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MongoDB Solutions Architect (Customer-facing) Interview Questions & Reviews

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Solutions Architect (Customer-facing) Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
Palo Alto, CA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at MongoDB in April 2012.

Interview Details – TLDR: product & company seem like a classic example of a solution in search of a problem. Probably an OK place to be a pure developer, but not a good place for customer-facing roles. Interviewers didn't seem to understand the difference between a software engineer and a solution architect.

Details: I hadn't really been looking around, but one of their in-house recruiters reached out to me initially, and after checking around a bit I connected with him and we had an email/phone discussion. At that stage it sounded interesting enough that I subsequently invested an afternoon in meeting some of them in-person. It turned out to be a rather complete non-match from both our perspectives; I was not interested in receiving an offer and they were not interested in extending one.

The recruiter and the HR executive I met were both pleasant and personable--people I'd hire for my own company, in both cases--but the rest of the staff I spoke to seemed rather arrogant and insecure. Mean-spirited, as an earlier reviewer commented here. I had to bite my tongue when one manager said they were staffing up on customer-facing folks because they were "ready to take on Oracle." Most of their interview questions were more appropriate for core developers than solution architects: all about algorithms, nothing about scaling, implementation, or other real-world issues. Nor did anyone seem to care about actual customer-interaction skills.

I asked one of the interviewers whether she knew anything about an old programming language called COBOL, and what kinds of data access methods were used back in the 1960's...after all, mongodb is essentially a re-invention of ISAM-style access methods for javascript and other modern languages. Surprisingly, she had zero clue what I was talking about. More generally, no one with whom I spoke seemed to understand the difference between offline data mining types of applications and online transaction handling applications, and the different requirements of the two worlds.

To the recruiter's credit, he reconnected with me less than 48 hours later, and we agreed that it wasn't a match.

Interview Question – Not difficult, per se, but unexpected: one interviewer asked me to name several different sorting algorithms and rank them by their computational complexity. Unexpected because I've never had such a discussion with a customer, no matter how technical; the question would have been more appropriate for an engineer being hired into their kernel group but the interviewers didn't seem to know the difference.   View Answer

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