5 Tips for System Design Interviews (2023)


Here are 5 Tips for System Design interviews. They are helpful when preparing for a System Design interview.

1. Don't get into details prematurely

2. Avoid fitting requirements to a set architecture in mind

3. Keep it simple, stupid! Remember to look at the big picture and avoid too many hacks when solving.

4. Have justifications for the points you make. Don't use buzz words or half hearted thoughts in your design.

5. Be aware of the current solutions and tech practices. A lot of solutions can be purchased off the shelf which simplify implementation. You should be able to argue for a custom implementation with it's pros and cons.

Have these on the back of your mind during you interview, and all the best!
Here are three major points evaluated during the interview:
1. Clarity of Thought

a. Express your thoughts in a clear manner.

b. Justify your decisions. Critical reasoning and argument are key to a successful software design.

c. When faced with a problem, use standard approaches to mitigate it. For example, say you are faced with an availability problem. State that replication and partitioning help increase availability in general, and move on to offer a solution.

d. Don’t make points without thinking them through. Half-hearted attempts at solving problems are frowned upon heavily.

2. Know about existing solutions

a. Stay up to date with the current solutions in the market. This includes products and design practices. If NoSQL is being adopted left right and center, you need to be aware of it.

b. Know when to pick a solution vs. building something custom. If you name a product, you should be (generally) aware of the features it provides.

c. Design practices enable you to meet custom requirements. Examples are decoupling systems, load balancing, sticky sessions, etc…

3. Flexibility

a. Switch your targets as the requirements shift. If the interviewer wants to know about one particular part of the system, do it first.

b. Never have a set architecture in mind. We all try to fit requirements to a system, but only after it has been shaped by the initial ones. A rigid attitude creates a brittle architecture. It will break before you do.

c. Take a step back at times to make adjustments to the general architecture. Being focused on one part can narrow our vision and bloat those areas. There will be components which can be extracted out and extended to the rest of the system.

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Hi everyone, we are talking about five do's and don'ts for system design interviews.

Now these tips are very useful.

If you have your system, design interviews coming up soon, or if you're just practicing, and you want the maximum amount from each practice session.

Now, the first system design interview tip that I would like to give you is do not go into detail prematurely.

This happens very often when you're drawing services and databases.

And you know, clients that are going to be connecting to these people get into one part of the system and go into very very deep detail.

For example, if I look at the client and I say that I'm going to be connecting to these services, sometimes people say that all right there's going to be a gateway here is this too much detail maybe not.

But this is I.

Am going to be using the HTTP protocol, what's going to happen with this kind of a flow is that you are going to be talking all the time and that's, not what you want in a system design interview you're going to be talking for the majority of the time.

But you want the interviewer to be giving feedback where you often what happens with this is that when you go into detail and you take a flow, which is not what the interviewer wants.

They won't even stop.

You they'll, just let you run along.

And once you make the mistake, you'll need to backtrack and that's, not just wasting time in your interview that's, also a negative point because in the real world, if you did this, and you had to backtrack that that would cost money right? So avoid this point it's, very important that you do not get into detail until and unless you're sure, or you have asked that what should I do? So a good way to actually talk about the same thing is I'm going to be talking to all my services using a gateway.

Yeah, this is reasonable wait for one.

Second, wait for a response and then say, it's going to be talking to this service using a protocol, I, prefer, HTTP because it's widely used, and so the clients don't need to do something.

But again, take that pause, if there's something important it'll come up, maybe there direct you if I'm going to be talking about databases, and they want details, mostly they're going to be talking about drawing an entity relation degrom.

So you'll be defining your tables.

Well so that's how you go into detail you you wait for some time.

And you actually look for the first point, which needs detail for the system to be defined better.

Now for the second point, the second point is that don't have a set architecture in mind.

If you have something already thought out, you know, you have read some blog, which says that this is a really good architecture, maybe MVC, maybe event-driven.

And you just say that, okay, I'm going to be having this architecture and don't care about the requirements I'm somehow going to fit the requirements into the into the system.

So if I'm a fan of publish or subscriber models and I say, there's going to be a publisher and subscriber here, which is the only way that services are going to be talking to each other, maybe it's, not the best for the given scenario.

So if you are doing this again, what could happen is the interviewer might take it aman upon themselves to actually break this architecture somehow.

So the requirements may change, in fact, very often that's that's.

The thing that is done it's to test your flexibility when you have something which you feel is really good, and they throw requirements, which are completely different.

So don't have a very set architecture in mind.

It happens often when we don't have time for system design interviews, we are just reading all blog posts.

And we see something really go and feel like.

Yeah, this is going to fit everywhere.

That's, not the case, you know, whatsapp and uber have very different architectures.

