Global engineering talent has their eyes on FAANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) for career growth. However, non-FAANG companies also offer fast-paced environments that suit individuals' career aspirations. These companies are relatively more accessible for junior roles, attracting young engineers.
Nonetheless, the tech interview process can get confusing as there's hardly a standard approach. It's crucial to understand how non-FAANG companies hire to prepare effectively and increase your chances of landing an opportunity.
In this article, we'll take you through the difference between the hiring process at FAANG vs. non-FAANG companies, what the stages look like, what each stage involves, and the hiring process for some prominent non-FAANG companies.
Is a non-FAANG company right for you?
By non-FAANG, we refer to the prominent tech companies other than the five big popular ones. Such companies are not as big as FAANG companies and, in some cases, owned by a FAANG company. Regardless, these companies have a significant presence in the technological innovation industry and can provide us and our careers with amazing growth opportunities.
The hiring process at non-FAANG companies takes a different approach than FAANG ones. For example, FAANG tech interviews are more standardized and involve tests/quizzes that directly test theoretical concepts like data structures and algorithms to narrow down the pool.
In addition, the recruiters there like to use problems from platforms like HackerRank and LeetCode to determine the applicant's skill set. Their recruitment strategy comes from the need to filter out unsuitable candidates from the pool and quickly locate the desired talent.
On the other hand, non-FAANG tech interviews are more personalized yet fast processes in which companies get to know the candidate's strengths and weaknesses. These tech interviews involve challenges and assignments that focus on real-world problems.
Such companies also like to include tasks and projects that mirror the work associated with the role. Such companies do not receive the number of applications FAANG companies do, so they thoroughly assess an candidate's interests, strengths, and shortcomings while keeping their process swift.
As the hiring process at non-FAANG companies shows, these companies are more interested in understanding each individual's strengths and placing them in the appropriate team. After all, these companies offer individuals more opportunities to take creative initiatives and learn more at work.
While the individual responsibility at such companies is substantial, it's essential to note that non-FAANG companies may provide a lower compensation package compared to their FAANG counterparts. Therefore, it's crucial to thoroughly evaluate their job description before applying, and carefully consider the pros and cons before accepting a position at any organization.
The non-FAANG company tech interview process
The stages of a non-FAANG tech interview differ significantly from a FAANG tech interview. For one, they aim to be more realistic and give the applicant a clear idea of the work they will do on the job. Regardless, once we know what the tech interview process looks like, we can easily create a preparation plan and adequately practice before we go on for interviews.
Here are the stages commonly found in non-FAANG tech interviews:
Recruiter screening call
The recruiter call is our first interaction with a non-FAANG company. The recruiter call aims to learn more about the applicant, their previous professional experiences, and their interest in the company. The caller is most commonly an HR personnel, but it can occasionally be a member of an engineering team.
Some recruiters ask strategically phrased behavioral questions that give insight into the applicant's personality. Hence, these questions can decide whether we get to the next round or not. If the job seeker has questions about the role, hiring process, or the company, the recruiter call is an opportunity to clear them.
The next round involves coding. This round varies from company to company and can involve multiple tests/challenges.
Some companies prefer presenting applicants with coding challenges to solve on platforms like Rviewer or HackerRank. On the other hand, some ask job seekers to solve a problem that mirrors the job's requirements. Take-home projects are also becoming more commonplace when companies give candidates assignments and deadlines of three to four days.
Code review and solution defense
This stage involves the engineering team members reviewing the work we submitted in the previous stage. Non-FAANG companies prefer this stage to be in-person to assess the applicant's technical explainability skills directly. Additionally, they see their coding practices and if they align with the engineering team's approach.
Many non-FAANG companies also plan pair-programming sessions at this stage to see the applicant's abilities in action. In pair programming, the candidate has to work with an engineering team member and solve technical challenges. Regardless, we must ensure that we follow best practices and have a clear and concise coding style. Additionally, we must ensure that the code fulfills problem requirements.
Additional technical interview
This stage arises if the recruiting and engineering team members wish to learn more about an applicant's capabilities. Such technical interviews generally involve assessing the candidate on more aspects and seeing if they could be a right fit for some other teams.
Final HR round
Once all stages have concluded successfully, we move to the final stage and have a direct session with HR. This stage discusses the job's responsibilities, perks, compensation, relocation, etc. If we have reached this stage, we can take a sigh of relief as we have passed the non-FAANG tech interview process.
Ditch traditional job search and land interviews faster
We know how much of a headache interviews can be - coding tests, the HR hoops - it's enough to make any developer cringe. That's why we've flipped the script and got the process down to a few simple steps - create your profile, get matched, and apply to the best job opportunities.
No job search. Just perfect matches.
Type of interview problems
Non-FAANG tech interviews feature technical problems at different stages. These problems can have varying difficulties, requirements, and deadlines. While most create their custom assignments and challenges, some use a mix of custom and standard problems from platforms, as mentioned here.
Technical interviews can feature problems involving algorithmic challenges and involving data structures from coding platforms like LeetCode and HackerRank. Questions can also show what the practical responsibilities of the job will look like. Such questions can involve SQL queries, creating/using APIs, etc., based on the nature of the role. Some interviews include extensive take-home projects that can require solving multiple related questions or creating applications.
How to prepare for non-FAANG tech interviews?
Preparing for non-FAANG tech interviews involves focusing on several different aspects. We must brush up on our knowledge and also polish our resumes. After all, recruiting teams at such companies look at the applicant's overall profile and portfolio along with how well the interview process went.
