Advice > Data

Meta Data Engineer Interview (questions, process, prep)

By Tom Parry on May 29, 2024 How we wrote this article
Facebook data engineer interview

Data engineer interviews at Meta (formerly Facebook) are really challenging. The questions are difficult, specific to Meta and cover a wide range of topics.

The good news is that the right preparation can make a big difference, and can help you land a data engineer job at Meta. We have put together the ultimate guide to help you maximize your chances of success. Special thanks to our expert coach, ex-Meta data engineer Jean, for his insights.

Here's an overview of what we will cover:

Click here to practice 1-on-1 with a data engineer ex-interviewer

1. Meta Data Engineer Role and Salary

Before we cover your data engineer interview at Meta, let’s first take a look at the role.

1.1 What does a Meta Data Engineer do?

Data engineers at Meta are responsible for gathering and providing data, ensuring that it’s accurate, reliable, and useful for product development strategy and overall business decision-making.

As a Meta data engineer, you’ll be integrated into what is called a Meta Pod, which consists of software engineers, designers, product managers, data scientists, data analysts, and other functions depending on the product or service. It is your responsibility to use your data expertise to determine which opportunities to work on. 

Part of your role is knowing how to prioritize the requests you receive for the daily needs of the product team and working on the company’s big bets. Thankfully, according to ex-Meta data engineer Jean, “Generally the role of DE is very well defined, the way you have impact is well documented and managers are well equipped to help you.” So you’ll have plenty of help along the way in navigating your role and impact.

Because Meta is a mature company, plenty of its data infrastructure has already been built. If you’re a new hire, you can expect to work on maintaining pipelines, platforms, and processes. It’s a good chance for you to solidify your foundation in Python, SQL, and the tools Meta uses. These tools, according to ex-Meta DE Jean, are “amazing, often homegrown, and always fine-tuned for a perfect developer experience.” This gives you more opportunities to focus on novel data problem-solving.

Meta is very product-oriented, so data engineers are required to have good product sense. At the end of the day, as a Meta data engineer, your responsibility is to use your data expertise to ensure you have data sets available that anticipate future needs and help produce a better outcome for Meta’s products.

What skills are required to be a Meta Data Engineer?

Based on an analysis of the current data engineer posts at Meta, the minimum educational requirement for a data engineer is a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or any relevant technical field. You also meet the minimum requirement if you have equivalent practical experience. Two-plus years of work experience in data engineering and experience with SQL, ETL, Data Modeling, and at least one programming language (e.g., Python, C++, C#, Scala, etc.) are also must-haves.

Aside from technical proficiency, ex-Meta data engineer Jean says that Meta is looking for DE candidates who are collaborative, good communicators, with a strong product sense and user empathy, plus potential for growth.

1.2 How much does a Meta Data Engineer make?

Based on the computations from Glassdoor data, the average data engineer salary at Meta is 49% higher than the estimated average salary of a data engineer in the US.

Location also plays a part in the difference in salary based on Glassdoor data. To compare:

  • Meta Brazil Data Engineer: est. average of $41kyear base pay
  • Meta US Data Engineer: est. average of $182k/year base pay

Below you can see the average salary and compensation of the different data engineer levels at Meta US, as of early 2024, based on Levels.fyi.

Meta DE salary 2024

While we presume that you already know which specific level you are applying for, it’s still good to double-check this with your recruiter. Your recruiter should be able to advise you on which level you’re being evaluated.

Ultimately, how you do in your interviews will help determine what you’ll be offered. That’s why hiring one of our ex-Meta interview coaches can provide such a significant return on investment.

And remember, compensation packages are always negotiable, even at Meta. So, if you do get an offer, don’t be afraid to ask for more. If you need help negotiating, consider booking one of our salary negotiation coaches to get expert advice

2. Meta Data Engineer Interview Process and Timeline

What's the Meta data engineer interview process and timeline? It usually takes around two months and follows these steps:

2.1 What interviews to expect

  1. Resume screen
  2. Recruiter phone screen
  3. Technical screening
  4. Onsite interviews

Let’s take a look at each of those steps in a bit more detail.

