Here is everything you need to know about how to crack technical interviews at FAANG+ companies.
Getting into big tech companies like Facebook (Meta), Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc. is a dream for many. Companies like Google receive roughly three million applications a year, and have an acceptance rate of 0.2%, which means you have a better chance of getting into Harvard University just by the sheer numbers 🤔.
With such cut-throat competition, you must be wondering what you need to do to stand out from all the other applicants who’ve applied for the same job? How should you prepare for the interviews to ensure you crack them? This blog will talk about all the tips and techniques one must follow to successfully crack technical interviews at FAANG and other big tech companies.
In this blog, we’ll talk about:
- What is a technical interview?
- How do technical interviews differ between companies?
- How to prepare for technical interviews?
- [Bonus] How to prepare for behavioral interviews?
- Mock technical interviews
- Do's and Don'ts during the interview
The first step to land an interview offer is to apply with your resume and have a LinkedIn profile. We would recommend you read our other blogs on how to make an ATS-parsable resume, how to optimize your LinkedIn profile to get offers on LinkedIn, and more.
Related: At FAANGPath, we offer Resume Review and LinkedIn makeover services from FAANG+ experts.
Once you’ve optimized your resume and LinkedIn, applied for the job, and received an interview call, the next thing to do would be to start the interview preparation to ensure you get through it. Before we go ahead to discuss more on how to crack the technical interviews, let’s first understand what a technical interview entails.
What is a Technical Interview?
Technical interviews are for tech roles that require candidates to solve programming/coding tasks in real-time or on the spot. They are problem-solving-based and are meant to test the technical knowledge of the candidates. Technical interviews can in fact be the toughest part to crack during interviews, but good preparation well in advance can help you land your dream job.
Generally, a technical interview will have 4 parts,
- Introduction (5-10 mins)
Here, the interviewer's goal is to get acquainted with the candidate, make the candidate feel comfortable, and ensure they are ready for the interview. Often times, some basic pleasentries will be asked like, "How's your day going?" to keep things human. Likewise this is an opportunity for the candidate to learn a bit about the interviewer's background, team, etc.
- Warm-up (5-10 mins)
Not all interviews have a dedicated warm-up phase but this is where the interviewer slowly and steadily builds towards the actual technical challenge. It may be as simple as asking about the candidate's past projects, roles, etc, a quick brain teaser, or a foo-bar type coding question. The idea is that if the candidate answers a few questions confidently they are mentally well-equipped to solve a technical challenge under the nerve-wrecking pressure of an interview.
- Technical Challenge (30-40 mins)
This is the crux of the interview where the candidate will be presented with a technical (coding / system design / problem solving) type question. You would be expected to clarify assumptions, understand the question clearly, and communicate thoroughly throughout the process. How to tackle this part of the interview is a topic of its own.
- Discussion / Question (5-10 mins)
In the final minutes of the interview, the interviewer may ask follow-up questions about the candidate's solution to the technical challenge or want to clarify a few things before wrapping up. Most interviewers will also give the candidate the opportunity to ask any questions they want about the company, team, work culture, etc. This is a great way for the candidate to pick the interviewer's brain and get a deeper look into how it would be like working at that specific company. This again, is a topic of its own that we will discuss in a future blog post.
How Do Technical Interviews Differ Between Companies?
Different companies have different technical interview processes. Understanding how tech interviews are conducted at different companies is crucial to identify how to go about preparing for them. No two companies have the same number of rounds or areas they focus upon in technical interviews. Understanding what purpose your role serves in the functioning of your team and organization, and figuring out topics they focus upon, can help greatly in understanding the technical interviews before you start preparing for them.
A few ways to know more about the interviews are:
- Go through the company website. A lot of companies put out information about their interview process on their company blog, or information about important tips, values, or prep questions which they’d like the candidates to focus upon via their resources and guides. For example, Amazon focuses a lot on their leadership principles and has those available for reference on their website here. Similarly, Google has a blog on its hiring process on the website too.
- Coordinate with the recruiter to find out more about any resources that they may be able to share with you to understand the interview process better. Most recruiters are there to help you ensure you’re ready enough before you go for an interview, so you’re able to crack it. Seeking their help can enable access to information that may or may not be available online.
- Go through platforms like Quora or Reddit. There are a lot of people who share their interview experiences at such platforms, and browsing through them can help you get to know which company interviews in which format and what they focus upon📝.
- Connect with people via LinkedIn who might have recently interviewed with or are at a senior position in the company you’re interested in 💬. They will be able to guide you with first-hand information about the process and at the same time, you get a chance to build relations that might be helpful in the long run.
It is important to note that the interviews differ from one company to another, and between roles within the company as well, based on what experience you have and how well you perform in each of the rounds. For example, some companies begin by asking you to solve a few online assessments, on the basis of which they decide whether you can get an in-person interview call. There are also others who directly ask you to appear for a technical interview in-person/online.
How To Prepare for FAANG+ Technical Interviews?
After you’ve understood the technical interview process and format, the next step would be preparing for them, and this can be the toughest part.
The first and foremost thing to do would be to get your fundamentals right. There are only so many topics you can prepare for the technical interviews. These topics generally are Data Structures and Algorithms, Systems Design and other behavioral questions.