The third one is actually a ki SS, which is very famous amongst programmers, keep it simple stupid.

You don't want to pick up one point of the service and just go on.

You know, getting into more and more detail about this service like I'm going to have maybe I'm going to have a heartbeat server, which is going to be talking to this.

Specifically, I am also going to be having another database for analytics for this service, you know, more and more you get into this specific portion of the architecture, the more and more narrow your viewers.

So what I would suggest is take a step back often enough, just take a step back and have a look at the entire architecture.

Maybe some of the things that you're doing here, maybe the heartbeat.

Maybe the analytics can be extend to the entire system.

And very often what happens is if you if you have a look at the diagram that you're drawing.

And if you see one part of the system, you know, huge and the other ones all tiny, thin, then it's, a good idea, it's, a good indicator that maybe your system either it needs change or it needs to become more simplified.

You can extract out components from one part and extend them to the other bits.

The fourth point is probably the most common mistake made in system design interviews.

And that is to make points without justifications.

If you have nothing backing up, what you just said, for example, I say that the database is going to be a no sequel database and I go even more concrete and say, it's, Cassandra.

One logical question is why? Why do you want that? And many of us in in these interviews? We feel the need to speak.

We feel the need to actually make points continuously because it's it's awkward.

The silence that is between you explaining and the interviewer evaluating that is very awkward.

So you might make a half-hearted comment on, hey, I can use Cassandra here, or you might feel like, hey axe, land was really cool.

So why not just add that to the system be sure about what you're speaking? If this Cassandra database is not going to be working well here that's going to be a negative point and that's going to be against you.

So avoid speaking without thinking, the points through the final point is to be aware of current technologies with this.

What happens is if you draw a part of your system, which is, for example, the database you can actually name the technology are using in that database.

So for example, if I say I'm going to be using an or sequel database, and we have already said, Cassandra, you can also use Amazon DynamoDB and so on and so forth.

What about a relational database, which is not like a no sequel database? I can use my sequel I can use Postgres.

Another thing that you might use for load.

Balancing is elastic load balancer.

So you might use the Amazon architecture to give you this for heartbeats.

You might use zookeeper for this message queue.

You might use rabid MQ so on and so forth, but me being aware of these databases.

These off-the-shelf solutions shows that I am knowledgeable and I'll probably take lesser time and lesser testing to implement my entire feature.

So these are the five important do's and don'ts for your system.

Design interview are three pillars that I see our system design interview standing on are the first one being clarity of thought.

So if you can express yourself clearly to your, interviewer, you can do the same with your teammates and that's a big plus point.

The second one is flexibility.

We talked about don't be stuck with one architecture.

And you know roll with the punches so flexibility is important when you're designing a system system design, an interview.

And the final pillar is knowledge if you are aware of what's going on around the world and you're able to design the system successfully.

Then this system design interview is a success.

So remember the five do's and don'ts that we have discussed over here and I'll be seeing you next time.

That's about actually designing a system from scratch.

So we are going to be picking up something and building it from scratch.

If you want notifications for that, you can subscribe.

And if you like this video hit the like button, I'll, see you next time.


5 Tips for System Design Interviews? ›

In system design interviews, applicants answer broad questions by developing a prototype system using key components to outline a model before explaining their approach. Interviewers may also ask job candidates questions to determine their technical knowledge and experience.

How to crack the systems design interview? ›

Approach to Solve System Design Interview Problems
  1. Step I: Define End Goals.
  2. Step II: Establish and Understand the Scope.
  3. Step III: Design the System as per the Required Scale.
  4. Step IV: Start Big, Then Drill Deeper.
  5. Step V: Algorithm, Data Structure, and Coding.

How to solve system design interview questions? ›

2. Example system design interview answer
  1. Step 1: Ask clarifying questions.
  2. Step 2: Design high-level.
  3. Step 3: Drill-down on your design.
  4. Step 4: Bring it all together.
Dec 21, 2021

How do you rock a system design interview? ›

Understand the problem and scope:
  1. Define the use cases, with the interviewer's help.
  2. Suggest additional features as if you were the architect but be open for feature rejections.
  3. Remove items that the interviewer deems out of scope.
  4. Assume high availability/Speed is required, add as a use case.

What is expected in a system design interview? ›

In system design interviews, applicants answer broad questions by developing a prototype system using key components to outline a model before explaining their approach. Interviewers may also ask job candidates questions to determine their technical knowledge and experience.

What not to do in system design interview? ›

We'll cover:
  • Failing to understand functional and non-functional requirements.
  • Not identifying faults, points of failure, and their solutions.
  • Failing to consider the tradeoffs for different solutions.
  • Under-communication or over-communication.
  • No justification for design decisions.
  • Skipping the high-level design.
Jul 13, 2022

Why is system design so difficult? ›

System Design is all about Trade-offs. Trade-offs in system design can be hard because they often involve balancing multiple competing factors. For example, a system may need to be designed to be both cost-effective and performant. These two factors may conflict, as increasing performance often comes at a higher cost.

