Interview Cycle: Facebook M1, Google L7, Microsoft L68, and Local Public Company

New ctty04
Oct 9 122 Comments

Hello all. I recently interviewed for positions at a local public company, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft and promised in another thread to recount the experiences, since there’s not a lot of Blind info for the experienced/higher level folks. So I don’t have to GTFO, TC is currently $396k (was $500k before stock tanked).

Background: Based on the east coast, with 20+ yoe in software, with about 10 years as a hands-on manager of ICs and 5 as a mostly hands-off manager of managers, including VP Eng at a startup with a team of about 25. Primary language experience is C#, though early career featured a mix of C, C++, and Java. Nearly every role was focused on SaaS and distributed systems to some degree. I don’t move jobs frequently. Excluding this last round, I’ve done a total of 8 job interviews.

The following is a chronological account with as much detail as possible, though I’ve tried to omit some things out of respect for the recruiting folks at the various companies and to avoid anything obviously self-identifying. The process was about 3 months of slow rolling and 2 month of excitement. Apologies in advance for the novel. For the tl;dr: scroll to the end for offers and final result.

__May__
The ball got rolling late in May with a LinkedIn message from an Executive Recruiter hired by a local public company (henceforth referred to as LPC). Unlike most LinkedIn spam, this seemed to actually be written by a human and advertised a VP Eng position. A phone call followed and things seemed like a decent fit, so a call was scheduled with an exec from the company.

__June__
Early in the month, had a 30 minute call with LPC exec. We discussed my background, the open role (managing a growing team of about 50 engineers), and generally had the types of conversations you’d have in an initial “fit” call. Things felt good to both of us, and I was told the recruiting firm would follow up with possible next steps, which turned out to be a 60 minute technical screen. Due to vacation plans and whatnot, that call didn’t happen until the end of the month and was a pair of system design questions (both were bulk/batch related, one for data, another for images). Again, things were left at waiting to hear from the recruiter for next steps.

__July__
Recruiter for LPC got back to me and the first (of 3!) onsites was scheduled for the last half of the month. In the first onsite, I met with some of the managers that would report to me. Questions were generally behavioral, but there was one brainteaser, which I was able to work my way through with a little coaching. Overall, it was a pretty laid-back experience and I was given ample time to ask questions of my own. Things seemed to go well, and I was promised a quick follow up. As it turns out, that didn’t happen for a couple weeks.

__August__
This is where things get interesting. I received an email from a Microsoft Executive Recruiter with a fairly generic email along the lines of “let’s see if there’s any good opportunity for networking” here. I said sure, why not and chatted with the recruiter a couple days later. The call was pretty conversational and covered most of my past experience, current role, etc. About 20 minutes into the 30 minute call, I realized it was a behavioral screen. At the very end, the Recruiter mentioned an open role and asked if I was interested in speaking with the hiring manager. I said sure, and the call was scheduled for the following week and a formal job description was provided for the Partner Group Engineering Manager role.

A quick check of Blind yielded some information, but it all seemed more myth than fact. It was at this point that I decided I might as well go all out and apply to open roles at Google and Facebook. I didn’t have any connections at Google, so I simply submitted via the careers site. For Facebook, submitted via a recruiter that had reached out to me a year earlier.

The Facebook recruiter got back to me quickly, we had a couple back and forths, and then he disappeared. Through another contact, I learned paternity leave was the culprit and that contact was able to get the ball rolling again. A screen with the hiring manager and one other manager was scheduled for the following week.

A Google recruiter reached out the day after I submitted my resume and did a quick screening call with me. Things looked good, so a quick call was scheduled with the hiring manager a couple days later. That call went well, and was nothing out of the ordinary. We discussed my experience and the role in more detail. The role (managing ICs and managers) sounded interesting and I was told the recruiter would get back to me with any possible next steps.

The same day, I had a screen with the hiring manager for Microsoft. Just like all the others, it was a dive into my experience as well as details about the role itself. It felt like it went well, and I should expect to hear from the recruiter soon about any possible next steps.

Over the next several days, I heard from all four companies. For all but Microsoft, I was handed off from the “Sourcers” to the actual “Recruiters” who would own the rest of the process until the offer/rejection conclusion. Interviews were scheduled and, over the course of the next three weeks, I had two local and two remote onsite interviews scheduled.

First up was the second on-site for LPC. That was more of the same, though I met with people who’d be my peers rather than my reports. These were a mix of behavioral interviews and simple conversations. Again, things went well, and I could expect to hear back “soon”. This time it actually was only a matter of a couple days.

