Please criticize my interview prep/study plan

May 11 15 Comments

Background:
STEM, non CS. Never studied algorithms
Only good at Python

Goals:
At least 2 SWE/ML/data engg offers from {FNG AirBnb Snap Roku}
IC level 5+

Time constraint:
Interviewing in 8 months.
Can only spend weekends to prep (12 hrs/week)
Assuming 3 productive weekends per month, I got ~300 hrs

Planned prep sequence:

For each topic (binary tree, hashmap etc)

1. Study relevant chapter in Goodrich/Tamassia DS and algo in Python textbook

2. Work through Leetcode articles containing easy problems for reinforcement

3. Work through relevant EPI chapter

4. Proceed to solving leetcode mediums without time constraint, no looking at hints until completely stumped

5. Add time constraint to leetcoding and solve on whiteboard. Repeat steps 1 through 5 until 2 mediums solved in 40 mins without looking for hints

Then read grokking the system design, relevant chapters in CTCI and EPI and domain specific knowledge

Suggestions/Criticism? What are my “blind” spots?

Yoe about 10
TC about 300k

comments

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TOP 15 Comments
  • Lumos Labs / Eng
    lAdC81

    Lumos Labs Eng

    PRE
    ThoughtWorks, Lumos Labs
    lAdC81more
    I’d suggest that you don’t spend more than 10-20 minutes totally stumped. It’s a waste of time after a certain point. Looking at hints after being stumped for a bit and using that in seemingly unrelated problems in the future will give you the bump you need.
    May 11 0
  • Google dCyj41
    L5s are going to get Leetcode hard problems at they are senior technical contributors. For any higher IC (L6+) then Leetcode honestly won't cut it anymore.
    May 11 2
    • What is the requirement for higher ICs L6+? I am assuming still leetcode hard but the problem now is the focus on systems design. For that — eng blogs, YouTube vids, designing data intensive applications... Am I missing something?
      May 11
    • OP
      Thanks. I will make sure to try some lc hards, and the “honors class” section of EPI if time permits. Honestly some lc meds feel like hards to me. I’ll also be happy with a high end L4 offer all I need is TC bump
      May 11
  • Google Se7eи
    Current job role and content of work?
    May 11 2
    • OP
      Sent DM
      May 11
    • Google Se7eи
      Sounds like a solid plan. Would also suggest uploading some data-intensive projects for open-source review and visibility. Good luck!
      May 11
  • OpenDoor WDqJ38
    I found Designing Data Intensive Applications to be a good book to read for systems design since you seem to have a lot of time. Also, ~1-2 months before your interviews, I'd buy leetcode premium and really focus on targeting the questions asked by the companies you're interviewing at (you can sort by company and frequency with premium).
    May 11 2
    • OP
      I browed thru Kleppmann’s book but it seemed too theoritical to be of much use in interviews
      May 11
    • OpenDoor WDqJ38
      I found some of the concepts to be useful in thinking about how to approach problems or why one db might be particularly well suited to some kind of problem.
      May 11
  • Facebook / Eng e999
    I don’t think you’ll be able to get l5 offers.

    L5 needs a good design interview and just reading the chapter without hands on experience won’t cut it.

    If it did anyone could pass it. Unfortunately there is a lot of things you only realize when you start working on it and this is usually the signal interviewers are looking for.

    You still could get l4 though.
    May 11 2
    • OP
      Thanks. L4 high end will give me a TC bump.

      I do some domain specific sys design in my day job. What resources would you recommend for generic sys design knowledge? I understand it only happens with real world experience, but I don’t want to get a backend SWE job just to get some generic design experience before attempting FANG interviews.
      May 11
    • Facebook / Eng e999
      To be honest at this point I just don’t remember any specific docs. It was quite a long ago
      May 11
  • Lumos Labs / Eng
    lAdC81

    Lumos Labs Eng

    PRE
    ThoughtWorks, Lumos Labs
    lAdC81more
    Check pramp.com after doing some prep. Also, read sql and no sql concepts and data schema problems and constraints. Also, learn about how to deal with transactions in distributed systems.
    May 12 0
  • Oracle select*TC
    If you quit and did this full time, would be about 2 months. Guessing you're an analyst or accidental generalist if never studied algorithms. For the target level will likely need to have systems background already. If have it, seems possible
    May 11 0