Airbnb Interview Questions: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Airbnb Interview Process

Airbnb is a global online marketplace and hospitality service company, leading the industry with cost-effective traveling alternatives. As an Airbnb software engineering candidate, you should understand that the company values creativity, problem-solving skills and a customer-centric drive. A good command of JavaScript, Ruby, and Java is a prerequisite. Prior familiarity with their tech stack—like React, Redux, and Ruby on Rails—adds significant advantage.

Airbnb's interview process is rigorous, aimed at assessing a candidate’s technical prowess, problem-solving skills, and cultural fit. It usually begins with a resume screening, followed by an online assessment (OA), testing the candidate's proficiency in coding.

After the OA, there are two technical phone interviews focusing on data structures and algorithms. Those shortlisted are then invited for an onsite interview, which includes a total of five rounds with a mix of technical and behavioural interviews. The difficulty level is high, emphasizing practical applications and real-life challenges the company faces.

Initial Screen

At Airbnb, the initial screening process begins with a perusal of your submitted resume by the recruiting team. Your credentials, skills, projects and relevant experiences are evaluated meticulously, determining your potential fit within the company's software engineering team.

As a second step, there may be an online assessment (OA) or preliminary screening call. In general, the OA focuses on algorithmic and problem-solving abilities. Depending on the role you apply for, expect a combination of coding tasks, multiple-choice questions and short problem-solving tasks, targeted at assessing your technical proficiency.

In addition, the preliminary calls are often a mix of technical and behavioral assessments. The conversation here typically centers around your past projects and experiences, Airbnb's culture fit, and an overview of the position you're applying for.

Phone Screen

At Airbnb, the interview process typically begins with one or two phone screenings. The main aim of these is to evaluate the applicant's fundamental coding skills and problem-solving capabilities. Generally, the interviewer will discuss specific technical topics pertaining to software engineering in these calls.

Further, in these initial phone screenings, Airbnb wants to gauge the cultural fit. The interviewer will try to understand if the candidate can align with Airbnb's mission and values. Hence, it’s not just about technical acumen, but also about your persona and ideology fitting within the company.

Onsite Rounds

At Airbnb, the onsite interview rounds typically consist of four to six rounds. These rounds are conducted by different team members, who specialize in various technology departments within the company. Each interview lasts around 45 minutes to an hour.

Within these rounds, expect to face two to three technical interviews, which focus on coding and algorithm skills. There's usually one system design interview, and one to two behavioral interviews where they access your potential cultural fit within the team and the company.

Final Rounds, Negotiation, Offer

Once you've passed the technical and behavioral interviews at Airbnb, you won't meet with any executives. Instead, you will be matched with a team based on your skills and interests. Final offers are negotiable.

Airbnb Technical Interview Questions and Patterns

In preparing for a software engineering interview at Airbnb, candidates will encounter a variety of coding problem patterns. According to data from LeetCode, the most dominant patterns include Breadth-First Search and Depth-First Search, while Dynamic Programming also frequently appears in their coding challenges. Aspiring applicants should also be ready for complex scenarios involving less common, but tricky patterns such as Graphs and Bit Manipulation, ensuring a well-rounded ability to tackle diverse problems.

Airbnb's coding interviews are known to be challenging! Candidates should be prepared for a thorough evaluation of their problem-solving abilities across many patterns.

Sample Classical Behavioral Questions and Answers

Tell us about a time you had to make a decision on a significant change in a project you worked on.

  • When responding to this question, mention a situation where you had to analyze data or seek inputs from your team and make a difficult decision. Emphasize on your decision-making skills, ability to handle stress, and leadership qualities.

Can you recall an instance wherein you had to streamline a complex process?

  • You should describe a situation where you successfully simplified a complex process, enhanced efficiency, and delivered meaningful results. Discuss your problem-solving skills and ability to bring in innovation.

How would you respond if your team disagrees with your technical decision?

  • Focus on your communication skills, team collaboration, and conflict management. Talk about a situation in which you respected others' inputs, acknowledged different viewpoints and found a mutually beneficial solution.

Sample Teamwork Behavioral Questions and Answers

Can you give an example of a project where you had to collaborate with multiple teams, just like the cross-functional approach Airbnb employs within its teams?

  • Rather than answering specifically, share a situation where you worked on a collaborative project requiring coordination with various teams. Highlight how you managed communication, handled conflicts, and contributed to the project's successful completion.

How would you promote diversity and inclusion in software engineering teams, reflecting Airbnb's commitment to building a diverse community?

  • Discuss strategies that promote inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. It could be encouraging diverse hiring, promoting multicultural understanding, or creating a supportive work environment encouraging collaboration and respect.

Can you illustrate an instance where you implemented customer-centric solutions, similar to Airbnb's commitment to prioritizing its guests' and hosts' needs?

  • Without narrating a personal anecdote, explain an instance where you prioritized customer needs and feedback while working on a project or a product. Describe how it led to a valuable solution and improved user satisfaction.

Sample Role Specifc Behavioral Questions and Answers

Tell us about a time when you developed a solution for a software problem that greatly improved user experience.

  • Discuss a specific instance in which you identified an issue impacting user experience, and how you leveraged your technical skills to remedy the problem. Ensure to highlight your thought process, collaboration efforts (if any), and the impact of your solution.

Explain a scenario where you had to adapt or alter your coding practices to suit a team project.

  • You could talk about a situation where you had to learn new coding practices, or changed your coding style to suit your team's approach. This demonstrates adaptability while working within a team.

Being a company that heavily relies on data, how would you handle a situation where your program is retrieving incorrect information from Airbnb's databases?

  • Without getting too technical, explain the processes and methodologies you would use to debug and rectify the situation. Make sure to emphasize your understanding of data integrity, problem-solving skills, and attention to details. Also, discussing the impact of incorrect data on user experience could be a great addition to your answer.