Databricks Software Engineer Interview Guide

Interview Guide Jan 23

Detailed, specific guidance on the Databricks Software Engineer interview process - with a breakdown of different stages and interview questions asked at each stage

The role of a Databricks Software Engineer

As a Software Engineer at Databricks, you will be responsible for designing and developing software solutions that enable customers to extract value from their data. You will work on a variety of projects, ranging from building new features to improving the performance and scalability of existing systems.

At Databricks, SEs work with a diverse set of technologies, including Apache Spark, Delta Lake, ML flow, and other cutting-edge tools in the big data and AI space. You will be responsible for designing and implementing solutions that meet the needs of customers in a variety of industries, from healthcare to finance to e-commerce.

Databricks offers multiple Software Engineer positions, including Platform Engineer, Frontend Engineer, Backend Engineer, Machine Learning Engineer, and Data Infrastructure Engineer. For instance, Platform Engineers design and build the infrastructure and services that power the Databricks Unified Analytics Platform, while Frontend Engineers build user-facing components such as web-based notebooks and visualizations. Backend Engineers focus on server-side components, including data processing pipelines and distributed computing infrastructure, while Machine Learning Engineers develop and deploy machine learning models and solutions. Lastly, Data Infrastructure Engineers build and maintain the data infrastructure that powers the platform, designing and implementing data storage and processing solutions for customers to extract insights from their data.

These positions may work in various teams, such as the Platform, Frontend, Backend, Machine Learning, and Data Infrastructure teams. However, the exact team structure and the positions available may vary depending on the specific needs of the company.

How to Apply for a Software Engineer Job at Databricks?

Check out Databricks’s career page and browse through the Software Engineer job listings. When you find a role that interests you, be sure to read through the job requirements and qualifications carefully to ensure you meet the criteria. If you have any connections within the company, consider reaching out to them for a referral as it highly increases your chance. When you apply, make sure to tailor your resume to align with the qualifications listed in the job posting. This will help you stand out from other applicants. And if you need help with customizing your resume specifically for Databricks (or for that matter, any other company), Prepfully provides resume review services by experienced recruiters in your target company that can give you feedback on your resume. It's worth noting that the application process may vary depending on the position and location, and the company may conduct additional assessments or interviews as part of the selection process.

Databricks Software Engineer Interview Guide

As a part of the Databricks Software Engineer interview, you will need to go through multiple interview rounds. The interview process and questions may differ for different positions and roles.

1. HR phone screen - In the HR phone screen, you will discuss your qualifications, experience, and career goals with the HR representative.

2. Technical Screen - The technical screen is an opportunity for the Databricks team to evaluate your coding skills and knowledge of programming concepts.

3. Virtual Onsite Rounds - The final virtual onsite round is an in-depth evaluation of the candidate's skills and abilities. You will face multiple different interviews in this round.

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Databricks Software Engineer: HR Phone Screen

Overview

The first primary will be an HR phone screen. During this interview, you will discuss your qualifications, experience, and career goals with the HR representative. The representative will provide an overview of the company and the role, and will ask you some questions to assess your fit for the role. This interview is typically used to determine whether you meet the basic qualifications for the role and to gauge your interest in the opportunity.

Interview Questions

  • Why do you want to work at Databricks?
  • What interests you about the role and what skills do you bring to the table?
  • What factors do you consider when choosing between big tech companies or startups?
  • How do you prioritize your career goals when evaluating job offers?
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Databricks Software Engineer: Technical Screen

Overview

In this round, you'll have to introduce your past projects and how you went about solving the problems you faced during the projects. For instance, one candidate was asked to complete an iterative coding question and choose the preferred programming language.

The goal of this round is to evaluate your ability to code efficiently and accurately, and to understand how you approach problem-solving. You should come prepared to write clean, well-structured code and be ready to explain your thought process as you work through the problem. You'll also need to provide a brief overview of your past projects, including the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.

Interview Questions

  • Walk me through one of your past projects and the problem you were trying to solve with it? What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during that project?
  • How did you prioritize tasks and manage your time during the project?
  • Explain how you approached the iterative coding question.
  • Which programming language did you choose for the coding question and why?
  • How did you go about structuring your code for the coding question?
  • Can you explain your thought process as you worked through the coding question?
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Databricks Software Engineer: Virtual Onsite Rounds

Overview

The final virtual onsite round is an in-depth evaluation of the candidate's skills and abilities.  You will face multiple different interviews in this round. Expect to face the following rounds:

  1. Coding round: You'll be asked to solve Leetcode coding questions and algorithmic questions. The questions will require you to write efficient code with clean and scalable design. Expect a lot of whiteboarding to help you visualize and explain your thought process.
  2. System Design round: You'll be given an open-ended design problem where you'll be expected to design an efficient and scalable system. This round is more focused on your ability to design complex systems, considering factors like performance, scalability, and reliability. For example, one candidate was asked to design a snapshot list.
  3. Behavioral round: This round will focus on your cultural fit for the company. You'll be asked to answer questions about your previous experiences and how they relate to the company's values and culture. You may also be asked about your leadership, collaboration, and communication skills.