What are the three system design techniques? ›

There are three approaches to system design. And, they include structured design, function-oriented design, and object-oriented design.

How hard are systems design interviews? ›

System design interview preparation is a big challenge. The questions are complex, open-ended, and unlike any other interview round. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon use these interviews to evaluate candidates for software engineer and many other tech roles, making them a key part of the hiring process.

How long does it take to prepare for a system design interview? ›

Mastering these tech interview rounds will be crucial to helping you advance in a long-term tech career. The amount of System Design Interview preparation time you budget can range from the following: 3-6 weeks if you have some experience.

How to prepare for system design interview for beginners? ›

How to prepare for system design interviews
  1. Learn the concepts. There is a base level of knowledge required to be able to speak intelligently about system design. ...
  2. Work through system design interview questions. ...
  3. Practice with mock interviews.
Jun 7, 2023

How do you nail a design interview? ›

Graphic designer interview tips
  1. Review graphic design industry terms before your interview. ...
  2. Practice answering common interview questions beforehand. ...
  3. Review your portfolio and focus on major projects. ...
  4. Research the company and prepare questions for the interviewers. ...
  5. Bring several printed copies of your resume.
Nov 28, 2022

What is the best resource for system design interview? ›

10 Best System Design Courses for Programmers and Developers in 2023
  • Grokking the System Design Interview [Educative] ...
  • System Design Interview Course by Exponent [Best Website] ...
  • Master the Coding Interview: System Design + Architecture [ZTM] ...
  • Software Design and Architecture Specialization Coursera.

How do you know if a design interview went well? ›

So how can you tell if the interview was a success?
  1. You were in the interview for longer than expected. ...
  2. The interview felt conversational. ...
  3. You are told what you would be doing in this role. ...
  4. The interviewer seemed engaged. ...
  5. You feel sold on the company and the role. ...
  6. Your questions are answered in full.

What are the basic design questions? ›

Top 10 must-ask design interview questions.
  • “Where do you find inspiration?” ...
  • “How did you design your portfolio?” ...
  • “Tell me about the projects you're most proud of and why. ...
  • “What software do you use?” ...
  • “How do you work cross-functionally with developers, copywriters, project managers, etc.?”

What are the three most essential skills of a system designer? ›

What are the key skills of a System Designer? System designers are logical, analytical, and have a high-level knowledge of IT and computer engineering.

What are the 4 basic issues in software design? ›

Correctness:Software design should be correct as per requirement. Completeness:The design should have all components like data structures, modules, and external interfaces, etc. Efficiency:Resources should be used efficiently by the program. Flexibility:Able to modify on changing needs.

What is a weakness in a system or design? ›

A weakness in system security procedures, system design, implementation, internal controls, etc., that could be exploited to violate the system security policy. An error, flaw, or mistake in computer software that permits or causes an unintended behavior to occur. CVE is a common means of enumerating vulnerabilities.

What is the most important part of system design? ›

In successful systems design, three main components must be considered and managed effectively. These are quality, timeliness and cost-effectiveness.

What is the hardest part in design thinking? ›

Time. Not having enough tIme is mentioned by 22.7% of the respondents as their biggest problem with the Design Thinking process. Time and Integration into the existing business processes represent 68.2% of all responses.

What makes a good system design? ›

What makes a good design system? Irrespective of the tools used to create it, a good design system is one which is reusable, robust, and well-documented. Most importantly, a good design system helps make the design process more efficient, and ultimately, more cost-effective.

What are the 4 stages of system design? ›

There are four system design processes: developing stakeholder expectations, technical requirements, logical decompositions, and design solutions.

What are the two main types of system design? ›

1) Architectural design: To describes the views, models, behaviour, and structure of the system. 2) Logical design: To represent the data flow, inputs and outputs of the system.

What are the three 3 principles of design? ›

There are a lot of components that go into a design. To best communicate visually, the three main principles of design to consider are typography, hierarchy and color.

What are the key elements of system design? ›

The following are common elements of a system design.
  • Capabilities. Defining the business and technology capabilities that the system provides.
  • Processes. Design and redesign of business processes.
  • Architecture. ...
  • Data. ...
  • Events. ...
  • Business Rules. ...
  • Applications. ...
  • Services & Components.
May 22, 2017

What is system design basics? ›

What is System Design? System design is the process of defining the architecture, interfaces, and data for a system that satisfies specific requirements. System design meets the needs of your business or organization through coherent and efficient systems.

