Snap Engineering Manager Interview

Interview Guide Jul 20

Detailed, specific guidance on the Snap Engineering Manager interview process - with a breakdown of different stages and interview questions asked at each stage

The role of a Snap Engineering Manager

Snap is a tech company driven by the belief that the camera holds immense potential to enhance human communication and lifestyle. Their mission centres on empowering individuals to express themselves, live in the moment, stay informed, and enjoy shared experiences. They have three core products: Snapchat, a visual messaging app; Lens Studio, an augmented reality platform; and Spectacles, their AR glasses.

Snap's engineering managers play a pivotal role in crafting engaging and technically advanced products that touch the lives of millions of Snapchatters worldwide. To gain understanding of comparable positions, consider reviewing the guides for the Software Engineer role at Snap and the Engineering Manager position at Uber. The company places a high value on the well-being of its global community, aligning with their core values. The work culture is characterised by speed, precision, and a constant commitment to privacy.

For those considering a role as Snap engineering managers, the average total compensation is $814,750. This breaks down to a base salary of $221,000, a yearly stock grant of $588,750, and a bonus of $5,000.

Snap Engineering Manager Interview Guide

The Snap engineering manager interview process comprises the following three rounds:

  • Initial Phone Screening (w/ Recruiter)
  • Technical Phone Screen (w/ Snap EM or HR)
  • Onsite (up to 6 rounds)
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Snap Engineering Manager - Initial Phone Screening (w/Recruiter)


So the first phone screening for the Snap Engineering Manager role is basically a get-to-know-you session with the recruiter. They're checking if you are who you claim to be and if you'd vibe well with the team. 

Be ready for some basic questions about yourself, your background, and previous roles. They might throw in a few day-to-day behavioural questions to get a more accurate idea of how you tackle different scenarios that engineering managers typically face in their role. 

Towards the end, they will dive into what the role expects of you and spill the beans on what the interview process will look like.

Snap Engineering Manager - Technical Phone Screen (w/ Snap EM or HR)


The technical phone screen is conducted by a Snap EM or HR, where they dig into your data structures and algorithms expertise. 

So, let's say if you're reversing a linked list, you'll be expected to implement the code, fix any bugs, optimise it, test it, and then have an in-depth chat as they grill your solution.

Brace yourself for open-ended questions—they want to see if you're the kind to clarify stuff and challenge your own assumptions before diving into solutions. What they're really looking for is your ability to accurately nail down the problem statement and requirements. They want you to walk them through your thought process algorithmically. 

It's important to ask clarifying questions. So, if they ask you to design a data structure to efficiently track the frequency of elements in a stream of data—a possible clarifying question would be “is the data stream finite or infinite?” Beyond that, you'd need to discuss possible data structures like hash tables or trees. And based on follow-up questions, explain how you would update the structure as new elements come in.

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Snap Engineering Manager - Onsite Rounds (up to 6 rounds)


The onsite round for the Snap EM role is quite intensive, spanning up to 6 rounds, each lasting 45-60 minutes:

  • Firstly, there are 1-2 Coding rounds. This one is a holistic assessment of your coding skills and your understanding of broader software engineering concepts. It's crucial to be exceptionally proficient in at least one language, with preferences for C++, Java, Python, Go, or C. Be ready to code on a whiteboard or type into a shared tool without any syntactic support or autocomplete, which adds a layer of challenge. But remember, the emphasis here is on conceptual understanding rather than rote memorization, since it's an EM role where coding is not such a necessity. The interviewer won't just throw coding problems at you. Expect conceptual questions diving into APIs, Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) principles, testing best practices, and the ability to think through edge cases. 

In terms of time, you're generally looking at a one-hour slot to solve two problems. So, time management is key; you need to demonstrate both speed and accuracy in your solutions. 

Interview Questions:

  • Develop a program to find a specific element in a sorted, rotated array.
  • Write a program to verify if a binary tree qualifies as a valid binary search tree.
  • Create a program to determine whether a given string's permutation is a palindrome.
  • Write an error-free program to assess whether a provided binary tree is balanced.
  • Given a string in sentence form, write a program to display its characters in reverse order.

Next, there are 2 System Design rounds with Snap EMs and potential team members. Companies like Snap often weigh these rounds more than the coding ones. They put extra emphasis on how you approach designing systems. The questions dive into real-world stuff, like, "How would you design Twitter's feed?" Or “Design a URL shortening service like Bitly.” Here, you need to focus on the big picture and understanding the architecture of widely-used products, rather than the actual code. They want to see if you can handle the complexity that comes with scale.

Interview Questions:

  • Discuss the security considerations when constructing an e-commerce application.
  • Outline your approach to designing a proximity server.
  • Elaborate on the design of a chatbot service that delivers user notifications while enabling interaction with the AI unit.
  • Detail the process of designing a platform analogous to Uber.
  • Explain your strategy for implementing security across multiple servers.

Lastly, you will encounter up to two Behavioral/Leadership rounds. These rounds dive deep into your history of managing people and projects, and your knack for cultivating robust teams. It's not just about what you've done but how you've done it. So, think about specific examples from your past experiences that highlight these qualities

As an engineering manager, here's what your interviewer is looking for

  • They want to know if you can build, develop, and keep teams intact. 
  • They're keen on your ability to assess situations quickly and accurately to drive results.
  • Can you manage projects, esp. in tricky situations
  • Can you cascade through the company culture, while balancing it with progress

Interview Questions:

  • Tell us about the most challenging project you worked on.
  • Share a pivotal decision-making instance in a critical client project.
  • Describe a situation where you disagreed with a superior and how it was resolved.
  • Discuss a conflict you encountered in your workplace and how you addressed it.
  • Share your perspective on the crucial aspects of maintaining workplace productivity.
  • What, as per you, are the important aspects of maintaining productivity at the workplace?

At the end, they'll consider the cumulative score across all rounds for the hiring decision, so prep for every round counts. Exploring the hiring procedures for Engineering Manager positions at Amazon and Netflix could be advantageous.

Snap Engineering Manager Roles and Responsibilities

Following are the roles and responsibilities of a Snap Engineering Manager:

  • As a Snap Engineering Manager, the role involves spearheading the vision and execution plan for the machine learning that powers a substantial chunk of Snap's ads business. This means having a say in critical decisions regarding product strategy, engineering architecture, and ensuring the implementation is both scalable and cost-effective.
  • Lead and grow a team of exceptional machine learning researchers and engineers while maintaining our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • The role isn't just about day-to-day tasks; it's about setting examples with well thought-out and well-executed long-term machine learning strategies. The goal is to drive significant impact by championing cutting-edge ideas.
  • You are required to build Snap's external brand in the machine learning space as part of the game plan.

Snap Engineering Manager Skills and Qualifications

Here are the skills and qualifications that a Snap Engineering Manager must have:

  • The desired skills and qualifications include a BS/BA in a technical field or equivalent experience. They're looking for seasoned professionals with at least 8 years in a technical field and a solid 2+ years of experience leading sizable engineering teams. A Ph.D. in Computer Science or a related field is a plus.
  • You need a track record in delivering results, especially in dynamic, collaborative, and multi-site environments. Problem-solving in open and ambiguous situations is highlighted, indicating they value adaptability.
  • Collaboration is a key requirement, emphasising the ability to work effectively with various stakeholders.
  • They're looking for someone with a genuine desire to learn and contribute to the growth of others, suggesting a focus on continuous improvement and mentorship.

Frequently Asked Questions