Airbnb Hiring Process: Interview Process, Questions and Tips
So your job application has been accepted by the Airbnb hiring manager and they have invited you for an interview... what can you expect? Here's what the Airbnb interview process looks like
5 min read
7 Nov, 2022
It's fair to say AirBnb is one of the biggest tech success stories of the last two decades. It started off as an app to help techies and nomads couch surf their way across the west coast of America, and by 2022 turned into a company with a $100B market cap.
Technology is at the core of Airbnb's offering, and as a result they are constantly hiring Software Engineers, Data Scientists, DevOps engineers and Business Analysts to add to their workforce of over 6,000 employees.
So, if you’re looking to join the team at Airbnb, but you have no idea what the hiring process looks like, you came to the right place. Read on to find out more about what to expect, what you should prepare, what interview questions you might encounter, and other extra tips so you can get your dream job.
The Interview Process
Each applicant typically goes through 5 or more stages during their interview:
- Pre-screen with the recruiter
- Online Coding Challenge
- Onsite Behavioural Interviews
- Onsite Coding Rounds
- Onsite System Design
1. Pre-screen with the recruiter (phone call)
A recruiter will arrange a short call with you once your application is approved by the hiring team at AirBnb. Recruiters reach out to you via email to setup a short call.
During the telephone interview, you will be interviewed by the company’s hiring manager or recruiter. On the call they discuss the interview process with you and help you with any queries you may have. Usually this call last about 30 minutes so make sure you a strong phone signal before taking the call.
The interviewer may ask you about your availability and if you are able to travel for an in-person interview. Prepare some questions for the interviewer as well, so that you are ready when given the chance. Ask about Airbnb as a company, the job position, and what the hiring process is like.
2. Coding Challenge (online)
Depending on your role, you may be invited to do a coding challenge. If you are a software engineer you can definitely expect one, and you may also expect a practical coding test if you are a data scientist, data analyst, DevOps engineer or any other technical role. You will usually have 1 hour to complete the challenge and there will be several unit test cases that you need to pass in order to complete the challenge.
To prepare for these tests, we recommend that you do some examples on HackerRank prior to the interview. Being good at these types of coding challenges requires practise. HackerRank has some challenges that are publicly posted which you can familiarize yourself with by visiting their website.
3. Behavioural Interview (on-site)
After the initial conversation with the recruiter and a successful online coding challenge, you will have to take an onsite interview. You will be invited to one of AirBnb's many offices around the world and will have 1 or 2 rounds of behavioural interviews. This is where they will evaluate whether you are a good culture fit for the company.
Before this on-site interview you should prepare yourself by reading up on the company’s core values and mission.
Example Behavioural Questions
Here are some example behavioural questions you may expect in your on-site interview:
- Tell us how you can improve Airbnb’s platform. What changes would you make to the website?
- What is it about working at Airbnb that you are attracted to?
- Are there any projects that you’re proud of? Tell us about them.
- Why do you think you’re the perfect fit for this position at Airbnb?
- How do you see Airbnb’s future in 5-10 years?
Would you like a 4 day work week?
4. Software Engineering Interview (on-site)
After your behavioural interview, you can expect to have another onsite interview that focus on software engineering principles, on topics such as data structure and algorithms.
So it's a good time to brush up on your data structures knowledge e.g. trees, graphs, hash maps, heaps, stacks, linked lists, and more. And while you're at it, revise your algorithms knowledge, specifically: quicksort, dynamic programming, breadth-first search, binary search, merge sort, and more.
Example Software Engineering Questions
These are only a few sample topics to give you an idea of the kind of questions you could expect at this stage of the interview process:
- Find a way to convert a given string into a palindrome by adding characters in front of it so that the shortest palindrome can be returned.
- Create a method that returns the least number of perfect-square numbers that sum to a positive integer n.
- Plot an algorithm that takes a string that can print out all the possible permutations of that same string.
- Construct a file system that allows you to create new paths and assign them alternative values.
- Determine the sum of all left leaves in a binary tree.
5. System Design Interview (On-site)
As one of the most important interviews, this can be the deciding factor on whether you get the job or not. Depending on whether you are applying for a senior or junior role, the bar is different in regards to the system design interview. This interview consists of questions related to system architecture principles although these might different depending on the job you are applying for.
These questions are typically open-ended questions with no right or wrong answer, allowing for discussion. It's important to "think out loud" for these answers to allow the interviewee to understand your thought process.
System Design Sample Questions
Here are some example questions that you might expect during this interview.
- Tell us about your experience with product design.
- If you had the chance to do so, how would you change Twitter’s trending topics?
- Can you design Amazon.com to handle more website traffic? How?
- Talk about how you would design a system for a ticketing platform.
- How would you design a messenger service like Whatsapp or WeChat?
Airbnb Interview FAQs
1. How long does the hiring process take?
On average, the entire Airbnb Interview process takes two to five weeks from application to job offer - but it has been known to take as long as 8 weeks. Since there are 2 online phases and 5-6 onsite phases for the hiring process, it will take some time before you get the offer.
2. How should I prepare for the interview?
You can never be sure as to the format of the interview (and obviously it depends on the job you are applying for) but here are some high level tips to give you the best chance:
- Prepare for technical questions e.g. HackerRank
- Prepare for behavioural questions (see above)
- Prepare for system design questions
- Research the company e.g. culture
- Prepare questions for the interviewee e.g. asking about career progression possibilities is a good option as it shows your long term desire for the role
- Go back to #1. Practise, practise practise!
3. What should I wear to the interview?
According to Comparably, Airbnb has a "very casual" dress code. So dress accordingly. Don't turn up in a suit, but don't turn up in flip flops either. We'd recommend "smart-ish" casual.
4. What documents should I prepare?
Whether you are just about to apply to Airbnb, or are about to go to an interview, make sure that your resume is up-to-date. Highlight your most relevant and recent experience that is related to the job position you’re applying for. And it doesn't hurt to bring a print copy of your resume to the interview.
You should also make sure your Linkedin profile is up to date. It's pretty common for an interviewee to check your Linkedin profile 5 minutes before your interview... so, make it shine!
The Airbnb hiring process is not easy and you can expect it will take a long time - but if you apply the recommendations given in this article, you'll give yourself the best chance.
And if you don't get the job (don't worry, most people don't get hired - it's tough...) you can check out our job board at 4dayweek.io to find job positions with a 4-day work week!