FAANG interviews not going well

Apr 5, 2018 38 Comments

Hi all. I had a question regarding interviews at some of the big developer shops here in the Bay Area. I've interviewed in the last six months (final round) with Facebook, Amazon, Linked-In and Google. They all ended up declining for the exact same reason, I'm bad at doing algorithm puzzles on a whiteboard. It definitely didn't help that I went to a crappy college and have had to learn computer science pretty much solo.

My situation is that I have about 12 years professional experience and I'm currently a team-lead / senior developer. I can definitely do the job, it's just hard to prove it when asked to write an algorithm to rotate a tree 90 degrees. I'm sitting there going "do you really write your own tree rotation implementations?" Or something else along the lines of "implement a regex parser using recursion".

Am I basically screwed in ever having a chance to get in if I can't do the whole "just graduated with a CS degree" algorithm dance?

I totally get it that it's the best way lately to measure the candidates IQ, it just seems to heavily favor new grads. I guess I can just keep hitting sites like leetcode and hackerrank. It just always seems somewhat random with so many types of problems to solve.

Any advice?


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TOP 38 Comments
  • Google / Eng

    Google Eng

    You already replied to your question - study as many algs on actual whiteboard at home. I graduated from applied math and computer science 12 years ago with masters, was a handson Architect at prev company. I forgot everything from algorithms theory, had to study for 6 months and got into Google.
    Apr 5, 2018 2
    • Veritas / Eng no_dice
      This is what I was hoping to hear. Thanks!
      Apr 5, 2018
    • Allstate MMAT12
      Could you talk about your experience at the interview? I’m kind of confused about “Thought process” what they are looking for in an interview? or how you should explain the way you solve the problem?
      Apr 6, 2018
  • Netflix Gghhjjkk
    You can learn algorithms or give up
    Apr 5, 2018 0
  • Amazon bPRG82
    How many attempts u did at faang? It took me 2 years of preparation with 5 rejections along the way to get in. It takes a lot of persistence and dedication to get in the top tech companies.
    Apr 5, 2018 4
    • Amazon bPRG82
      My salary literally increased twice. Outside that im working with some of the smartest people i have ever known.
      Apr 5, 2018
    • Veritas / Eng no_dice
      Yeah. This is exactly what I'm looking for. I've tried once each at the list mention above. They each said themselves that people usually apply multiple times. I just need to stay motivated.
      Apr 5, 2018
  • Microsoft / Eng BBlind
    It has nothing to do with favoring recent grads or measuring IQ. Unfortunately leer coding is the new “cool” thing in interviewing; it makes the interviewers’ life easy and interviewee’s life a hell. Companies think that this is cool and it brings them smart/good people.

    IMHO, the only thing that these questions measure is whether you know the rules of the “interview game” and whether you have the nerves to play it correctly. Again, just sad.

    In the current market, if you are aiming the top companies, unless you have very good networking (and/or you are very good at what you do), playing the interview game is the only way to get an (or even multiple) offer(s).

    I wish I had better news.
    Apr 5, 2018 2
    • Veritas / Eng no_dice
      Thanks. This had been my experience.
      Apr 5, 2018
    • Google ipue10
      Lol at the person from Microsoft. This i interview type is what Microsoft started 30 years ago.
      Apr 5, 2018
  • Google Uvor31
    Regarding the question of "do you really write your own rotate or xxx or yyy..."

    Yes. Not always, but often. The obvious question is why, why not just use the standard libraries for java or c or etc etc. The answer is two fold.

    First, because the scale systems in these companies work at even small perf differences matter. Your're able to make your hash function or your tree search even 1% better then the default? Awesome. Across all data centers that are in use that can easily add up to millions of savings in power/efficiency every month. Etc.

    Second, because a lot of these companies are involved in actually creating the standard libraries everyone else says you should use. They're not looking just for engineers to call libraries, but those who are able to create or improve them, and do it better then what's already out there.

    Basically, engineers that can build things out of existing tools are great, but not really what these companies are looking for. They're looking for engineers who can build the next better set of tools, and the better set after that, and the one after that. That's how they fight to stay ahead.
    Apr 6, 2018 2
    • Google R1chCh1gga
      I wanna steal this everytime someone asks me 'why leetcode'. You can't implement things well if you don't know how they work.
      Apr 6, 2018
    • Veritas / Eng bocci_ball
      Very helpful reply. Thanks Uvor31.
      Apr 7, 2018
  • Microsoft / Eng
    New alias

    Microsoft Eng

    iOS developer
    New aliasmore
    These are the rules of the game. Take it or leave it.
    Apr 5, 2018 0
  • Amazon / Eng

    Amazon Eng

    Guess who is going to the International Space Station!
    You can stay away from going to FANG and work in other players in the industry, like most hardware companies, still pay OK.

    Veritas is a sinking ship, even by declining industry standard. Get out of your comfort zone and go somewhere more stressful and learn first, then leetcode into FANG later.
    Apr 5, 2018 0
  • Veritas Whaaaaaaaa
    From one Veritasian to another, good luck! I loved my job until the last 6 months or so, still love my team and work, but the investors have clearly decided to cut new development and strip the company for parts.
    Apr 6, 2018 0
  • Microsoft / Eng AmIEwok
    There are some good companies that don’t do LeetCode-style interviews.
    Apr 5, 2018 7
    • Amazon bPRG82
      Apr 7, 2018
    • New AMex31
      One of my interviews last year (top 1-2 tier, but not FAANG) had only 1 algo interview out of 4 during the onsite. And it was an easy one too. But it was a recruitment campaign outside the US as they don't have devs in my country.
      May 27, 2018
  • VMware VmWhere18
    Look into interview kickstart.. might be worth it for you
    Apr 6, 2018 0


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