The importance of communication in software development is often understated. It is believed that being a skilled communicator is essential only for senior roles. However, communication is a crucial soft skill for software engineers at any level.
FAANG companies are hailed as some of the best tech companies to work for because of their great work cultures. FAANG, and many other leading tech companies, have developed unique company policies to reflect their business ethos and hire and develop talent in line with these policies. Communication often forms a core part of FAANG work cultures.
This is exactly why FAANG interviews place a lot of emphasis on the behavioral round of interviews, where communication is one of the critical skills tested. In this article, we will understand why communication is so crucial by looking at examples of the communication practices and culture at Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. We’ll also see some sample interview questions related to communication and tips on answering them.
- Communication at Facebook (Meta)
- Communication at Apple
- Communication at Amazon
- Communication at Netflix
- Communication at Google
- FAANG Interview Questions Related to Communication
- How to Showcase Effective Communication Skills at an Interview
Communication at Facebook (Meta)
According to Joana L., who leads the Publishing Solutions software engineering team (facebookcareers.com), Facebook has adopted an open-communication culture across the company, globally. Joana believes open communication at Facebook is what fosters success, high productivity, and innovation.
- Communication at Facebook is collaborative, not instructional or authoritarian, allowing members from cross-functional teams to connect easily even if they’ve never met before. When problems are identified, software engineers post them on Facebook’s internal communication tool calling for volunteers to create task forces to resolve them.
- Facebook’s open communication policy encourages constructive feedback to be given directly to enable growth. Ideas are considered with positivity and respect.
- At Facebook, issues like gender bias are acknowledged through open conversations. Open dialogue on issues creates change through resolution.
Communication at Apple
Apple’s work culture is focused on achieving profitability and a growing customer base through innovation, growth through excellence, and customer satisfaction through creativity when designing and developing products.
However, Apple is infamous for its secrecy. An article on cultofmac.com by Tech Insider journalist Alex Heath says Apple tries to maintain and grow its competitive edge and protect intellectual property and trade information.
The article talks about how employees are not allowed to disclose information about the business and its products or internal goings-on to the public. Rumors are not tolerated at Apple.
According to an article on Inc.com written by James Cook on Business Insider:
- Employees are provided with different apps for client communications, device testing, and internal communication. Bugs are filed on Apple’s internal bug-tracker while another app is used to test device components.
- Apple also communicates with its employees through an internal newspaper.
- Email is a popular means of communication for managers, and Apple has an app that notifies employees of emails on their phones.
From discussions on Quora, we gather this culture of secrecy permeates to all engineers working on Apple products. However, although access to information is guarded for secrecy, work is generally carried out in a collaborative manner with peer-provided feedback.
Communication at Amazon
Amazon believes in constructive, candid, mutually respectful communication. Employees can communicate ideas, issues, or provide feedback to supervisors and leaders who are all easily accessible. Amazon employees communicate via voice boards, meetings, and emails. (aboutamazon.com)
A unique aspect of communications at Amazon is the company’s written 6-pager memo or narrative for senior team meetings. Powerpoint presentations are not used at meetings. Instead, a 6-page document outlining ideas or decisions based on evidence and potential benefits is prepared and circulated. This is read by all and discussed at the meeting.
An article in the New York Times talks about how ideas are closely analyzed and provided with direct feedback at meetings. It also mentions how a sense of secrecy of internal work-life is maintained through confidentiality agreements with employees. Amazon’s work culture and, in turn, communication at Amazon, is driven by its 16 Leadership Principles.
Communication at Netflix
At Netflix, employees are encouraged to make independent decisions. Information is communicated openly and deliberately with a wide audience. The Netflix culture memo outlines these aspects of communication at the company:
- Concise, articulate written and verbal communication
- Listening to understand, not respond
- Clarity and calmness
- Flexible communication style
- Timely, candid, constructive feedback
Communication at Google
At Google, employees are encouraged to foster innovation through information sharing as part of the company’s open communication culture. Employees are encouraged to interact during working hours and share ideas.
Google’s “small company family” rapport culture encourages social interaction to improve morale. Google’s employees collaborate through online tools.
Recommended Reading: Google Software Engineer Work-Life Balance
In the next section, we’ll look at some sample FAANG interview questions related to effective communication in software development.
FAANG Interview Questions on Communication Skills for Software Engineers
Tech interviews usually feature a behavioral interview round in which you will be assessed on key interpersonal skills and cultural fit for the company. A key soft skill FAANG and most leading tech interviewers look for is effective communication.
Behavioral interview questions are usually situational questions in which you will have to draw on real-life or contextual circumstances to prove demonstrable skills.
While you may receive direct questions on communication, many interviewers will try to discover your communication skills through indirect questions. Interviewers may test how you communicate decisions, resolve conflicts, interact with team members, handle clients, etc.
You will be assessed based on various principles of effective communication and the company’s cultural requirements through your verbal, non-verbal, and possibly even written communication through your responses.
Below are some sample software engineering communication skills you can be asked at tech interviews:
- Describe yourself
- Describe a crisis that you helped resolve
- Describe a time you missed a deadline. How did you handle it?
- Describe a time you provided or received difficult feedback
- Describe your documentation skills
- Describe your greatest achievement
- Describe a time you helped a colleague succeed
- How would you manage sensitive information?
- How would your past colleagues describe you?
- How do you deal with uncooperative team members?
- How would you simplify a complex problem to someone from a non-technical background?
- Provide an example of when you provided direction on a project or task.
- Rate your listening skills?
- Talk about your favorite project and how you contributed to it
- Tell me about a time when you provided mentorship
- Tell me about a time you had to convince your team about an idea
- Tell me about an instance you got angry at work. What did you do?
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with your manager on a task. How did you address and resolve it?
- Tell me about a time when you had to explain a complex solution to a difficult client? How did you manage their expectations?
- Why should we hire you for this position?
For more behavioral interview questions, read this article.
How to Showcase Effective Communication Skills at a Software Engineering Interview
Besides answering direct behavioral questions, you can showcase your communication skills throughout the interview in various ways. Some key ways to highlight effective communication skills during a software engineering interview are:
- Greet the interviewer well
- Deliver a structured introduction about yourself
- Listen well; understand requirements
- Express solutions clearly, logically, and concisely
- Employ written, verbal, and visual means of communication where possible to enhance your communication
- Answer questions with purpose; don’t ramble or over-communicate
- Speak with confidence and enthusiasm
- Use a respectful tone
- Express positive, controlled body language; ensure eye contact, maintain the right posture, smile appropriately; nod your head
- Ask intelligent, clarifying questions
- Speak to be heard and understood; articulate and talk at the right volume and speed
- Showcase your personality
- Utilize language skills; use correct grammar
- Manage your anxiety and emotions
- Provide examples of demonstrated communication skills at past jobs or on projects
Recommended Reading: How to Communicate Effectively as a Software Engineer
Work on Your Communication Skills and Nail Your Next Tech Interview
Communication is an important skill in the software engineering field to help businesses grow and execute successful software development projects. It is also a crucial behavioral skill to further your career development by landing jobs at top tech companies like FAANG.
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