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Based on your profile it looks like you have a lot of experience, so I would first rely on your experience.

That said, there are plenty of resources that have been helpful to me:

1) http://highscalability.com/

2) http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920032175.do

3) https://github.com/donnemartin/system-design-primer

Hope this helps!




Thanks, you've provided some great insights here - and appreciated those links. Will buy that O'Reilly book!

Mid 40s myself, stayed in one tech stack for too long but have been redeeming myself in the past few years with .net core, AWS, Docker and trying to get into React.

I find myself struggling most with the front end bits, but it's just a question of staying with it.

Have always loved tech, and highly passionate about it. Having a family with a kid on the ASD has really restricted available hours to tinker though, that's my main challenge.

Anyway I found what you and others here wrote quite motivational, so thanks again.


My pleasure!

One thing that I'd like to mention that I didn't before is that the interview process can be taxing, draining, and it can be an emotional roller-coaster. Try to stay positive and keep at it. Good things will come!


Cheers. I'm a FTE presently, but have always got to look forward so whilst no immediate pressure I've learned that there's really no resting on one's laurels.

And yes can confirm that when I had to go through the process, and was less prepared, it was certainly very draining. So spending time learning/staying on top of things in peace time will certainly help during "war". :)

Staying physically healthy, lifting weights etc is another thing that hasn't been raised so far, so would just like to put that in. Can always adjust perception through that, and also it is something we truly need to be doing now that we're getting older. It also helps for mental health.


Sweet, thanks! The part I struggle with in interviews is more on playing the game. If someone asks "how would you build a parking lot?" or "how would you design a CI system for a team of 8 developers?", I struggle to keep it simple. Making something usable is actually way easier when working with someone who has thought about what they want and/or are participating. It's like "I don't want a parking lot, you do, so tell me about why you want one". Basically I want to avoid wasting the "client's" resources until I have more information, but system design interviews are not in initial kick off meetings where you go away and come back with a few ideas that don't suck. They are accepting that someone wants proof you can design a contrived system neither of you truly care about while they out you on the spot.

The part that is missing from nearly all interviews are an opportunity for the company to sell itself to the interviewee. So as the interviewee, I'd like to say that if you make me jump thru some hoops because you feel like I should go through the same hazing process you went thru when interviewing, I am going to think that you are only focused on what I can do for you.

How about this, as an interviewer, say something like... "This design question is gonna suck because I don't know how to ask it better, but if you can just hang in there long enough to help me understand you can think about something non-trivial, that'd be fabulous. We both know you're smart, and I just need to imagine working with you in something complex."


how would you design a CI system for a team of 8 developers?"

My last three jobs I was hired as the “adult supervision” as either an individual contributor who was more equal than others or as an official dev lead. I was specifically asked by the director those types of questions and how would I rewrite a 20 year old PowerBuilder app that had been maintained by two “developers” who had been their for 20 and 13 years.

I went through the training process they would go through, setting up source control, setting up development, QA environments, automated testing, and CI/CD.

Then he was shocked when I said that I wouldn’t rewrite it from the ground up. I would upgrade to a newer version of PowerBuilder that supported COM, concert the whole app to a COM object, put a C#/WebAPI wrapper around it, write some automated integration reads and contract out some front end developers to put a web interface on it.

Then slowly move the PB logic to C# and keep the stored procedures after upgrading to the latest version of sql server.

Finally move the stored procs to code.

All this to say, that’s what’s wrong with some “senior developers”. They’ve spent their entire career at large companies where they haven’t had a chance to work up and down the entire stack. If you spent your entire career “coding” at a large company, you’re not that much more valuable to most companies than someone with 5 years of experience b

At that job we had to hire some overpriced/clueless “AWS consultants” since I didn’t know AWS at the time. Now I could manage that. I still wouldn’t try doing anything on the front end. There are people much better than me.




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