What software is used for system design interviews? ›

In the past, whiteboarding sessions mostly happened during on-site interviews. These days, due to COVID-19, most system design rounds are conducted virtually using an online whiteboarding tool like Zoom White Board, Miro, or Whimsical. Either way, the process is the same.

Does system design interview involve coding? ›

Early in your career you will mostly just be tested on your coding ability. In higher level interviews, however, there will often be a greater focus on testing your ability and experience at designing applications.

How do I ace Google system design interview? ›

Here are some additional insights to help you ace your Google System Design Interview.
  1. Understanding the Focus of the Interview. ...
  2. Choosing the Right Technologies. ...
  3. Consider the Design Patterns. ...
  4. Be Prepared to Explain and Defend Your Choices. ...
  5. Scalability. ...
  6. Fault Tolerance. ...
  7. Tradeoffs. ...
  8. Clear Communication.
May 16, 2023

What skills do you need for a system design interview? ›

In a system design interview, interviewers expect you to apply your knowledge to real-world scenarios. So, my advice to you is to learn system design basics and then practice solving common system design problems and familiarize yourself with the technologies and design patterns that are commonly used.

What should I say in a design interview? ›

Talking about the projects you like working on the most shows your range of skills and experience. You can talk about your past work projects along with both freelance and personal work. Make sure to discuss the assignments in detail and what you loved about each one.

Is Atlassian interview difficult? ›

Is it hard to get hired at Atlassian? Glassdoor users rated their interview experience at Atlassian as 47% positive with a difficulty rating score of 3.06 out of 5 (where 5 is the highest level of difficulty).

How to prepare for FAANG system design interview? ›

1. System design preparation tips
  1. Tip #1: Start early. ...
  2. Tip #2: Get to know the company. ...
  3. Tip #3: Review the concepts. ...
  4. Tip #4: Practice with an answer framework. ...
  5. Tip #5: Practice with system design interview questions. ...
  6. Tip #6: Prepare for different types of system design questions. ...
  7. Tip #8: Study your favorite apps and products.
Jan 11, 2022

What is taught in system design? ›

System Design is a course that is the process of designing the architectures, and modules, interfaces, to satisfy the specified requirements. The course prepares the candidates for System Design Interviews at some of the top companies like Google, and Amazon.

Which language is best for system design? ›

System Programming: Systems programmers design and write system software. For example, they might develop a computer's operating system, such as macOS or Windows 10. Although Java and Python are great languages for system programming, C++ is the most popular choice.

Is a 30 minute interview good or bad? ›

A typical interview should last around 30 minutes and a really good interview could even last longer. The length of the interview shows that the interviewer is seriously interested in getting to know you and is genuinely considering your job application. If the interview lasts less than 15 minutes, then you have a ...

Is a 50 minute interview good? ›

In-person job interviews last between 45 and 90 minutes on average. If an interview lasts 15 minutes or less, it's probably not a good one. If it's 30 minutes long, it's just not long enough. That said, 45 to 90 minutes is the golden number - and that's not just one of the random interview facts.

How do you know if an interview went badly? ›

13 signs an interview went badly
  • A much shorter interview time. ...
  • No introduction to other employees. ...
  • Lack of details regarding the role. ...
  • Focus on the negative aspects of the position. ...
  • Disengaged body language. ...
  • Lack of connection with the interviewer. ...
  • No discussion of a future with the organisation. ...
  • Expression of concerns.
Mar 21, 2023

What are the 7 design fundamentals? ›

Emphasis, balance and alignment, contrast, repetition, proportion, movement, and white space are the cornerstones of the principle of design.

How to master these 7 common interview questions? ›

How to master these 7 common interview questions
  1. Where do you see yourself in five years time? ...
  2. What are your strengths/weaknesses? ...
  3. Why should I hire you? ...
  4. Tell me about yourself/your work experience. ...
  5. Why do you want this job? ...
  6. What are your salary expectations? ...
  7. Why are you the right fit to succeed in this role?

What are the online tools for system design interviews? ›

In the past, whiteboarding sessions mostly happened during on-site interviews. These days, due to COVID-19, most system design rounds are conducted virtually using an online whiteboarding tool like Zoom White Board, Miro, or Whimsical.

Which design patterns are asked in interview? ›

Some of the examples of structural patterns are - Adaptor design, Facade design, Decorator design, proxy design etc. Behavioural Patterns: These patterns help to define how the objects should communicate and interact with one another.

What is an example of a high level system design? ›

HLD translates a business plan into a software product or service. Examples of HLD in software development include system architecture documents, app development flowcharts, etc.

Does Google ask system design questions for L4? ›

Google doesn't require system design to interview for L4 so I opted out. This just meant an extra coding round I had to go above and beyond for.

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