2.1.1 Resume screen

First, recruiters will look at your resume and assess if your experience matches the open position. This is the most competitive step in the process, as millions of candidates do not make it past this stage.

If you’re looking for expert feedback on your resume, you can get input from our team of ex-Meta recruiters, who will cover what achievements to focus on (or ignore), how to fine-tune your bullet points, and more.

If you do have a connection to someone in Meta, it can be really helpful to get an employee referral to the internal recruiting team, as it may increase your chances of getting into the interview process.

2.1.2 Recruiter phone screen

In most cases, you'll start your interview process with Meta by talking to an HR recruiter on the phone for 30-45 minutes. They are looking to confirm that you've got a chance of getting the job at all, so be prepared to explain your background and why you’re a good fit at Meta. You should expect typical behavioral and resume questions like, "Tell me about yourself", "Why Meta?", as well as some SQL and data structure questions.

If you get past this first HR screen, the recruiter will then help schedule a technical screen with a Meta engineer. One great thing about Meta is that they are very transparent about their recruiting process. Your HR contact will therefore walk you through the remaining steps in the hiring process, and will also share with you a helpful email listing resources you can use to prepare.

2.1.3 Technical screening

If you make it past the HR screen you’ll have an hour-long technical screening where you’ll spend 25 minutes each on SQL questions and coding questions. You can get up to 5 questions for each focus area.

To provide your answers, you'll use a simple online code editor without syntax highlighting or auto-completion (e.g. CoderPad). It's a good idea to get used to using one of them beforehand. It’s up to you which programming language you use. Just be sure to let your recruiter know your preferred language beforehand.

Your recruiter will send you your custom CoderPad link once you confirm your interview schedule. Join the link minutes before your screening schedule so you’ll have time to fix if there’s any issues and still be on time.

Take a look at this Data Engineer initial screen prep guide by Meta for more information on this stage of the interview process.

2.1.4 Onsite interviews

If you make it past the technical screening you’ll be invited to the real test: a full day of “onsite” interviews at a Meta office. As you'll see in this really useful Meta DE onsite prep guide, you can expect four interviews in total: 3 hour-long technical interviews and one 30-minute ownership interview.  The questions you’ll face can be grouped into five categories:

In addition to these interviews, you'll also have lunch with a fellow engineer while you are onsite. The lunch interview is meant to be your time to ask questions about what it's like to work at Meta. The company won't be evaluating you during this time, but we recommend that you behave as if they were.

2.2 Individual contributors vs managers

Meta has two career tracks. You can either grow into a manager where you end up leading teams of engineers (management track). Or you can stay very hands-on technically and specialize as you become more senior (individual contributor track).

If you're interviewing as an individual contributor then, as we’ve discussed regarding a data engineer role, you can mainly expect technical interviews and will typically only have a single behavioral (ownership) interview.

However, if you are interviewing as a manager, director, or above, then you should expect at least two interviews that are not technical. There you'll need to answer behavioral questions about how you develop people, work with cross-functional teams, execute on projects, grow an organization, etc.

2.3 What happens behind the scenes

Throughout the interview process at Meta, the recruiter usually plays the role of "facilitator" and moves the process from one stage to the next. Here's an overview of what typically happens behind the scenes:

After the technical screen, the interviewer you've talked to will have 24h to submit their ratings and notes to the internal system. Your recruiter then reviews the feedback, and decides to move you to the onsite interview or not depending on how well you've done.

After the onsite, your interviewers will make a recommendation on hiring you or not and the recruiter compiles your "packet" (interview feedback, resume, referrals, etc.). If they think you can get the job, they will present your case at the next candidate review meeting.

Candidate review meetings are used to assess all candidates who have recently finished their interview loops and are close to getting an offer. Your packet will be analyzed and possible concerns will be discussed. Your interviewers are invited to join your candidate review meeting, but will usually only attend if there's a strong disagreement in the grades you received (e.g. 2 no hires, 2 hires). If after discussion the team still can't agree whether you should get an offer or not, you might be asked to do a follow-up interview to settle the debate. At the end of the candidate review meeting, a hire / no hire recommendation is made for consideration by the hiring committee.

