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Senior Software Design Engineer Interview

Senior Software Design Engineer
Seattle, WA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at in January 2011.

Interview Details – I was contacted by an internal HR Recruiter in December 2010. Since I was on vacation we decided to wait to conduct the phone screen in January.

The phone screen was conducted by an Indian gentleman that had a difficult time with the English language so needless to say the phone screen was a bit difficult to get through. (note: I work with many great people from all nationalities including Eastern Indians. I believe that the interviewer that conducts a phone screen should be able to enunciate and articulate the phone screen clearly).

Questions were pretty straight forward:

1) Reverse a sentence, such that the words are still in the correct ordering.

The sly brown fox -> fox brown sly The (Reverse sentence in place, then reverse words in place)

2) Design a file system. (This one was really difficult to understand what he was talking about, more because his English was difficult to decipher). But I think we got through it in the end.

3) Design a data structure that would have O(1) lookup but was always sorted.

During my investigation of Amazon, I noticed many of the current employees complain of work/life balance and the abundance of micro management. I asked the interviewer about his work/life balance and his answer raised my warning levels a bit more.

"Its not that I work a lot, but I am so intrigued by the products that we are working on that its difficult to pull away when the work day is done."

I wonder if his boss was in the office when he said this.

Nearly a week has passed since the first phone screen and I consider the lack of any kind of acknowledgement semi-unprofessional. They could say at least "Thanks...we will got over your interview feedback and get back to you", or just say whether or not they are moving forward.

I had a chance to talk to a couple of past and currently employees at Amazon and they echoed the same sentiment. That the work/life balance is non-ideal but since the stock continues to rise that employess are able to look past it for now. I wonder what happens if/when the stock drops?

Either way, I think I will pass for now. The company seems fine, the salary seems very competitive but it just doesn't sound worth the hassle.

Interview Questions

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No Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Senior Software Design Engineer Interview

Senior Software Design Engineer
Seattle, WA

I applied through other source and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at in April 2010.

Interview Details – I posted my resume on and one of the recruiters contacted me for a Senior Software Design Engineering position. I've been working in software design industry for a few years and I had prior college internship experience as well. I didn't need the job, but I thought it would be interesting to interview. My skillset is primarily front end web technologies and Java. I proceeded to to discover what the interview process. After reading numerous postings, I saw that works you like a dog and its just not a fun experience, so I had my doubts going into the interview. Reading online, I discovered that has some of the hardest interviews in the world. So I coded up answers to some of the questions to give myself a refresher in algorithms and the skillset they are looking for.

My first round interview ask me some basics of Javascript and Java and then the rest of the interview (30 -40 mins) focused on a single design question. The interviewer was pleasant and steered me in the correct direction so I could answer it properly. This question was about designing a movie services system that involved front end, middleware, and backend technologies. Specifically, they wanted to know how I would implement it and store the data in the backend and some GUI choices up front. This interviewed last for an 1 hour and 15 minutes. Overall, I enjoyed this interview. They contacted me two days later and set up a second interview for the following week.

The second interview was given by someone who clearly had no interest in my joining the company. I think his involvement was more along the lines of his manager saying 'Hey, go interview this guy and see if we want to bring him in' and the employee groaning all the way to the phone. I could hear him typing the responses into a computer after he asked me questions verbatim from his computer screen. He asked questions like 'Why did you contact about this position?' when they clearly contacted me. This guy had no clue.

This interview was completely technical. As I proceeded to answer questions about binary search trees and maps, the interviewer would ask me the run time performance of the algorithms I presented him. Not only was this something I don't do on a daily basis, its something you spend lots of time on in the field tweaking for good performance. He also asked some other questions about palindrome reversal and finding a 3 page sequence for a particular user by parsing a log file. Overall, I was able to answer about 60% of the questions he asked and the others I had good idea how to answer but when pressed for time I couldn't come up with them. This interview lasted 40 mins.

A few days later, I was informed was looking to pursue other candidates of the position.
The second interview is a clear indication that just wants code junkies and they are not looking for the overall person. In my organization, I'm one of the most valued software engineers.

Do not waste your time interviewing, there are better companies.

Interview Questions

  • C++ has the concept of multiple inheritance. Java does not have this concept, how can multiple inheritance be implemented in java?   Answer Question
  • Given a text log of HTTP requests on a particular server, each line has a username and the name of the page the user visited. The pages requests aren't in order and multiple requests from different users are logged in this file non sequentially. Find the most common 3 page sequence for each user.   Answer Question
  • Given a base 2 integer, give me an algorithm for detecting if it is a palindrome. What is the run time performance of this?   View Answer
  • How do you find the least common ancestor of two nodes in a binary search tree? What is the runtime performance of this?   Answer Question
  • What is the same origin policy?   Answer Question

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Easy Interview

Senior Software Design Engineer Interview

Senior Software Design Engineer

The process took 2 weeks - interviewed at in January 2011.

Interview Details – 2 telephonic interviews followed by 6 on-site interviews. Phone interview were cultural fit and technical questions where as onsite was mostly cultural fit.

Interview Questions

Negotiation Details – waiting for offer.

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