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System Design Interview Preparation Simplified!

Designing Netflix, Uber, Twitter, Instagram, and more.


an overview of The System Design Interview:

The System Design interview (SDI) process can seem overwhelming for many reasons. Building complex systems and web-scale applications is a complicated process. Many engineers don't yet have the required real-world experience with designing distributed systems.


Interviewers recognize this, which is why the System Design interview is different from many technical interviews. Unlike the traditional coding interview, the System Design interview takes the shape of a free-form discussion with no right or wrong answers. If you don’t know the answer off the bat, that’s totally ok! The interviewers are hoping to see how you work through a tricky problem in real-time.


For example, an interviewer might ask you to go through the steps of designing a FAANG system or a popular service, such as the back-end of Uber. As you respond, imagine you and a peer are hashing out the design of a large-scale system on a whiteboard. It should be evident that you’re aware of the requirements, scope, and constraints before applying them to your solution.

You are expected to understand the limitations of specific architectures and the trade-offs you will have to make to achieve particular goals (e.g. consistency vs. write throughput). 

So how do you prepare for a System Design interview if there are no right answers? How do you design a system in an interview if you’ve never done it in real life? Have no fear, we’re here to simplify the process for you! 

To crack your tech interview, it is helpful to plan your preparation in three vital chunks:

1. Distributed system fundamentals

2. The architecture of large-scale web applications

3. Designing distributed systems

Each of these fundamental System Design concepts will help you develop a strong foundation in System Design.

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Artboard 4.png

Looking for more System Design interview prep? Check out the link below for more System Design interview questions and Practice!

1. Distributed system fundamentals:

You won’t get very far in a System Design interview without the fundamentals. 

At the most basic level, you need to start with a deep dive into the strengths, weaknesses, and purposes of distributed systems. Be able to talk confidently about topics such as:


2. The architecture of large-scale web applications:

Most large-scale applications are web applications. Even if it’s not the consumer giants like Netflix, Twitter, and Amazon, many businesses are moving away from on-premises systems to cloud solutions from big tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, and AWS. This is why it’s great to understand the architecture of such systems, and how to achieve optimum scalability. You will have to learn about topics like:

Looking for complete and in-depth System Design interview prep? Check out our Complete guide to the System Design interview in 2022 for more System Design interview questions!

3. Designing distributed systems:

Once you can discuss the basics of distributed systems and web architecture, it’s time to apply this learning to design real-world systems. The ability to find and optimize potential solutions to these problems will give you the tools to approach the System Design interview with confidence!

Check out this some of these options for potential real-world, high-level design problems you could be asked to solve:

Check out this guide to the Top 10 System Design interview questions to continue practicing with some of the most common questions and tutorials related to building real-world systems!

Bonus Tips for any SDI Question:

  • Simplify your approach with the RESHADED method for tackling any SDI question!

          - Learn more about this step-by-step System Design approach by reading more about what makes the RESHADED method so simple to use!

  • Start each problem by verbalizing all that you know: Doing this will demonstrate your planning skills and knowledge of the fundamentals. This could include a system’s required features, use cases, and common problems.

  • Narrate any trade-offs: Each system design choice you make will have at least one positive and one negative outcome. It is vital to show your ability to not only make a smart choice but also showcase your thought process when constructing a system.

  • Proactively ask for clarification: Remember, the System Design interview is a conversation. Most of the questions will be intentionally vague to allow you to ask questions and drive the conversation forward, showing you through the process.

  • Repeatedly perform mock interviews: This will help you train to calmly and confidently talk through a system design problem, no matter your years of experience!

Ready to dive in? Check out the Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers course from Educative to crack your next System Design interview and earn the career of your dreams!

Click <here> to get started

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