How did I get interviewed at Yandex: my difficult but successful experience

    For a little more than six months now I have been working in Yandex search as a release engineer. And almost from the first working day I want to write about how I responded to the vacancy, how the interviews went, what I liked about this process and what not. But first, I entered the course of affairs, and then every day such interesting tasks appeared in my work that I was not even ready to distract from them for this story.

    A question for the attentive: how many modules break off from the ship at launch?


    And a year ago my life seemed to be similar, but at the same time a completely different situation - there was not enough time for a hobby, there were a lot of tasks, but they did not bring me any pleasure. In the end, I decided on a change. In fact, this position in Yandex was not the first that I considered. During the time that passed before my first working day, I refreshed a lot of topics in my head. And before the final interview I had to take on a few more. Now I understand what mistakes I made in this process, so I want to share my experience with you. I would be glad if it would be useful to someone. I want to say that these are not official recipes from Yandex recruiters, but only my own conclusions. At the end of the post I will share a list of literature that helped me in the preparation, and I’ll add those sources that I find useful,



    Every space trucker knows that there are no perfect spaceships in the real world. Something always goes wrong: if the ship has powerful engines, it means that they probably forgot to mount anti-meteor guns on the ship; if there is an abundance of cabins for the crew, then wait for trouble with luggage holds.

    And experienced space wolves must have noticed that the process of assembling a spaceship from pieces of sewer systems and other improvised tools has some similarities with the preparation for interviews and other important events in human life. Did I think about this when last fall I first landed in the Yandex office?

    You look so tired and unhappy

    Of course, I didn’t think about it. At that time, mkot worked in Yandex , and at that time I accidentally parked my own spaceship in a small company developing microcontroller data acquisition systems. At the interview, I just showed what I do in my free time, and they took me. Every day, like any regular pilot of an intergalactic cruiser, a developer, I worked from morning to night, and sometimes in a dream. The leadership demanded the impossible, dreamed of feats of production, and I tried my best.

    Understanding the dangers of daily feats for health did not come immediately. At first I found that I did not have enough time for a hobby, then a cycle of meaningless business trips began, and there was not even time left for life. After months, I (finally!) Realized that the goals of the leadership (to earn more money) did not coincide with my own (to make people happier). No salary can compensate for the feeling of emptiness of one’s own life. I was determined to start a tractor with a spaceship, I even bought suitcases, I just didn't know where to go. And then my phone rang.

    I'm gonna put on an iron shirt

    The IT recruiter’s call unsettled me. I was so absorbed in thoughts of quitting my current job that I didn’t even think about finding a new one. The recruiter was looking for someone for Kaspersky Lab, and I decided that it would be interesting to try my hand. The IT recruiter insisted very much on the need to submit a resume, which, of course, I did not have in the next two hours. I listened to him, and made the most significant and at the same time the happiest mistake in this story: I made a poor-quality resume in a hurry. They never called me from LC.

    It was hard not to draw two simple conclusions. First: I can work wherever I wish, if I try. Second: you need a good resume. For several weeks I fell into thought. Finally, in my head snapped: "I really, really want to work in Yandex." And I set about making a serious resume. Spent on him, it seems, all day. I chose the most interesting vacancy, sent an application, and the very next day I received an invitation to skype interview.

    And here I first turned into a space trucker. I had three weeks to prepare for an interview, and a huge number of topics that needed to be refreshed in my memory: * nix, shell scripting, Python, awk, version control systems, TCP / IP, testing, algorithms and data structures ( almost complete listat the end of this article). I did not know which was more important from this, and therefore I tried to “grab as many different blocks as possible”. This may not be the best idea, but I had no others.

    That's about the spacecraft from which such blocks are built


    The interview took about an hour. It went without shine, but it seems to be worthy. They asked a lot about bash and algorithms, but I think I could ask about anything - and I, it seemed to me, damn well prepared for questions, although I was worried.

    The next day (May 14) I received a letter:
    We invite you to an interview on Friday, May 23 at 12-00. The meeting place is the Yandex office on Leo Tolstoy Street.


    Eight tons of armored steel and any weapon you will need

    Less than two weeks were left to prepare for an in-person interview, and I again began to assemble my “spaceship” from knowledge. This time I decided to focus on Advanced BASH scripting, Cormen's Algorithms, and Lutz's Python. I already read some Linux system administration guide on the plane.