Two days later, it was time for Microsoft, which absolutely wins the award for the best experience. The flights to/from Sea-Tac were booked in first class, and first class car service was arranged for airport to/from hotel and hotel to/from office. The interview panel were the other members of the leadership team (all L69+) I hoped to be on. Two rounds were behavioral and the rest were much more conversational and focused on a deep dive into the current situation, strategies to address issues and improve things, etc. Lunch was “off the record” and took place at a high end steakhouse. I had great rapport and conversations with everyone, including the CVP. (The CVP did ask the interesting question about whether I’d consider eventually moving to the west coast, and I said yes) It felt like things went as well as they possibly could and it was the most enjoyable interview experience I’ve ever had. It felt far more like a collaboration than an evaluation.

__September__
No rest for the weary. Local onsite at Google and LCP, and a trip to Menlo Park were on tap for the following week. Google was up first and was definitely the most challenging interview. It was two rounds of system design and three rounds of behavioral/managerial. The first system design was to design Youtube video upload service. The second was much more interesting as it involved deploying a hypothetical team to both maintain an existing service while designing & building its replacement. That was the only round I didn’t have a great read on whether I nailed it or not. Two of the behavioral rounds were the fairly standard questions about the role of a manager, handling high performers/low performers, mistakes made, etc. The third was a series of questions about a slowly disintegrating dynamic between two teams. As it turns out, it was based on actual events. Overall, I finished the day exhausted but feeling good.

Now it was time for round three with LCP. This was the final round with the CEO, who went for the jugular by opening with “how would you redesign our app?” as a question. Great question! I was able to provide some feedback and generally show that I did, in fact, research before showing up. This was a very interactive session and focused a lot more on organizational and company strategy than anything else. We wrapped up and things felt good, but there was no time to celebrate because I had to head straight to the airport to fly out for the Facebook onsite.

Yes, we’re still in September and both my family and coworkers are starting to forget what I look like. The flights booked by Facebook comprised 12 hours in middle seat economy. Ain’t nobody got time for that, so I upgraded both legs to business class with lie-flat seats. Money well spent, IMHO. The interview itself was pretty standard. The only part that concerned me was coding. It’s been a while, so I did about 20 LC easy/medium to prep. A pair of system design (translate posts & autocomplete) and a light coding problem that required some basic knowledge of big-O, making a reasonable choice with data structures, and a small amount of cleverness. Other rounds were pretty standard behavioral/managerial. The project retro round was with a VP and was advertised as also having a coding component, but it mostly turned into a Q&A were I was able to get some insight on life running a 1,000 person org. After the interview, it was straight to the airport to catch the red-eye home and to wait for results.

Results came early in the following week. LPC let me know to expect an offer, Google recruiter let me know I passed the panel and would get back soon to schedule another onsite to meet the team. It was at this point that it was confirmed this was an L7 role. Facebook got back to me to say I’d passed as well, but a quick fit meeting with hiring manager and Director needed to happen. Finally, Microsoft let me know that there were two other candidates for the role who were interviewing in the next week and a half, so I’d have to wait a little longer.

Later that week, the Google team fit meeting happened. This was on site and I met with members of the team I hoped to join, as well as the hiring manager and Director. Meetings with the team members felt like they went very well, but the meeting with the HM & Director felt somewhat forced. I’m a person that can easily have a conversation with nearly anyone, but this one was tough. In any case, I found out a few days later that the Google team passed and went with another candidate. Good news was that the recruiter had another interested team, so a call was set up for a couple days later.

On the same day, I received my first offer (details at the end) from LPC and it was better than expected, but certainly less than I could expect from FB, G, and MSFT.

Shortly thereafter, I met with the hiring manager and Director at Facebook for a fit meeting. That went very well. I really liked both of them and it felt like a good fit, though it was a role managing ICs and not other managers. I liked the team and tech enough to not count them out, though. Immediately after that, I received the offer for Facebook for an M1 role. (details at the end) I let the recruiter know that I was still waiting on a couple other opportunities and asked for a week to consider.

Fast forward a week to the end of September, and I finally heard back from Microsoft. They thought I was great and I was the top choice, but ultimately decided not to hire externally for the role. In hindsight, my discussion with the CVP gave a clue that they were probably hedging their bets and didn’t want to invest more in a remote team that has an uncertain future. The recruiter did ask if a move to the west coast was in the cards, as they have lots of open role there. I left that at “let’s see how my other opportunities pan out first.” I have a kid who’s just getting over a move and making new friends, so moving is really a last resort. Boo.

