The Ultimate Guide for SWE Interviews at Meta

updated on 05 June 2022

It is a dream for every Software Engineer to work at FAANG companies like Meta (previously known as Facebook), Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, or other big tech companies. While the interview processes at these companies are rigorous, if you've completed your resume writing and LinkedIn makeover, gear up to prepare for the Software Engineer role interviews at Meta with this guide! 🚀 

This blog covers the following topics:

Process and Timeline 

The Meta interview process will begin with a brief recruiter/HR interaction on the phone. This will be a 10-15 mins call where the recruiter will explain the entire interview process. This would be a great chance to find out what you can expect in the upcoming interviews, how you should prepare for them, and any other tips that might come in handy during the process. The recruiters at Meta are there throughout the process to help you with any materials, guides, or guidance you may need to prepare better for the interview and ensure your interview experience is positive.

After the call with a recruiter, an Initial Technical Screen will be scheduled with a Facebook engineer that will last about 45 minutes. In this initial interview, you'll encounter questions like "Why Meta?" or "What do you know about this role?", besides spending around 30-35 minutes of your time solving coding problems and an opportunity to ask questions to the interviewer towards the end.

Meta SWE interviews consist of a technical screen, coding interviews, design interviews, and behavioral interviews.
Meta SWE interviews consist of a technical screen, coding interviews, design interviews, and behavioral interviews.

Candidates who clear the Initial Technical Screen will be invited by a recruiter for onsite/online interviews. These full interviews will have rounds centered around coding, design, and behavioral questions, lasting about 45 minutes each. Meta coding interviews will have general coding questions around DSA. The design rounds will be focused on either systems or products, depending on your background. Lastly, the behavioral interviews will focus on questions about your experiences to judge your cultural fit and compatibility for the role.

The interesting thing about Facebook Software Engineer interviews is the different names that have been assigned to each of the interview rounds. According to Gayle McDowell’s book Cracking the Coding Interview, the coding rounds are called the Ninja interviews, the design rounds are called the Pirate interviews and the behavioral round is called the Jedi interview.

Initial Technical Screen (45 minutes) 👨‍💻

The Initial Technical Screen lasts for about 45 minutes. It generally includes three parts:

Introduction (5 minutes): The technical screen will begin with an introduction to the interviewer and interviewee, besides questions to better understand your experiences and areas of expertise. The interviewer aims to understand how your interests align with what Facebook does through the questions. 

Coding (35 minutes): This section of the technical screen will require you to solve two problems based on Computer Science(CS) fundamentals like algorithms, data structures, recursions, and binary trees. You may be asked to solve these either using a collaborative editor such as coderpad.io if your technical screen is online or using a whiteboard if it is onsite.

Here’s a Meta resource you can take a look at for sample technical screen coding questions and their solutions: Technical Screen Coding Questions

Answering Your Questions (5 minutes): This section of the technical screen will be dedicated to answering your questions. Prepare in advance questions on things you'd like to know from the Facebook engineers about the work you'll do there or challenges you'll solve. Good questions can help you stand out from other candidates, so don't forget to have smart ones ready!

You can learn more about the technical screen here - Technical Screen Interview Guide

Coding Interviews + Example Questions (2 sessions, 45 minutes each) 🖥

Meta coding interviews are not easy to crack. Also known as the Ninja interview, the coding rounds evaluate the candidates rigorously to determine whether they have what it takes to solve real-time problems at work. They're mainly focused on CS fundamentals, data structures, and algorithms. These rounds will also be 45 minutes long each - 5 minutes for introduction, 30 mins for coding problems, and 5 minutes for any questions you may have for the interviewer. Candidates are expected to complete 2 questions in each round within the timeframe.

