My interview at LinkedIn

At the start of the year I interviewed at LinkedIn for the position of Engineering Manager (Machine Learning), I thought it would be good to share with everyone how that experience went.

Context – Towards the end of 2021 I actively started exploring opportunities to become a people manager. I had just completed some internal training and I had spent the last number of months working as an IC and also supporting a small team. This training and experience made me reflect on where I was and what I wanted to do next, so I applied for several internal manager roles (at Meta). During this same time, I also spotted the role at LinkedIn and this is that story…

Application – The application process was very similar to any other application, you submit your details and hope to get a reply. Within a couple of days a recruiter reached out and we arranged to meet via VC – this kicked off the entire process.

The first interview was with the recruiter, he wanted to go over my background and motivation for the role. I’d say this first part of the process is to filter out most people as one thing I’ve learned at Meta is that the full interviewing process is very time intensive (for the team).

Next, I had 4 more interviews split over 2 days. This was 2 interviews each day which were back to back, with a 15 minute break in between. I would describe them as split between 2 core focuses – management and technical skills.

The thing which I wasn’t expecting was such an in-depth technical interview. I’ve had a lot of technical interviews before, but this was by far the most interesting. Why? Because the interviewer knew their stuff and probed into every aspect. The task during that interview was to discuss how I would build an ML system to solve a specific problem. What I didn’t know until the end was that they had recently developed a solution to this, hence the very in-depth probing of the answers.

Finding out I had passed this round was a fantastic feeling, but at this stage, I still had another round to go. The next round would have been another 3-hour commitment involving meeting the team, plus 2 more interviews. Unfortunately at this stage, I withdrew my application because I had been offered a new role within Meta. It was a very difficult decision to make. The ultimate reason was – that Meta moved quicker, and offered me a role, and I would have still been interviewing for LinkedIn while joining a new team at Meta – and that just felt wrong.

So what are the key lessons I learned?

  • Technical skills are really important – Even though I was applying for a people manager role, my technical skills were thoroughly tested. TBH – I’m happy about that, I’ve worked really hard to develop my technical skills and I am happy to see that they are still needed.
  • Leadership skills are equally important – sounds obvious, but I see so many great technical people who deprioritise some of the softer skills such as communication, presenting, stakeholder management and also conflict resolution.
  • Timing is everything – reflecting back, it seems crazy to think I could have been working at LinkedIn and the reason for me withdrawing my application was purely down to bad timing.
  • Batch Preparation – this was a huge thing for me during the interviews. As I mentioned, during the same time I was interviewing for multiple roles within Meta. While each interview is unique they often share some themes, mainly giving examples of <something> during your career and how you handled it. By applying for multiple roles I was able to share the preparation time between all of them.
  • Interviewing is hard – while having multiple interviews during this period helped with the preparation, the whole process was exhausting – IDK if I’d recommend doing multiple interviews at the same time.