Preparing to AI Engineer’s Interview at Companies Like Google and Amazon | Hacker Noon

June 10th 2020

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Google and Amazon!

These tech titans are a dream come true for every budding AI engineer.

Every fresh engineering graduate who has walked out of college dreams about working at Google or Amazon — “the perfect work environment.”

But have you ever wondered how everybody got there?

When Sundar Pichai, the current CEO of Alphabet was called for an interview for the VP of a product management role at a company, the interviewers asked him what he thought of Gmail. It was on the very same day Google announced the email service, 1st April 2004. For which he responded saying he can’t answer the question because he could not use the product. In the fourth round of the interview, someone asked him a question, have you seen Gmail? To which his answer was, no.

The interviewer showed it to him. Further on, when the fifth interviewer asked what he thought about Gmail. Pichai could answer all the questions.

In such situations, most people try to cook up stories just to get to the next question. Sundar did the exact opposite and ended up making an impression.

“He demonstrated intellectual humility.”

Now you might be wondering why all the big talks, right?

Well, you see, at times telling the employer or the hiring manager you have no clue about the question might dock off certain points, but it is still better than coming up with uncertain facts or answers that might be entirely false.

“Successful, bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure.” –

Laszlo Bock, Former Senior VP of People Operations at Google

Laszlo also says it is one of the top qualities he expects to find in a candidate.

If you’re wondering how to crack an interview at Google or Amazon, you might need to show intellectual humility just like Pichai.

Do you have what it takes to get into these tech giants?

The next time you find yourself sitting for an interview at any one of these companies, make sure to find your inner Pichai.

How Amazon recruits an AI engineer: The process

Let’s break down the primary components of what an AI engineer interview consists of:

  • Initial Screening

Phone screening is ideally processed by the hiring manager or the recruiter. This is the first and foremost step a recruiter takes to have a better understanding about the candidate. This call is to brief you about the job role and to talk about the interview process. A run-through is made about your past work experiences and your responsibilities in the previous organizations. They also need to have a clear understanding of your interests in working for the company and whether you have the grit and competency for the given job role.

  • Technical Screening

The second round comes to the technical screening, this generally takes place with an AI engineering management or a machine learning engineering management. Technical questions are asked just to check whether you’re competent enough and whether you fit well with the company’s culture. You’ll be asked questions on machine learning concepts and AI concepts, etc. You need to keep your head straight and answer with confidence to all the questions asked. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced AI professional you need to be ready to answer every question that the interviewer asks you.

After parsing into many questions, here is the list of the most common technical questions an AI engineer might need to answer:
  • What is AI?
  • What is the difference between AI, machine learning, and deep learning
  • Name the different types of AI?
  • What are intelligent agents?
  • What is the most popular programming language used in AI? Or name five of the best languages used in AI?
  • Can you define what are neural networks and how they function?
  • What’s the difference between strong AI and weak AI?
  • What is machine learning, explain the difference between AI and machine learning?
  • How would you explain machine learning to a non-technical person?
  • Can you give us certain examples of AI in use?
  • Define the Turing Test?
  • What is TensorFlow?
  • Is there a connection between Game Theory and AI, if yes, explain?
  • Can you tell me what are the different types of keys in a relational database?
  • Will AI impact application development? How?
  • What are the good properties of a knowledge representation game?
  • Explain the hype behind AI?What is the tower of Hanoi?
  • What is a breadth-first search algorithm?
  • What is an A* Algorithm search method?

This is just the first part of the technical round. The second technical screening round will be the coding round. In this, you may use whatever programming language you prefer.

  • Onsite Interview

The onsite interview generally goes on about five to six rounds of interviews. This round of interviews comprises a mixture of behavioral and technical interview questions.

The behavioral question you can expect: behavioral questions often cover up your past job roles and your past work experience and why you’re leaving your current job. Remember this may be a tricky question, so you need to answer it using your intellectual humility. They might even ask leadership principle questions, make sure you know both Google’s and Amazon’s leadership principles or the leadership principles of the company you’re giving your interview for.

Technical questions you can expect: although you’ve been through with the technical round, you might still need to answer technical questions that cover both machine learning and AI concepts. Most of the past interviewees were asked questions related to object-oriented design. Ensure you cover every aspect of the AI and machine learning field.

Reality Check

On average, most people get rejected on their first round of interviews. Rejections can be due to multiple reasons — either the candidate does not possess the required skill-set or perhaps due to a lack of knowledge in the given job role.

You need to possess strong technical knowledge with the latest AI tools and technologies to succeed in today’s job market. Impressing the hiring manager might be the only factor that’s standing between you and the job. You can always opt for an AI certification program to help eliminate such roadblocks. Taking up a professional certification keeps you in-sync with the latest industry trends.

Are you set to find your inner Pichai?

Don’t do another interview until you’ve mastered these questions!

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