Snowflake’s Interview Process & Questions
The info below is based on conversations with Snowflake engineers in 2023.
Mid to senior-level engineers interviewing at Snowflake can expect the following process:
- Recruiter call (30 minutes)
- (Possible) Hiring manager screen (30 minutes)
- Technical phone screen (2 hours)
- Onsite (4 hours)
Snowflake’s process isn’t centralized, so there can be differences from team to team in terms of exactly how many interviews are required, what type, and what order they’re scheduled in. You’ll also generally be interviewing with members of the team you’ve applied to.
Snowflake’s recruiter call is pretty typical. They’ll ask about your background and interests, and how they relate to the role you’re interviewing for. In some cases this call will also replace the hiring manager call, depending on if the recruiter is aware of exactly what the hiring manager of the specific team is looking for.
It’s really important, at this stage, not to reveal your salary expectations, your salary history, or where you are in the process with other companies. We wrote a detailed post about salary negotiation that lays out exactly what to say when recruiters pressure you to name the first number. Just don’t do it – when you give out information this early in the process, you’re painting future you into a corner.
Whether you talk to a hiring manager or not depends on which team you’re applying for and the relationship that the hiring manager and the recruiter have – if the hiring manager feels that the recruiter is well-calibrated, they may opt to skip this step.
In the event that you do speak with a hiring manager, they’ll talk to you about your background and see how well it fits with the role and their specific team. They’re looking to see how well your passions, interests, and previous experience ties into the Snowflake values as well, and how it will translate into your role. Ideally, they’d like to see some overlap in your hobbies and the things you’ll be doing at work.
The hiring managers at Snowflake are encouraged to share all good candidates with other teams, so even if you’re not a good fit for their exact team, they may help you find something else.
The technical phone screen at Snowflake consists of BOTH a data structures/algorithms interview AND A system design interview. That’s why it takes 2 hours. These are conducted via CoderPad and Zoom.
In addition to having a strong back-end focus, Snowflake’s interviews test your ability to perform within a specific team. It’s also important to note that since Snowflake is a database company, a lot of the interview questions will involve having some more database expertise and knowledge than your average company.
Snowflake’s onsite is usually virtual and takes place over Zoom using CoderPad. While the type/amount of rounds may vary from team to team, generally you can expect to see the following depending on your level:
Mid-to-senior (IC3 and 4):
- Presentation (30 minutes): This interview is usually with multiple engineers from the team you’re applying for and is an opportunity to showcase a past project in a way that highlights your technical ability and foundational knowledge.
- Coding (1 hour)
- Expertise (1 hour): This is a technical interview that will touch on skills relevant for the specific team you’re interviewing for. It may be coding, system design, or both. Or it could be a deep dive into a specific language or framework (again depending on the team).
- Behavioral (1 hour): This interview is usually with a project manager but sometimes a hiring manager will do it, depending on your team.
- Close (1 hour): This is a final call, with a recruiter or a senior leader (depending on the team), to answer any last questions about the role and team, and to potentially wrap up any loose ends from previous rounds.
Principal (IC5 and above):
- Presentation (30 minutes): Same as mid-level above.
- Coding (1 hour)
- Expertise (1 hour): Same as mid-level above.
- Behavioral (1 hour): Same as mid-level above.
- Cross-functional (1 hour): This will be an interview with members from multiple teams across Snowflake who will come prepared with their own questions as it pertains to their department and your potential team.
- Close (1 hour): Same as mid-level above.
For coding interviews, you can expect algorithmic questions that are around a LeetCode medium, but with a Snowflake-specific twist and a focus on database internals. An example question is: Get a log file, aggregate the logs, and do it in a way that won’t take too long.
Even if the questions aren’t pure LeetCode, they will touch on a variety of technical topics. As such, to figure out what technical topics to expect in your Snowflake interviews, we did 2 things. First, we spoke to some current and former Snowflake interviewers in our community. Then we cross-referenced all the anecdotes with our own data-set of mock interviews. Based on all of the above, here are the types of questions you’re likely to encounter:
This interview will focus more on data systems and database design, and the generic “Design Instagram” types of questions are much less common.
An example question could be: Take in events that happened at a certain time, keep track of and organize them so that you can retrieve them quickly, and insert new events quickly while keeping track of the tradeoffs.
Below are common questions that interviewers from Snowflake ask on our platform. Since our data comes from mock interviews, questions may not be exactly the same as what you'd see in real interviews.
Given an encoded string, return its decoded string.
Once you’ve finished your onsite, the team you’re interviewing with at Snowflake will meet and discuss your performance, review the interviews and make a decision. This usually takes a few days, after which you’ll receive feedback for each round and find out whether or not there’s an offer.
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