Hemant Pandey joined Meta in 2021 after working at other tech firms.

Hemant Pandey, a Meta senior software engineer, suggests exploring the job market every two years.Pandey’s pre-interview prep includes reading up on past interviews and preparing good questions.His strategy not only helps him stand out at interviews but also provides insights into company culture.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Hemant Pandey, a senior software engineer at Meta in California. It has been edited for length and clarity. Business Insider has verified his employment history.

I graduated with a master’s in computer science in 2017. I was a few months into my first job at Tesla when I was laid off due to budget cuts.

Things worked out well, and I landed on my feet within a few weeks, but the experience left a mark on me.

I realized that the relationship between an employer and employee is transactional, and there will always be ups and downs.

Since then, I have made it a practice to interview and explore the job market every two years even if I don’t plan to switch jobs, just to get an idea of my demand in the market and what employers are paying.

Over the last seven years, I have interned at Amazon and worked full time at Tesla, SAP, Salesforce, and Meta.

At various points in my career, I have also received offers from LinkedIn, TikTok, Square, and Splunk. Over time, I have solidified an interview preparation strategy that has worked for me and one I share with juniors I mentor.

This is what 24 hours before a Big Tech interview look like for me:

Read up on past interview questions

I have found that Big Tech interviews largely follow a set pattern of processes. It is common for the recruiter to explain all the steps in the first call — including the types and number of interviews. This information is also easily accessible on online forums.

I have a list of technical topics that I revise a week before the interview so that I am relaxed on the last day. On the day before, I go online and look up the experiences of people who have recently interviewed at the company.

For example, if I am applying for Google, I’ll go to a coding practice website called Leetcode and click on the “discuss” tab. Here, people share their company-specific interview experiences. I look at what popular questions are and if the user has any advice on how to pass them.

I mostly use it as a checklist to ensure I am comfortable answering those questions. If I spot anything new, I look into it.

I keep the the last day light, because I don’t want to be stressed during the interview or even the day before. Interviews require you to be good at communication and time management and pressurizing yourself on the last day might cause more harm than good.

Prepare questions to ask

On the day before a big interview, I focus on planning what I want to ask the hiring managers at the end of our conversation.

This step is important for not only doing well in the interview but also for analyzing the company.

I usually ask hiring managers these three questions:

What advice do they have for someone who wants to succeed in the company?What has their growth been in the company — what level did they join, and where are they at now?I do my research on the company’s upcoming projects or the systems they use and bring it up in the form of a question.

Answers to these questions give me more information about the company and play a role in my decision if I am comparing multiple offers.

For the second question, if someone says they joined the company as a fresh graduate and moved to a staff engineer role in three years, it tells me the company rewards top performers. I try to ask multiple people this question and look for a pattern. A few people saying they are at the same level they joined a couple of years ago makes the company culture less appealing to me.

Besides helping me, these questions tell the hiring team that I am someone who has done their homework about the company and is interested in the work they do.

As someone who is now on the other side of the interview panel, I love when candidates ask me about my career growth in the company, or specific questions like why Meta is focusing on AI. This shows me that they keep up-to-date with tech and are passionate about my company.

Do you work in tech, finance, or consulting and have tips to share about your interview strategy? Email this reporter at shubhangigoel@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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