I’ll lead with this: I’m a straight white guy with a neutral-American accent and US citizenship, so I have a lot of unfair advantages in life that not everyone is lucky enough to get.
Blind was a big part of what inspired me to seek out higher compensation and gave me confidence in my negotiation, so thank you! This is me trying to give a little bit back to the community. I’m not looking for input, per se, as I’ve already accepted an offer to work at IMDb/Amazon.
I spent about 3 months studying in preparation for these interviews. It was about 20 hours a week (0-4 hours per day) and I was pretty consistent in my time investment. 85% of my time was spent on DS/A, either via Leetcode or EPI. 10% of my time was spent on system design, and 5% on rehearsing behavioral questions with friends.
Elements of Programming Interviews - I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough. I credit it as the biggest cause of my success on the algorithm interviews. I read every chapter (not in order) and solved every problem presented as part of those chapters. I did not solve any ‘ninja’ problems at the back of the book.
Leetcode – In addition to the EPI problems, I solved 67 Leetcode problems. I did these problems in parallel with my EPI readings, picking problems based on tags. 6 hard, 23 medium, 38 easy. If I ever failed to solve a problem, I would invest hours ensuring that I fully understood the problem and solutions approach. I did that via Leetcode discussions, YouTube videos, and random articles. Then I would complete that problem before moving on.
System Design – I already do a decent amount of this at my current job, so I didn’t have to invest a lot of time into this. I used the free, YouTube version of “Grokking the system design interview”. And I occasionally followed some ‘related video’ links if there was a technology I wasn’t familiar with.
As part of my prep phase, I took 2 weeks PTO in August and planned to fill that with back-to-back onsite interviews. This also kept my lazy ass motivated to keep to my study plan, because there was a tangible deadline.
About a month before my on-site block, I starting applying for companies via their website. Simultaneously, I sent a quick message to a Seattle-area recruiter for each company and mentioned that I had just applied online and wanted to reach out to them. This really helped because a lot of companies auto-rejected me due to keyword filters(?), but the recruiters that responded were able to pull my resume out of the trash and move me forward!
I was ghosted by: Lyft, Facebook, Tableau, and Dropbox.
Insta-rejected by: AirBnB, Zillow, Nordstrom, Splunk
Withdrew my application after the phone screen. Their interviewer was really, really bad at interviewing. The questions were too easy, technology-specific, and it felt like the interviewer was making it up as he went along (and this guy was a Principle MTS!!). To their credit, the recruiter seemed to take it seriously when I cited this as my reason for withdrawal.
Fuck Disney. It took 4 weeks from the time of on-site to getting a response from them because their hiring manager was on vacation (why even schedule me…?). Additionally, they contacted my current company before even making an offer!!! WTF. They ended up rejecting me because they got mixed feedback from the toxic team I’m leaving, despite “stellar feedback” from the on-site, according to the recruiter (well before the rejection). Because of that, my team and manager knew I was interviewing after I got back from PTO.
Passed the phone screen. It was a pretty difficult question. I eventually decided I didn’t want to leave Seattle, so I cancelled the on-site.
The interview process was pretty arduous, and I didn’t really like it. 1 hour HR phone screen, 1 hour manager phone screen, 3 hour take home project (more on this later), 1 more hour manager phone screen, all-day on-site. The take-home project seemed pretty big considering a hard 3 hour deadline. I was told I would complete the project, then get on a call with an engineer or manager to discuss my decisions and trade-offs, but that turned out to be a lie. I was rejected (by that team) with the feedback ‘not senior enough.’ The recruiter sent that project around to other teams and eventually found one that liked it. I talked to that new manager and had an on-site. Offer below.
I was surprised with how interesting and competent this team felt. The interview process was pretty standard, and the questions were Leetcode easy. Offer below.
I bombed the online test because I didn’t memorize the syntax for sorting based on two fields. Oh well.
Standard interview process. Team seemed pretty cool. Offer below.
I was initially opposed to Amazon due to WLB issues and overall culture, but I managed to find a team that seems really healthy and interesting (IMDb). Their online editor for the code screen is the worst I’ve ever used. The on-site DS/A questions were somewhat easy, and half of each interview was based on the leadership principles. Offer below.
Fairly standard interview process and I enjoyed meeting the team. Offer below.
I passed the phone screen, but the team I was interviewing for moved to Boulder, CO mid-interview-process and I didn’t want to relocate. I had to withdraw my application due to time constraints with other companies.
Passed phone screen, but they ended up having no headcount available for Seattle, so I can’t move forward unless I want to relocate to the Bay Area.
An arrow “->” denotes negotiation. I just used the standard negotiation tactic of not giving a number first. From there, it was just bidding companies up since I had multiple competing offers.
Zulily: SDE II @ 184k
Salesforce (Bellevue): MTS @ ~170k -> SMTS @ 236k -> SMTS @ 267k
Qualtrics: SDE II @ 198k w/ 20k sign-on
Amazon/IMDb: L5 @ 226k -> L5 @ 261k
[Amazon breakdown]: 160k base, 115 RSUs (212k vests 5/15/40/40), sign-on of 101k year 1 & 78k year 2
Pinterest: SDE II @ 247k
I accepted the offer to work at Amazon/IMDb. I was really impressed with the team’s enthusiasm during the on-site, and I feel like it’s a super healthy part of Amazon, culture-wise.
My Expedia TC was 140k as an SDE II.
I’m happy to answer any specific questions, but I’ll probably respond slowly.