From laid off to 6 offers and 2x TC

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May 13 88 Comments

Sorry this post is late, I know some people were waiting for me to write this

TL;DR: Got laid off, was sad, studied hard, did a bunch of interviews, did a bunch of back-to-back onsites, got 6 offers, doubled my previous TC

This is my story on how I went from someone that never leetcoded or done a real job search to someone with 6 offers (including a couple FAANG). All of this happened in the span of 1-1.5 months. This isn't meant to be a humblebrag, I just hope this helps someone and offers some guidance to those who may be in a similar situation.

Warning: Long post ahead

I. Context
II. Preparation aka training arc
III. Phone interviews
IV. Onsite interviews
V. Interview tips
VI. Offers
VII. Conclusion

I. Context (you can skip this part)

At the beginning of the year, I was laid off after 3 years at my first job. Even though it was company-wide and I was told it was not performance based, I felt like a total failure.

After spending a day feeling sorry for myself, the adrenaline kicked in and I started thinking about my next move. I updated my LinkedIn (tbh I don't think your profile matters much, mine's pretty barebones) and started looking at job postings. I used a spreadsheet to keep track of all the companies I applied to (and potential companies). I highly recommend this, it makes a lot easier to stay organized when you're applying to a bunch of companies at once.

Despite being highly motivated, the first couple weeks were difficult mentally. There were many nights I would just lie awake and worry for hours. There were times where I felt like my life was over (looking back this wasn't rational, but anxiety just be like that sometimes). Just know that if you ever feel like this - things will get better.

"Gotta have opposites, dark and light, light and dark in a painting. It’s like in life. Gotta have a little sadness once in a while so you know when the good times come." - Bob Ross

II. Preparation

I had no idea how to prepare or study. This was my first real job search, since I got my previous job by being converted to full-time from an internship. I got the internship from my school's career fair and never had to leetcode.

My friend who recently joined Google gave me some really great advice (if you're reading this, thank you) and gave me tips on how to prepare (pretty much told me to read CTCI and Leetcode). He even referred me to Google and helped me prepare for the phone interview (I'll talk about how this went below).

Since I was interested in full stack/front-end engineering roles, my preparation methods might be different from what you need. YMMV

Here's a breakdown of how I studied:

1. CTCI
Only read the Intro to Chapter 10. Skipped Bit Manipulation and Math. Did all the Big O problems. Did 2-4 problems from the end of each chapter and made sure I understood the solution
---
2. Leetcode
Sorted by Frequency, started with easys then worked my way up to mediums. I only did a few hards that were high frequency. If you're interviewing for a particular company, it helps to do the high frequency ones from that company before your interview.

Over the span of 4 weeks, I solved about 60 total, mostly mediums. ~50 I did on my own, ~10 I read the solutions and re-implemented it.

Why only 60? After a certain point, for every solution I learned, it felt like I forgot previous one. In my opinion, really making sure you understand why a solution works is more important than just speedrunning hundreds of problems. After doing enough, you'll start to see the same patterns come up and cramming more Leetcode had diminishing returns for me. I often went back and re-did previously solved problems to make sure I remembered how to do them.

Memorizing a solution is like giving a man a fish. Learning how to solve certain types of problems is like teaching a man to fish.
---
3. Javascript/front-end concepts
I went through these questions:
https://github.com/h5bp/Front-end-Developer-Interview-Questions
https://github.com/ganqqwerty/123-Essential-JavaScript-Interview-Questions
Made sure I completely understood closures, promises, currying, and other common JS interview topics. For the concepts I didn't fully understand, I watched YouTube videos that explained them.
---
4. Design
Didn't study too much for this (since I'm only 3 YOE), but I did watch a few videos and skimmed the system design primer (https://github.com/donnemartin/system-design-primer). Also read the Design chapter in CTCI.
---

I had to cram all my studying into a few weeks (while doing phone interviews) which I wouldn't recommend. It felt like I was cramming for finals all over again. But with a lot of caffeine and lofi, it ended up working out.

III. Phone interviews/first phase

After HR screenings, I set up a technical phone interview almost every weekday (sometimes even 2 in a day) for 2-3 weeks. I did 15 phone interviews total.

