Spotify Data Engineer

DifficultymoderateRounds 5-6 interviews across 3 rounds

The role of a Spotify Data Engineer

Data drives most decisions for tech giants, and for Spotify, it is no different. Data Engineers are responsible for converting data into meaningful insights that meet the needs of the customer. They develop, construct, test, and maintain data storage systems, and constantly improve them. 

Data Engineers at Spotify are expected to have a good understanding of databases and knowledge of programming languages such as SQL and Python. They must be well versed with concepts of data structures and algorithms and have relevant practical experience.

Interview Guide

The Spotify Data Engineering interview consists of 3 rounds.

The first round is a Recruiter Phone Screen, which will primarily be a discussion of your experiences and role in the company. The next round is the Technical Phone Screen, in which you can expect trivia questions based on data engineering concepts, as well as coding problems and SQL. The last is the Onsite Round, which consists of 4 interviews - Programming Test, System Design, Cultural Fit (Behavioural Round), and Data Interview.

Recruiter Phone Screen 

Overview

This is a 30-minute non-technical call with the recruiter to see if the role is a good match for you as well as the company. It is an informal discussion about you, your experiences, and your skills.

Tips

  • Be prepared for the "Tell me something about yourself" starter. 
  • Talk about the most relevant and recent experiences that highlight your skillset.

Technical Phone Screen

Overview

This is typically a one-hour video interview with two developers from Spotify. It will consist of trivia questions, mostly related to data engineering and CS concepts, coding problems and SQL. Additionally, they may also inquire about your work experience, and ask technical questions based on it. It may follow the format of collaborative problem-solving.

What the interviewer will assess

  • Your command of SQL and how well you can handle the queries.
  • Your data engineering concepts - understanding of theoretical concepts as well as practical knowledge of the subject.

Tips

Have a good understanding of SQL. Practice subqueries, joins, filtering, sorting, aggregations.

Interview Questions

  • Why do you want to be a Data Engineer?
  • What is your experience in working with a particular technology such as SQL?
  • What is CAP Theorem in distributed computing?
  • How do you delete a linked list?
  • Is there something you feel you could’ve done better in your projects involving data?
  • Given an order table, write SQL queries to get the desired output.
  • Write a code to find the second largest number in an array. How would you scale it to a million records?

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Onsite Round

Overview

This onsite round is the final set of interviews. It consists of 4 rounds (in no particular order) - 

  • Programming test
  • System Design
  • Cultural Fit (Behavioural Round)
  • Data Interview

We’ll go through the rounds one by one - 

1. Programming Test - 

The programming test is a coding test consisting of problems on data structures. The interviewer may also ask questions on memory management in case of large amounts of data.

Sample Questions - 

  • What is a linked list?
  • For a given string containing ‘(‘ and ‘)’ characters, check if the string is balanced or not.
  • Write a code to print the number pattern - Pascal's Triangle, given the number of rows.
  • Write a code to search for and delete an element from a linked list?
  • Explain the Big O complexity of a Binary Search Tree.
  • Write a code to count the number of lines in a file given a memory constraint.

2. System Design -

In this round, you will be required to design a large-scale system, and the interviewer will analyze your train of thought and how you process and use the given information. You may also be tested on the fundamentals of SQL.

Sample Questions - 

  • Given the scenario, write basic SQL queries.
  • You need to create a stream of user-level event data directly from the user's device to the dashboard. Build out the architecture to stream this in real-time, in a way that we can build a time-based aggregation in the dashboard.

3. Behavioural Round - 

This round is an in-depth discussion of your project experience as well as technical questions related to the same. 

Tips:

  • Prep before the interview - make a list of your professional accomplishments and select those which 

Sample Questions - 

  • How do you handle people criticizing your work?
  • Tell me about a time you gave feedback to an employee about a work they did which you didn’t approve of. 

4. Data Interview - 

This consists of a discussion about your experiences, general trivia, and coding questions. The trivia questions can be based on - algorithms, LINUX/UNIX, statistics, and data engineering.

Tips:

  • Be well versed with the fundamentals of LINUX. You should know how to list files, move files, rename files, etc.

Sample questions:

  • Are there any skills that you acquired recently which you feel would have improved your performance in previous projects?
  • Explain why Map Reduce is used. What are its advantages and disadvantages?
  • Give the merits and demerits of Docker.
  • Explain the concept of standard deviation?
  • What are the advantages of a denormalized database?
  • How is unit testing different from integration testing? What are its advantages?
  • What causes data to be skewed?

Note: Questions based on Backtracking and Graphs may also be asked. You may also be given a real-life issue that Spotify has faced and will have to guide the interviewers on how you will identify as well as fix the issue. 

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