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UpLevel MicroClass Highlights: How FAANG Companies Grade Algorithms Interviews

Posted on 
Vartika Rai


On Sunday morning, we kicked off our MicroClass series with Founder Soham Mehta guiding out attendees through how technical interviews are graded from a hiring manager’s perspective.

Over 50 attendees tuned in for an interactive session to learn about the problem-solving bar at top-tier companies and the qualities behind the different kinds of answers to different grades given out.

We’d like to extend our appreciation for those who tuned in. It was a pleasure to interact with everyone from picking questions from the Q&A chat to being directly involved with solving an algorithmic problem with Soham.

Below you will find a recap of some highlights from our first-ever MicroClass with everyone!

Here's what we’ll take you through:

1. Top 5 Recap

  • 1.1. “The Why” Behind On-Site Technical Interviews
  • 1.2. The Investment of Technical Interviews
  • 1.3. Determining One Candidate over Another
  • 1.4. A Common Interview Grading Scale
  • 1.5. So, it's a Date!

2. Five Insightful Questions from Attendees

3. Final Remarks

Top 5 Recap

1. “The Why” Behind On-Site Technical Interviews

Hiring managers want to see your thought process in action. They want to witness how you think and feel when you are challenged by a technical interview question.

2. The Investment of Technical Interviews

Each technical interview consists of: a technical phone screen, finding an interviewer, time to construct feedback, availability to schedule all the interviews onsite, and deciding the panelists of interviewers for the candidates.

The higher the level you apply for, the more expensive the interview is because they will always hire an interviewer who is at a higher level than the applied position.

Overall, it depends on the position applied for at the company. 

3. Determining One Candidate Over Another

A grading scale is used. Every company works with a SWORD grading rubric for every interview.

The moment an interviewer exits the call, they give you a grade. They will never reveal the grade to you because it is highly confidential. The interviewer can give you feedback, but that’s about it.

For example, LinkedIn uses a 10-point grading scale while Google uses a 5-point grading scale.

4. A Common Interview Grading Scale

1 - “You are not in contention to be hired.”

2 - “Better, but not quite there to be hired”

2+ - “I admire your effort.”

3 - “Good enough, checked the qualification boxes.”

4 - “Inspirational! When can you start?”

If you receive a 3 or 4, you will get hired!

The process is laid out as:

  1. Interviewers discuss your performance
  2. Everyone puts up their numbers.
  3. IF someone gives you a number lower than a 3, there will be a debate or discussion. This can be a long discussion.
  4. For example, Soham referenced a candidate’s behind-the-scenes evaluation that lasted an hour and a half.
  5. If an interviewer gives you a 4, they will defend you. Any number otherwise, they won’t.
5. So, it's a Date!

When approaching a technical interview question, think of it as a date more than a test. 

Walk the interviewer through the problem as you solve it by explaining your thought-process behind the steps you take. 

Be sure to always ask clarifying questions. If you don’t, you are most likely going to be graded a 1 or 2. You want to erase any ambiguity in the problem and solve it with all the necessary information at your disposal.

5 Insightful Questions from Attendees

1. “Does the evaluation differ at F/G from Microsoft and Amazon, as I see they are more competitive?”

Soham: Yes, but don’t think too much of this. Facebook expects you to write fast code. Google expects a mature thought process. The only thing in your hand is to practice.

2. “In online interviews, is it OK to repeat the question and make sure we actually understand it?”

Soham: Yes, that is fine. That is a normal conversation. Don’t overthink it.

3. “Is there such a thing as too many questions? Should you assume some things and tell them that you are assuming some things?”

Soham: Yes. For some obvious things, you can just assume them. 

4. “Do you have any suggestions for language preference for solving coding? In my day job, I use Java, but people say its better to do LeetCode and interview problems in Python.”

Soham: If you have a few years of experience in Java, stick with it. Python may be easier for people who don’t know the languages, but it takes a while to become a master of it. Java is a master-class language still, so no need to worry. 

5. “Do you agree that getting positive feedback is less likely when you have not seen a similar problem given that you have less than 20 min. E.g. Clone linked list with random ptr with 0(1) space complexity. I came up with a hash map solution with clean code but extra space still failed.”

Soham: Yes, you don’t have to see the exact problem. Practice enough so that you have the proper patterns loaded into your head. It is honestly very rare to get the exact same problems during an interview.

Final Remarks

IK founder, Soham Mehta, wanted to instill in everyone the knowledge behind the interview grading process from this interactive virtual session.

If there is one major key point that Soham wanted everyone to take to heart, it is that you want to clearly demonstrate your thought process as much as possible for the interviewer during these onsite technical interviews.

We wish you the best in your future endeavors and thank you once again for sticking to the very end to read about our first MicroClass!

Visit our social media below to sign up for our upcoming UpLevel MicroClasses! Limited seating available.



Last updated on: 
August 8, 2023

Vartika Rai

Product Manager at Interview Kickstart | Ex-Microsoft | IIIT Hyderabad | ML/Data Science Enthusiast. Working with industry experts to help working professionals successfully prepare and ace interviews at FAANG+ and top tech companies

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