Germans, and Mexicans in a group. That DOESN’T mean you have diversity because you hired 20 of (any one group).
      Sep 16
  • Amazon Xode
    Congrats and thanks for this detailed post.
    Sep 12 0
  • Twilio / Eng
    KNNY37

    Twilio Eng

    PRE
    Twilio Inc.
    KNNY37more
    The level of SJW pandering in that first paragraph is priceless.
    Sep 13 20
    • Twilio gGt55
      Solarwind? I'll pass.
      Sep 13
    • Twilio / Eng
      KNNY37

      Twilio Eng

      PRE
      Twilio Inc.
      KNNY37more
      TC or gtfo, you broke idiot
      Sep 13
    • Twilio / Eng
      KNNY37

      Twilio Eng

      PRE
      Twilio Inc.
      KNNY37more
      @gGt55 Damn, it feels good owning that TWLO stock 😂
      Sep 13
    • Twilio gGt55
      Right? Life changer for sure.
      Sep 13
    • Facebook ytho?
      *gently pats you both on the head*

      aww, that’s adorable.
      Sep 13
  • priceline.com / IT top_phodu
    Disney contacted your current employer!!. Seriously. Only a lame company/person would do that.. I had similar experience with GrubHub, the idiot recruiter contacted some of my team members via LinkedIn chat inorder to gather my feedback...
    Sep 12 6
    • Amazon obSz85
      Isn't this a potential lawsuit. If a company/ person reveals about previous work performance they're liable for damages right? But this is scary as shit
      Sep 13
    • Airbnb YdSR51
      Should absolutely name and shame these companies.
      Sep 13
    • Amazon / Eng jNeo42
      Disney is a weird-ass company. I talked with a recruiter in NYC, who seriously sounded like a creepy cartoon character. I ran away with an “oh hell no” in my mind. I should have just said it because their follow ups were.. what’s the word — just not very flattering. You know, one of those moments when you want someone to reject you right away but they don’t.
      Sep 14
    • LinkedIn / Eng ipopoi
      Now, I know which companies I'd never interview with except when I'm laid off :)
      Sep 14
    • Apple bogle
      how does this work? how can they find out what specific team you are on and who your teammates are?
      Sep 21
  • Sage / HR
    khCi60

    Sage HR

    PRE
    Coca-Cola, The Home Depot
    BIO
    East coast
    khCi60more
    Hey stupid millennial s stop with the “I need to make excuses for my privilege “ - we understand you have been indoctrinated by the PC culture and everyone over 30 thinks you are cult meme eta regurgitating diversity and inclusion nonsense that tour small brains have been programmed with.
    Sep 13 4
    • SolarWinds AnEngineer
      1. Stop being so triggered, it's his post he can say whatever the fuck he wants
      2. You almost certainly have a "smaller brain" than the people you're ridiculing.
      Sep 13
    • Sage / HR
      khCi60

      Sage HR

      PRE
      Coca-Cola, The Home Depot
      BIO
      East coast
      khCi60more
      Incorrect you clearly are a millennial. You should be apologizing too especially for zero sense of humor 😂
      Sep 13
    • SolarWinds AnEngineer
      You should be apologizing for your inability to type a single sentence without spelling and grammar issues.
      Sep 13
    • Google Mr. Glass
      @AnEngineer stfu and listen to what he’s saying. That advice probably applies to you too.
      Sep 13
  • New mUGK41
    When you were at the beginning of your 3 month prep, how good were you at the algos and DS? Did you struggle of were you pretty good front he beginning?

    I've done about 25 easy ones and get disheartened when I get to one I struggle with. I work on it for about 20 mins and if I can't get it I check out the discussions and check out YouTube videos but then the next question seems as hard if not harder.
    Sep 13 4
    • Expedia Group / Eng 72ja9ak
      OP
      I first tried this about 6 months ago and I figured I could just grind a bunch of Leetcode problems and I'd be set. Turns out, I was terrible at that and frequently encountered Easy problems that I was unable to complete :(

      I could really only solve Array and String manipulation problems, and even then, I'd never get and ideal solution. I, too, was really disheartened and took a break for about a month.

      I made a study plan, and this is where EPI was HUUUUUUGE in helping me. The authors do a really good job of ramping you up on what each data structure does, and when it's applicable to certain types of problems. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't even really know what a heap was when I started my studying...
      After a while, I started to recognize the patterns and see when certain structures were applicable, which allowed me to have much more success in Leetcode. (To reiterate from the original post, when I was on the EPI "Arrays" chapter, for example, I only did Leetcode problems tagged with "Arrays", and that kept my studying/mindset consistent).