    Here is what I wrote on my blog the next day:
    Rise at 4 am, taxi to the airport, take off, landing, aeroexpress, metro - everything is standard, and everything is on schedule. I hoped to sit from 10 to 12 in some cafe, and really counted on the Subway marked on Yandex maps. Unfortunately, Subway was not there, and I had to go to McDonald's. Filling the stomach with a ton of junk food, I went to the Yandex office on foot - and was there an hour ahead of schedule. Very embarrassing, in general. I had to wait a bit, Olga from the personnel department met me (or what is he called right?), And an in-person interview began.

    First, a conversation on general topics: how I got there, whether I was hungry, what I did at work. Then the rest of the interviewers joined the conversation. At first we talked about “homework” - it’s embarrassing and funny that I couldn’t solve a simple task at a Skype interview. Although it took only a minute to find the right solution, this minute was already after a Skype interview. Then - a couple of quick-witted tasks (and terver).

    Then I was offered a couple of tasks close to reality. Tasks, it seems to me, were primarily topics for discussion. I’m afraid that I didn’t answer very well - but it seems that my answers all more or less arranged. Finally, they gave me the opportunity to implement a solution to the problem. She confidently said that "40 minutes is enough for me." I didn’t detect time, but it seemed to delve twice as long. In the end, she made several annoying errors in the code - one out of ignorance of the lockfile, and two because of inattention. In my defense, I can only say that by that time I was on my feet for 12 hours, and I was very tired. Although, such errors can be skipped without a flight, just inattentively re-reading the written code.

    I wrote the code in complete solitude; when I finished writing, the interviewers came again (by the way, very nice people), looked at the code, and said that they would not torment me anymore. The whole interview took about five hours. Finally, they promised me that they would contact me, and said goodbye.

    I now have a few comments on this story.

    The first serious mistake I made a week before the interview, when I bought tickets. Boys and girls, do not make two hyper-jump flights in one day. A taxi ride to the airport at four in the morning and a two-hour flight are unlikely to have a positive effect on your well-being. Before the interview, it is very important to get enough sleep and rest.

    The second and third errors are related to time. Quite by chance, I came to the office an hour before the appointed time, which I informed HRs about, and the interview began already at 11:20. It would be much more useful to rest, relax and examine the horses in front of the office, not to mention the fact that I was ashamed because of violation of agreements and other people's plans. When I was wondering how much time it would take for me to solve the problem, it seemed to be better to multiply the estimate of labor costs by two (or even three).

    The fourth mistake was that I did not monitor my well-being, and worked on failure. If I turned off the air conditioner (to be honest, in five hours under the breeze I almost died from the cold), and from time to time I took tea breaks, I would definitely feel better.

    Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think

    In the life of any space trucker, one day there comes a time when his vessel is in outer space with a single working engine. So I felt when I waited an infinitely long time for an answer from Yandex. Summer, work. Summer, work.

    A month after the interview, I noticed on my blog:
    I would not like to say “But if you try sometime you may find / You get what you need”, today is not the case. From Yandex hinted that the prospects are not very bright.

    Yes. I tried, and received a polite refusal, something like "We would like to take you, but we can not." Perhaps this was due to the closure of the video hosting - I just interviewed for a vacancy in the Video. Perhaps this was due to the way I showed myself at the interview. “Well, no, that won’t work! Suitcases purchased, target selected. I will try again!" - I decided, and sent an application with a resume for a neighboring vacancy.

    Do you know what “complexity: hardcore” is in the test “assembly of a spaceship from improvised means”? A Skype interview was scheduled in two days, and I just needed to refresh my knowledge of C ++, algorithms and data structures, bash and testing methods.

    Hold your breath and count to ten

    Two weeks after the second skype interview, I was offered a dream job. Like this:
    Nina, good afternoon!
    Let’s email our preliminary arrangements. YANDEX LLC offers you the position of Release Engineer in the Search Stability Ensuring Group.

    Of course, the adventure did not end there. I had to go through a fun bureaucratic process of dismissal, present to friends and relatives almost all the property accumulated over many years, walk many kilometers with suitcases around Moscow, and search for an apartment for a very long time. In general, one more article would suffice.

    All they've got's imagination

    Someone (it seems, Kostya Gorsky) said something like this: "For the first six months in Yandex, it seemed to me that I got on a spaceship."

    But looking around, I understand that for me Yandex in the first place is a lot of talented and interesting people. And then what I suddenly thought about: maybe it’s not at all about the modules of the spacecraft, but about its pilot?

    Instead of postscript


    Here are the materials I used when preparing for the interview:


    Here are the materials I would use to prepare for interviews if I knew about them:

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