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Airbnb Interview Process for Software Engineers - Interview Rounds, Questions, and Prep Tips

Airbnb has a significantly challenging interview process for software engineers. The questions asked typically include coding and scalable design problems. Recruiters evaluate your problem-solving and analytical thinking skills and key behavioral and leadership attributes before making an offer. Being fundamentally strong in core data structures and algorithms, brute forcing solutions, writing error-free code, and building arbitrary systems will help you get through the Airbnb interview process.

Although there are vacancies throughout the year, Airbnb only accepts a handful of engineers from thousands of applicants. Cracking the Airbnb interview process and landing an offer will require a foolproof prep strategy and diligent effort.

This article will provide you with an overview of the Airbnb interview process for software engineers and developers. You can ace the interview rounds and land a $100k+ tech job by understanding what areas to focus on and implementing a strategy that covers all the necessary elements. Airbnb's average software engineer salary is $149,160 per year, more than 50% higher than the national average.

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready!

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In this post, we’ll look at the Airbnb interview process for software engineers. We’ll also look at some commonly-asked Airbnb interview questions and some good tips to adopt while preparing and going through your interview.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:

  • Airbnb Interview Process for Software Engineers
  • Airbnb Interview Questions for Software Engineers
  • Prep Tips to Crack the Airbnb Interview Process
  • FAQs on the Airbnb Interview Process

Airbnb Software Engineer Interview Process

The Airbnb interview process is symbolic of its four core cultural values. These values, along with symbolizing the company’s mission, also define the employee culture at Airbnb.

  • Championing the mission: To create a world where everyone belongs everywhere
  • Be a Host: Be caring, encouraging and everyone you work with
  • Embrace the adventure: Be curious, optimistic, and driven to grow
  • Be a cereal entrepreneur: Bring forth bold ideas to transform how the world travels

The interview process consists of three main stages:

The Recruiter Screen

The recruiter screen is an informal interview that lasts about 15-20 minutes. The primary purpose of this round is to help recruiters understand if your professional skills, qualifications, and experience meet the expectations of the role.

Below are some questions you can expect at Airbnb’s recruiter screen:

  1. How many years of experience do you have as a software engineer/developer/architect?
  2. Do you know how to use these front-end/back-end tools?
  3. Tell me about a challenging project that you worked on.
  4. Why do you want to join Airbnb?
  5. What are your expectations from the role?

After the recruiter screen, the next step in the process is the technical screen which is built to evaluate the depth of your problem-solving skills.

Want to know how much an SWE earns at Airbnb? Check our blog on Airbnb Software Engineer Salary at Different Levels.

Technical Screen/Coding Assessment

The technical screen at Airbnb is highly focused on coding problems around core Data Structures and Algorithms. This round aims to evaluate your coding and analytical skills and your general approach to problem-solving. You're usually asked to write code via an interviewing tool or a shared platform and run the code. Depending on the position you're applying to, your interview can be either remote or in-person.

The technical screen interviews last about 30-45 minutes. You’re typically asked to solve 1-2 problems in core data structures and algorithms. After you’re presented with the problem(s), recruiters will ask you to brute force your solution and account for Big-O complexities. The approach you take and the various solution angles you present are key areas that are assessed. After you brute force your solutions, you’re asked to write code via the remote interviewing tool and run it.

The technical screen is a significantly challenging round designed to filter-in strong programmers and coders.

To ace the technical screen at Airbnb, you need to be thorough with the following concepts:

If you clear the technical screen, you’re invited to the on-site interview, where you go through coding, design, and behavioral interviews.

On-site Interview

The On-site interview is a grueling one consisting of 4-5 rounds, each spanning 45-60 minutes. These rounds include 1-2 coding rounds, 1-2 design rounds, and a behavioral/cultural interview. 

Coding Rounds at the On-site Interview

We’ve already covered the important coding topics to prepare. Coding rounds at the on-site interview also revolve around the same coding concepts mentioned earlier (core Data structures and Algorithms). 

Airbnb Coding Interview Questions

  1. Write a program to find the kth smallest element in an array.
  2. Write a program to reverse the characters in a String.
  3. Write a program to find the shortest path and strongly connected elements in a directed graph.
  4. Write a program to print the left view of a binary search tree.
  5. Design an iterator to flatten a 2D vector. It should support next and hasNext operations. 

For more coding questions, check out our Problems Page and get exclusive access to the most optimal solutions to popular coding problems.

