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Zynga Principal Software Engineer Interview Questions & Reviews

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Declined Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Principal Software Engineer Interview

Principal Software Engineer
San Francisco, CA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 1+ week - interviewed at Zynga in April 2012.

Interview Details – Zynga has a great interview culture - one of the best I've ever been exposed to. Things started with a call from an internal recruiter, who had been poked by a friend of mine. He arranged a phone screen, which served as a poseur filter ("Reverse a linked list!", "DFS a tree!"), and was efficiently conducted. I was brought in just a few days later for in-person interviews, which worked through issues at the operational ("How would you handle proactive hardware provisioning for a giant web application?"), strategic ("Sketch a million-user presence system!"), and tactical ("Implement a distributed hash table!") levels. Every interviewer was on-time and showed evidence of having read my resume and thought it through. That level of preparation warmed my heart, since I had been the "tech interview guy" for years at a previous employer, and finally got a little karmic reward.

Interview Questions

  • How would you proactively provision hardware for a large LAMP application? Discuss monitoring, cost planning, and how you'd estimate the marginal value.   Answer Question
  • Suppose you need a chat system with 10M concurrent users, with a dense adjacency matrix. How would you implement a presence and chat system that scales to that kind of user base? Discuss tradeoffs among reliability, complexity, latency, and cost.   Answer Question
  • Implement a distributed hash table. Discuss how it will scale horizontally, how it might implement redundancy, and what kind of reliability guarantees it can make.   Answer Question

Reason for Declining – It wasn't my best offer, in money terms, and I wound up with a more technically challenging position elsewhere, with the only company that did a better interview process.

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Principal Software Engineer Interview

Principal Software Engineer
Seattle, WA

The process took a day - interviewed at Zynga in March 2011.

Interview Details – Standard stuff. prelim screening, then on-site - 4-5 1hr interviews.

You gotta be good at interviews. Wrote a hashtable implementation on the board (can you code).

Solved a few distributed systems problems - bank of webservers, tiers of caching, dealing with connection fan-in, etc (do you understand systems and networks, not just FOR loops).

Few other questions - interviewers were pretty good at it. I learned a few things to use in my own interviews.

Interview Questions

  • Huge bank of servers is pounding data layer with connections. What do we do?   View Answer
  • Implement a Hashtable. Chaining / Linear-probing, hash stuff. etc   View Answer

Negotiation Details – I didn't need to negotiate. They hooked me up - serious efforts were taken to double my stock grant when I didn't even know what was on the line. Negotiate with what? No one else would pay me that much.

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