Success Strategies Cracking for System Design Interviews

Questions on system design are frequently as broad as, “How would you design Product X?”

Designing systems for the real world is difficult and complex, especially with huge systems with a wide range of requirements and restrictions. Actually, even something as simple as going to Google in your browser is surrounded by an incredible amount of complexity. As a system designer, you must confront this complexity even though the end user is often blind to it.

Introduction to System Design

Given the complexity of system design, it is impossible to discuss all the many themes and tradeoffs in a short period of time. In contrast to questions about data structures and algorithms, there are multiple ideal answers. Instead, by emphasizing different system components, multiple interviewers can carry out wildly dissimilar interviews based on the same question.

In a system design interview, you should picture a brainstorming session with open-ended inquiries where you’ll be required to describe a complicated distributed system competently. Consider it an opportunity to collaborate with your interviewer to find a real solution to a problem connected to the company’s objectives, much like two team members would.

You don’t have to be an expert in system design, which is wonderful news! The process that goes into your design decisions is more significant than the final product. After all, this mirrors what it’s like to work at many tech companies. Engineers have a lot of leeway; we aren’t expected to develop fully specified functionality but to take charge of open-ended issues and find the best solutions.

You must become familiar with the subjects and strategies for handling system design interview questions to gain the abilities required to ace one. You’ll also need to be able to methodically investigate various options, formulate smart inquiries, and comprehend the best practices and typical difficulties of contemporary distributed systems.

Although having actual familiarity with various tools and systems is advantageous, spotting a need and providing a workable solution will get you a long way, even if you’ve never used it before. The ability to delve down into how to configure one product or another to function as a load balancer, for example, is less significant than acknowledging that your distributed system requires load balancing and mentioning NGINX as a popular option.

You should always feel comfortable saying, “While I’ve never used technology X, I know it’s a popular solution to problem Y.” This is the secret ingredient in these situations. Your interviewer will be a lot more impressed by your honesty, confidence, and openness to learning than they will be by you rambling on incoherently about a product you’ve never actually used in production.

Guide for Succeeding in Your System Design Interview

Even though each system design interview is unique, there are a few general topics you should address, even though the conversation may not flow as naturally as you had intended.

You will be required to drive the open-ended discussion during the system design interview. To help you with your topic, try taking the following steps:

Step 1: Recognize the Objectives/Goals

Early on in the system design interview, ambiguities must be resolved. Candidates who try to clearly define the system’s ultimate aims are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. Make sure you comprehend the fundamental needs and seek clarification as a result. Begin with the most fundamental presumptions:

  • What is the system’s objective?

  • Who are the system’s users? Why do they require it? What will they do with it?

  • What are the system’s inputs and outputs?

Even if a well-known product is the topic of the question, you should nonetheless discuss your presumptions with the interviewer. You might discover that your assumptions regarding services like Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit differ from those of your interviewer. Additionally to aiding in concentration, it exhibits product awareness and effective teamwork.

Step 2: Defining the Scope

Now that you are familiar with the system, you should outline the feature set you’ll discuss. Try to list all the attributes and elements you can in the user’s order of relevance. Make sure you and your interviewer are in agreement, even if you don’t have to do it right the first time.

Asking clarifying questions will help.

  • Do you prefer we talk about the entire experience or just the API?

  • What types of customers (mobile, online, etc.) do we prefer to support?

  • Are we in need of authentication? Analytics? Connecting to current systems?

Talk about this with your interviewer, then jot it down.

Step 3: Data Structures and Algorithms 

A second time already? Including during a system design interview? Yes! The importance of this in the design of software systems has been discovered.

Shorter URLs? Hashing functions come to mind when I hear this. You want it to scale, I see. Sharding might be beneficial. Concurrency? Redundancy? It gets even more difficult to generate keys. The same is true for creating an analytics system, a news feed, or a Q & A forum, each with its own set of standard DSA.

Don’t forget to consider your scalability needs; here is where examining runtime and memory complexity is useful. Also, you can enhance your data structures and algorithms skills by joining a DSA course, taught by industry experts. 

Step 4: Create at the Correct Scale

For various scales, the same feature set necessitates a totally different strategy. To know if your data can fit on one machine or if you need to scale the reads, you must first identify the scale. You may inquire:

  • What is the anticipated ratio of reads to writes?

  • How many requests at once should we anticipate?

  • How long is the typical anticipated response time?

  • What is the maximum amount of data that we let users submit?

Getting the scale right is essential to success since different answers call for different designs.

Step 5: Start from the top, then drill down to advanced level

Based on your identified objectives, start by discussing the entire procedure. Included in this could be a description of the many clients, APIs, backend services, offline procedures, network architecture, and data stores, as well as how they all operate together to fulfill the needs.

The system’s access points, such as:, are also easily identified at this stage.

  • User involvement

  • External API requests

  • Offline methods

This will enable a deeper discussion of potential performance bottlenecks and responsibility-separation options. Always start basic and iterate, regardless of the initial strategy you adopt.

Practice, Practice ,and Practice


Although you can learn the theory on your own, practice is the main component. Apply these guidelines repeatedly while discussing questions regarding modern system design with actual peers. Remember, if you have the necessary knowledge, skills, and practice, you can ace your interviews for sure. With that said, if you are looking for a comprehensive course to learn, visit Learnbay’s system design course, offered in collaboration with IBM. Work on industry projects and practice your theoretical knowledge. 


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