The hiring committee includes senior leaders from across Meta. This step is usually a formality and the committee follows the recommendation of the candidate review meeting. The main focus is on fine-tuning the exact level and therefore the compensation you will be offered.

It's also important to note that hiring managers and people who refer you have little influence on the overall process. They can help you get an interview at the beginning, but that's about it.

3. Meta Data Engineer Example Questions

As we mentioned above, for the position of Meta data engineer, you'll face questions across five different topics; four technical and one behavioral.

Now let’s dig a little deeper into those topics. We’ve analyzed scores of candidates’ interview reports on Glassdoor to provide you with real interview questions that have been previously asked by Meta. We've categorized them and we've changed the grammar and phrasing in some places to make the questions easier to understand.

Let’s get into it.

3.1 Product sense questions

Data engineers play an important role in Meta’s product development strategy. They therefore need to have a strong product awareness and the ability to hold strategic conversations about a product and its possibilities.

All three technical interviews will be case studies of typical product challenges that Meta normally solves with data. You’ll need to show that you can think critically about the needs of a product and give solid technical solutions.

As part of your practice, you might want to check out the metrics that companies similar to Meta use. You can extract this information by looking at their financial statements.

Let’s take a look at some real examples of product sense questions that we found in the Glassdoor data.

Example product sense questions asked by Meta in data engineer interviews

  • Design a dashboard to highlight a certain aspect of the user behavior.
  • How do you calculate unique logins by a user on facebook.com?
  • How would you rate the popularity of a video posted online?
  • How would you check if Facebook should change something in the newsfeed? How would you define the KPI in this case?
  • Design an experiment to test whether a certain feature generates conversation.

3.2 Data modeling questions

Meta is an organization built on collecting huge amounts of data. Modeling that data in the best way possible is therefore very important.

You can expect to be asked to brainstorm the data needs of one of Meta’s products. You’ll then be asked to design a data mart to support analytics use cases and to write select SQL statements to produce specific results.

Let’s take a look at some real examples of data modeling questions that we found in the Glassdoor data.

Example data modeling questions asked by Meta in data engineer interviews

  • Present a design of a gaming company database.
  • Design a database for an app.
  • Design a relational database for a ride-sharing app.
  • Given data, design a table schema for this data to be used by a data scientist to query metrics such as process with max average elapsed time, and so they can plot each process.
  • Create DDL (table and foreign keys) for several tables in a provided ERD. The ERD contains at least one many-to-many relationship.
  • Design a database schema for an app which provides a ride-sharing service, explain which tables, field types, and keys will need to be saved.

3.3 SQL questions

With Meta’s backend handling billions of data fetch operations each day, knowledge of SQL is very important for the company's data engineers. That’s why they include SQL questions both in the technical screening and the onsite interviews.

The interviewer will test your knowledge of basic SQL constructs. You’ll need to know how to use joins, aggregate functions, analytical functions, set operators, and subqueries, while thinking about efficiency and scalability.

Let’s take a look at some real examples of SQL questions that we found in the Glassdoor data.

Example SQL questions asked by Meta in data engineer interviews

  • How do you join two tables with all the information on the left one unchanged?
  • Does database view occupy the disk space?
  • Given full authority to "make it work", import a large data set with duplicates into a warehouse while meeting the requirements of a business intelligence designer for query speed.
  • Find the top 10 colleges/companies that an average social person interacts with.
  • The ORDER BY command in SQL is automatically set in what format if you didn't set it: Ascending or Descending?
  • When you want to delete or add a column of a table in a database, what command will you use?
  • What command would you want to use if you want to keep all the info on the left table?
  • If you want to combine two columns after removing two duplicates, would you use UNION or UNION ALL?
  • What is the term used to select non-duplicates in SQL?
  • Given a raw data table, how would you write the SQL to perform the ETL to get data into a desired format?
  • Perform a merge-sort with SQL only.
  • A table has two data entries every day for # of apples and oranges sold. Write a query to get the difference between the apples and oranges sold on a given day.
  • Given a database schema showing product sales: calculate what percent of our sales transactions had a valid promotion applied. And what % of sales happened on the first and last day of the promotion?
  • Display the most common name in a table.
  • Write a query that returns product_family, units_sold, percentage of promoted.
  • Write a query that returns percentage of unsold product_category.
  • Write a function to count the number of times each character appears in a string and rewrite the string in that format.
  • Given a table of users and whom they sent friend requests to, what is the average number of friend requests sent in the last week?
  • Given a schema progressively ask SQL queries ranging from basic to window functions.

