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Spotify Machine Learning Engineer Interview Guide

Interview Guide Nov 28

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

The role of a Spotify Machine Learning Engineer

As a Spotify Machine Learning Engineer, your role is crucial in helping to enhance and personalize the user experience for millions of music lovers around the world. You will work on developing and implementing various machine learning algorithms and models, with the aim of improving music recommendations, playlist creation, and search results. You will work with a team to come up with new and interesting hypotheses, test them, and scale them up to huge data sets with hundreds of billions of data points.

Spotify has a variety of Machine Learning Engineer positions available across different teams, including Personalization, Search, Data Platform, Content, and Voice. Machine Learning Engineers in these roles work on developing and improving machine learning models that power various aspects of the Spotify platform, from personalized recommendations to voice-controlled user interfaces. 

These are just a few examples of the Machine Learning Engineer positions available at Spotify. Depending on your interests and skills, there may be other teams and roles that are a good fit for you. It is worth noting that the available positions and locations can change frequently, so it is recommended to regularly check the career page for the latest updates.

How to Apply for a Machine Learning Engineer Job at Spotify?

To apply for a Machine Learning Engineer job at Spotify, you will need to visit Spotify's career website and search for open Machine Learning Engineer positions. Once you have found a position that you are interested in, you will be able to submit an application online. However, we would highly recommend taking the referral route if you know someone in the company as it increases your chances meaningfully. One tip regarding your resume - make a few tweaks for the position and the role you are applying for which will help you have a better chance compared to other candidates. If you're not sure how to do that, Prepfully offers a resume review service, where actual recruiters will give you feedback on your resume.

Spotify Machine Learning Engineer Interview Guide

As a part of the Spotify Machine Learning Engineer interview, the candidate will need to go through multiple interview rounds:

1.  Recruiter Screen - The first primary round consists of two stages: initial recruiter screen followed by a values based screening with a hiring manager.

2. Onsite Interview Rounds - The final round consists of multiple technical rounds and a behavioral round.

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Spotify MLE: Recruiter Screen

Overview

The first round consists of two stages: initial recruiter screen followed by a values based screening.

  1. Recruiter screen: The first step in the interview process will involve a screening call with a recruiter. The recruiter will likely ask you some basic questions about your background and experience, and may ask you some initial technical questions to assess your fit for the role.
  2. Values/behavioral-based screening: The next stage will involve a values/behavioral-based screening with the hiring manager and another engineer. This will be an opportunity for you to discuss your past experiences, technical skills, and approach to problem-solving. You should expect questions related to your experience with machine learning techniques, data processing, and software development, as well as questions about how you approach difficult technical challenges, how you prioritize tasks, and how you work in a team environment.

Interview Questions

  • Why do you want to join Spotify?
  • Why do you think you will be a good fit for the role?
  • What responsibilities do you expect to have from your job at Spotify?
  • What backend tools and technologies are you familiar with?
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Spotify MLE: Onsite Interview Rounds

Overview

The final round consists of multiple technical rounds and a behavioral round. You can expect to face these rounds: 

  1. Technical round 1: The first technical round will focus on software development engineering and will involve coding challenges related to software design patterns, algorithms, and data structures. This round will also include technical questions related to machine learning techniques, data processing, and the technology stack used at Spotify.
  2. Technical round 2: The second technical round will focus on machine learning and may involve coding challenges related to ML models, feature engineering, and data processing. This round will also include technical questions related to the practical implementation of machine learning algorithms, the performance of different ML models, and the scalability of the ML system.
  3. Technical round 3: The third technical round will focus on data structures and algorithms and will involve coding challenges related to complex algorithms, data structures, and optimization techniques.
  4. Behavioral round: This round will focus on your passion for music and your fit with Spotify's culture. You can expect questions related to your musical interests, your previous experiences with music-related projects, and how you would approach working on music-related projects at Spotify. This round will also evaluate your soft skills, communication abilities, and teamwork abilities. Here you might meet with senior leaders at Spotify.

Note that the order of facing these rounds may differ.

