Hacking the System Design Interview: Real Big Tech Interview Questions and In-depth Solutions

by: Stanley Chiang (0)

#1 Book Pick for System Design Interviews by Five Books in 2022.

Get the inside edge for your system design interview.

Written by a software engineer at Google, this book will teach you how to ace the system design interview. This book includes real interview questions based on hundreds of interviews conducted at big tech companies, and their detailed solutions. Learn software and system fundamentals in clear and engaging lessons, distilled from 15+ years of experience.

In this book, you will learn:

  • A systematic approach to tackling any system design question by studying step-by-step solutions to real system design interview questions
  • How to design systems by using recurring components, the building blocks of systems
  • The fundamentals of a software system: servers, services, machines, applications, components, and modules
  • Patterns in service design: microservices vs. monolith, orchestration vs. choreography, loose coupling, and high cohesion
  • Database concepts: data modeling, relational vs. NoSQL, denormalization, replication, and consistency
  • Distributed system principles: integration, networking protocols, REST vs. RPC, and CAP theorem

Based on hundreds of interviews,
Hacking the System Design Interview is the definitive guide to learning about systems and building a comprehensive foundation for your interview. It provides an insider view of the big tech interview process, and provides proven techniques that will help you succeed in your interview.

Hacking the System Design Interview will prepare you for success in your next tech interview. Get the book today, and get your dream job tomorrow.

Walk through designs of recurring components that are the building blocks of systems:

  • Web server
  • API gateway
  • Load balancer
  • Distributed cache
  • Asynchronous queue
  • Object storage
  • CDN
  • Fan-out service
  • Unique ID generator
  • And more ...

Learn a systematic approach to tackling any system design question by studying step-by-step solutions to real system design interview questions, including:

  • Newsfeed and Timeline: build a performant system that provides real-time newsfeed updates.
  • Rideshare Application: use R-trees to build a system for spatial indexing and location-based searching.
  • Social Network Graph Search Algorithm: create a bidirectional search to traverse a social network.
  • Track the Most Frequently Accessed Items: use a count-min sketch to reduce the space complexity in a system that processes large volumes of data.
  • Autocomplete System: use a trie data structure to perform prefix lookup in a real-time typeahead system.
  • Distributed Message Queue: scale a system with asynchronous and event-driven architecture.
  • And more ...

The Reviews

The book is a wealth of definitions in highlighted bold font, each paragraph is written in a way that hits the maximum number of keywords and ties them all together. It may read a bit awkward at first until you realize this is exactly what you would do in an interview, hit as many keywords as possible and use them properly. In addition, there are also boxes of terms that only industry insiders would be familiar with, and while they may be ‘asides’, if you memorize all the boxes it’ll come in handy demonstrating your experience at big tech. One example is machine naming standards, which a casual user on a white board would not necessarily know but if you start white boarding at a big tech interview and name your machines the same way they would, plus points to you.The first many chapters [1-23] are geared towards terms, design and tips on how to approach the problems.Chapters 24-39 are 16 worked through examples of design interview problems, and apply the terms described in the first 23 chapters.Chapter 24 starts on page 112 out of 242, so more than half the book is actual interview examples where you are walked through the problems. Contrasts this with other books there are mostly dictionary like and do not walk you through actual interview problems. Some highlights include tips on how to whiteboard and diagram effectively so you show your interviewer you understand the real key pain points of various design decisions. A lot of design decisions are tradeoffs and there are no right answers, but if you can list pros and cons of each decision, that’s where you show expertise. Each chapter also lists out ‘clarifying questions’ to help you guide your interviewer along in the process, to make sure you understand the scope and any assumptions they might be making.In conclusion, this book is excellent at the goal, which is helping you get through a systems design interview at FAANG and getting you the job. When you get that interview invite, all you want to know is ‘what are the questions and what are the answers’? This book is all you need.

This book is a must-read for anyone interviewing as a software engineer. It’s been my go to book for preparing for the big tech interviews, and I used many of the components in the book in my interviews. The thing that sets this book apart from other books is the clarity and ease in which concepts are conveyed. It contains the latest information about systems and designs, and explains it without jargon or the lack of clarity that many other books have. The fact that it starts off with defining all the terminology used in interviews and system design is incredibly useful. It helps with establishing a shared way of communicating technical terms without muddling the meaning.For example, defining service vs server vs machine vs application vs API was something that I finally understood. Other books have mixed these terms, leaving me often confused, and I’m glad that a book has finally clarified this! I highly recommend this book, and it will be essential in your interview process!