Out of those, 10 made it to onsite, 3 didn't pass, and 2 I declined the onsite due to time constraints (I was already at the offer stage at that point).

(Some companies not listed for the sake of anonymity)
Google (no pass): This was my first phone interview in the whole process. I was super nervous and not very prepared. I was asked really basic JS questions and a LC easy, but me, being the idiot I am, spaghettied it. I really wish I didn't do this one first but oh well - it be like that sometimes
Uber/Square/Netflix/Dropbox (all pass): All asked 1 front-end coding question with iterations
Yelp/Quip (no pass): 1 front-end coding question with iterations. I thought I did well on the Quip one, but I didn't finish the Yelp
Facebook (pass): Asked a LC easy (literally, it was one of the Easy problems on LC) that I solved in a few minutes. I was really surprised because I thought FB usually asked 2 LC Mediums
Apple (pass): Take-home assignment (full stack web dev and a bit of LC)
Amazon (pass): Online assessment. 1 LC Easy, then 1 LC Medium. Only passed 75% of the test cases for the medium.

The rest of the companies pretty much all asked front-end coding questions and/or LC mediums.

I had interviews with all of the FAANG companies and from my experience they weren't necessarily harder than non-FAANG.

IV. On-site interviews

(Some companies not listed for the sake of anonymity)

Amazon (pass):
Frontend component building (JS+HTML+CSS), 2 design questions, LC hard (bar raiser, didn't finish but was close to the solution), frontend coding, HM round. All on whiteboard.
Some interviews felt a bit dry but the hiring manager was great and I enjoyed talking to him. The LC hard made me panic a bit but after realizing it was the bar raiser I was relieved lol
---
Apple (pass):
Frontend coding, JS questions, LC hard (didn't finish but was close to the solution), design, LC medium, LC medium again. All on whiteboard.
Design portion of the interview was my favorite part and felt like we were collaborating more than me being questioned. The rest was pretty standard and coding/LC style questions
---
Dropbox (pass):
Behavioral round, frontend coding, frontend debugging, frontend component building (JS+HTML+CSS), HM round. All on laptop.
One of my favorite interview experiences, every was very kind and easy to talk to. The questions were interesting, relevant, and not just cookie-cutter LC problems
---
Netflix (no pass):
Part 1 was frontend design, JS questions, frontend coding, HM round. After passing part 1, there was 4 more behavioral rounds. Netflix seemed to be much more behavior heavy than other companies. Some whiteboard, some laptop.
Feedback was that I did good technically but didn't have the experience they were looking for.
---
Square (no pass):
3 pair programming rounds (these were fun), fullstack system design, behavioral questions, HM round
Enjoyable interview process with friendly people. Feedback was that my technical performance wasn't consistent (did great in some problems, just OK in others). They gave me a cute candle in my goodie bag which I thought was nice :)
---
Facebook: Was going to schedule an onsite, but told them about the offers I had and they couldn't match so we didn't proceed
---

I wanted my offers to all come in around the same time, so I did about 10 on-sites over the span of 3 weeks. There was a week where I had 4 onsites (would not recommend).

The day before, I would look at the Glassdoor questions for that particular company and go over some of their LC tagged questions.

The night of, I mostly tried to sleep (most of the time I couldn't). I highly recommend you relax and get a good night's rest instead of trying to cram more. Meditate, melatonin, whatever it takes.

V. Interview tips

I'm going to try to avoid repeating the ones that are commonly said (ask questions, communicate, etc.)

1. Be calm
The best thing you can do for yourself is to stay calm. Being anxious makes everything so much harder, whether its problem-solving or communicating.
---
2. Be personable
I always try to be friendly and lighthearted so the interview doesn't feel so tense. The best interviewers I've had are the ones that stay positive and encouraging throughout the whole process, so I try to be optimistic and happy as well.

I find that it helps to match your interviewer's tone - not necessarily copy their personality, but if they're more of a quiet person I don't usually try to be overly excited or talkative. Likewise, if they have a stronger personality, I try to match that and be more outgoing. Basically my advice is to try to be on the same wavelength as your interviewer :)
---
3. Ask questions at the end
Prepare at least 3 interesting questions to ask during those 10 minutes at the end of the interview. Try to pick open-ended ones that give the interviewer a chance to talk a lot, so you can avoid that awkward silence where neither of you has anything to say. Personally, I feel that it's better to ask positive questions ("what makes X unique?", "what do you like most about Y?") rather than negative ones ("what do you hate about Z?", "why do we exist just to suffer?")

