Breaking the system design enigma

Oracle ihba
Jul 17 22 Comments

I got reject from Facebook, Uber, & LinkedIn. Got same feedback from all - overall very positive, coding very strong but system design/architecture skills should be improved. I am a full stack engineer but most of the work I have done is in front end. The system design knowledge I have is obtained by reading through tech blogs, interview prep sites, etc. No proper practical experience.

Is my front end work experience hurting me? What should I do to improve my system design/architectural skills?

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TOP 22 Comments
  • Facebook BeMyEscape
    I feel exactly the same for myself.

    If you’re studying something like “Grokking the System Design” for interview prep, it won’t get you very far. Because that lacks analysis in depth, or no tradeoff analysis, this will never get you L5 offer, L4 at most if lucky.

    I’m currently planning to find some senior guys to mentor me, or do mock interviews, or analyze tradeoffs with examples for me.

    Mastering system design is a long way to go, and it’s hard, don’t be too pessimistic, lots of people are on same boat.

    Daily work won’t make you better at design interview, have to put in extra effort to study.
    Jul 17 6
    • You can’t be that bad you’re already at fb lol
      Jul 17
    • Oracle ihba
      OP
      I agree with you. Need some mentoring.
      Jul 17
    • Amazon crypto*
      @FB "Grokking the system design won't take you that far" - but most of the blind posts of people getting great offers mention that they just used Grokking, system design primer and so on..how is that the case then ?
      Jul 17
    • Uber aianriyua
      Probably because they have lots of good knowledge and experience from their jobs and just need the grokk to help provide the presentation structure
      Jul 18
    • Amazon crypto*
      True
      Jul 18
  • Facebook BeMyEscape
    What level are you? Your best bet is to try Google then, since they don’t require design round for L3/L4.
    Jul 17 3
    • Oracle ihba
      OP
      Senior engineer with more than 5 YOE. I can try google. But, I really want to improve my system design skills. I can’t rely only on my algorithm skills.
      Jul 17
    • Nutanix 1adja134
      Read engineering blogs from different companies. For eg, check out schemaless on Uber blog. Or check out how cockroach DB works. Check out the Mesa paper from Google. I think systems design is all about creating this mental flowchart of various options for different components along with pros and cons
      Jul 17
    • Oracle ihba
      OP
      Cool. Thanks for the input :)
      Jul 17
  • Cisco behemoth69
    The problem with a lot of the blogs is that they are often fairytales that don’t talk about downsides or trade offs.
    Jul 17 0
  • IMS Health
    bigO()

    IMS Health

    PRE
    Cognizant
    BIO
    Software professional always looking for something better
    bigO()more
    Can you share your study stats as well? You have given interviews in top companies, all blinders will get insight how much more we should prepare
    Jul 17 4
    • Oracle ihba
      OP
      System design: grokking the system design interview, highscalability.com, engineering blogs, YouTube videos

      Algorithm, DS: 800+ LC questions, countless geeksforgeeks.org & hackerrank questions
      Jul 17
    • IMS Health
      bigO()

      IMS Health

      PRE
      Cognizant
      BIO
      Software professional always looking for something better
      bigO()more
      This is awesome. You are great.
      Can’t imagine how much time you spent to finish 800+ LC. 6 months?
      Jul 17
    • Oracle ihba
      OP
      I usually attend their contest every week and the same questions get added to their problem list.
      Jul 17
    • IMS Health
      bigO()

      IMS Health

      PRE
      Cognizant
      BIO
      Software professional always looking for something better
      bigO()more
      Yeah That’s there.
      Jul 17
  • Arista Networks jfkjfjci
    Did you feel you get stuck in such interviews or did the feedback come as a surprise to you?
    Jul 17 1
    • Oracle ihba
      OP
      I was never stuck but I felt that the interviewers were not too happy with my solutions
      Jul 17
  • true[X] / Eng aduq
    maybe you can share the system design question and how you answered
    Jul 17 1
    • Oracle ihba
      OP
      Very common questions. It’s really hard to type how I answered.
      Jul 17
  • Uber / Eng
    Jckr

    Uber Eng

    PRE
    Facebook
    Jckrmore
    System design interviews are less about the depth of your knowledge, and more about the delivery. Start by stating assumptions and discuss them with interviewer. Refine them. While you do that think of the high level problems. Go through these one by one. It’s ok to not treat them all. It’s ok to not know everything about one facet of the problem and abstract it away. But as you do that make sure your leave a good trace of your thought process on the white board. Write legibly, take your time to draw schemas, use the space then erase as needed. Ideally you’ll have a super high level view of a solution to the problem, and a more in depth approach to one aspect of it. Make sure you listen to your interviewer and answer their questions.
    Jul 25 0