The Top 20 Sift Interview Questions To Prepare For in 2023

This isn’t your typical “how to improve your CV for algorithms” type blog. This is mostly because we don’t want CVs and algorithms to score your applications at Applied! This blog will give you some tips on how to answer sift questions in Applied, explain why not all applications look the same, and finally give you some tips on how to make your CV or resume less biased in a bad way.

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Interviewing at a fast-growing startup like Sift can be an exciting opportunity, but also a challenging one if you’re not prepared. With its innovative approach to fighting fraud with machine learning, Sift seeks top talent with both technical expertise and adaptability. Doing well in a Sift interview requires thorough preparation tailored to the company’s priorities and interview style.

In this comprehensive guide I’ll share the 20 most common Sift interview questions to expect across various roles like engineering, product, sales and more. With detailed examples and tips for crafting winning responses, you’ll gain the confidence and inside knowledge to ace your Sift interview. Let’s dive in!

Overview of the Sift Interview Process

While specific practices may vary across teams there are some consistent aspects of Sift’s interview process to expect

  • Recruiter Screen: 30 minute phone call to assess basic qualifications and fit. Focuses on your resume, experience and motivations.

  • Technical/Role-Specific Interview: 45-60 minutes, conducted over phone/video call or on-site. Evaluates your hard and soft skills through a mix of behavioral, technical and case-based questions.

  • Take-Home Assignment: For some roles, a hands-on project to demonstrate your skills in action. This could involve coding, designing, writing, analysis etc.

  • Manager/Team Interviews: 1-3 additional rounds of 45-60 minute interviews, often held on-site at the Sift office. Assesses cultural fit and soft skills.

  • Reference Checks: Feedback may be gathered from provided references to validate past performance and behaviors.

The process typically spans 3-5 weeks. While Sift aims to provide a great candidate experience, feedback is not always consistent. Preparing for the various interview styles will optimize your chances of success.

20 Common Sift Interview Questions

Let’s now dive into the top questions that candidates report being asked at Sift interviews, along with strategies to ace your responses.

Engineering Interview Questions

1. How would you design a scalable system to process billions of data points daily?

Sift handles immense data volumes, so this evaluates your ability to design robust, scalable systems. Discuss leveraging tools like Kafka, Spark, and NoSQL databases to distribute processing. Emphasize horizontally scalable architectures, parallelism, and optimizing data pipelines.

Example: To handle billions of data points daily, I would design a scalable lambda architecture using tools like Kafka for data ingestion, Spark for distributed processing, and Cassandra for its scalability as the serving store. Kafka provides high throughput data intake leveraging partitioning, redundancy, and parallel consumers. Spark enables distributed processing across clusters, allowing us to scale by simply adding nodes. Cassandra delivers fast writes and reads, while replication strategies provide fault tolerance. I would also optimize data pipelines via partitioning, workload isolation, and minimizing resource contention.

2. How do you implement feature flags and dark launches of new features?

This question tests your experience with advanced release practices that minimize risk. Discuss infrastructure like LaunchDarkly, criteria for flagging features, targeted rollouts, monitoring, and integrating flags into the CI/CD pipeline.

Example: For safe feature releases, I implement feature flags using tools like LaunchDarkly. Flags act as toggles allowing us to deploy code path changes to production while controlling availability. I leverage flags for components like permissions, APIs, UI elements etc. Criteria for flagging include feature risk, dependencies, and audience targeting. With CI/CD, flags are bundled with code changes and controlled via API. I target incremental rollouts starting with internal users. Throughout, we collect analytics on flag impact before fully launching. This workflow allows releasing often with reduced risk.

3. How would you troubleshoot a memory leak in a large legacy codebase?

This complex debugging question tests your systematic approach and toolbox of techniques for diagnosing tricky issues in uncontrolled environments. Discuss steps like profiling, instrumentation, isolating components, targeted logging, and controlled testing to narrow down root causes.

Example: I would approach debugging a memory leak systematically, first profiling to validate symptoms and narrow the scope. Instead of testing the entire legacy codebase at once, I would isolate components and interactions to focus the investigation, adding targeted logging and instrumentation. Within the narrowed scope, I could introduce memory usage simulating controls and monitors. I would also research prior issues that exhibit similar symptoms, as legacy systems often contain known pain points. My hypothesis would probe common memory leak culprits like unclosed connections, caching issues, or undisposed objects. Throughout, I would enable verbose GC logging and heap dumps for clues. With an iterative divide-and-conquer approach, I could isolate the source of the leak efficiently.

Product Interview Questions

4. How would you approach user research to improve an existing product?

This evaluates your hands-on experience with user research to drive product improvements. Discuss research methods like surveys, usability testing and interviews to uncover pain points. Highlight synthesizing findings, prioritizing opportunities, and collaborating with designers and engineers to implement improvements.

Example: First, I would conduct open-ended user interviews focused on workflows, pain points and desires. I would also distribute targeted surveys to gather quantitative data on feature usage and satisfaction. To directly observe usability, I would run moderated remote or in-person sessions capturing struggles through think-aloud protocol. Synthesizing across the research methods would reveal the most significant opportunities for improvement. I would frame these opportunities as user stories for engineers, emphasizing benefits. I’d work closely with designers and engineers to execute on the research insights, ensuring we deliver the intended user value.

5. How do you balance delivering features fast versus releasing high-quality products?

This question tests your judgement in balancing speed and quality, two critical product dimensions. Discuss practices like defining acceptable quality bars, staged rollout strategies, and emphasizing quality culture through leadership, automation, and collaboration between teams.