Interview Questions

  • Given a list of CIDR addresses, check if an IP address satisfies all the requirements in the list.
  • Walk me through your thought process for solving this LeetCode problem.
  • How do you approach debugging code when you encounter errors?
  • How do you ensure that your code is scalable and maintainable as the project grows?
  • How would you design a system to handle a high volume of user traffic for a social media platform?
  • How do you ensure that your system is scalable and fault-tolerant?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult team member and how you handled the situation?
  • How do you approach conflict resolution in a team setting?
  • How do you prioritize your tasks when faced with competing deadlines?
  • Can you describe a situation where you had to take a leadership role and how you led your team to success?

Tips to ace the Databricks SE Interview

When you are preparing for a Databricks Software Engineer Interview - we’d recommend keeping these things in mind:

  • Practice writing clean and efficient code on a whiteboard or paper to get used to explaining your thought process.
  • Be ready to provide examples of your past projects and how you overcame challenges during them.
  • Prepare for the coding round by practicing Leetcode coding questions and algorithms.
  • Be ready to design an efficient and scalable system for the System Design round, considering factors like performance, scalability, and reliability. The system design rounds are more open ended.

Research the company's culture and values before the Behavioral round and prepare examples of how your previous experiences align with them. Check out Databricks’ values page to prepare better for the behavioral round as culture fit is a big part of this round.

Responsibilities of a Software Engineer at Databricks

The responsibilities of a Software Engineer at Databricks across roles can broadly be seen as-

  • Develop reliable, scalable services and client libraries that work with massive amounts of data on the cloud, across geographic regions and Cloud providers. For example, building a service that can handle petabytes of data and scaling horizontally across multiple cloud providers. For instance, using technologies like Apache Spark, Apache Kafka, and Kubernetes to build fault-tolerant and highly scalable systems.
  • Build tools to allow Databricks engineers to operate their services across different clouds and environments. These tools could automate the deployment and management of services, ensuring consistency across different environments.
  • Build services, products and infrastructure at the intersection of machine learning and distributed systems. This could involve using technologies like TensorFlow, and PyTorch to build a powerful machine learning system that can run on the cloud.
  • Create, deploy, test, and upgrade complex data pipelines with powerful features to visualize data graphs. This system could include features like real-time data visualization, machine learning models, and data monitoring and alerting.
  • Provide a great SQL-centric data exploration and dashboarding experience on Databricks. For instance, features like advanced SQL query optimization, data visualization tools, and integration with popular data visualization libraries like Plotly and Matplotlib.

It's important to keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive, and the responsibilities may vary depending on the position and location.

Skills and Qualifications needed for Software Engineers at Databricks

Here are some skills and qualifications that will help you excel in your Software Engineering interviews at Databricks. One thing to note here is that the degree qualification is different for every role.

  • It's beneficial to have at least 5+ years of experience in SE roles, which can help you stand out from other candidates.
  • Production level experience with server-side web technologies such as Node.js, Java, Python, Scala, C#, C++, Go is crucial. Developing a deep understanding of these technologies and their use cases will give you a strong foundation for building scalable, robust, and secure web applications.
  • Experience working on a SaaS platform or with Service-Oriented Architectures will provide you with a broader perspective on how to build complex systems.
  • Familiarity with cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, GCP, Docker, or Kubernetes is essential in today's world of cloud-based computing. Developing an understanding of how to deploy, manage and scale applications in the cloud will enable you to build highly scalable and resilient systems.
  • Experience with modern JavaScript frameworks such as React, Angular, or VueJs/Ember is also essential.

It's important to keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive, and the requirements and qualifications may vary depending on the position and location. It's always best to check the job description and requirements on the Databricks' Career page before you apply for the role.

Salary Ranges

On average, Software Engineers at Databricks can expect a base salary ranging from approximately $120,000 to $180,000 per year. However, it's important to note that these figures are approximate and can vary based on individual qualifications and other factors.

In addition to the base salary, Software Engineers at Databricks may also receive additional compensation components such as performance bonuses, stock options, and other benefits.

Conclusion

The interview process for a Software Engineer role at Databricks typically includes 3 primary rounds - a recruiter screen, followed by a technical screen, and the final virtual onsite interview rounds to conclude. In the HR phone screen, you will discuss your qualifications, experience, and career goals with the HR representative. The technical screen is an opportunity for the Databricks team to evaluate your coding skills and knowledge of programming concepts. The final virtual onsite round is an in-depth evaluation of the candidate's skills and abilities. You will face multiple different interviews in this round.

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