Stripe’s Interview Process & Questions
The info below is based on conversations with Stripe engineers in 2023.
Mid to senior-level engineers interviewing at Stripe can expect the following process:
- Recruiter call (30 minutes)
- Technical phone screen (1 hour)
- Second recruiter call (30 minutes)
- Onsite (5 hours)
At Stripe, you interview for a specific org but will have engineers involved from across the company on your panel, as well as a hiring manager from the specific org you are interviewing for. There is likely some flexibility in terms of which team in that org you end up on. That discussion usually happens post-onsite. You will have the opportunity to discuss team placement during the onsite interview with the hiring manager.
The entire process takes about 6 weeks but can be completed in as little as 2 weeks, particularly if you are a referral, according to our sources.
Stripes’s recruiter call lasts 30 minutes, and it’s pretty standard fare – they’ll ask you about your previous experience, why you’re interested in Stripe, your understanding of Stripe’s value proposition, and what you’re looking for moving forward. They’ll also review the specific role you’re applying for to make sure you understand the expectations and requirements and go over the hiring process.
It’s really important, at this stage, to not reveal your salary expectations or where you are in the process with other companies. We’ve written a detailed post about salary negotiation that lays out exactly what to say if recruiters pressure you to name the first number.
Stripe’s technical phone screen lasts about an hour. You can use either your own IDE and share your screen or you can just use CoderPad. They leave it up to you; whatever you’re most comfortable with.
Expect the unexpected here i.e., they won’t ask standard LeetCode-style questions. We will cover what we know of their question style in the section called "Types of Interview Questions to Expect at Stripe" below.
The hiring managers at Stripe 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.
This is an informational call to help prepare you for the onsite.
At this point, candidates split into different loops depending on the role they are interviewing for e.g., ML, frontend, backend etc. Onsite interview loops also vary slightly depending on the role and seniority, but the below is generally what you’ll get:
- Coding (1 hour). This interview will be conducted in either your own IDE with screen-share or in CoderPad. Your choice. For more detail about the kinds of questions to expect, see the Coding section below.
- System design (1 hour). This interview will be conducted in either your own drawing tool with screen-share or in Whimsical. Your choice. For more detail about the kinds of questions to expect, see the System Design section below.
- Bug bash (1 hour). You’ll be given a piece of code and will have to find the bug(s). They usually pick something that they’ve actually seen before, so it will be a generic version of a real Stripe bug. In this round, they’re looking for you to approach the problem thoughtfully and test different approaches, rather than just barreling into something and hitting a wall
- [For Staff-level roles and above] Integrations (1 hour). You’ll be asked to use the Stripe API here, and it will be based on real-world integrations they've seen their merchant customers create.
- [For roles below Staff] Presentation (1 hour). You’ll have to write a one pager about a past project and present this to the interview panel. You’ll be asked to explain it, and the panel will be assessing your ability to communicate both via written word and to a live technical audience. They want to test your ability to give business context or rationale for what you did, and your ability to justify technical decisions. They may also ask you what you’d do in hypothetical situations where constraints changed on the fly. This interview is particularly important for leveling – if candidates can’t effectively communicate the business impact of their work, for instance, they may be down-leveled.
- Behavioral (1 hour). This interview will be conducted by a hiring manager or a “Leveler” – someone who interviews across a lot of levels and tries to maintain a consistent bar, similar to a Bar Raiser at Amazon. For more info about what questions to expect, see the Behavioral section below.
All of Stripe’s interview questions are created in-house. They run questions through tests internally via mock interviews. They are tested for fairness and funness. Don’t expect industry standard questions here. Be prepared to encounter something unusual but hopefully interesting! Stripe really values proactivity and independent thinking so their questions are aimed at testing you for those skill sets.
Stripe’s questions are language-agnostic but might change a little bit depending on the language used. They playtest the questions internally to figure out if they are easier or more difficult in certain languages, and the interviewer will adjust as needed during your interview.
“Stripe is not for everyone” is something we heard often while writing this piece. You get a lot of freedom to do things you think are important, but that comes with the responsibility to deliver. If you thrive in that kind of culture you’ll do well, but if you like to operate in a more rigid structure with very clear instructions and deliverables, you might not enjoy it there.
Stripe does not ask LeetCode questions, and grinding on LeetCode may end up being counterproductive. Instead, they tend to be practical questions that originate with the work that Stripe engineers do every day. This means that while computer science fundamentals matter, questions designed to get at them will not be formulated the same way as LeetCode problems.
This interview will be less algorithms and data structures heavy than the LeetCode-style of interview you’re probably used to. Expect questions like:
- How would you build a simple version of Identity Access Management?
- How would you blur credit card numbers from logs?
- Design a rate limited in any programming language
Regardless of what question you get, they’ll ask about decision making, time and space complexity, etc. They want to know why you would approach a problem in a certain way, and they look for things that might cause issues with client integrations, etc.
Below are the technical topics you’re likely to encounter in Stripe interviews. To compile this list, we did two things. First, we spoke to some current and former Stripe engineers. Then we cross-referenced all the anecdotes we heard with Glassdoor data AND our own data-set of mock interviews:
This round focuses mostly on large systems and will involve designing an entire service with scalability, reliability, and usability concerns in mind. What technologies would you use and why? What are you optimizing for? Would you use a relational or non-relational database? How would caching work? And so on.
This varies by role. For mid-level roles you’ll be mostly asked about your own experiences. For more senior roles, you will be asked about how you would handle hypothetical scenarios (e.g., underperforming direct reports, conflict in your org, etc.).
Like Amazon, Stripe has some principles they harken back to when evaluating your responses. They’re called Operating Principles (the analog to Amazon’s Leadership Principles). Unlike Amazon, however, you won’t be asked behavioral questions in other rounds. They’ll just be concentrated in this one.
The entire onsite panel submits written feedback after the interviews are completed and then meets to discuss. Most of the time, decisions are reached by consensus (everyone agrees to hire or no-hire), but in cases where consensus isn’t possible, the hiring manager has final say.
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