I started heavily using Blind about 3 months ago when I started preparing for my job search.
Today I received an offer from Google and I owe Blind a huge thank you for my success, from preparing for the interview to negotiating the offer, I probably wouldn't have done as well without this platform. So I wanted to give back to the community what little I could by sharing my experience.
BS in CS from a no name public university, 3 YoE at a midsized tech company, Current TC 150k
1) Elements of Programming Interviews in Java - I wouldn't have even heard about this book without seeing it mentioned on Blind. I read the subject matter and did the questions recommended by the authors in their 1 month "Term Project" plan.
2) LeetCode: I don't think I would have done as much LC as I did if it wasn't stressed so much on Blind. Some might say I still didn't do enough! I completed 130 questions, with a 30/50/20 easy/medium/hard split. I mainly stuck to the 100 most liked questions list. For each question, I first have it my best try. Sometimes I was able to come up with an acceptable solution, other times I wasn't. Either way, I went to the discussion tab and spent time understanding the approach behind the top voted answers. By the end, I could do most mediums on my own in 20 minutes.
I found a lot people on Blind finding out their interview loop was for a lower level than they expected after the fact. Having 3YoE at a non-FAANG, I was afraid of being interviewed for L3, so I ensured multiple times with my recruiter that the interview loop would be for an L4. Had I not done this, I may not have ended up with the offer I did. I suggest everyone do this to avoid a nasty surprise.
I had 6 interviews total, 45 minutes each. 1 phone screen and 5 onsite. One of the onsite interviews was a behavioural one. Nothing much to say about that one. "Tell me about a time where..." type questions. This type of interview is very new at Google for SWE roles. Source: my interviewer.
The rest of my interviews were coding. No design interview (I was surprised too!). Practice really paid off and I aced all of the technical rounds. On a couple, I needed a bit of a push from my interviewer, but managed to get the optimal solution. I'm not sure if this is because the bar is lowering as people have mentioned, or because I was well prepared.
Negotiation & Compensation:
I received 3 competing offers of about 250k, but thanks to Bind I knew Google could pay more and I knew I had to negotiate hard to get it. I felt I deserved it after my interview performance. Ideally, I would have loved to be at the top of the L4 band with TC of over 300, but I wasn't able to pull that off. I ended up with an offer that broke down as:
150k base, 15% bonus, 380k RSUs, 40k sign on
So thank you again friends. Your time spent contributing to this platform is appreciated. And sorry about the long post.
Edit: All but one of the 15+ technical onsite interviewers allowed me to use a laptop instead of the whiteboard. Please do yourself a favour and USE THIS OPTION unless you have a really strong case not to. Coding on a laptop is much more natural and efficient. For some cases, you'll want to let your recruiter know in advance you want to code on a laptop, in others, you'll be asked beforehand, or on the day of the interview. For Amazon, they didn't have a laptop for me but they let me use my own. For the Google interview, I opted to use the laptop and my interviewers were pleasantly surprised. They said they rarely interviewed someone who used a laptop, and actually preferred it as it's easier for them to read.
The whiteboard will still always be there and is great for illustrating your solution before implementing it.
Edit 2: Negotiation Strategy.
Since I knew I wasn't going to get a competing offer that matched the TC I wanted, I tried the strategy of giving the initial number and told the recruiter I was expecting TC around 330k. I justified this by citing my interview performance, which was stellar. The recruiter told me all the feedback was awesome as well. This didn't prove effective at all... Initial offer from G was 230k :/ I probably shot myself in the foot by giving a number that's too high.
Strategy 2 was to use my competing offers. As mentioned, highest one was 250k, but I suspected G would just match this and not go higher. So I quoted my competing offer to be 270k (higher than it actually was but not too high that it wasn't believable). My recruiter did try ask me for proof, but I said it was verbal only, and we moved on without an issue. As expected, Google just matched it (actually, was slightly lower). From there, I had to be persistent, insisting that G had to beat the offer for me to accept, and inch the TC up slowly until it eventually got to 277k.
Edit 3: More on Preparation
I was working full time while studying, and studied after work and around social and family commitments. This usually ended up being about 2 hours late at night, which was enough time to deep dive into 2 or 3 LC questions per day. I did this for about 2.5 months in total.
Edit 4: Interview Scheduling
For my phone screens, I used the time difference to my advantage. I'm on the East Coast and all the companies I was interviewing with are on the West. All my phone screens were around 6PM ET.
For my onsites, I scheduled them all (4) during a week long "vacation" from work. This way I gave my employer no reason to be suspicious. Some people say scheduling multiple interviews back to back can lead to burnout. I didn't really have that problem. Woke up around 8, interviewed from ~ 10-4, then went back to my hotel room to relax for the rest of the day. Might not be for everyone, but it worked for me.
Indeed. Why wouldn’t G pay you the top of L4 with your amazing 3 yoe? There’s a ton of folks with 6+ yoe at L4 getting less, but who cares, you’ve been leetcoding for 3 months, hell yeah!