Uber on-site reject - Where should I improve?

CBS Interactive t1c
Aug 5, 2018 38 Comments

Hello everyone, I had an on-site interview with Uber last week (for Sr.SWE role) and unfortunately I couldn't make it, recruiter got back to me after 3 business days saying it is a reject. I previously posted on tips to prepare (link to that post below)

https://us.teamblind.com/s/0m4egEOa

I had a really positive experience and I felt all my interviewers were nice & conversational and the whole Uber D-bag culture we keep hearing may not be all true. I want to share my experience and maybe get advice on what costed me this opportunity and where I should focus on improving (not just Uber but any MLLFAAANGU in general). I had 4 rounds of 1 hour each

Round 1: Fairly easy round with a Software Engineer (he was possibly L3/L4), asked me an easy coding question on Sudoku that I was able to solve with ease and I was a little surprised this was the only question he had. He was from mobile dev team while I was interviewing for a backend role, could someone from @Uber throw light on whether interviewers could be randomly chosen?

Round 2: Hiring Manager round with typical personality and situational questions. "Tell me about a time you failed, biggest challenge you faced, projects would were proud of" etc.etc. I thought this round went good as well although you can never know what the HM evaluated you on.

Round 3: Arch/System Design round, interviewer was a Senior Engineer. Talked a lot about his work in his team and scaling challenges we both have faced in our careers so far and talked about designing a fault tolerant CC payment service. I went into detail in some areas where he wasn't expecting me to and at the end I felt I did well (although there was one particular methodology of ACID that didn't come to my head at that time). Overall he looked happy.

Round 4: Live coding round where they ask you to code on a laptop, my interviewer was a Senior Engineer. Quite a hard question, I could only come up with a O(n^2) solution, discussed my solution on the white board and unfortunately ran out of time before I could finish the code on my laptop. Since it was past 6pm, my interviewer asked me to email my solution and I promptly did that that very night.

I realize not finishing up your code to a working solution is definitely a red flag but I have known people who have been hired despite a bad coding round.

Could that one bad round be the sole reason for the reject, although my other rounds were good? Particularly System Design round was pretty good and I increasingly know that is the basis of determining hire/no-hire for experienced candidates. I also would like to put out the disclaimer that I'm an above average Software Engineer who do this to earn a living and by no means a rockstar coder/hacker types who invests all his/her freetime into open source projects and develop an app as a hobby.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and thanks in advance for your response!

comments

Want to comment? LOG IN or SIGN UP
TOP 38 Comments
  • Uber pbcool
    There is a ton of randomness in interviewing, don’t take anything personally. It could be anything, and improving that one thing might not help you in future interviews. Stay strong and keep practicing.
    Aug 5, 2018 1
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      I certainly agree with the randomness part and I have many skeptical opinions about the whole tech interview process as a whole as it hardly ever reflect the real world work but unfortunately we, as an industry haven't found a better process yet! And no, I'm not taking anything personal, I actually want to have a discussion on where to improve that could be useful for others as well.
      Aug 5, 2018
  • LinkedIn ChindiChor
    Rejected by Apple & Uber.. Got offer from Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon. Interviews are 50% luck, 50% preparation. You can only control one of it.
    Aug 5, 2018 5
    • Qualtrics Monolith
      This! And hard to tell if interviewer sensed any red flag in behavioral
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Tesla LEETCODER
      Were the questions more difficult at Uber? I felt Apple interview was really easy. Yet to go to über and FB tho.
      Aug 5, 2018
    • LinkedIn ChindiChor
      I felt that the interview at F was the hardest followed by amzn, G and U. AAPL and nflx were relatively easier compared to others.
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Tesla LEETCODER
      Yea my FB phone screen was LC medium and LC hard. Wasn't expecting that.
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Uber Xidl
      Depends on the interviewer or team you get, it’s pretty inconsistent
      Aug 6, 2018
  • Box / Eng Gqwx32
    Got rejected from Uber too. They didn't provide any feedback. Although I felt the interviews went well, 2 weeks later I realized I made 2 fundamental mistakes. So relax and probably you can do some retrospective to assess your interview performance again.
    Aug 5, 2018 3
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      Thanks for your comment. In the spirit of improvement and helpfulness, could you please let me know what fundamental mistakes you had to correct, if you don't mind?
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Uber gJdy08
      Most companies don't provide feedback after interview. It's for legal reasons and to avoid liability.
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Uber / Eng hhffbk
      Yeah, it’s to avoid liability. It sucks because I often want to give candidates feedback to move onto the next level in their careers.
      Aug 6, 2018
  • Tesla LEETCODER
    That sucks. What was your preparation like for über onsite?
    Aug 5, 2018 4
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      Cracking the coding interview, Leetcode and I read this wonderful book "Designing Data Intensive Applications" that gives a massive overview of DS design and practices
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Tesla LEETCODER
      That book is huge. Yea just started reading it. Really useful. Thinking of skipping few chapters since I only have 2 weeks.
      Aug 5, 2018
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      If you have the time, I would highly recommend reading it to it's entirety
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Tesla LEETCODER
      Sounds good. Thank you :)
      Aug 5, 2018
  • Capital One lala🎃
    I'd love to get perspectives from those working specifically at Uber. But from my own experiences onsite at 2 of FANG, my not finishing the working code was the deal breaker, and recruiter mentioned I did well in other areas
    Aug 6, 2018 3
    • Uber taster
      Unfortunately, it is usually the deal breaker. If you don’t have the ideal solution, that passes. If code does not work, the feedback often is “not sure how hands on this candidate is...” Companies this size get freaked out from hiring someone who _might_ not be hands on coding.
      Aug 6, 2018
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      I completely agree with that from the company's perspective and they have to make a decision on the candidate(s) in the limited amount of time that is as unbiased as possible and since coding round automatically gives a empirical outcome, it is natural for them to decide heavily on that performance. Although personally I have my doubts and I often see coding performance in an interview in limited time is hardly a measure of how someone would do in actual workplace but again, everyone is in the same playing field. So I guess it is a little bit fair that way.
      Aug 6, 2018
    • Uber / Eng hhffbk
      Not having working code is almost always a deal breaker for me. Another deal breaker is a hap hazard guess and check approach to debugging. I expect a candidate to debug methodically and from first principles instead of stabbing around blindly.