Example: Delivering value quickly and maintaining high quality are both critical objectives I balance as a product manager. I aim to deliver incremental user value frequently while meeting clear quality criteria defined through SLIs like uptime, performance metrics, and lower severity bug counts. We employ incremental rollout strategies to limit risk, ramping from internal to external users when metrics are favourable. I also foster a culture of quality via test automation, continuous integration, code reviews, and close collaboration between product, engineering and QA. Leadership commitment to quality and regular team sync ups ensure we are aligned. When issues do occur, we pause, address the root cause, then continue progress. This balanced approach allows us to deliver features fast while maintaining excellent quality standards.

6. How would you evaluate new ideas or requests from various product stakeholders?

This evaluates your ability to prioritize effectively when faced with competing ideas and stakeholder interests. Discuss frameworks to assess business value, user impact, and effort as well as collaborating across functions to achieve alignment.

Example: When evaluating new ideas or requests, I leverage a lightweight decision framework that scores each initiative on 3 axes – value to users, business value, and effort required. User value is based on research and data on pain points. Business value may consider metrics like revenue, churn, or acquisition. Effort accounts for development costs and risks. I collaborate with cross-functional partners in sales, marketing and engineering to estimate these factors for a holistic view, then stack rank priorities. For disputed outcomes, I facilitate working sessions focused on users and metrics to achieve alignment. This promotes objective data-driven prioritization between ideas that balances stakeholder interests.

Sales Interview Questions

7. How do you keep up-to-date on your product offerings to effectively sell to customers?

This question evaluates your learning orientation and ability to master complex products. Discuss leveraging ongoing training, staying connected with product teams, conducting your own discovery, and building personal knowledge bases to accelerate ramp up.

Example: To stay current on products, I leverage the ongoing sales enablement training and maintain open communication with our product experts. I consistently carve out self-study time to thoroughly test new features first-hand, which builds muscle memory. Maintaining a personal knowledge base of condensed facts on offerings and common use cases accelerates my learning curve. When ramping on a new product, I dive deeper into the problem it solves via customer research, enabling me to convey value from the user’s perspective. Staying abreast of roadmaps further equips me to consult customers. With this multi-pronged approach, I master our solutions to effectively communicate differentiated value.

8. Tell me about a time you lost a deal. What did you learn from that experience?

This behavioral question reveals your sales resilience, reflection skills, and commitment to continuous improvement after setbacks. Share a specific example focusing on objective lessons learned applied to refine your process.

Example: *Recently, I lost a large deal that would have expanded our footprint in the healthcare vertical. The decisive factor was our extended timelines for a compliance enhancement the prospect needed. On reflection, I learned critical lessons: firstly, identify required capabilities earlier via technical discussions to set accurate expectations. Secondly, involve solutions architects sooner to reduce the disconnect between business needs and technical realities. Thirdly, provide tighter feedback loops back to product on customer needs. Applying these lessons, I now conduct more discovery upfront, engage appropriate cross-functional partners early, and funnel insights to

Read the questions again

There are a variety of sift questions that assess skills and knowledge. But it’s important to understand what the question is actually asking for.

For example, we have questions that ask candidates to write an email to a prospect, employee, or colleague. People who are hiring can use these questions to get a sense of how candidates talk, what they leave out, and how they would personalize an email for the recipient. A lot of people who answer this question give the steps they would take instead of writing the email.

The example at the beginning of this blog is a prioritisation question. Its aim is to assess if candidates can make a decisive decision, delegate, communicate, and prioritise. Some companies will be looking for a correct answer (ie. They have to put y above x, and some will be looking at how candidates handle tough choices and compromises.

When you answer these questions, remember and write down the numbers you would rank first (this will save you words). Also, make sure you do all of the tasks and explain why you chose one over another. This will include how you work (or don’t!) with your team.

How to answer a sift question

I know, I know, basic stuff. But you’d be surprised at how many people try to include meaningless details that don’t answer the question in their answer. Some applicants just copy and paste information from their CV into their answer. Dona€™t do this! Ita€™s not helpful for the people reviewing your application.

Police Officer Initial Application Sift (Police SJT, Behavioural Styles Questions, In-Force Tests)


What are sift questions?

Good sift questions test for what candidates will actually be doing on the job. This is why our process uses scenario-based questions, focused on testing for specific skills and values. Candidates are assessed on their thought processes, their understanding of what is expected for the role, and their style of working.

What is a video sift interview?

Video Sift You will receive an email with a link to a website where you will be asked a series of questions, the system will then video record your responses. Prior to submitting your responses to the questions, there will be a chance to test the functionality of the Video Sift.

What is the interview process like at sift?

I interviewed at Sift in Mar 2022 Recruiters were very nice and transparent about steps needed to complete the interviewing process. Initial steps moved quickly. I received a technical screener from a technical manager that lasted an hour, roughly 15mins discussion and 40mins problem solving, and 5mins closing questions.

How long did it take to get a job at sift?

The process took 4 weeks. I interviewed at Sift (San Francisco, CA) in Apr 2023 Email from Senior Recruiter: All interviews were remote Zoom calls, followed by Interview with the Hiring manager, an interview with the technical lead, four 1/2 calls with the potential team, and an interview with Chief Customer Officer.

Does sift pass candidates through all stages?

It appears as if they are passing candidates through all stages even if there is no strong intent to hire the specific candidate. It would be great if Sift is more selective about candidates they send to onsite and final interview so you are not wasting candidate’s time. 1:1s were all behavioral questions tied to their values.

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