3.4 Coding questions

Data engineers at Meta solve some of the company’s biggest challenges with code. Meta will want to make sure you’ve got the necessary problem-solving skills and that you can think in a structured way when it comes to code. 

You’ll need to know how to manipulate data structures, how to use dictionaries, loops, and lists, and show a good understanding of string, set operations, etc, in your coding language of choice. You’ll need to provide accurate, bug-free, efficient, and well-thought-out code, sharing your thoughts out loud while you work through it on a whiteboard (or online equivalent).

Finally, we recommend reading this guide on how to answer coding interview questions and practicing with this list of coding interview examples in addition to those listed below.

Let’s take a look at some real examples of coding questions that we found in the Glassdoor data.

Example coding questions asked by Meta in data engineer interviews

  • Given a two-dimensional list, for example [ [2,3],[3,4],[5]] person 2 is friends with 3 etc, find how many friends each person has. Note, one person has no friends.
  • Can you do the following without using subquery?: {1,None,1,2,None} --> [1,1,1,2,2] Ensure you take care of case input[None] which means None object.
  • Complete a function that returns a list containing all the mismatched words (case sensitive) between two given input strings # For example: # - string 1: "Firstly this is the first string" # - string 2: "Next is the second string" # # - output : ['Firstly', 'this', 'first', 'Next', 'second'].
  • Complete a function that returns the number of times a given character occurs in the given string.
    # For example:
    # - input string = "mississippi"
    # - char = "s"
    #
    # - output : 4
  • Given an array containing None values fill in the None values with most recent non None value in the array. For example: input array: [1,None,2,3,None,None,5,None] # - output array: [1,1,2,3,3,3,5,5].
  • Complete a function that returns a list containing all the mismatched words (case sensitive) between two given input strings # For example: string 1: "Firstly this is the first string" # - string 2: "Next is the second string" # # - output : ['Firstly', 'this', 'first', 'Next', 'second'].
  • Given an array of integers, we would like to determine whether the array is monotonic (non-decreasing/non-increasing) or not. Examples:
 // 1 2 5 5 8 
// true 
// 9 4 4 2 2 
// true 
// 1 4 6 3 
// false  
//1 1 1 1 1 1
// true
  • Given two sentences, construct an array that has the words that appear in one sentence and not the other.
  • Given an IP address as an input string, validate it and return True/False.
  • Count the neighbors of each node in a graph. Input graph is a multi-dimensional list.
  • Given a dictionary, print the key for nth highest value present in the dict. If there are more than 1 record present for nth highest value then sort the key and print the first one.
  • Flatten a nested dictionary.
  • You have a 2-D array of friends like [[A,B],[A,C],[B,D],[B,C],[R,M], [S],[P], [A]]. Write a function that creates a dictionary of how many friends each person has. People can have 0 to many friends. However, there won't be repeat relationships like [A,B] and [B,A] and neither will there be more than 2 people in a relationship.
  • What is a loop that goes on forever?
  • Recursively parse a string for a pattern that can be either 1 or 2 characters long.
  • Write a simple spell-checking engine.
  • Given two sentences, you have to print the words that are not present in either of the sentences. (If one word is present twice in 1st sentence but not present in 2nd sentence then you have to print that word too).
  • Write a function to count the number of times each character appears in a string and rewrite the string in that format.
  • Match all words in a document against a name dictionary and anonymize them using a hash.

To see more example coding problems asked by Meta in engineering interviews, check out our Meta software engineer interview guide. You'll see that those examples come with links to Leetcode solutions.

3.5 Ownership questions

Meta data engineers need more than just strong technical skills–they need the soft skills that will enable them to leverage this technical knowledge by taking initiative and influencing their fellow engineers and cross-functional partners.