Interview Questions

  • Can you explain the difference between a stack and a queue?
  • Can you walk me through how you would implement a software design pattern like the observer pattern in a machine learning system?
  • Can you explain the bias-variance tradeoff in machine learning?
  • How would you approach deploying a machine learning model to production?
  • What is your experience working with scalable machine learning systems?
  • Can you implement a hash table in your preferred programming language?
  • How would you optimize a search algorithm for a large dataset?
  • Can you explain the difference between a binary tree and a binary search tree?
  • What is the time complexity of sorting algorithms like bubble sort and quicksort?
  • Can you implement a dynamic programming solution to a problem like the Knapsack problem?
  • What inspired you to pursue a career in machine learning?
  • Can you tell me about a music-related project you've worked on in the past?
  • How do you approach working on a team with different backgrounds and skill sets?
  • Can you give an example of a time when you had to make a tough decision related to a project you were working on?
  • How would you describe your communication style and how does it help you work effectively with others?

Tips to stand out in the Spotify MLE Interview

When you are preparing for a Spotify Data Science interview - we’d recommend keeping the following in mind:

  • Research about Spotify's company culture, values, and goals to align them with your career aspirations. You can check out Spotify Life to know more about the company culture.
  • The interview will include multiple technical rounds, so make sure to review your technical skills. Brush up on your knowledge of data structures, algorithms, software design patterns, and machine learning techniques.
  • Spotify is looking for candidates who can approach difficult technical challenges with creativity and ingenuity. Practice your problem-solving skills by solving practice problems, working on personal projects, or participating in hackathons.
  • The behavioral round will focus on your passion for music and your fit with Spotify's culture. Be prepared to discuss your musical interests and previous experiences with music-related projects. Also, be ready to discuss your communication, teamwork, and decision-making skills.

Responsibilities of a Machine Learning Engineer at Spotify

The responsibilities of a Machine Learning Engineer at Spotify across roles can broadly be seen as-

  • Propose, design, and implement high-performance ML platform solutions that significantly advance the deployment of models that serve millions of listeners.
  • Apply machine learning, collaborative filtering, NLP, and deep and reinforcement learning methods to massive data sets. Use deep learning models to analyze audio features of millions of songs and predict users' preferences for new music.
  • Prototype new algorithms, evaluate with small scale experiments, and later productionize solutions at scale to Spotify’s active users.
  • Help drive optimization, testing and tooling to improve data quality. For instance, develop automated tests to validate the data quality of Spotify's recommendation algorithm and alert the team when data quality issues arise.
  • Iterate on recommendation quality through continuous A/B testing. Continuously monitor user feedback and sentiment and use it to inform future iterations of the recommendation algorithm.
  • Collaborate with a cross functional agile team of software engineers, data engineers, ML experts, and others to build new product features.

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 Machine Learning Engineers at Spotify

Some of the skills and qualifications that may be required for a Machine Learning Engineer at Spotify include:

  • It's important to have experience with programming languages commonly used for machine learning, such as Java, Scala, Python, or similar languages.
  • Experience with agile software processes as machine learning systems often require collaboration across teams and the ability to adapt to changing requirements.
  • Understanding data-driven development is essential for implementing machine learning systems at scale. This includes being able to collect, process, and analyze large amounts of data efficiently and accurately
  • Experience with data processing and storage frameworks is also important for implementing machine learning systems at scale. This might include working with tools like Flink, Hadoop, Scalding, Spark, Storm, Cassandra, Kafka, or other similar frameworks.
  • Designing systems that can handle errors gracefully and implementing monitoring and alerting systems to ensure that any issues are addressed quickly.
  • Experience with A/B testing methodologies and various analysis techniques, such as significance testing, regression, statistical modeling, or machine learning.

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 Spotify's Career page before you apply for the role.

Salary Ranges

The average salary for a Machine Learning Engineer at Spotify is around $150,000 per year, with a range of $120,000 to $180,000 per year depending on experience and other factors. It's important to note that salaries can vary based on a number of factors such as location, specific job responsibilities, and level of experience.

Conclusion

The interview process for a Machine Learning Engineer role at Spotify typically includes 2 primary rounds - recruiter screen and onsite rounds. The first primary round consists of two stages: initial recruiter screen followed by a values based screening with a hiring manager.

The final round consists of multiple technical rounds and a behavioral round. The technical rounds are focused on topics like - ML, DSA, SDE and SDLC.

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