      One thing that helps a lot is to decompose the problem into smaller well named functions so you know which parts are working because you can independently unit test them.

      Great code hygiene and solid debugging skills can sometimes get you a yes if you didn’t finish but the interviewer believes you can finish with a little more time.
      Aug 6, 2018
  • Uber taster
    You’ve got a great approach to interviewing and it sounds like a shame you could not get an offer. While for legal reasons no feedback is provided in the US for most companies, you could always try to reach out to the recruiter, telling them you liked the interview and if they can share advice on growth areas any of the panel might have seen that you could focus on, should you re-apply after some time.

    It could have well been the code not running or something not clicking with the architecture person. But with this attitude you’ll get in to a good company.
    Aug 6, 2018 1
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      Thanks @taster. This was one of those opportunities that felt good and everything just went right up until that last round. I certainly have a strong sense of missed out opportunity there.
      Aug 6, 2018
  • Not being able to finish your coding interview is not a blocker especially on a hard question. I have sat on several such interview debriefs.

    In general to be hired everyone should be on board. If someone is not convinced and someone else is able to make a case for it you may still get an offer. Conversely if you’ve done well everywhere except with someone who sees a red flag, they can turn the room around.

    regarding your coding interview. Again, whether you finished or not is not the most relevant. Did you have a sensible initial intuition? If you run out of times you ran into problems. How did you deal? If you were bogged down by something trivial and you haven’t taken necessary steps to avoid it that’s not good (for instance). If you forgot edge cases, or spent too much time on them - not great. If you didn’t test (or found an equivalent way to stay on track) - bad signal. Finally there’s coding style, cleanliness, legibility etc. Lots of things could go wrong (or right) in a coding interview.
    Aug 6, 2018 3
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      These are some great points, I don't fully remember every word I uttered upon hit with this question but I started out by trying to get a brute force solution first and try to optimize it from there. I did talk out loud so the interview always have an idea of what I'm thinking & trying to accomplish. I do remember spending a bit too much time on the white board and ended up with little time to sit back and code on my laptop. As far as testing, I simply ran out of time.
      Aug 6, 2018
    • Amazon canyons
      Can you please share what was this hard coding question about?
      Aug 6, 2018
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      I'm not sure if I can put it here, DM me
      Aug 7, 2018
  • Cisco / Eng
    Jsonf

    Cisco Eng

    PRE
    500 Startups
    Jsonfmore
    Don’t get bogged down!! I have had numerous experiences like the one you had!! Don’t let this lower your confidence. Take it as a challenge and try harder. Never give up!! 😊 uber lost a good candidate
    Aug 5, 2018 1
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      Thanks for your comment. There is always another chance! :)
      Aug 5, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng
    MrScale

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    500 Startups
    MrScalemore
    Got accept for SE2. Currently, SDE2 at Amazon. Can I ask recruiter to be considered for Sr. SE?
    Aug 5, 2018 5
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      Depends on a lot of factors like availability, your interview performance, YOE etc.
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      MrScale

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      500 Startups
      MrScalemore
      3 yoe. 1yr as SDE2 at Amazon. Do you think I should try?
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Uber yrde31
      I dont believe Uber will give you sr at 3 yoe
      Aug 5, 2018
    • Uber / Eng hhffbk
      You can get senior at 3 yoe, but I’ve only seen it with candidates that have been coding as an extracurricular activity from long before they even entered the workforce.

      Overall, you’ll be leveled at the level you performed at in your interviews. They won’t consider you for a higher role unless the interviewers specifically indicated you were at the level of other senior engineers they’ve interviewed and worked with.
      Aug 6, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      MrScale

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      500 Startups
      MrScalemore
      Most of the the interviewers were new hires (less than a year) including Hiring Manager. Recruiter told that rounds we're super positive. Will give it a shot. Thanks for information
      Aug 7, 2018
  • Uber / Eng hhffbk
    Was this in LA?
    Aug 6, 2018 1
    • CBS Interactive t1c
      OP
      Yes
      Aug 7, 2018
  • VMware novA123
    Uber requires codes running on on your laptop in the interview. Not a complaint, but I would be more prepared than whiteboarding
    Aug 10, 2018 0