There was no time to pout though, as another team matching call for Google was scheduled for the next day. That one was with the hiring manager and went very well, so I was back in good spirits. Alas, I found out a couple days later that he decided to go with an internal candidate. At this point the recruiter decided to switch tactics and submitted my package for hiring committee review.

__October__
October started with the Facebook recruiter still waiting patiently, notice that I passed HC at L7 with Google, and that another team is interested. Again, the match conversations went well and I’m back in business. I got along well with the team and the work was interesting, however the role was managing ICs and not other managers. Not ideal, but I can work with that. On the call, the Director indicated they were going to move forward. Sweet L7 here I come. I received the offer a couple days later. In the meantime, the hiring manager and Director from FB reached out with a couple notes reiterating their desire for me to join the team and that they felt it was a great match.

__Offers__
Now, this is what everyone probably cares about. By the time offers were coming in, each company knew who they were competing against and at what level. At no point did I reveal any offer numbers to the recruiters. I did my research on Blind/Levels and I set my floor at what looked like the 75th percentile. Aggressive, but with some room to negotiate up. I also let companies know that for comp, my number is the average of the first four years comp so I have a way of comparing differences in equity vesting, joining bonuses, and refreshers.

Here’s what I asked for:
LCP: No guidance.
FB: $550k
G: $700k (I was more aggressive here. I also told them that if they hit that number, I would accept on the spot)

Here’s what I got (4 year average - Salary/Bonus/Stock/Joining/Refresh)
LCP: $505k -- $225k / 25% / $500k/ $20k / $250
FB: $595k -- $230k / 20% / $900k / $75k / $200k
G: $613k -- $240k / 25% / $971l / $0 / $189k

So, LCP is out, but came with a better offer than I thought they would. Facebook crushed it and came in above my ask by almost 10%. G came in more than 10% below my ask. The G offer was interesting because it had a vesting schedule that was front loaded to make year one comp come close to my ask, but the result was that my TC would actually decrease every year as a result.

In any case, I was tremendously disappointed with the G offer. It definitely seemed like the goal was to come in slightly higher than a Facebook M1 offer and then to deceive a little bit with the equity structure. The more I thought about it, the more offended I got (I know, emotions are a weakness here). I gave it a day and then made my decision to join Facebook, but still needed to negotiate. I let FB know that I had a stronger offer from Google, but not one that was out of reach. I gave them an “accept now number”, which was to add $50k to the original offer.

Once again, Facebook came in over the top and I accepted the final offer:
$663k -- $240k / 20% / $1100k / $100k / $200k

Final orders of business after accepting were to let the other recruiters know my decision. LCP was easy because they couldn’t compete in comp. The Google recruiter was the toughest. She was awesome throughout the entire process and probably put in the most work of anyone, only to be left hanging by the comp team. Google did follow up later and asked for a chance to compete, but a) I’m not willing to renege (unless it’s for an exorbitant amount of money) and b) they had the first chance to seal the deal but squandered it.

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TOP 122 Comments
  • Hitachi Vantara / IT riffff'd
    This was definitely a novel worth the read. Thanks for putting the time in for us.
    Oct 9 0
  • Facebook mewfour
    I had a similar experience. That G L7 offer is the weakest Ive ever seen.
    That FB M1 offer is out of band on the other hand.
    Welcome to FB.
    Oct 9 1
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Thanks. I think not being in HQ has the downside of far fewer openings, but also the upside of less competition.
      Oct 9
  • New / Product coldouts
    Fuck. This was amazing.
    Oct 9 0
  • Amazon CulStryBro
    Lot of info there - maybe a bit much, but good guidance for us old farts. I went through this process last year, and my Google experience was similar - some very awkward team match meetings with directors and L7s. Not culty awkward, more like they own some very small scope thing and it was hard to talk about what my group does currently without making the conversation go south. Anyway, outcomes were very good for me too (my numbers were higher, being in Bay Area already).
    Oct 9 3
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Thanks. One of the more interesting outcomes was the vast difference in leveling. At higher levels, hiring is more about specific roles than hiring and then finding something for that person to do.

