Cracking senior software engineer interviews at FAANG+ companies requires a well-thought-out and comprehensive prep strategy. With acceptance rates of under 2%, most software engineers who appear for these interviews don’t make the cut. Solving complex senior software engineer interview questions requires a firm hold of programming fundamentals and good domain-related knowledge.
If you’re getting ready for your upcoming senior software engineer interview at a top tech company, this article will take you through the process, some notable tips, and a 2-month study plan. We’ll also look at some sample senior software engineer interview questions asked at interviews.
If you’re a software engineer, coding engineer, software developer, engineering manager, or tech lead preparing for tech interviews, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready!
Having trained over 9,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the most challenging tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have landed lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest-ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $1.267 Million!
"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do."
(Brazilian football (soccer))
At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies. Our reviews will tell you how we’ve shaped the careers of thousands of professionals aspiring to take their careers to new heights.
Want to nail your next tech interview? Sign up for our FREE Webinar.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at the interview process for senior software engineers at FAANG+ companies, popular senior software engineer interview questions, and an ideal 2-month prep plan to crack tech interviews.
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:
- Senior Software Engineer Interview Process at FAANG+ Companies
- Sample Senior Software Engineer Interview Questions
- Interview Prep Plan to Crack Senior Software Engineer Interviews
- Tips to Ace Senior Software Engineer Interviews at Top Companies
- FAQs About Senior Software Engineer Interview Preparation
Senior Software Engineer Interview Process at FAANG+ Companies
The interview process for senior software engineers is built to test one’s ability to solve challenging coding problems and build arbitrary scalable systems. The process consists of three rounds:
Initial Recruiter Screen
This is an informal round where recruiters get in touch with you to understand your interest in the position. They'll ask you basic questions about your skills, experience with past companies, and compensation-related information. If your professional profile is in line with the role's requirements, you’ll be called for the technical phone screen interview.
Technical Phone Screen
This round essentially evaluates your approach to problem-solving. A hiring manager usually conducts this round, and the interview takes place remotely via a remote interviewing tool or a shared document. The idea of this round is to see if you’ve got what it takes to solve tricky problems in core DSA and write error-free code. The technical phone screen typically lasts about 30 minutes. Senior software engineer interview questions in the technical phone screen round are mostly around core DSA and algorithms concepts.
On-site interviews are the real test of your abilities as a programmer. The on-site round typically consists of a coding round, 1-2 design rounds, and 1-2 behavioral rounds for senior software engineers. There’s a greater focus on systems design than coding at on-site interviews for senior software engineers.
Take a look at the five must-have Qualities to Become a Senior Software Engineer.
Interview Prep Plan to Crack Senior Software Engineer Interviews
Your prep plan has to be solid to crack senior software engineer interviews at FAANG+ companies. This 2-month senior software engineer interview prep plan is everything you need to crack interviews at the biggest companies. Let’s go ahead and take a look:
- Spend the first two weeks understanding what areas are tested in your interview. Start with preparing concepts in core data structures. Begin by practicing coding problems in arrays, sorting algorithms, strings, and linked lists.
- Explore online resources for technical interviews and enroll in a good interview prep course to help you prep.
- Solve coding problems in core DSA — practice at least 1-2 problems every day. Categorize problems based on solution patterns and use existing patterns to approach new problems.
- Continue solving 1-2 problems a day and extend your focus to trees, graphs, recursion, hash tables, and dynamic programming.
- Start taking timed tests to get used to an interview-style environment.
- Begin preparing for your systems design interview. Systems Design interviews carry more weight than coding interviews for senior developer positions.
- Start by understanding the design behind popular scalable platforms, and the various elements to consider while building arbitrary systems.
- Brush up on important design concepts such as online processing systems, sharding techniques, file systems, and loading.
- Continue to solve at least one-two problems on core DSA and constantly revise design concepts, including network protocols, API modeling, and concurrency.
- Start practicing mock interviews, as mocks are crucial for building your confidence and understanding the areas where you’re lacking. Interview Kickstart gives you the unique opportunity to practice mocks with industry experts and hiring managers from FAANG companies.
- Prepare domain-specific concepts if you’re appearing for domain interviews.
- Spend time optimizing your LinkedIn profile and resume. Your profile should have the right keyword distribution if you want to land FAANG interviews.
- Practice answers to commonly asked behavioral interview questions, as behavioral interviews are a super-important part of the hiring process for senior software engineers.
Sample Senior Software Engineer Interview Questions
In this section, we’ll look at some sample senior software engineer interview questions. Practicing these questions will help you ace your tech interview. We’ll look at senior software engineer interview questions on coding, distributed systems design, and behavioral psychology.
Senior Software Engineer Interview Questions on Coding
Before we look at sample senior software engineer interview questions on coding, here are the important coding concepts you should prepare:
- Arrays, strings, and linked lists
- Trees and graphs
- Sorting algorithms — quicksort, merge sort, heap sort, etc.