      After like 2 weeks of this new studying, I joined one one of the Leetcode weekend contests. I nearly cried because I got ZERO points and couldn't solve a single problem. It wasn't until the last week or two in my study plan that I was able to solve a 'random' Leetcode problem. I joined one of the weekend contests recently, and I was able to actually complete all of the problems! I didn't place high at all, but I was still super happy!

      I believe in you!
      Sep 13
    • New / Eng
      FigureItOu

      New Eng

      BIO
      Just tryna figure it all out..
      FigureItOumore
      That’s honestly incredibly fast progress from the level you’re describing to the level you got to (solving random hard problems) with “just” 0-4 hours of work for 3 months AND a full time job. You’re possibly gifted, and you also work very hard, and diligently (based on your detailed comments). Good on you OP 🙌🏼🙌🏼
      Sep 13
    • Apple bogle
      how common was LC hard in your interviews? Were they mainly just mediums?
      Sep 21
    • Expedia Group / Eng 72ja9ak
      OP
      Some ventured into hard, but it was a 'thinking' hard, not a '10k edge cases and 80 lines of code' hard
      Sep 21
  • Microsoft sklounch
    I would hire you due to the quality of this write up, alone.

    Also, you should get an attorney and sue Disney for needlessly harming your current team relationship thereby destroying your ability to remain where you are without future bias, etc. Do this for the rest of us. They may just settle and you make a few extra bucks off their liability. (Whenever I’ve interviewed and have to sign permission to contact current employer, I always write in “only after acceptance of offer” or something to that effect, if not already stated in contract.)
    Sep 14 1
    • Expedia Group / Eng 72ja9ak
      OP
      I briefly considered it, but I don't have actual damages since I still received a lot of other offers. Arguably my team/Expedia would have the liability from the slander, anyway.

      Hopefully, calling out Disney's poor behavior will cause them to lose a few candidates anyway
      Sep 14
  • Amazon / Eng pawUI
    THANK you for posting this and congrats!!! IMDB can be known as rest and vest but that beats the hell out of burnout.
    Sep 12 0
  • AT&T / Eng GOFb61
    Why do you have to begin your post with an apology? Man up
    Sep 13 2
    • MoneyLion / Eng
      ericalford

      MoneyLion Eng

      PRE
      General Atomics
      ericalfordmore
      Nice toxic masculinity undertones. What are you overcompensating for?
      Sep 13
    • AT&T / Eng GOFb61
      Man up, includes women too.
      Sep 14
  • Flagged by the community.

    • Amazon troubletkt
      I am indian and not a mgr.. and my mgr is indian and shez a menstruated lying b
      Sep 13
    • Amazon / Eng andzon
      Over generalizing like that must make it hard to resolve trouble tickets
      Sep 13
    • Microsoft / Eng Sat-ya
      Can’t generalize! I have had great Indian managers over my 15 years career. Straightforward and direct. Might sound rude but are never
      Sep 13
    • Hallmark yomamatb
      Could not have said this any better. They are fucking assholes and they should probably stay in Indian tech. There's enough of it there anyway.
      Sep 15
    • Amazon troubletkt
      I have a QAM who became sdm (probably by sleeping arnd) and doesnt know shit and is screwing the team
      Sep 16
  • Citrix Systems / Eng ಅವನೌನ ಹಡಾ
    Congrats 🎉 on all those offers. One question for you, did you read ctci ? Among ctci and epi which one do you prefer. I honestly haven’t read epi till now
    Sep 12 5
    • Expedia Group / Eng 72ja9ak
      OP
      I read CTCI and I think it's a good, basic overview of the interview process. I'd recommend CTCI for college grads, and EPI for people already in industry. EPI did such a good job of going over DS/A that it made me a better developer (and a much better interviewer!)
      Sep 12
    • Microsoft .net
      Dumb question, which books are these?
      Sep 13
    • Amazon juggler20
      Cracking the coding interview
      Elements of programming interviews
      Sep 13
    • Apple bogle
      @OP when you 1st started your 3 month prep did you do CTCI or just jump straight into EPI and leetcode? Asking because you didnt mention CTCI in the main post, when did you do CTCI then?
      Sep 21
    • Expedia Group / Eng 72ja9ak
      OP
      I read CTCI after graduating college
      Sep 21
  • Uber dobs
    Being white male is not an advantage these days when looking for a job at Woke companies. By joining you pollute diversity numbers.
    Sep 13 4
    • OpenDoor atleng
      This is patently false. In-group/out-group social dynamics are deeply ingrained in most people and even when you recognize your biases it can be difficult to overcome them. Plus, even if most of your interviewers are black/latinx/women/otherwise underrepresented groups, they’re likely surrounded by white and Asian men which can have a similar biasing effect.
      Sep 14
    • Yet look around your actual office and I bet there are few if any Black or Hispanic Americans at all & few women on the engineering teams. Calm down.
      Sep 14
    • Uber dobs
      OpenDoor, what is false? Are you saying it is an advantage?
      Sep 14
    • Uber dobs
      Overall it represents Computer Science University graduates. Representing USA or world general population is impossible without giving unfair free way to certain demographic group.
      When I look around in the office I see south East Asians and Indians. Lots (comparing to other companies) of woman, some Latino, few Africans.
      Sep 14
  • Cornerstone csod
    Question about the negotiation part. Where you said you didn’t give them a number. What is your response to the question of what is your range you are looking for?
    Sep 13 3
    • Intel whereRu?
      F
      Sep 13
    • Expedia Group / Eng 72ja9ak
      OP
      It was frequently some variation of: "I'm not really sure. Part of this job search for me is figuring out what my market rate is."
      They would often then give me a general comp range, and I'd tell them if it sounded good.
      Sep 13
    • Cornerstone / Eng
      engakak

