Interview format

Good news: the interview process in most tech companies is very similar. Here is roughly how it goes in the big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, as well as in many smaller companies:

1. Applying to the company

First, you need to somehow get to the actual interview. Most of the time, you apply to the company you want, but sometimes recruiters may also reach out to you themselves.

This sounds simple, but, in fact, the process can be quite complicated. We will cover it in depth in the applying section.

2. Online interview

For software engineers, the first technical part in the interview is usually an online coding session (often also called "phone screen" interview).

The interviewer will call you on the phone or via online video call (on something like Skype or Zoom), and give you a coding problem that you will need to solve in about 45 to 60 minutes. You will also need to code your solution in an online code editor like Coderpad, HackerRank, or even simply in the Google Docs.

You will also need to talk during the whole process and discuss your solution with the interviewer – this also takes practice!

3. Onsite interviews

If you successfully pass one or two online interviews, you are then invited to the onsite interviews that are usually done in person in the office of the company you are applying to.

Onsite interviews usually consist of 3-5 coding and other interviews done on the same day. After that, the company will make a decision whether to hire you or not.

For onsite interviews, you may need to travel to the office of the company that may be in another country or even on another continent. Of course, the company will cover all expenses for you, and help you with visa and other possible issues.

4. Offer and beyond

If you successfully passed all interviews, congratulations! In most cases, this results in a job offer from the company. If you accept it, it's time to settle down all details, fill out all the paperwork, and get excited about your new job!

The best candidates usually pass interviews with several companies at the same time. This way, they increase their chances of getting a good job, and, if they have multiple offers, they can choose the best from them and even negotiate a better compensation (we will talk more about negotiation later).

I would totally suggest to also do this, and interview with multiple companies at the same time. If you are already spending time and energy preparing for the interviews, why not pass as many interviews as possible?

Action Items
1. Answer the following questions:
  • What are the four stages of interviewing?
  • What are online and onsite interviews? What is the difference?
  • Why passing interviews with several companies at the same time makes sense? What is negotiation?
2. Come up with a list of companies you want to apply to.
We will talk more about applying later, but now is a good time to think where you would want to apply if you couldn't fail. Aim high. List the best companies in the world where you would want to work. List 5-10 companies and think why you would want to work there.