- Dynamic programming
- Graph algorithms, including greedy algorithms
Below are some sample senior software engineer interview questions on coding:
- For a given rotated array that is sorted, write a program code to find a particular element in the array.
- Write a program to check if a binary tree is a valid binary search tree.
- Write a program to find if the permutation of a string (given) is a palindrome or not.
- Write an error-free program to check if a given binary tree is balanced or not.
- You are provided with a string in the form of a sentence. Write a program to display the characters of the string in reverse order.
- For an array of integers and unique values, write a program code to decipher if the sum of any two integers in the array is equal to a given value.
- For a given two-dimensional array with integers of unique values, write a program to make the entire column or row of the array zero if any element in the array is zero.
- You are given two linked lists. Each of the linked lists has an integer value. Write a program to add the two linked lists and return the value of their sum.
- You’re given the root of a binary tree. Write a code to show the node values at every level.
- For a given binary search tree where two nodes of the tree are swapped, write a program to correct the binary search tree.
For more interview problems, visit our Problems Page.
Senior Software Engineer Interview Questions on Distributed Systems Design
Systems design concepts are essential for senior developer interviews. Below are the important systems design topics to prepare for the interview:
- Systems design case studies
- Sharding Techniques
- Network Protocols
- Database management
- Scalable systems
- API modeling
- Servers and maintenance
Below are some sample senior software engineer interview questions on distributed systems design.
- How would you go about designing a proximity server?
- Explain how you’d go about designing a chatbot service that provides users with notifications while also allowing them to interact with the AI unit?
- How would you design a platform like Uber?
- How would you go about setting up security for multiple servers?
- How would you perform API modeling while handling multiple remote servers and systems?
- How would you go about designing a platform like Instagram?
- How do you design a shared drive on the cloud?
Senior Software Engineer Interview Questions on Behavioral Psychology
Behavioral interviews are crucial in the hiring process, especially for senior developers and managerial positions. Here are some sample senior software engineer interview questions on behavioral psychology asked at FAANG+ interviews.
- Tell us about a time when you had to impart crucial learnings to junior team members.
- Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your superior on the direction an important project was taking.
- How do you manage stress at work?
- How do you ensure to maintain a good work-life balance?
- Tell us about the most challenging project you’ve worked on? What did it teach you?
Practicing these senior software engineer interview questions will help you get ahead of the competition and ace your senior software engineer interview.
Tips to Ace Senior Software Engineer Interview at Top Companies
Here, we’ll look at some noteworthy tips to help you nail your senior software engineer interview.
- Start your prep early. Spend at least 2 months preparing and revising important coding and systems design concepts.
- Focus more on systems design concepts, as companies give more weight to design interviews for senior developer positions.
- Practice dedicatedly for the behavioral and leadership interview. Spend at least one week preparing answers to common behavioral interview questions.
- Identify patterns in problems that you solve. That way, you can solve complex senior software engineer interview questions on coding by applying analogous patterns.
- Practice mock interviews with industry experts and FAANG hiring managers.
- Think out loud during the interview and articulate your thoughts clearly.
- Enroll in a good interview prep course that will give you the proper insight and guidance to ace technical interviews.
- Update your LinkedIn profile and resume to contain all the necessary information. Make sure your LinkedIn profile has the right keywords in the right places so that recruiters don’t have trouble locating your profile while searching for suitable candidates.
FAQs About Senior Software Engineer Interview Preparation
Q1. How many rounds do technical interviews for senior software engineers consist of?
Technical interviews for senior software engineers typically consist of an Initial Recruiter Screen, a Technical Phone Screen Round, and the On-site interview. An on-site round consists of a coding round, 1-2 design rounds, and 1-2 leadership interviews.
Q2. What coding concepts should you prepare to solve senior software engineer interview questions at FAANG+ interviews?
The important coding concepts that you should prepare for senior software engineer interviews are - Graphs, Trees, Greedy Algorithms, Arrays, Recursion, Sorting Algorithms, Hash Tables, and Dynamic Programming.
Q3. What important design concepts can you expect in senior software engineer interview questions?
As part of your preparation, the essential design concepts you should cover include sharding techniques, systems design case studies, loading, caching, network protocols, databases, servers, concurrency, and API modeling.
Q4. How many design rounds do senior software engineering interviews have?
Interviews for senior software engineers typically have one or two rounds in distributed systems design during the On-site interview.
Q5. How many years of experience do you need to apply for senior software engineering positions at FAANG companies?
To apply for senior software engineering positions at FAANG companies, you should have at least five years of experience as a developer or software engineer.
Gear Up for Your Next Senior Software Engineer Interview
Are you getting ready for an upcoming technical interview? Register for our technical interview webinar.
At Interview Kickstart, we’ve trained over 9,000 engineers to land lucrative offers at the biggest tech companies. Our instructors, who are FAANG hiring managers, know what it takes to nail tough tech interviews at top technology companies.
Register for our FREE webinar to learn more.