Edit: if you're rusty on interviewing I'd advise not doing your top choice companies first. from my experience the first is the most nerve wracking but by the 15th phone screen and 10th onsite it just felt business as usual to me.

VI. Offers

In the end, I had 6 offers after 10 onsites. Here are the notable ones:
Amazon 155/25/85 (surprisingly this was the lowest out of all 6 offers…)
Apple 185/35/300 + annual bonus @ manager's discretion
Dropbox 170/45/300 + 10% annual bonus
Base/signon/stock (in $) over 4 years

3 YOE, so these were all for junior/mid-level positions. Both Apple and Dropbox totaled to around 300k TC (Dropbox about 5k lower but they have a higher target bonus)

I don't really have much negotiation advice because all I did was stay transparent and let them know if a competing company had a higher offer. The companies wanted to beat the others' offers so we went back and forth a few times before settling on a final offer.

I ended up going with Dropbox because I really liked the company and the people. I felt that I meshed well with their culture and I really enjoyed my interview there as well.

VII. Conclusion

I went into the job hunt with really low expectations but I ended up doubling my TC. If you were to tell me that a few months ago I wouldn't have believed you.

No matter what your circumstances may be, just know that you're not alone. There are a lot of people out there in the same boat as you. Even if it's stressful and the future is uncertain, keep pushing and don't give up. One day you'll look back and thank yourself because it was all worth it. Good luck! :)

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TOP 88 Comments
  • Best way to grind is to have no choice but grinding... congrats OP.
    May 13 1
    • eBay
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      OP
      thanks!
      May 13
  • Epsilon ySPg80
    I think this one of the best post that i read that raises your motivation to do good! Congratulations OP, you truly deserved it. While reading, i could esaily connect with you. All the best Bud.
    May 13 0
  • Intel / Eng mr_pleb
    This is the kind of post that gives value to Blind by bringing good info and motivation instead of humblebrag and entitlement.

    Congrats ! Twice.
    May 13 0
  • New / Eng
    Ama B.O

    New Eng

    PRE
    Amazon, Google, Facebook
    Ama B.Omore
    OP, this was a great post I no bragging at all.

    It would be very helpful to all the readers here to get another post from you on how things are going at your new role and if there are things that people can learn ...

    πŸ™
    Jun 12 1
    • eBay
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      OP
      really love my new job and the people I work with. benefits are amazing too and I actually enjoy going to work these days. :)

      really wish I left my previous job earlier. I always had a feeling that I should leave bc I was stagnating... should've just taken the leap. so I guess the lesson here is to not wait until your hand is forced - be proactive and go for it! the pain of regret is worse than the pain of getting rejected by a company.
      Jun 14
  • Microsoft / Mgmt Dunph
    Woah apple comp is surprisingly high
    May 13 4
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      they raised their offer a few times from the initial
      May 13
    • Microsoft / Mgmt Dunph
      This seems higher than fb e4 offers and apple is known to be low paying compared to top tier companies. What level did they give you?
      May 13
    • eBay
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      recruiter wouldn't tell me the level. I think I did good on design though
      May 13
    • Google G minority
      What team at Apple?
      Jun 30
  • eBay
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    OP
    if anyone ever needs some tips or encouragement feel free to pm me btw πŸ€—
    Jun 14 0
  • Microsoft t62C8kKyW
    Congrats! Could share any insight into the frontend component building type of questions you were asked? Were you using a framework, or vanilla js/HTML/css? How important was CSS? Any practice problems?

    Thanks!
    May 24 1
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      flash cards web app, carousel, library catalog search. I had to use vanilla js. css was pretty important for Amazon, not so much the others. I didn't really practice for this since it was what I did at my previous job.

