Meta & Google employees share their interview experience...
My journey to google started with a Sunday night Linkedin message to a recruiter.
We last spoke about the not-harrowing job search experiences of Daniel and Debbie who now both work in startups. But those were the easy experiences. Job searching in big tech companies is usually much more different - and here, different is another word for brutal. Big tech candidacy requires significantly more prep time than interviews at startups, especially for junior level roles. They want potential, yes, but they also want proficiency. There’s no zero to hero story here like Daniel and Debbie had in their startups. The big tech guys in Techbabble hustled for their spots. The prep was harrowing and the actual candidacy process was even more harrowing (harrowing might be a new favourite word). Being an interesting person is now the bare minimum. Being an interesting person that knows what the hell they’re talking about, that’s what gives you a fighting chance Now, by no means am I inferring that you can bullshit your way though an interview with a startup lol, but I digress. So, as is with all conquests, let’s let the victors tell the story.
Samuel - My journey to google started with me finding a role I though I fit perfectly on LinkedIn, finding the recruiter, and sending them a well thought out message highlighting the job requirements explaining how I was a match. After this, a two-week silence, and then an email from the recruiter asking to schedule a call. She said I was a great fit but asked if I’d be willing to interview as a generalist and maybe find a match after the interview loops. Meaning I’d have to do 6 rounds of actual interviews and then either proceed to a team-match round or all my google efforts would be over. I initially was overwhelmed but this was the opportunity to land a dream job with a dream company, so I made it my new challenge and began the prep. Every night, I met with my brother and friend and we shared practice notes and quizzed each other all day every day. I did an initial phone screen and then moved on to a final round which was to be a four-interview process testing various things over 2 days. 1 round tested general cognitive ability, 1 round tested googleey-ness and leadership, and the last two were looking for program sense and the more technical bits. After the four (very tough) interviews came the team match, and I put up for a level above what I initially interviewed for. That obviously turned up the heat for for me. I remember being under so much pressure! From what I knew, team matches could take anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on how attractive my profile was. But I was lucky to get a couple of interests that same day. When it came to making a decision, I had to factor in team location, how excited their projects seemed, and where I felt I could find the best work-life balance. After all of these, I still had the hiring committee to scale through! It was supposedly the ultimate gauntlet that would determine whether or not I get the offer with a possibility of being reverted to a lower level or taking some more interviews. Hands down, this was definitely my most harrowing candidate experience (and I’ve had quite a few!). By the time I got the call extending me an offer at the level I wanted, all I remember was being relieved. I was so ready to be a googler.
Deji - Earlier this year, I was interviewing for different positions, mostly in big tech companies. One of the most vivid things I remember is that I was constantly refreshing the LinkedIn jobs section every other hour just to see if there were any new job postings. I probably spent more time scrolling through Linkedin than I did on instagram in that period. My job search was far from a smooth process. The rejections kept coming in, left, right, center. I remember clearly bombing my first live coding interview and feeling down afterwards. At the time, I was applying for both Software engineering roles and TPM roles and doing interview prep for both roles. Eventually, I got a few interview requests for both SWE and TPM roles from companies like Capital one, Cisco, Meta, Expedia, Robinhood. After I did a few first round interviews, I realized I needed to pick a struggle because both roles required different preparation styles and I wouldn’t be able to keep up with a split focus. I decided to withdraw from 2 SWE online assessment interviews and one final round SWE interview so I could focus on trying to be a TPM. Meta’s TPM interviews mainly focused on Solutions design (involves solving problems and designing systems with a focus on backend components), Program Sense (involves planning, identifying technical dependencies, strategizing and working with cross-functional teams) and the behavioral portion. Personally, I found the Solutions design loop to be the most challenging and the most interesting part of the interviews. It challenged me because it involved understanding different technical components and backend systems, their pros and cons and in what systems these individual components are better suited to. The whole interview loop took about 4 weeks from start to finish and still remains the best interview I have done. The organization and effort put into the whole process, the resources provided, and communication from the recruiting team showed that they valued me as a candidate.
If you’ve noticed that LinkedIn made multiple cameos in the stories above, you wouldn’t be wrong to conclude that LinkedIn is an underrated tool when it comes to securing those tough spots. And while all of us at Techbabble have a collective disdain for LinkedIn (more on that later), we definitely would agree with you. Please use your LinkedIn, we only ask that you use it differently. Recruiters at these big companies probably receive similar messages from the hundred other people hustling for the same spot so, by all means, dare to stand out. And did I mention prep?? The main character in all big tech candidacy stories is the amount of extensive preparation that goes into it. Don’t be scared to use interviews at smaller companies to prep for your dream job. Don’t be scared to run mock interviews with friends until you can introduce yourself in morse code. And lastly, don’t be scared to start prepping even when you haven’t found a role that fits you.
All of our candidacy experiences were the same as much as they were very different. By being proactive, forward-thinking people that aimed for more than just any job, we were the same. And by simply being the best version of ourselves, we were as different as humans can be from one to the next. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our stories as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them down.