Here are a few example questions that you can practice while prepping for your Meta coding interviews:

  1. Given the root of a binary tree, imagine yourself standing on the right side and return the values of the nodes you can see ordered from top to bottom (Solution)
  2. Given an integer array nums and an integer k, return the k most frequent elements. You may return the answer in any order (Solution)
  3. Given a signed 32-bit integer x, return x with its digits reversed. If reversing x causes the value to go outside the signed 32-bit integer range [-231, 231 - 1], return 0 (Solution)
  4. Given the root of a binary tree, return the inorder traversal of its nodes' values (Solution)
  5. Given the root of a binary search tree and an integer k, return the kth smallest value (1-indexed) of all the values of the nodes in the tree (Solution)
  6. Given an integer n, return all the structurally unique BSTs (binary search trees) with exactly n nodes of unique values from 1 to n. Return the answer in any order (Solution)
  7. Given two integer arrays nums1 and nums2, return an array of their intersection. Each element in the result must be unique and you may return the result in any order (Solution)
  8. A linked list is given such that each node contains an additional random pointer that could point to any node in the list or null. Return a deep copy of the list (Solution)
  9. You are given an array of integers nums, there is a sliding window of size k, which moves from the very left of the array to the very right. You can only see the k numbers in the window. Each time the sliding window moves right by one position. Return the max sliding window (Solution)
  10. Given an array of intervals where intervals[i] = [starti, endi], merge all overlapping intervals and return an array of the non-overlapping intervals that cover all the intervals in the input (Solution)

Here's how you can prepare for the Meta coding interview:

  • Practice in a programming language you're best at. While interviewing, writing the correct solution within the time constraint is essential, and a programming language you're comfortable using can help you achieve that!
  • While writing the solution, find and fix the bugs before the interviewer can tell you. This is a critical quality interviewers look for and helps showcase your problem-solving approach.
  • Seek help from the interviewer when you've met a dead end. A common mistake candidates make is not asking any questions when they need help. Remember, the interviewer wants you to succeed, and asking questions to seek more information will leave a positive impression.
  • When you can't find the right solution, start working on an ideal one. Rather than jumping on the first solution that comes to your mind, work out a basic solution and iterate on it until you arrive at something concrete.
  • As you solve the problems, share your reasoning and thought process with the interviewer. It helps them get an idea of how you approach problems and help them follow you along.

Design Interviews + Example Questions (1-2 sessions, 45 minutes each) 

The Meta interview process also involves design interviews for senior positions. The design interviews are not applicable for junior/entry level SWE roles at Meta, and are replaced with another coding round. 

These Pirate interviews usually last for 45 minutes each, like the other interviews. Depending on your background, you'll be matched with an interviewer (systems or product) who'll ask you a broad design question to evaluate your solution. The primary purpose of the design round is to understand your approach to engineering design problems. The main areas that interviewers focus on for the Meta design interviews are:

  • Problem Navigation: How do you approach a high-level problem while being mindful of the constraints, resources, objectives, and bottlenecks? Are you asking the right questions and identifying the correct elements to reduce ambiguity? This is one of the factors that interviewers are assessing you on.
  • Solution Design: This aspect is to find out how you consider the bigger pictures when trying to determine a workable solution for your question.
  • Technical Excellence: Mitigating risks and managing tradeoffs are supremely important for design thinking. How do you leverage your technical abilities to navigate through both?
  • Technical Communication: The interviewers try to get a sense of how effectively you communicate your technical ideas, while also considering any feedback offered to you during the process.
Design interviews do not involve coding. Candidates often use a virtual whiteboard as a visual aid for these rounds.
Design interviews do not involve coding. Candidates often use a virtual whiteboard as a visual aid for these rounds.

We recommend using the following approach to crack your design interviews:

  • Begin by stating what you know. Once the question is presented to you, repeat the information you understood. 
  • Go ahead and ask clarifying questions to drill down into details. Based on the conversation, identify things like the objective, who the users are, their needs, what key features we are looking for, etc.
  • Identify risks, trade offs, and decision points and discuss them with the interviewers. Share your strategy to mitigate them and use the necessary techniques to balance tradeoffs.
  • Be holistic and detailed in your approach to the solution. Identify what different components are crucial and how they fit together.

Before we go ahead and discuss how you can go about preparing for your Meta System Design interview, here are a few sample questions for your reference:

  1. Design Facebook Newsfeed.
  2. Design Facebook Messenger.
  3. Design Instagram.
  4. Design WhatsApp.
  5. Design Live Commenting.
  6. Design Typeahead Suggestions.
  7. Design Google Docs.
  8. Design a distributed Botnet.
  9. Design Resource Downloader Library.
  10. Design a video-sharing platform.

