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Why Are Tech Interviews at FAANG Companies So Difficult?

Posted on 
August 26, 2020
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart

Technical interviews at FAANG companies are designed to be extremely hard because the cost of hiring a lousy engineer is significantly higher than the cost of rejecting an excellent one. 

Hence, organizations are incentivized to set a high bar. And for most companies, that means setting a more rigorous screening process and asking tough questions. 

“Amazon's hiring process is notoriously difficult. The company believes that every new employee should increase the average level of productivity in whichever team they join, ensuring that the company’s standards get higher and higher as time goes on.”

Source: Business Insider


Fundamentally, three factors make technical interviews extremely difficult.

  1. Problem-solving abilities

Organizations are constantly on the lookout for great problem solvers. This is why technical interviews, especially at FAANG companies, are getting incredibly difficult day by day. FAANG interviews need dedicated preparation that involves covering a wide spectrum of topics in core technical areas such as data structures and algorithms. Other common and equally important areas that require significant attention include systems design, dynamic programming, recursion, as well as career skills. 

One can expect questions such as:

  • Explain the process involved in designing a full-fledged API rate limiter.
  • Write a code to find the longest path in a given matrix m*n, where all the values in the matrix are unique. The path should be such that the cells should appear in ascending order.

If you look closely, these questions go beyond your day-to-day responsibilities. However, companies ask you these questions because they want to check your core problem-solving skills. 

Organizations test for problem-solving skills for three main reasons: 

  • Candidates who’re good problem solvers can offer solutions to complex, data-heavy problems that require an innovative approach to solve.
  • Problem-solving has historically been employed to create a proven-and-tested approach to identify genius programmers.
  • Technology is changing continually. It changes so fast that today’s tech stack is tomorrow’s legacy system, and thus companies will expect you to pick up things as you move along.

Devoting adequate time and practice to problem-solving will help you identify patterns in complex coding questions and solve problems you haven’t seen before. 

This is what top companies are looking for in candidates. Assess your capabilities. Check if you have your core fundamentals in place, which you would need to be able to become a good problem-solver. 

  1. Time management

The second factor that makes these interviews difficult is time management. In a typical technical interview, you will be required to solve two coding questions in 45 mins. 

Not only do you go through the pressure of solving these difficult questions, but you also need to solve them at great speed. If time runs out, you fail. 

Given these timelines, the only way you can solve questions fast is if you understand the mechanics and you’ve practiced them enough. So take your time to prepare. 


  1. Career skills

Career Skills is a combination of your technical skills, knowledge, and experience that you need to efficiently perform the tasks that are part of your job. 

They will determine your success in decision making, influencing others, and getting the job done (well). Usually, interviewers scrutinize your communication skills and your operating style. 

Sometimes, questions related to career-skills can get extremely tricky. Hence, you need to realize that technical interviewing is a skill set that one needs to build up and is completely different from the skill sets that you are working on. 

To sum it up...

Most engineers often face a challenge because there is no definite guide on how major organizations set up technical interviews. It’s unclear whether one should prepare by focusing on specific projects or memorizing many different topics. While tech interviews are hard, they can definitely be nailed. At Interview Kickstart, engineers are taught to succeed at even the most challenging interviews at top tech companies. 

Although it appears companies compile a standardized list of interview questions, companies are actually constantly updating the questions they ask at interviews depending on the role they are interviewing for. 

By mastering patterns, which largely focus on logic and problem-solving, candidates can apply their knowledge to a wide range of topics. This puts them more in control of the entire interview process by eliminating uncertainty to a large extent.

Get started with your tech interview prep by signing up for our free webinar today.


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