The ownership questions that you’ll be asked are what we call "behavioral" questions. They will aim to assess you on your past behavior, looking to see if you have demonstrated good leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. To dig deeper into the interview category, check out our guide on the Meta behavioral interview, as well as our take on the "Why Meta?" question.

Below we've listed some frequent ownership questions that Meta tends to ask, according to data from Glassdoor. 

Example ownership questions asked by Meta in data engineer interviews

4. Meta Data Engineer Interviewing Tips

You might be a fantastic data engineer, but unfortunately, that won’t necessarily be enough to ace your interviews at Meta. Interviewing is a skill in itself, that you need to learn.

Let’s look at some key tips to make sure you approach your interviews in the right way.  

4.1 Ask clarifying questions

Often the questions you’ll be asked will be quite ambiguous, so make sure you ask questions that can help you clarify and understand the problem. Most of the questions will focus on testing your technical proficiency.

4.2 Be conversational and concise 

According to ex-Meta data engineer Jean, aside from technical proficiency, Meta is looking for DE candidates who are good communicators. So make sure you approach the interview like a conversation. 

That said, don’t let your answers meander. Keep your answers concise and prioritize speed and efficiency to give your interviewers a chance to see all your skill sets.

4.3 Think out loud

You need to walk your interviewer through your thought process. Meta recommends that you talk even while coding as they want to know how you think. Your interviewer may also give you hints about whether you’re on the right track or not. Be alert for these, and be ready to pivot once you’ve gotten the prompt. This shows you’re eager to learn and listen well to feedback.

4.4 State and check assumptions

You need to explicitly state assumptions, explain why you’re making them, and check with your interviewer to see if those assumptions are reasonable. 

4.5 Present multiple possible solutions

Present multiple possible solutions if you can. Meta wants to know your reasoning for choosing a certain solution. 

4.6 Be honest and authentic

Be genuine in your responses. Meta interviewers appreciate authenticity and honesty. If you faced challenges or setbacks, discuss how you improved and learned from them. When talking about failure, don’t try to hide your mistakes or frame a weakness as a strength. Instead, show what you learned and how the failure helped you grow.

4.7 Center on Meta’s culture

Familiarize yourself with Meta’s core values and align your behavioral responses with them. Meta values certain attributes such as comfort with ambiguity, agility, collaborative nature, and a sense of urgency.

4.8 Brute force, then iterate

When coding, don’t necessarily go for the perfect solution straight away. Meta recommends that you first try and find a solution that works, then iterate to refine your answer. 

4.9 Keep your code organized

Make sure to keep your code organized so your interviewer won’t have a hard time understanding what you’ve written. Meta wants to see that your code has captured the right logical structure

5. Preparation Plan

Now that you know what questions to expect, let's focus on how to prepare. It's no secret that the performance bar at Meta is high. Some people even go as far as quitting their job to prepare for interviews full-time.

This is obviously extreme and not what we recommend doing, but it shows how much effort some candidates are ready to put in. We've listed the four steps we recommend taking to prepare as efficiently as possible below.

5.1 Learn about Meta’s culture

Most candidates fail to do this. But before investing tens of hours preparing for an interview at Meta, you should take some time to make sure it's actually the right company for you.

Meta is prestigious and it's therefore tempting to ignore that step completely. But in our experience, the prestige in itself won't make you happy day-to-day. It's the type of work and the people you work with that will.

If you know engineers who work at Meta (or used to), it's a good idea to talk to them to understand what the culture is like. In addition, we would recommend reading the following:

Meta recommends taking a look at these resources when you prepare:

5.2 Practice by yourself

To help you further organize your preparation, make sure to read Meta’s own guide to the data engineer onsite interview. It's a great overview of what to expect and contains some invaluable tips. Then you’ll want to start digging a bit deeper into each of the five types of questions you’ll be facing (product sense, data modeling, SQL, coding, and ownership) and start to practice answering them by yourself.

For product sense questions, this data science question video offers an easy-to-understand overview and tackles some example questions. It’s aimed at data scientists but is also relevant to data engineers. In addition, we recommend having a close look at Meta products and thinking hard about their metrics.

