Blog Ex Machina

1st day of interviews

September 24, 2021

So today I completed the 1st day of on-site interviews that I had planned for some time now. It went great and I would like to talk about it for me (to remember the feeling and that it is ok and that it's just an interview) and for any lost soul who may have stumbled upon this blog (like, seriously, how did you end up here?). I will not be talking about which specific companies I applied, just a general sense of the interviews.

So I had 2 on-site interviews from 2 different companies in the Silicon Valley, both for full-stack engineer but leaning more towards the front-end; both are full day round of interviews were split off into 2 separate days, interspersed. I am not sure how I got everything to fit exactly how I wanted it to, but I take that as a sign from a hight power (thanks, grandma! 👵🏻).

Anyways, the interviews I had were:

Company A

  1. Values interview
  2. Hiring manager interview
  3. Full-stack craft interview

Company D

  1. Systems design interview
  2. Engineering values

So the neat thing about how these interviews were spread out is that day 1 they both mostly focused on behavioral interviews. I don't have perfcect english, but I thinkg I can have a very fluent conversation while talking about technical achievements.

Next, I am going to add sections with notes or interesting tidbits of the interviews.

Values interview (A)

For this interview I had prepared the night before reading upon the company values of company A and writing some pretty clear examples that applied to my past experiences. I jotted everything down into a table for quick studying. When I started the interview I kept a cheat-sheet about my "key stories" and the good attribute or value they demonstrated. Kind of like a hash map of key-value pairs 🥴. This was so successful that I started out by responding to the first interview question with a pretty clear example of a company value that I liked, why I liked it, and one example of where I demonstrated it.

Overall, this interview went fairly well, I think I came across as confident and I gave our good responses. The feedback I got was positive in my opinion and it did result on some questions from the interviewer which weren't as robotic as those dreaded full run-on sentences questions.

Hiring manager interview (A)

This interview was fairly important, I think even more than the previous one. In this interview I was talking directly to the hiring manager. (All that I am writing next is my opinion) She was basically the manager that handled the team and her opinion really carries weight in the decision. I could be a good fit for the company, but if she does not think I have the qualities for the team that is actually looking for more engineers, I may make the cut for the company but at a later date.

In any case, this interview went very well. I feel like I demonstrated my technical knowledge and good examples of when I applied this knowledge and concrete examples of real work that I have done in the past.

Full-stack craft interview

This interview was a weird one. It was mostly a domain knowledge interview. How muchI know about different topics on the web and how much I know about those topics; breadth and depth. The interviewer told me that I could be forced into a corner and asked about things that I do not quite know, but that that's normal because no one knows everything about everything.

I consider myself fairly knowledgeable, not an expert on everything, but fairly knowledgeable. I got a tip from the recruiting manager about focusing on 2 things that I could signal that I knew very well. One of those things was, I think, HTML. Events, tags, HTMLEvents, etc. One other thing, I think, was in regards to what actually happens when the frontend sends a request to a backend service and how that request can bounce around between various backend microservices until you have an answer to return to the frontend. And the frontend never knows that the backed is cheating on her and talking to someone else behind her back.

I think I could read up more on DNS, because I think I am rusty on my "networks" knowledge (Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away, though).

I am going to cut off this for now and finish it tomorrow, because I need to prepare for frontend systems design interviews.