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Palantir Software Engineer Interview Guide

Interview Guide Nov 28

Detailed, specific guidance on the Palantir Software Engineer interview process - with a breakdown of different stages and interview questions asked at each stage, including on-site DSA Interviews and Behavioral Interviews.

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Palantir Software Engineer - Phone Interview

Overview

This round is a 30-minute phone interview that typically includes a general discussion about your background, experiences, and motivations for wanting to join the company. 

Sometimes, you are also asked some basic coding-related questions.

The interviewer may also discuss with you the existing opportunities at Palantir and the potential positions that you will fill if accepted. Make sure to ask any questions you might have about the interview process.

Palantir Software Engineer - Technical Screen

Overview

The second round of the Palantir software engineering interview is split into two parts. The first part is a resume review, while the second part is a coding assessment conducted by Karat, a third-party company. 

There is a brief self-introduction with one of Karat's engineers and then the live coding segment begins. There are three progressive coding problems asked (usually easy-medium LC questions) and you are on a tight deadline.

For the online assessment, several candidates have reportedly undergone a 1-hour technical pair programming interview on HackerRank which is also mostly about solving coding questions of LC medium difficulty level—but in a collaborative manner with the interviewer.

Don't worry too much about the specific question itself — it could be related to backend systems, UX design, or anything else. What's important is that you can demonstrate your problem-solving skills and your ability to work through a coding question.

Interview Questions

Here are example questions that have reportedly been asked in this round of Palantir Software Engineer Interviews:

  • Maze Navigation: You are given a maze and your goal is to navigate through it and pick up treasures along the way. You must write a program that can find the shortest path to all the treasures in the maze.
  • Graph Implementation: You are tasked with implementing a graph data structure in a programming language of your choice. The graph should support adding and removing nodes and edges, as well as searching for a path between two nodes
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Palantir Software Engineer - On-Site Interview

Overview

Palantir's onsite interview consists of 3 technical rounds (pertaining to system design and data structures & algorithms) with different members of the engineering team, as well as a behavioral interview with someone from the HR team.

System Design Interview

Overview

Palantir's onsite interview consists of 3 technical rounds (pertaining to system design and data structures & algorithms) with different members of the engineering team, as well as a behavioral interview with someone from the HR team. 

Palantir often deals with challenges that don't have a single "perfect" solution. Instead, they embrace diverse ideas and approaches that bring in various considerations. So, when you're interviewing with them, here's what they'll be looking for:

  • Can you build a complex system with multiple interconnected parts from the ground up?.
  •  Are you capable of introducing a fresh solution into an existing, substantial codebase?
  • Can you tackle a problem when you have limited time and resources, and achieving a "perfect" solution is out of reach?
  • Are you able to create workflows even when there's no "ideal" solution available? 

Here's a breakdown of the interviews you will face:

Learning & Decomp Interviews

Overview

Palantir is known for conducting two unique types of interviews in their hiring process—the Learning and Decomp Interviews.

Learning Interview: In this interview, Palantir assesses your ability to quickly adapt and learn new concepts. Palantir folks work in particularly dynamic and data-heavy environments, so they basically want to know if you can learn on the fly.

To do this, they will guide you through a code base or a concept, and hit you with some questions or tasks that involve using that previously introduced concept in real-time. For instance, they might ask you to implement a parallel file downloader and introduce the concept of, say multithreading—and then expect you to learn and incorporate it into your solution during the interview. OR it could involve a specific analysis task on a dataset with using data manipulation library or any technique you haven't used before.

Now, here's the thing: this interview can be a bit tricky and it's not prior knowledge & expertise they're looking for. You need to make sure you give evidence of learning—provide insight into your learning process. For example, if they present you with a code snippet you've never seen before and ask you to debug it, don't just demonstrate your debugging skills; walk them through exactly how you identify the bug and your step-by-step debugging approach. All throughout, it's essential to take the lead in the conversation and ensure you and your interviewer are on the same page.

Decomposition (Decomp) Interview: Palantir does this rather unique decomp interview, which basically evaluates your problem-solving skills. Can you break down complex problems into nitty-gritty chunks? That's the name of the game here.

The Decomp interviews have typically low-level system design questions like "design a chess game or parking lot management system" What you need to do is take the problem they give you and decompose it into its subproblems. As you lay out some example inputs and examine the subproblems before you, you will either figure out a solution almost immediately or, at the very least, notice that some of these subproblems resemble something you've encountered before. This will significantly streamline the problem-solving process. As an engineer, being able to decompose a problem is an extremely handy skill to have.

The interview focuses primarily on the logic and data aspects, and you might find it helpful to use pseudocode to explain your thought process. Plus, don't hesitate to clarify the question and the data schema/source as it's crucial for tackling these problems effectively.

As you can imagine, this isn't something you want to go unprepared into since the interviews have a habit of going down tangents you can't anticipate beforehand. So practicing extensively is super important. Prepfully has excellent Software Engineers from Palantir who would be happy to provide 1-1 interview coaching. You can book a slot with a Palantir Software Engineer directly here.

DSA Interview

Overview

The DSA (data structures and algorithms) interview will test your ability to solve coding challenges and think critically about algorithms and data structures at Palantir. Interview questions typically include leetcode easy-medium questions as reported by previous candidates.

It's possible that the interviewer may ask you progressive technical questions to assess your coding abilities, so be prepared to think on your feet and show off your skills.

Interview Questions

Here are two sample questions you might encounter:

  • Implement a binary search algorithm.
  • Given an array of integers, find the two numbers that add up to a target sum.

Behavioral Interview

Overview

This step of the Palantir Software Engineer interview process will focus on your experiences, motivation, and ability to work collaboratively with others. Be ready to talk about your background and interest in the company. This will give the interviewer a sense of your motivations and what you can bring to the company. 

Make sure you emphasize your ability to work cross-functional teams.

Interview Questions

Here are two questions you might encounter:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult team member. How did you handle the situation?
  • Why do you want to work for Palantir? What skills and experience do you bring to the company?

Palantir Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities that Palantir looks for in a Software Engineer are:

  • One of your primary responsibilities will be for analyzing, designing, and developing tests and test-automation suites to ensure the quality and reliability of their software.
  • You will also work on developing and maintaining our processing platform using various configuration management technologies.
  • Another important responsibility you will have is providing ongoing maintenance, support, and enhancements in existing systems and platforms. This will require you to be vigilant and proactive in identifying and addressing issues as they arise.
  • You will also need to collaborate cross-functionally with data scientists, business users, project managers, and other engineers to achieve elegant solutions.
  • Finally, you will work alongside other engineers on the team to elevate technology and consistently apply best practices. This will involve staying abreast of industry trends and implementing solutions that help Palantir stay ahead of the curve.

Palantir Software Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Here are the skills and qualifications that a Palantir Software Engineer must have:

  • You will need a strong engineering background in fields such as Computer Science, Mathematics, and Physics. 
  • You should have a passion for building user interfaces that enable users to tackle their problems and be proficient in JavaScript, with an understanding of how web technologies work. 
  • Familiarity with data structures, storage systems, cloud infrastructure, front-end frameworks, and other tools is also important.
  • Proficiency with programming languages such as Java, C++, Python, JavaScript, or similar languages is necessary, as well as the ability to write clean, effective code and learn new languages and technologies quickly.
  • In addition to technical skills, strong written and verbal communication skills are essential since you will be working with a team of talented engineers.

Frequently Asked Questions