System Design Interviews

To prepare for your systems design interview, focus on the following:

  • Practice starting with clarifying questions. When your problem statement is vague, asking the right questions is very important to ensure you're headed in the right direction. 
  • Think about how you'd design a system you already use daily. What would you do differently? What works well, and how would you design it ground up.
  • Research about companies that designed the wrong systems. What went wrong? What practices could have been followed? Practice thinking about these aspects to develop an optimal solution for your system design questions.

Product Design Interviews

To prepare for the product design interviews, keep the following in mind:

  • Like your systems design interviews, start by laying out all the requirements. Try to identify the ins and outs of the product and think in that direction.
  • When you're met with a question, think about the features you would need and how you would address them. What would you need to do to ensure the functionality is easy to use?
  • Think of your past projects. What worked well? What could you have done better? What would you do differently? Find answers to these questions and keep them ready.

A common confusion candidates have between the Systems Design and Product Design Rounds is how are they different? At Meta, Product Design interviews are great for candidates who work on full-stack/middle tier backend. They are all about APIs, data modeling, how the client and server interact, how the user would interact with it, and more. On the other hand, systems Design interviews focus on large-scale systems. For Systems Design rounds, think about scalability, concurrency, reliability, etc.

You can learn more about the full interviews here - Meta Interview Prep Guide

Behavioral Interviews + Example Questions (45 minutes) 🤝

Behavioral interviews are to learn more about a candidate's past experiences, interests, and what motivates them to do what they do. The interviewers want to learn more through the stories and examples from the past about the impact a candidate is looking to make and what they're passionate about in tech. 

The Jedi interview is a part behavioral interview, part coding interview. The coding portion is a shorter version of the coding interviews, as it acts as a supplement to your performance in the previous rounds. 

The core values at Meta are:

  • Be bold.
  • Focus on Impact
  • Move Fast
  • Be Open
  • Build Social Value

Interviewers look for these values in candidates they interview. To get a better idea of how a candidate will thrive in a fast-paced unstructured environment, they are assessed on five key signals:

  • How does the candidate resolve conflicts?
  • What efforts does the candidate make to grow and learn continuously?
  • How do you embrace ambiguity in a quickly changing environment?
  • How does the candidate go above and beyond to achieve their goals while navigating through roadblocks?
  • How effectively does the candidate communicate?
For Meta’s behavioral interview, be humble and focus on teamwork, leadership, and mentorship qualities.
For Meta’s behavioral interview, be humble and focus on teamwork, leadership, and mentorship qualities.

A few example questions you can use to practice your answers and include these qualities are:

  1. Tell me about a time you had to handle pressure.
  2. How would you deal with a difficult co-worker?
  3. Tell me about a time you had to learn something quickly.
  4. Why do you want to work at Meta?
  5. Tell me about a time you received constructive feedback.
  6. Tell me about a time you disagreed with someone.
  7. Share with me an experience where you went above and beyond to achieve a goal.
  8. Tell me about a time you showed leadership.
  9. Tell me about a mistake you made.
  10. What accomplishment of yours are you most proud of?

Most candidates take behavioral interviews lightly and fail to realize that they can make or break their interviews. Meta lays great importance on its values to determine the cultural fit of a candidate. Here's how you should go about preparing for your Meta behavioral interviews:

  • Use the STAR method. The STAR method never gets old. Craft anecdotes from past experience that talk about the situation, the task on hand, actions you took, and the tangible results they led to.
  • Be honest. Do not make stories up. Present your authentic self.
  • Prepare concrete examples that show the impact you've made in your previous work. 

Also Read: How to Use the STAR Method to Ace Your FAANG Interview

Fun Fact: If you interview at Meta onsite, someone from the recruiting or engineering team will take you to lunch. This will provide you with a fantastic opportunity to interact with someone who is not an interviewer and learn more about what it's really like to work at Meta. 

Conclusion 🎯

After you’ve appeared for the interviews, you’ll hear back from the recruiter about whether you’ve landed the offer. For Meta, candidates interview for the company overall and are later on positioned in a team they’re the best fit for. Meta SWE interviews are certainly challenging, but you'll find your way once you start practicing the right way. Practicing with an industry professional who has worked at Meta or other FAANG companies can boost your confidence multifold. To connect with an industry mentor who can guide you for mock interviews, reach out to us NOW!

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