      I'd suggest practicing component building on a whiteboard. 1 column for html, 1 for css, 1 for js
      Jun 10
  • New / Eng JexD77
    Got featured by Joma :)
    Jun 7 4
    • Autodesk boba415
      Haha nice catch
      Jun 7
    • eBay
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      whaaat really? what video?
      Jun 10
    • New / Eng JexD77
      https://youtu.be/9yUgUsAJ6nc (keep in mind it’s Joma) :)
      Jun 11
    • eBay
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      I think that's a different post! but similar circumstances - although I never lied :)
      Jun 14
  • Tableau LVJT51
    Congrats OP! You truly deserve it.
    You mentioned that your friend referred you at Google.
    Could you also share how you managed to get interview calls from all these other companies in such short time?
    May 13 4
    • eBay
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      another friend of mine referred me to Amazon. for Uber and Apple I replied to the recruiters that were already messaging me on LI. for others (Dropbox, Square, Netflix) I applied on their websites. when I was already at the offer stage, Twitter and Facebook recruiters reached out to me through email.

      might be worth noting that even though I had referrals for Google and Amazon, their recruiters had reached out to me in the past so they became my points of contact.

      also gave my resume to Lyft during a conference but they didn't respond until 3 months later. regardless I think conferences are a great place to network and get your resume to recruiters
      May 13
    • eBay
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      also I think having a clean, easy-to-read resume helps. I copied one of the resume templates from Google docs and changed the colors :)
      May 13
    • Microsoft moofaasaa
      I've applied to most companies you mentioned.. Some got back.. Some haven't.. Do they sometimes just take a while? Or should I keep applying to whatever roles they put out there?
      Jul 14
    • eBay
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      yes some companies definitely take a long time. Lyft didn't get back to me for 3 months and by then I was already signing an offer πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ
      Jul 15
  • New / Eng FamazonANG
    Did you tell recruiters you were laid off?
    May 13 2
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      yes, I was honest with any interviewer/recruiter that asked why I left my previous company. none seemed really bothered, but I also stayed positive and optimistic about it when answering
      May 13
    • BBDO sxYo02
      Good advice. Don't lie. They'll find out and for the most part unless you have a long gap in your resume (3+ months) it won't matter.
      May 14
  • Microsoft hhytdss
    congratulations!
    May 13 1
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      thanks!
      May 13
  • Northrop Grumman / Eng the_curio
    Nice congrats!

    β€œWhy only 60? After a certain point, for every solution I learned, it felt like I forgot previous one.”

    This feels like me right now
    May 13 0
  • Cruise Automation oewogj291
    Congrats, OP!!!
    May 13 0
  • BBDO sxYo02
    Awesome. Congratulations. Were you interviewing for generic "SWE" roles or were these specifically front end?
    May 14 1
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      some were generic swe (and then I told them what I was interested in) and some were fe/full stack. for Google it was SWE front-end

      Amazon actually told me the role was a new title, SDE front-end or something like that. probably to differentiate from the web developer title
      May 14
  • New / Eng
    XEsK75

    New Eng

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    Amazon
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    Fullstack Developer
    XEsK75more
    Congrats OP!! πŸŽ‰ This post gives me an extra boost for on-site prep.

    Question:

    I have a front-end on-site interview with Apple and Amazon. You mentioned above that Amazon asked about "Front-end building" and Apple "Frontend Coding"

    is this all on whiteboard? or Amazon/Apple provided you a laptop to build a UI component? Thanks!!
    May 14 1
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      Amazon and Apple were all done on a whiteboard, no laptop
      May 14
  • Amazon / Eng
    UTukMyJerb

    Amazon Eng

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    Electronic Arts(EA)
    UTukMyJerbmore
    Thanks for a wholesome post OP. Congratulations.
    May 13 1
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      OP
      thank you :)
      May 13
  • Rally Health FuPayMe$$$
    Congratulations! Thanks for the detailed write up about your mental state and how you tackled the preparation step. You have inspired me!
    May 13 0
  • New wlb?
    Congratulations 🎈
    May 13 0
  • Bloomberg EVALSlayer
    Congratulations! How you could pass so many interviews after doing fewer than 100 LC problems, I wouldn’t know...
    May 20 2
    • New <a/>
      That is a question to me as well
      May 20
    • eBay
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      OP
      Quality over quantity :) A lot of LC questions are just variations of others. I also sorted by frequency which is pretty useful. If anyone wants a pastebin of the ones I solved PM me
      May 22
  • Netflix Fadnvdesx
    This is what Blind is for! Thanks and congrats
    May 13 0