How interviews are conducted at Amazon, Google and Meta: personal experience of IT specialists from Belarus - ForumDaily
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How interviews are conducted at Amazon, Google and Meta: personal experience of IT specialists from Belarus

A stable job in a large international company is what many IT industry specialists dream of. For citizens of the post-Soviet space, this is also a good opportunity to emigrate to a more prosperous country. This is especially true for states with authoritarian dictatorial regimes, for example Belarus. Four of its IT specialists decided to share with the publication Dev.by their own experiences of how they interviewed at Amazon, Google, Meta and Bolt.

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В Amazon: Interview by system design and algorithmы

Sergei is 35 years old and works as an IT architect. Over the past two years, I have had interviews with large companies several times. Currently interviewing at Google and Meta.

“The first interview was two years ago. It turned out that I lacked the skills to solve algorithmic problems. After several unsuccessful interviews, I realized that decision time is very important here: the faster, the better.”

Amazon has five interview stages in total. Sergey identifies three types of interviews:

  • Coding interview. The applicant is asked to solve a technical problem for which he needs to write code in a text editor. These are mainly algorithmic problems.
  • Behavioral interview. The hiring manager asks about projects, how the applicant handled cases with overdue deadlines, and how he resolved conflicts within the team.
  • Interview on system design. For example, Amazon was asked to design a system for delivering goods to parcel lockers.

Sergey says that each company has different approaches to interviews. Google, for example, has the most difficult technical problems. At Amazon they are simpler, but behavioral interviews are more difficult. They look at how well your experience matches Leadership Principles company.

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Sergey solved algorithmic problems on LeetCode: “I made a list of topics and thought: if I complete 10 problems for each, then I understand it. In addition, I watched courses from Harvard on YouTube. The book Cracking The Coding Interview also helped. Its tasks are weak, but it tells a good story about the process of such interviews.”

Three tips from Sergei when preparing for an interview:

  • Rework your resume. Write your cases with a clear understanding of your contribution to the work done. For example, “took part in the development of an application that brought the company one million dollars.”
  • Practice in coding. Even people who work at Google and are good at algorithms give themselves a month to practice to brush up on their knowledge.
  • Look at Amazon's principles and prepare relevant stories from your experiences.

В Meta: 5 stages, method STAR and offer to the UK

Kirill is 32 years old. Worked at Yandex, Wargaming, Meta. The Meta story was in early 2022. A recruiter from Ireland wrote to him on LinkedIn, but in the end the offer was to the UK.

The interview consisted of five stages. At the first stage, we collected general data: salary expectations, what tasks I am ready to perform, whether I agree to move.

The second interview was a technical screening. There, the recruiting manager asked Kirill about how he works, what tools he uses, what interesting cases he had in practice.

«The following interviews consisted of three stages, at which different competencies were tested,” Kirill clarified. — For example, one of them was related to recruiting and interaction with candidates. At the second, they asked how I structure my work process with my colleagues. The third stage involved telling a story about the initiatives and projects I had implemented.

Meta interviews use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method. The applicant is asked specific questions about professional cases, the answers to which help to analyze his behavioral patterns.

“I wrote out each case and prepared a small cheat sheet for myself,” Kirill explained. — I told every story in English, so as not to worry during the interview. The hardest thing was not to move away when answering a question. At the interview they expect clear answers, but many begin to tell something that is not what they are asked.”

Three weeks after the interview, Kirill received an offer and got a job in the UK office of Meta.

“Before the interview, I recommend analyzing your successes and cases on STAR,” he noted. — Often candidates do not know how to talk about their achievements or describe their contribution to a specific case. If you break down your achievements according to STAR, it becomes clear what you did and how you did it.”

On Google: LeetCode as part of life

Ivan is 31. In 2021, he moved from Belarus to Estonia at the suggestion of Bolt, where he worked as a data engineer. Ivan currently works at Microsoft as a backend developer. Before that, he interviewed at Amazon and Google.

“I don’t really like the approach to interviews at Amazon and Microsoft,” admitted Ivan. — There is a lot of talk and few technical issues. Google has a lot more technical tasks, and they're much more complex."

In the fall of 2023, Ivan was interviewed at Google. This was my second attempt to get into the company.

“When preparing for a meeting with a potential employer, I made LeetCode a part of my life: I solved 90 problems every day without missing a day and set a timer - 15 minutes to solve one problem,” he shared his experience.

LeetCode — a site on which IT tasks are posted. They are constantly updated and supplemented. The service contains more than 2500 tasks, each of which has its own classification - there are “easy”, “medium”, “difficult”. The simulator supports 14 programming languages.

“After my first interview with the company, I realized the problem: I was spending a lot of time on trivial tasks. I knew how to solve them, but writing this solution took a lot of time. When you are interviewed at Google, such problems need to be solved automatically without using your head.

Three out of four interviews at Google are purely technical: you are given a task that needs to be completed. Each interview lasts an hour. There you ask the interviewer additional questions and present your algorithms. If there are several of them, then explain why you chose one or another to solve the problem.

The most difficult thing for me was behavioral interview. With the technical part, everything is simple: there is a problem, there is a solution.”

Three tips from Ivan for preparing for an interview:

  • Recall cool stories from your experiences for behavioral interviews. You can use the Amazon Leadership Principles to help you prepare. You need at least 10-15 such stories.
  • Solve algorithmic problems using LeetCode. Especially if it's an interview at Google.
  • Read literature on object-oriented programming and system design.

В Bolt: Tasks on LeetCode and pumping system design

Igor (name changed) is 23 years old. In February, he was invited to an interview at Bolt for the position of backend developer.

There are five interviews in total. The first is a general call with the recruiter. Two were devoted to solving algorithmic problems. At the fourth interview, Igor was tested on his knowledge of system design. The last, fifth conversation took place with the team manager.

“The fourth stage turned out to be the most difficult, because there is no specific correct answer in system design,” explained Igor. “You are given the task of designing some kind of system, and you think through the steps of how this can be done.”

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Igor prepared for the interview for a couple of months. To do this, he performed algorithmic tasks on LeetCode. When I solved 250 problems, I realized that I was ready for the interview. During preparation, I even read the book “Designing Data-Intensive Applications”.

After the last interview, Igor was told that the interview went well, but they could not offer him an offer - due to the impossibility of relocation from Belarus to Poland.

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