Tech employees from the biggest companies talk candid about their firms

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We recently used Rooftop Slushie to interview senior tech employees at Google, Facebook, Amazon and Uber who are heavily involved with the hiring process. This information has been featured on the front page of Hacker News, Indeed and Dev.to.

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Hiring managers at top tech employees share how to answer common behavioral interview questions

Tell me about a project you worked on

For all significant projects you’ve worked on, explicitly highlight what YOU contributed, and what you built, even if it was as part of a team. We want to understand YOUR contributions, and what value you delivered to the project. Have concrete metrics, understanding of the timelines involved, as well as trade-offs made. The best answers also reflect what you could have done differently to better improve the outcome of the project.

— sHvN64, Senior Software Engineer at Uber

Make sure you focus on what the challenges were, and how you overcome the challenges. The tricky part is to describe your project in such a way that is easy to follow and at the same time sounds complex enough. My personal experience is, many candidates’ challenges were either hard to follow or did not sound challenging enough. Give enough context and avoid acronyms—the hiring manager may not be an expert in the area of your project! In the end, talk about what your takeaway is. What did you learn from the experience?

— Max, Software Engineer at Google

What should tech employees do when they disagree with their boss?

Use data to win arguments. Can you tell a story about using product data to bring objective data to a subjective debate?

Express empathy. Good answers will sound more like ‘I think doing it this way is more in-line with our goals, and here’s why’, and less like ‘I think you’re wrong and that’s a bad idea.’

Highlight that debate and disagreement is healthy and improve teams. Of course there is a healthy debate and unhealthy debate. Make it really clear that you use disagreements as an opportunity to learn OR influence others, not to win arguments.

Step back and understand everyone’s point of view. Perhaps there’s a good reason for the disagreement that you can learn from. Maybe there are other factors worth considering. This will help take some of the emotion out of the conversation and bring you back to a rational place.

— Dios, Engineering Manager at Facebook

This is a time to show how you are able to resolve conflicts at work and drive consensus with someone who is a power figure. To answer this question, you should first set the context on (1) what you disagreed with your manager’s position, (2) how you didn’t confront immediately and rather took a small pilot test to verify your hypothesis and (3) how you used data to convince them that your idea’s worth exploring.

For example, the manager says to focus on sales and acquisition of new customers when you want to woo existing customers as well. You notice an attrition of customers after the first few days, so you try an experiment to engage the existing customer base through product feature emails. You observe that these customers have a much higher retention and revenue in the long run. Ultimately, this allows you to convince your manager that the strategy should focus on both acquisition as well as engagement.

— A, Product Leader at Amazon

Why do you want to come to our company?

The one thing that you need to show is how much you know about the company. A lot of times, managers ask this to gauge the interest of a candidate. If a candidate is highly interested in the company, the person should know a lot about what the company does and the latest news of the company. Make sure you read through the company’s website, social media page and blogs. You can pick certain examples from what you read and expand around those examples.

— Max, Software Engineer at Google

Aim to have a specific and rehearsed answer. What about our company uniquely and specifically interests you? Are we using a cool piece of technology at scale? Building a product that you care about better than anybody else?

— Dios, Engineering Manager at Facebook

Why do you want to leave your company?

My strategy to answer this question is always very simple: stay positive and avoid the negative. I tell them that I do not want to leave my current company as I am enjoying my job a lot. Having said that, I am keen to learn more about the bigger scope, higher complexity and the interesting challenges in the role offered by the other company. I always mention my excitement after reading the job description, how it felt like a great next step in my career and how I am using the interview opportunity to better understand the details. Finally, even if there are other genuine reasons to make the switch (higher pay, better location, etc.), this is not the right time to mention them.

— A, Product Leader at Amazon

What's your weakness?

You need to pick just one weakness, and when thinking about your answer, keep in mind these two overarching principles: (1) Your weakness is fixable and you need to let the manager know that you know how and are actively working on improvement. (2) Your weakness should hint about your strength. Weakness does not necessarily mean you are not good, it can be because you are so good at something at the expense of another, which is your weakness. Simple examples: productivity vs. quality; great team player vs. speaking up.

— Max, Software Engineer at Google



About the Author

Jacob Wolinsky
Jacob Wolinsky is the founder of ValueWalk.com, a popular value investing and hedge fund focused investment website. Prior to ValueWalk, Jacob was VP of Business Development at SumZero. Prior to SumZero, Jacob worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, followed by a stint at a smid cap focused research shop. Jacob lives with his wife and four kids in Passaic NJ. - Email: jacob(at)valuewalk.com - Twitter username: JacobWolinsky - Full Disclosure: I do not purchase any equities anymore to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and because at times I may receive grey areas of insider information. I have a few existing holdings from years ago, but I have sold off most of the equities and now only purchase mutual funds and some ETFs. I also own a few grams of Gold and Silver