      The MSFT interview was far and away my strongest interview and certainly reinforced my desire to be operating at a strategic level, which somewhat ironically is why I took the lowest level role offered. I felt that small office size, high growth in headcount, and discussions with Director and VP all seemed to indicate I would have ample opportunity to operate at that level.
      Oct 9
    • Amazon CulStryBro
      Great points. And what turns me off about Google from my interviews (lack of strategic impact). Headcount growth is for sure super important, just be wary that can change quickly with the tides. In any case, congrats on the great outcome.
      Oct 9
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      G recruiter and director both reached out after the fact to indicate that comp and scope were things that could be addressed. I don't doubt that, but the low-ball offer and attempt to disguise it really got me riled up because I was clear in what I asked for and that I look at 4 year avg, not just year 1.
      Oct 9
  • Amazing post. Here is my first thought: when you join a new company, things can go south, specially a company like FB. The only thing guaranteed is the position, and a Google L7 is a better one, and gets you to a D position in one jump.
    Also, not sure why Google offer was so insulting. You agreed that 700K was aspirational, and it would not make sense for Google to offer your aspirational numbers without any details of a competing offer. Once you stated the FB offer, they would have offered 700K anyway.
    In any case, Congratulations! You are an amazing guy !
    Oct 9 1
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Insulting is probably too strong, but I was clear in my "give me this and I'll say yes" statement. It was a low-ball and it did have an emotional impact.

      You are correct about the guarantees. Changing a job is a calculated risk. The reason I was for a new job is precisely because things changed at my current job. If things go south quickly, G offer is good for a year and I left things on good terms.
      Oct 9
  • Microsoft msft20
    Great post. Hopefully lot of people will find it beneficial. Thank you for taking out time to post in depth. Congratulations on an awesome offer!
    Oct 9 1
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Thanks. This post was my "thank you" to Blind.
      Oct 9
  • Red Hat oMjm53
    Congrats. Your post was awesome to read among all the less desirable content on blind.

    Well deserved and all the best!
    Oct 9 0
  • Oracle
    not_larry

    Oracle

    PRE
    Amazon
    not_larrymore
    Great post. Congratulations.
    Oct 9 0
  • Spotify Atinlay3
    Wow, the writing was better than most of the autobiographies and business books out there. Thanks for sharing this in such detail!
    Oct 9 0
  • Cadence hereno
    nice summary. can you say what companies you've worked before at including the current one, and what your education is?
    Oct 12 17
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      ..and yes, LSAT is a different beast, but I actually enjoyed it.
      Oct 29
    • Cadence working12
      ah, ok. did you have to take lsat or some other test to get or keep the job?

      Seems like you proactively went in that directions even after gave a few years of work ex, so must have planned a path in that field. was it hard to get back to mainstream engineering and explaning the going back to engineering interviewers?
      Oct 29
    • Cadence working12
      could I dm you? have a few qs related to law path from engineering.
      Oct 29
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Sure, go for it. I'll caution you that I only spent about 6 months doing the patent thing.
      Oct 29
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Regarding going back to Engineering, no it wasn't hard. It was only a six month departure and I explained it as following an interest (I took a 6 week, full-time law and government class between junior and senior years of high school) but I missed creating things.
      Oct 29
  • Amazon / Eng
    oneleg

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    Microsoft, Amazon
    onelegmore
    Thanks for sharing, great info. You made me feel better about joining as an M1 given that FB has a bunch of 5 yoe kids working at that level
    Oct 12 1
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Hah, I felt a bit of that. I guess if M2 doesn't happen within a couple years, I can try for G again.
      Oct 12
  • WeWork WvjJ28
    What do you do with all this money
    Oct 9 1
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Great question! It's a huge increase from my current comp, so hopefully a big chunk will go to savings for future/college. I'd love to have a weekend getaway lake/ocean/ski/??? house, so I could see that happening in a couple years once savings are at good levels. Beyond that, I don't know, TBH.
      Oct 9
  • Microsoft Tattle
    Great writeup. Definitely worth a read. Did you let Google know that they lost you because of lowballing? 😀
    Oct 9 6
    • Microsoft Tattle
      You should definitely try for MSFT partner again. Great benefits, TC, scope and respect. You'd enjoy it here.
      Oct 9
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Yeah, that's definitely a longer term goal. I'll probably have to wait several years until my kiddo is in college to go for it, though. Those openings are few and far between here.
      Oct 9
    • Microsoft Tattle
      Btw, IMO Google will give you better wlb if that’s important to you. Would be worth keeping that in mind as FB is known to have bad WLB and cut throat culture.
      Oct 9
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      I think this is where being a remote team has an advantage, since the culture definitely seemed more laid-back than I was expecting, e.g. I toured the office shortly after 5:15pm on two different weekdays and it was pretty empty.
      Oct 9
    • Dropbox vpmO82
      That is the same question I had. WLB is ridiculous at FB.
      Oct 10
  • Facebook sum41pwd
    Congrats! Welcome to FB, you picked wisely. Your refresh range is really 0 - $600k depending on your performance. $240k is probably more realistic. There is also DE/AE if you eventually become super critical.. But probably not worth thinking about that yet.
    Oct 9 6
    • New lskd63
      Is M1 considered a higher level than IC6/E6/L6? This TC seems to be higher than most IC6 offers. Plus, other posts seem to indicate IC6 annual refresh is 180k. So, M1 has a higher refresh target as well?
      Oct 9
    • Facebook sum41pwd
      No, M1 and IC6/E6 are equivalent. OPs offer is quite high, possibly out of band. I’m a recent M2 and OPs salary offer is close to mine. OP also has more stock lol, but I’m not salty.
      Oct 9
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Yeah, the downside of starting high is that everything tends to regress towards the mean. If/when I get to M2, it's probably going to be a smaller jump as a result.

