How To Prepare for a Solution Architect Interview

A solution architect is responsible for the design and implementation of an organization’s technical infrastructure. They are responsible for ensuring that the overall architecture of the system meets the business requirements and performance goals. A solution architect typically works with other architects, engineers, and business stakeholders to come up with an optimal solution that meets the needs of the business. The following guide will go over what a typical solution architect interview entails and how you can best prepare to do well.

What to expect in a solution architect interview

Solution architect interviews usually start with a phone screen to assess your technical abilities and fit for the role. After the phone screen, if you’re successful, you’ll likely be brought onsite for an interview. The onsite interview will usually consist of both behavioral and technical interviews. The behavioral interviews will assess your problem-solving abilities, teamwork, and leadership skills. The technical interviews will test your knowledge of different technical concepts, systems design, and ability to code. The onsite interview will also likely include a practical exercise where you’ll be asked to design a solution to a problem. The goal of the interview is to assess your technical abilities, problem-solving skills, and fit for the role.

What to practice before a solution architect interview

To be best prepared for your solution architect interview, you should first brush up on your technical knowledge. This includes understanding different technical concepts, being able to code, and being familiar with systems design. You should also practice your problem-solving abilities and be able to effectively communicate your solutions. For individual problems and a thorough overview of some of the technical concepts, Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell is a great book with many examples.

It’s also a good idea to practice your verbal communication and critical thinking. The best way to do this is to practice through an interview with a friend by riffing on technical problems or even by simply speaking your thoughts out loud to ensure clarity.

What questions to ask in a solution architect interview

You should ask many questions throughout your interviews. Any time a problem is described to you, make sure to clarify the constraints of the solution that the interviewer is looking for. Are they looking for a certain time complexity? Does the solution have to work for any specific inputs? Try to weed out any edge cases ahead of starting to write code, and ask your interviewer how they expect you to handle them.

Once you have a clear idea of the problem and are starting to write code, you should continue asking questions as they arise. And especially if you are stuck, it’s a good idea to continue to ask questions about the problem to help you think. Questions can also help your interviewer understand whether you are on the right track or not, letting them provide more guidance and help.

Once you’ve solved the problem, you can ask more general questions about the tech stack for the team you're joining as well as questions you might have about the team and culture overall.

What are hiring managers looking for in a solution architect

Hiring managers are looking for clear thinkers, problem solvers, and people who are able to autonomously operate as a successful solution architect. They’re looking for technical aptitude and a good fit for the requirements of their team. As much weight as your technical knowledge carries, a hiring manager is also assessing your ability to work in a team. How quickly do you learn? Can you adapt to a dynamic environment? Are you proactive and forward-looking when coding your solutions or do you stick within the confines of the problem at hand?

How to stand out in a solution architect interview

To excel in your technical interviews, you should always start by solving the problem they give you. Once you’ve solved the problem, you can go above and beyond by addressing potential tradeoffs you could make by implementing different solutions. You can also discuss how you may scale your solution for a larger version of the problem. Or what you may do to ensure that your solution can gracefully handle failure. If you end early, you can also ask your interviewer if there’s a more optimal solution that is possible and try to discuss how you may make your solution better and more efficient.

What sort of salaries can I expect as a solution architect

Solution architects are paid quite well due to the high demand for the job. You can expect to receive a combination of base salary, a stock grant, and various bonuses for the role. While pay still largely depends on location, many professionals are able to work remotely as well.

You can view salaries and filter by different locations, companies, and more over on our Solution Architect salary page.

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