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What to expect when applying and interviewing for big tech companies

A lot of people who want to work in tech are looking to work at specific big tech companies, like Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. The benefits of working at these organizations range from higher compensation to name-brand recognition and include everything in between.

Whatever your reason, we’ve broken down the hiring process into application, interviews, and negotiation so that you can get a holistic picture of how to efficiently and effectively navigate the hiring processes at big tech companies.

Application process

The big tech companies are almost always hiring. You can find their openings on their Careers pages or on the larger job boards, like LinkedIn, Google Jobs, and Indeed. You can also set your preference on LinkedIn to “open to new opportunities” so that recruiters will know you are looking and reach out to you. A lot of the larger tech companies make use of this feature, so it is a good option if you are casually searching.

One of the main issues people face when they apply to big tech companies, though, is the amount of competition. Google, for example, can sometimes see thousands of applications for the same position, often new grad or early-career software engineering roles. So, how can you rise above the competition and get your resume seen by these recruiters and hiring managers?

One of the most important notes is that just applying through their online portal isn’t enough. Getting through to an actual human on their hiring team is what will differentiate you from the thousands of other similar applications.

Take a look on LinkedIn for technical recruiters, high level team members, or managers from the company and try to find someone who has a connection to you. Maybe you both went to the same school, you are from the same hometown, or you have similar academic or professional interests. Whatever it is, this connection will warm up your cold email. Spend the time finding someone who has this connection because it will be worth it. There are almost 38,000 results when you search “Google technical recruiter” on LinkedIn, so you should be able to find at least 1 person.

This email is a great way to increase the chances that your application is seen and it will serve as a reminder to the hiring manager that you are a human. Check out our guide to crafting great cold emails for information on how to find the hiring manager’s email address and templates you can use for your emails.

Interviews

These big tech companies generally have very established interview processes, which is great, because it means you can prepare for each step.

This is the general outline for Google’s interview process, which most of the other top tech companies follow:

  1. Phone screen with HR/recruiter
  2. Technical phone interview or challenge
  3. Onsite interview

The phone screen will usually be fairly casual. This is their first chance to get to know you as a candidate, so they likely will be asking you questions about why you are interested in the position, how your background relates to the role, and why you would be a good fit for the company.

Do some research on the company and their mission, values, and culture. Even though you are applying to large companies, they are still looking closely for a behavioral fit, so make sure you understand what they want. You can find information on their About or Culture pages and then plan to insert what you learned into your responses.

When the companies are larger, they also likely have more than one product. Make sure you check out what they work on, which you can find on their Products page, so you can speak intelligently about the opportunities at the company. If you are applying for a general position, like new grad software engineer, you could be working on any number of their products, so get a good sense of what they are and how you can directly benefit the teams.

For your technical challenges and onsite technical interviews, you should make sure you are well-prepared by practicing these kinds of problems and timing yourself. For engineers, working with a partner in pair programming practice sessions can be especially helpful. Check out our list of 90+ software engineering interview questions to practice, which includes questions from top tech companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and more.

Onsite you will also have behavioral interviews, where you can put your research on company values and mission to work again. Prepare your responses by writing them down and practicing them in front of a mirror or with a partner. We have also compiled a list of behavioral interview questions from top tech companies that you can use to prepare.

Negotiation

When you get to the offer stage with big tech companies, negotiation is important. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon are known for offering high salaries and good benefits. They might not move the needle much on actual salary when you are negotiating, since they are usually giving good offers, but that does not mean you shouldn’t try. These companies do often have leeway on their equity, signing bonuses, and other benefits.

From the beginning of the application and interview processes, you should never mention a number, or even range, if you can help it. Check out our negotiation guide for more information on negotiation, including an annotated email template for negotiation.

For more specific information on how to get a job at individual companies, check out our guides with interview processes, questions, values, and everything else you need.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and young professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these tips and guidance, we’ve seen responses to applications triple and interview performance scores double.

If you want to work with any of our advisors 1-on-1 to optimize your applications, interviews, or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow.

Apply today.

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