For data modeling questions, learndatamodeling.com has some useful videos that explain some of the core concepts. To practice, take a main product from a top tech company and try and work out how you would model each of its functions. Create logging designs and design data models. This kind of preparation can go a long way in helping you make a strong impression.

For SQL questions, you can also find a lot of practice questions on Leetcode. We also recommend reading this article on the 3 types of SQL questions.

For coding questions, we recommend using our coding interview prep article as your one-stop shop to guide your prep process. It has a 7-step preparation plan and links to the best resources.

If you haven’t already, you should also take a look at our Meta software engineer interview guide for useful example coding questions and additional information. 

For ownership questions, we recommend reading our guide to Meta behavioral interview questions where you’ll find a step-by-step method. In addition, you'll want to write down your answers to the example questions we gave you in the previous section.

Meta has a list of even more resources to help you prepare for your technical interviews:

Product Sense

Data modeling

SQL

Coding

Finally, a great way to practice answering interview questions is to interview yourself out loud. This may sound strange, but it will significantly improve the way you communicate your answers during an interview. Play the role of both the candidate and the interviewer, asking questions and answering them, just like two people would in an interview. Trust us, it really helps!

5.3 Practice with someone else

Practicing by yourself will only take you so far. One of the main challenges of coding interviews is to have to communicate what you are doing as you are doing it. As a result, we strongly recommend practicing live interviews with someone interviewing you.

If you have friends or peers who can do mock interviews with you, that's a great option. This can be especially helpful if your friend has experience with engineering interviews, or is at least familiar with the process.

5.4 Practice with ex-interviewers

Finally, you should also try to practice data engineer mock interviews with expert ex-interviewers, as they’ll be able to give you much more accurate feedback than friends and peers.

If you know a data engineer who has experience running interviews at Meta or another big tech company, then that's fantastic. But for most of us, it's tough to find the right connections to make this happen. And it might also be difficult to practice multiple hours with that person unless you know them really well.

Here's the good news. We've already made the connections for you. We’ve created a coaching service where you can practice 1-on-1 with ex-interviewers from leading tech companies like Meta. Learn more and start scheduling sessions today.

 

Related articles:

Facebook data scientist interview
DataMay 28, 2024
Meta Data Scientist Interview (questions, process, prep)
Complete guide to Meta data scientist interviews. Learn more about the role, the interview process, practice with example questions, and get all the interviewing and prep tips you'll need.
Read more
Google data scientist interview
DataMay 21, 2024
Google Data Scientist Interview (questions, process, prep)
Complete guide to Google data scientist interviews (also applies to GCP). Learn more about the role, the interview process, practice with example questions, and learn key interviewing and preparation tips.
Read more
Google data engineer interview
DataJun 22, 2022
Google data engineer interview (questions and prep)
Complete guide to Google data engineer interviews. Learn the interview process, practice with example questions, and learn key preparation tips.
Read more
Data science case study
DataMar 14, 2022
Data science case interviews (what to expect & how to prepare)
Overview of data science case study interviews at companies like Amazon, Google, and Meta (Facebook), as well as how to prepare for them. Includes answer framework, practice questions, and preparation steps.
Read more
amazon data science interview
DataFeb 15, 2023
Amazon data scientist interview (questions, process, prep)
Complete guide to Amazon data scientist interviews (also applies to AWS). Learn the interview process, practice with example questions, and learn key preparation tips.
Read more
data science interview prep
DataJul 28, 2021
Data science interview prep (relax, start here)
Complete guide to data scientist interview prep. Learn what to expect, and practice with questions from Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.
Read more
Amazon data engineer interview guide
DataNov 16, 2022
Amazon data engineer interview (questions, process, prep)
Complete guide to Amazon data engineer interviews. Learn the interview process, practice with example questions, and learn key preparation tips.
Read more
Greedy algorithm interview questions
Software engineeringNov 29, 2021
50 greedy algorithm interview questions
50 greedy algorithm interview questions, all with links to high-quality solutions, plus an interview preparation guide. Part 6 of our algorithms questions series to help you practice for your software engineer interview.
Read more