Systems Design Rounds at the On-site Interview

Systems design interviews are an essential component of the Airbnb interview process. These interviews fundamentally evaluate your knowledge of core design principles, building scalable systems, and networks and databases.

For your reference, below are the important topics you should be thorough with to sail through the design rounds in the Airbnb interview process.

  • Concurrency
  • Object Modeling
  • API Modeling
  • SQL and databases
  • Network systems
  • Sharding techniques
  • Caching and loading
  • Systems Design case studies

These topics cover both High-Level and Low-Level design elements of technical interviews. For senior positions at Airbnb, technical interviews predominantly focus on HLD concepts.

We’ve listed a few systems design questions asked at the Airbnb interview. These questions are based on both Low-Level and High-Level Design concepts.

Learn How to Crack a System Design Interview here.

Airbnb Systems Design Interview Questions

  1. What elements will you consider while building a scalable system application?
  2. How will you ensure that the latency in your system is low while scaling it?
  3. How will you ensure that the payment gateway on the Airbnb website is secure?
  4. How would you build a chatbot service for the Airbnb platform?
  5. Explain the design aspects to consider while building a scalable mobile application.

For more interview questions specific to Airbnb, check these Airbnb Interview Questions

The Behavioral Round

Behavioral/cultural interviews are mainly focused on understanding specific attributes of your behavior and psychology. Recruiters/hiring managers do this through questions about workplace conduct, situations, professional challenges, work-life balance, etc.

Also known as the HR round, the Airbnb behavioral interview is usually conducted by a hiring panel comprising 3 to 4 members.

Here are some behavioral questions asked at the Airbnb cultural/behavioral interview:

Airbnb Behavioral and Cultural Interview Questions

  1. Tell us about a time when you failed.
  2. Tell us about your learnings from the most challenging project you worked on.
  3. How do you think Airbnb will help you advance your career?
  4. Tell us about a time when you disagreed on the course of a project with a senior.
  5. Tell us about when you had to adapt to a new role.

Behavioral interviews are more important for senior and managerial positions at Airbnb.

For more practice on behavioral interview questions, read our blog on Behavioral Interview Questions for Software Engineers and Developers.

Prep Tips to Crack the Airbnb Interview Process

To ace the Airbnb interview, adopting a good strategy is key. There are various elements to a good strategy. That’s exactly what we’ll discuss here.

Below are some important tips for your prep strategy.

  • Start early. Technical interviews have a lot of topics to cover, so make sure you start at least 10 weeks before to give yourself the best chance. 
  • Identify patterns when you solve problems and classify problems that have similar solution patterns. That way, you can use similar patterns to solve new problems.
  • Solve at least 1 to 2 problems in core data structures and algorithms daily. 
  • Spend at least 2 weeks prepping systems design topics.
  • Spend at least a week practicing answers to behavioral questions.
  • Understand how remote interviewing tools work, as you might have to go through 2 or 3 remote coding interviews. 
  • Practice mock interviews with experts who can help you gain an edge. 
  • Create a good project portfolio to set yourself apart from the competition.

FAQs on the Airbnb Interview Process

Q1. What is the average Airbnb software engineer salary in the US?

The average Airbnb software engineer salary in the US is $149,160 per year.

Q2. How many rounds of interviews does the Airbnb interview process have?

The Airbnb interview process typically consists of 3 rounds - i) The Initial Recruiter Screen - an informal discussion with the recruiter on your experience and skills, ii) The Technical Screen - a coding assessment round, and iii) The On-site Interview - Four to five interviews focused on coding, systems design (LLD and HLD) and behavioral/cultural aspects.

Q3. What is unique about Airbnb’s interview process?

Airbnb’s interview process is based on the company’s core values, which include - Championing the Mission, Be a Host, Embrace the Adventure, and Be a Cereal Entrepreneur.

Q4. Does the Airbnb interview process for software engineers have behavioral interviews?

Yes, behavioral/culture interviews are an important part of the Airbnb interview process. These interviews typically take place during the on-site interview, where recruiters evaluate your responses to workplace situations, professional challenges, important projects you worked on in the past, and work-life balance.

Q5. What qualifications and skills are required to apply for a software engineering position at Airbnb?

The qualifications required to apply for a software engineering role at Airbnb are i) A Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or IT ii) Strong programming skills, preferably an Object Oriented Programming Language iii) String Systems Design and Coding Skills iv) Knowledge of programming tools (specific to the role/position).

Get Ready for Your Next Technical Interview

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