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How to Increase Your Chances of Success in System Design Interviews by 3X?

Follow these 3 rules to triple your chances of success in system design interviews.

System design interviews assess your ability to design a complete system on your own.

You will be given an open-ended design problem and expected to flesh out the requirements and come up with key system components.

My experience with system design interviews

Over the past 20 years, I have worked as a software engineer. I have most of my experience working for tech companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Hulu.

After being part of 500+ interviews, either as an interviewee or interviewer, I began writing about my experiences. I’m the author of the ‘Grokking’ course series. You may have heard of my courses, Grokking the System Design Interview and Grokking the Coding Interview.

The 3 rules

Here are 3 rules that will triple your chance of success in system design interviews.

1. Don’t just communicate but collaborate with the interviewer.

  • Fundamentally, interviewers are trying to evaluate whether a candidate would make a good colleague; hence, collaboration is the key.
  • When you create a collaborative atmosphere during an interview, people will be able to assess you fairly.
Collaborate not communicate

2. Give a high-level view of the system before going deep.

  • Avoid getting into details prematurely as design interview questions might not fit the timeframe.
  • Don’t jump straight into the detailed design of the system. First, go wide and then discuss details.
  • The design should evolve. Remember, done is better than perfect.
First, cover the breadth (Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash)

Check Grokking the System Design Interview to learn about system design interviews.

3. Discuss tradeoffs, caveats, and edge cases.

  • Every design choice you make has strengths and weaknesses. Present multiple perspectives and the reasons why you prefer one over the other.
  • Discuss failure scenarios and recovery options. This will demonstrate your understanding of the design.
Discuss tradeoffs


➡ Practice these rules to distinguish yourself from others!

➡ Learn more on these approaches in “Grokking the System Design InterviewandGrokking the Advanced System Design Interview.”

➡ Follow me on Linkedin for tips on system design and coding interviews.

Read more on System Design Interviews:

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Arslan Ahmad

Arslan Ahmad

Founder | Formally a software engineer @ Facebook, Microsoft, Hulu, Formulatrix | Entrepreneur, Software Engineer, Writer.