      Cornerstone Eng

      PRE
      Nordstrom
      engakakmore
      Thanks OP! And congrats on the offer sounds like an awesome opportunity!
      Sep 13
  • LG lzml
    WTF is up with Disney contacting your current manager?! Seriously?!
    Sep 12 0
  • Pivotal phewchild
    Hey - thanks so much for taking the time to share this with others. Really inspired by your passion to get what you deserve and communicate it without coming off arrogant. I'm sure you know this, but there was nothing wrong with your first paragraph. Thanks for your empathy. It's obvious why you earned 5 offers with only 3 YOE. Would be curious to know your age?
    Sep 13 2
    • Expedia Group / Eng 72ja9ak
      OP
      Thank you!
      I'm about to turn 27
      Sep 13
    • Pivotal phewchild
      Nice! I'm 3 YOE in HR at 70k TC. Aiming to speak with as much unwavering passion as you did in the original post.
      Sep 13
  • SolarWinds AnEngineer
    Wow, fuck Disney indeed
    Sep 13 0
  • Oracle
    not_larry

    Oracle

    PRE
    Amazon
    not_larrymore
    Kudos on the post and offers. Stop apologizing for white male privilege BS.
    Sep 13 1
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Oracle LAoh31
      Sorry to burst your bubble man. But do you consider someone with 6 months less experience a newbie? While you yourself have only 3.5.... i have more than twice your experience. And its you arrogant ones that think you know everything with 3 yoe that is really annoying to mentor.
      Sep 13
    • Amazon / Eng DumbMonkey
      You are not seasoned and not underpaid. I have been in Amazon for 8 years and my TC is less than your TC. I don't consider myself being underpaid.
      Sep 13
    • New / Strategy IamElon
      DumbMonkey what role?
      Sep 13
    • Amazon / Eng DumbMonkey
      @IamElon SDE2
      Sep 13
    • Glassdoor / Eng nyb123
      oh God, quit your whining. 3.5 years isn't seasoned. that's embarrassing to even think.
      Sep 13
  • Amazon / Eng bismillah
    None of the offers sound awesome( comp wise) I dont see any numbers over 300^. You also didn't mention about stocks. Is it tc from pinterest and others?
    Sep 13 5
    • Amazon / Eng bismillah
      No offense for your offers.. congratulations but I was expecting more for you :)
      Sep 13
    • Amazon / Eng OlAl28
      Lol...not OP but fuck off dude
      Sep 13
    • Carta / Eng
      NoTamales

      Carta Eng

      PRE
      500 Startups
      BIO
      Heavy systems engineering background. Accelerated by a famius startup accelerator, organized one large intercontinental tech conference, loves new challenges.
      NoTamalesmore
      I strongly agree. These offers are mediocre and all the companies you have interviewed for can do much better than that. Not sure which level they match you to though. Sounds like you have been low balled.
      Sep 13
    • Amazon yzjjay
      264k at Amazon for an SDE2 is not low ball, that’s basically as high as it goes. It’s higher than the low end of SDE3.

      There are very few companies offering more than this at SDE 2 level.
      Sep 14
    • Amazon TDKU11
      3 yoe these offers are great! I was making $45k at 3 yoe and now with 10 only $225k
      Sep 14
  • Jet / Eng fpisfun
    Congrats and thanks for the cautionary notes on Disney, all should stay away from them.
    Sep 13 0