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Airbnb Software Engineer Interview Guide

Learn how to prepare for the Airbnb Software Engineer interview and get a job at Airbnb with this in-depth guide.

From plucky startup to tech giant, Airbnb took the travel industry by a storm. When COVID-19 hit and travel stopped, the company managed not only to stay afloat, but emerged as a shining example of crisis leadership. We're convinced this is at least partly attributable to Airbnb's committment to quality experiences for customers, hosts, and employees - quality that you'll experience and create as a software engineer at Airbnb.

Driven by four core values:

  • **Champion the mission:**We're united with our community to create a world where anyone can belong.
  • Be a Host: We're caring, open, and encouraging to everyone we work with.
  • Embrace the Adventure: We're driven by curiosity, optimism, and the belief that every person can grow.
  • Be a Cereal Entrepreneur: We're determined and creative in transforming our bold ambitions into reality.

The core engineering culture at Airbnb is all about owning your impact. Company processes focus around giving engineers the support, tools, and structure needed to solve problems, create value, and automate as much as possible.

Interested in landing one of these coveted jobs? The interview loop is rigorous. "I met lots of really smart people." a recent interviewee told us. "Conversations skewed mostly technical, surprisingly. People didn't want to talk about travel as much as I'd guessed."

Read on to learn how to ace the interview.

Interview Process

Interview Stages

After submitting an application, you'll go through the following interviews. The entire process took around four months for our interviewee, but you may be able to accelerate this if you have other interviews / offers.

Recruiter Phone Screen

First, a recruiter will contact you. The screening call will be about 30 minutes and will be very general. You'll touch on key experiences in your resume, answer some introductory behavioral questions, and learn more about the team you applied for. You don't have to prepare much for this screen - review your resume, prepare a few questions based on the job description, and read up on Airbnb's culture.

Coding Interview

Next, you'll do a coding round. It will like last about 45 minutes and you'll be expected to answer medium / hard Leetcode questions. Coding interviews at Airbnb can be very challenging - no pseudocode here, so be sure to prepare at a level of detail that means your code will pass test cases. Interviewees recommend reviewing basics like searching a binary tree, dfs/bfs, queues/stacks, sort algorithms, etc.


Another rigorous round. You'll sit for five one-hour rounds of algorithmic (leetcode medium / hard), systems design, and cultural questions. If you're visiting an office, you'll also have lunch with an employee in the middle of the day. After the onsite, you may hear back as late as a week on the final decision.

Next, we'll look at the types of questions Airbnb asks in more detail, along with practice questions to help you prepare.

Sample Interview Questions

Airbnb's software engineering interviews generally break down into three categories: coding, systems design, and behavioral.


Coding questions at Airbnb tend to be on the hard side. You'll get a coding challenge following the recruiter phone screen, and about half the onsite will be devoted to coding, so spend more time practicing here to maximize your chances of success.

You'll only have 45 minutes - some interviewers report feeling rushed to begin implementing right away, but we recommend taking the first five minutes to think about your solution and talk through your thought process. Consider performance and runtime of course, but the emphasis in this interview is not on algorithmic complexity - rather on finding a solution that works and writing tests. Airbnb doesn't accept pseudocode, so make sure that you're careful. Your code must run.

To prepare for these interviews, practice is your best friend. Take a look at some of the more complex software engineering problems in our database and code up solutions of your own.

Systems Design

You'll face at least 1 one-hour systems design round at Airbnb using a virtual whiteboard or drawing app such as Google Draw. You'll design system aspects such as a way for your systems to communicate, proposing an API, and / or modeling database tables.

The questions are often quite vague, so don't be afraid to lead the conversation rather than rely on the interviewer to provide you with instructions. Ask enough clarifying questions toright off the bat to make sure you understand the full problem and engage the interviewer to flesh out the requirements. In a virtual interview setting, you'll use a virtual whiteboard or drawing app, so you may want to practice with one beforehand.

Remember to consider:

  • Structure: Do you take a systematic approach?
  • Comprehensiveness: Does your approach cover all requirements?
  • Feasibility: Is your answer practical and could be implemented?

The best way to prepare for system design interviews is to watch our practice system design interviews like this one on Facebook's news feed, and try your hand at some practice system design questions in our interview question database..


Airbnb works hard to cultivate its unique culture centered around being a good host, so be sure to prepare some examples of ways in which you embody their core values. Everyone is asked some version of "tell me about a time you made someone feel they belong", so prepare both personal and professional examples.

Overall, Airbnb looks for:

  • Experience: Do you have relevant previous experience for the role?
  • Ownership: Do you exhibit ownership and drive to complete projects?
  • Teamwork: How do you work with others, including teammates or customers?
  • Impact: Do you care about impact and action-oriented solutions?
  • Learning: Do you enjoy learning from your experiences and mistakes?

Be prepared to cover topics on your resume, your motivation for applying to Airbnb, and all aspects of your past work. You'll be asked about technical projects you worked on, how you handle group dymanics, complexity, and ambiguity, and you may be asked about your leadership experiences.

We recommend reviewing our list of behavioral interview questions for more practice.

Learn everything you need to ace your Software Engineer interviews.

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