Here are some key ways we can adequately prepare for non-FAANG tech interviews:
Research the company and its tech interview style
We must research the company properly and gather as much information on its tech interview process. It will help us prepare better and narrow down the areas we need to focus on.
Work on your resume
The recruitment team's first impression of applicants comes largely from their resumes and portfolios. Hence, we must polish our resumes, portfolios, and LinkedIn profiles and strategically include information.
We must adapt the resume by highlighting relevant skills and experience relevant to the role we are applying for. Additionally, we should add as many projects as possible to the resume by participating in hackathons and taking on personal projects.
Refresh essential technical concepts
To ace non-FAANG tech interviews, we need a strong grasp of practical concepts relevant to real-world applications. This includes understanding database design, API development, and software architecture. Brushing up on common design patterns and learning how to implement them in various languages can also be helpful. Online crash courses can help us quickly refresh and improve our technical knowledge.
Learn how to navigate a pair-programming session
To excel in pair programming sessions, we must practice and be updated with best practices. It's important to be patient and learn to context-switch between roles. Additionally, we should be aware of communication protocols, and seek feedback to improve our performance. These skills are valuable in any collaborative work environment.
Practice take-home coding problems
To prepare for non-FAANG tech interviews, it's important to practice take-home coding problems that simulate real-world scenarios. These tasks often involve developing functional programs or solving technical issues within a given timeframe. When completing these challenges, we should pay attention to details, code cleanliness, and documentation to increase our chances of success.
To ace a non-FAANG tech interview, you need to be well-prepared and up-to-date on the latest technical concepts. Luckily, there are numerous free online resources that can help you brush up on your skills. To take your preparation to the next level, consider using coding interview platforms like Rviewer, HackerRank, or LeetCode which offer a diverse range of real-world coding challenges to practice on.
Tips to crack coding interviews at non-FAANG companies
We have seen how recruitment teams at non-FAANG companies often take a different approach to their tech interviews. The approach may not be standardized and can vary from applicant to applicant. Such aspects make non-FAANG tech interviews fairly challenging to crack. However, understanding the different approaches and the right preparation strategy can increase our chances of acing a non-FAANG tech interview.
Here are some tips about how we can crack non-FAANG tech interviews:
Improve skills in your strongest language(s)
Non-FAANG interviews are all about testing how good we are with the tech we've worked with. So, we need to keep up with the latest programming languages and always be getting better. For example, we can learn coding design patterns and do concurrent programming.
Learn how to showcase your reasoning for a test problem
Solving problems is a crucial skill we need to practice, but we also must learn how to explain our solutions better. After all, non-FAANG company recruiters look for applicants with strong personal and technical communication skills. With better technical explainability skills, we can ensure recruiters properly realize our proficiency, and we exude more confidence.
Sharpen your problem-solving skills
To prep for non-FAANG tech interviews, sharpen your problem-solving skills. Companies test these abilities with various challenges, so practice regularly to improve your analytical skills. This boosts your confidence during interviews and raises your chances of landing your dream job.
Build a portfolio of small projects
Recruiters at non-FAANG interviews aim to assess applicants and their abilities as thoroughly as possible. Therefore, building a strong portfolio of small-scale projects relevant to our skills and experience is a perfect way of showcasing our abilities. It also shows our interest in self-learning and using our skills rather than just having theoretical knowledge.
Contribute to open-source code projects
Open-source projects are a wonderful opportunity to learn from much more experienced individuals. Moreover, it can show our ability to collaborate on large and technically challenging projects. Such ability and experience are precisely what non-FAANG companies wish their workforce to possess.
Following the above tips will help us gain more confidence for non-FAANG tech interviews. Since these tips focus on all the important aspects, we should make them a crucial part of our preparation strategy.
Coding interviews at some top non-FAANG companies
Here are the tech interview processes at some prominent non-FAANG companies to give us a taste of what they involve:
Here are the stages of GitHub's tech interviews:
- 1Talent Partner (Recruiter) Screening Call
- 2Technical Take-Home Assessment
- 3Pair-programming session/Technical Interview
- 4Hiring Manager Interview
- 5Diversity & Inclusion & Belonging (Culture-fit) Interview
Here are the stages of Slack's tech interviews:
- 1Technical Recruiter Screening Call
- 2Week-Long Technical Exercise (Take-Home Assessment)
- 3Hiring Manager Call/Interview
- 4On-site Technical and Hiring Manager Interview
Here are the stages of Stripe's tech interviews:
- 1Technical Phone/Virtual Interview (Involves coding problems)
- 2On-site Technical Interview
- 3Hiring Manager Call
This article explained the approach of non-FAANG companies towards hiring talent. Now that we understand the process, we can plan a preparation strategy and ensure we practice problems and interviews thoroughly. Then, with enough time and practice, we will start attracting lucrative offers from non-FAANG companies.
If you are looking to work at a hot startup or non-FAANG company, being familiar with real-world projects is key. These challenges test your problem-solving skills beyond algorithms and demonstrate your ability to apply coding concepts to practical scenarios, like debugging code or building new features.
The quickest way to learn is by diving into open-source projects on platforms like GitHub. Pick projects that match your level and study the codebase. Then, start contributing by fixing bugs and adding features.
This hands-on experience lets you learn from top developers, improve your portfolio, and get the attention of potential employers.