One of the prerequisites to get started with for the technical interview preparation is being fluent in one of the coding languages. Different companies/teams use different languages based on their needs, but that doesn’t mean you need to be proficient with them all. Rather, pick one that you’re most comfortable with, prepare everything using that language and learn the rest as and when you need to. However, if the job description clearly states which language they’d want an ideal candidate fit for that role to be proficient in, you might have to focus on that.
A few topics that you’d want to focus on when prepping for DSA (Data Structures and Algorithms) are,
- Data Structures: Linked Lists, Trees, Stacks, Queues, Heaps, Graphs, Hash Tables, etc.
- Algorithms: Breadth-First Search, Depth-First Search, Binary Search, Merge Sort, Quick Sort, etc.
- Concepts: Big O Time & Space, Bit Manipulation, Memory (Stack vs Heap), Dynamic Programming, Recursion, String Manipulation, etc.
There are two approaches to go about practicing these.
First is picking one topic for a specific duration, say one week, and practicing questions only on that topic for that entire week. This will help you prepare in detail for that topic and give you a thorough understanding of all the easy, medium, and hard questions that you can expect.
The other approach could be choosing multiple topics in a day/week and solving different questions on them at the same time. While this may mean you might not have detailed knowledge of every single topic right away, you’ll have covered a wide range of topics and familiarized yourself with them.
There are several ways to go about practicing these topics. You can use websites like HackerRank, Leetcode, or Kaggle to participate in contests or otherwise to practice these questions. You could also build your own projects on the side while preparing, to get hands-on experience at the topics you’ve chosen. Another resource that can be super helpful is a book called ‘Cracking the Coding Interview’ by Gayle Laakmann McDowell which contains 189 questions with their solutions to practice for coding interviews.
How To Prepare for Behavioral Interviews?
Behavioral interviews play a significant role in the interview process. Be prepared and expect common questions like
- “Tell me about yourself”
- “Walk me through your resume”
- “Tell me about a time when you….”
- “What are your strengths?”
- and more!
These questions can be a great opportunity for you to showcase your experience across different problems that you may have solved in the past or share about the team(s) that you may have worked with, and also convey to the recruiter your abilities beyond your technical competencies.
The best way to answer them would be approaching the questions using the STAR method, which means answering questions in the format as below:
- S - Talk about the Situation at hand
- T - Task(s) that needed to be accomplished
- A - Action taken to complete the task
- R - End Result of the action
These questions can also be a great chance for you to demonstrate your understanding of the company’s culture and values. For example, when interviewing for Amazon, a great emphasis is laid on its leadership principles, and you can demonstrate your experience around those principles by weaving a story around each one using the STAR method.
Nikita Gupta, a technical recruiter at Amazon and founder of FAANGPath has shared her tips on cracking both technical and behavioral interviews at Amazon keeping in mind the leadership principles here. Going through her post will help you gain insights into how recruiters who hire for these tech roles think.
Mock Technical Interviews
Taking mock interviews is just as important as preparing for the coding interviews. Technical interviews are beyond solving the problems that are given to you. Recruiters want to know how you approach a problem, how you navigate your way through complex and ambiguous questions, and how you structure your thoughts to arrive at the optimal solution. This requires good communication skills, which can be developed only with practice. Mock interviews can be great opportunities to practice sharing what you already know in a well-structured manner and justifying why you did what you did.
Mock interviews with technical recruiters or hiring managers can help you gain constructive feedback from experts and help you boost your confidence🚀.
You can schedule mock interviews with FAANGPath mentors to ensure you give your best shot on the final interview day.
Do's and Don'ts During the Interview
After you’ve prepared well, it’s time to perform to the best of your ability on the interview day. But there are still little things that can go wrong if not considered carefully. Here’s a short list of the dos and don’ts for the final interview day.
Do - Share your thought process
It might happen that you’re presented with a question that you do not know the exact answer to. Do not try to answer such questions incorrectly for the sake of it or pretend to know the answer when you don’t. Instead, share your thought process on how you would approach the question and structure your thoughts to arrive at a solution. A lot of times, recruiters are interested more in the approach you use to arrive at the solution than the answer itself.
Don’t - let mistakes affect your overall performance
If you make a mistake in the interview, forgive yourself and move on. Focusing on the mistakes too much and making more of them will only affect your overall performance. Instead, let those mistakes be and move to the next question confidently.
Do - Be honest
Do not make answers up. If you’re met with a question about a situation you’ve not encountered before, don’t simply make an answer up just to impress the recruiter. Most recruiters can tell when you make things up. Instead, mention a similar or a closer to question situation or experience which you might have encountered and share your experience about that.
Do - Have different answers to the same question
For FAANG interviews, expect the interview process to be lengthy. Likely possible, you’ll be interviewed by different people from the company across levels, and you might encounter certain common questions over and over each time a new person interviews you. For such cases, prepare different answers from different experiences using the STAR method for the same question. At the end of the day, when all the interviewers get together to discuss your interview to arrive at a decision, they should not have just one or two incidents where you’ve exhibited a particular skill. You should be able to convey to them how you’ve used the same skill differently for different situations.
Cracking FAANG interviews can become a lot easier with the right preparation and practice. Put in the extra efforts to stand out from the rest of the candidates by having an optimized resume and LinkedIn profile, researching the role and the company, taking mock interviews and using the right approach to answer the questions.
Gear up for your next interview!
At FAANGPath, resumes are prepared and reviewed by experts from FAANG companies. Our services include resume review, LinkedIn makeover, mock interview, and 1:1 mentorship. Reach out to us now to successfully crack your next big interview.