This book provides an insider's view at how they conduct interviews at Google. The systematic approach that the author provides is closely related to how the interview scoring is done using the rubric of these big tech companies. I recommend that readers closely follow how the author sets up these interviews as it can help anyone's chance at succeeding should you seek an interview. The concept chapters were really helpful and allowed the reader to build a strong foundation that will help aid in interviews and even daily work as an SWE. This book was great not just for how to get through and succeed in an interview, but also for anyone L3-L6 looking to further understand the systems these big tech companies use to scale their products!

The author works at Google designing distributed systems, so this book is as close as it gets to an expert in system design at big tech companies. I found that distributed designs are usually the most challenging part of a design interview, but this book explains distributed designs in a way that is clear and easy to understand. The book has designs that are essential to a distributed system, such as a distributed cache, distributed messaging system, locks, and rate limiter. The pros and cons of building each as an embedded library vs sidecar process vs standalone service were one of the most useful things I learned from this book. Use this book to learn not just about system design, but to master distributed systems.

The author is a system architect at Google, and based this book off of the interviews he’s conducted at google. I found the systematic approach and the techniques of the book to be useful and insightful during interviews. For example, building the data models before the back-of-the envelope estimates and high level design is a useful order to make accurate estimates. Overall, I found the book to be excellent for interviewing at both big tech and startup companies that follow the usual system design interviews.

For anyone looking to enter into the ever expanding world of system design, this book is the perfect resource. It contains information that is modern and up to date regarding the newest tech stacks and platforms. Most importantly, is covers information on the components on modern application designs which are most often asked about during system design interviews such as social media apps and websites. : -Newsfeed -Fan-out service -Load balancer -distributed messaging -spatial queries -NoSQL databases

The author breaks system design down in reusable components that can be used in any system. Some of the reusable components include:-Web server-Load balancer-Cache-Object Storage-CDN-Fan-out Service-Read/Write APII found this “building blocks” approach useful and intuitive in my latest system design interview. For example, the book’s design of a web server, cache, and fan-out service can be used in nearly every design. The real-life design questions and solutions are great practice for the interviews!

The microservices vs monolith question came up in an interview at a tech company, and I was fully prepared because of this book. I also expanded on the microservices orchestration vs choreography, and am really glad I read this chapter and this book. The concepts chapter of this book is not just useful for interviews, but for my career as a swe. The information in the book is hard to find and often incorrectly written in interview preparation resources. I appreciate this book as an accurate and expert guide in system design, as I’ve read many incorrect blogs/ online resources before.

The book covers everything from start to end. Even if you have no experience in system design, this book is a great way to get started. It starts with the fundamentals of system design, by showing how to design services and databases. It moves to more complex topics such as load balancing algorithms, caching invalidation vs cache coherence, and roles of a web server. The book also has components that are used in all systems, such as CDN, APIs, and fan-out service.

I was interviewing for an L3 entry-level SWE position, and I found this book very easy to understand even though I don’t have any background in this besides some of my projects from class. Initially, I thought it would have been too advanced for me since I had no job experience. But my recruiter said that they may have a system design question, and I got this book to help me pass an interview for SWE L3. The book explains everything in an easy and approachable way that made it useful even for a new graduate like me.

This is a comprehensive guide to the system design interview at big tech companies. It also contains the newer material that big tech companies are using in interviews, such as spatial queries and large scale data processing. The book is a must have for system design interviews at big tech and startup companies. On top of the system designs that are useful for all SWEs, some of the book is also useful for ML/ data engineers, and covers how ETL, data lakes, and map reduce work in detail.

I really liked this book. I wanted to prepare for tech interviews, but I actually learned a lot of practical stuff about design that I didn't know I needed to learn. It did have random spelling and grammar errors that made it past the editor somehow. But other than that, it's a solid book.

I found this book to be really helpful when prepping for interviews. It covers foundational concepts clearly & concisely. What I found most helpful though were the case studies that had step-by-step walkthroughs of the solutions. They are also classic questions that ended up being tested in actual interviews!Highly recommend this if you're looking for something that goes over fundamentals and gives you real practice.

The information will prepare you for success I love how detailed the information is

Totally recommended! It's a great book and starts from scratch to an advanced level!

Hacking the System Design Interview: Real Big Tech Interview Questions and In-depth Solutions
⭐ 4.7 💛 120
paperback: $22.00
Buy the Book