      Also, keep in mind that my TC calculation includes refresh, signing, and average over first four years.

      Finally, FB recruiter knew they were competing against a G L7 offer.
      Oct 9
    • New lskd63
      That makes sense. In general, how is refresh calculated? $200 seems to be on the lower end of the max $600.
      Oct 9
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      $200 is the "meets expectations" level, which is multiplier of 1.0. Higher performance increases the multiplier up to 3.0, I believe. That level is pretty rare, I'd imagine.
      Oct 9
  • How technical did you manage to remain day to day during your tenure as a manager?
    Oct 10 3
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      I didn't really do much coding, but was very involved in high level architecture and owned the overall vision for the area I was working in. I could go deep in some things, but for the most part my team were the subject matter experts for specific technologies.
      Oct 10
    • New sdk0
      Any questions asked around how you hire/recruit? If yes, could you share how you articulated to the interviewer?
      Oct 10
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Hiring/recruiting didn't come up specifically, but there were discussions about team composition.
      Oct 11
  • Google / Eng intrnltrfr
    Goog is only 50k lower than fb. You should know that Goog wont offer higher than fb coz they know fb has much worse wlb. It’s not a bad decision to go after tc since it’s definitely a big jump from your current one, but feel free to try it out at fb first.

    Goog offers are valid for a year (but they wont offer you higher next year. It will be the same).
    Oct 9 2
    • Facebook / Retail bookfacer
      Ok
      Oct 9
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Yeah, TC difference only ends up being about $30k after taxes, but TC wasn't the only reason I chose FB. TBH, it wasn't really a factor because the offers were fairly close.

      My policy is also never to burn a bridge, so I left things amicably with recruiter, hiring manager, and director at G. I did genuinely like meeting them and felt like I could work well with them and thrive at G, too. Anyways, I'll probably end up there someday.
      Oct 9
  • F5 Networks RRA
    I can't believe FB flew you middle seat coach on flights where lieflat was an option.
    Oct 9 2
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Hah. In defense of the coordinator that made arrangements, it was on short notice and the only flight that came close to the timing I asked for. An upgrade for one of the legs didn't come available until 60' minutes before boarding, so it probably wasn't an option at booking... though I'm sure only executive recruits get the upgrades by default.
      Oct 9
    • F5 Networks RRA
      Domestic transcons are the worst. I should think they'd want you at your best, especially when AFAIK FB permanent employees are permitted to fly J on transcons.

      But I can understand your willingness to forgive, given their offer was the highest. :)
      Oct 9
  • Airbnb kYFK02
    So you picked based on comp? Sounds like the role is a downgrade for you
    Oct 9 1
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      No, though I realize that the post could give that impression. I'm sure Google would have countered and beaten the FB offer if I asked. Comp did play a role, but mostly because FB respected my ask. Other factors were the leadership team I'd be a part of , my ability to influence, and the actual tech involved. Over time, levels will likely even out since M1 to M2 will be more likely to happen sooner than L7 to L8.
      Oct 9
  • Cognizant / Eng CSK27
    Thanks for sharing. You have captured the flow of events and your thoughts to great detail. I do have similar experience and in search. Can I DM you for few details?
    Oct 9 1
    • Wayfair / Eng BScK77
      Certainly, feel free to DM.
      Oct 9
  • Oracle / Sales
    aduck🦆

    Oracle Sales

    PRE
    Google
    aduck🦆more
    Probably the best post I’ve ever read on Blind, and I’m not even an engineer. TC sounds like it’s well-deserved!
    Oct 9 0

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