Upcoming interview question

Hello all, hope you’re doing well. I have an interview coming up and I’m seeking clarity from The Elders.

For my last interview, I wasn’t prepared for the “tell me about yourself” question and bombed it.

This time around, I plan on answering that question in a way that directly addresses the job requirements for this particular interview. However, I’m not 100% confident on the wording of this requirement:

“Experienced developing SaaS products that interact with RESTful services, utilize data serialization (protocol buffers or JSON?) and large data volumes”

Aside from the last bit ("…and large data volumes"), would you say that the FCC curriculum has familiarized the FCC-student with the topics discussed in this jargony phrasing?

Is, for example, a SaaS product another way of referring to an app that solves a specific problem for a user?

Thanks for any responses!

We can start by first breaking down each of the terms:

SaaS refers to Software As A Service. So Gmail, Google Docs, Google Slides, Dropbox are all examples of SaaS products.

RESTful services are more vague, but generally represent systems that “talk” over the internet and “exchange state” via “restful” calls. So if your app uses GET/POST/PUT requests to get, update “state” it could be considered restful. If for example every time you use a GET request in your app, you delete something, your app isn’t using REST requests. I personally believe the term has kinda gotten out of control, and is more buzz-wordy, but generally if you hear something is using “REST” requests the same general idea applies, where you “change” the state of the app with these sorts of requests.

Data Serialization is pretty generic as well, and you mentioned the two things that come to mind, streaming/buffer apps and stuff like JSON/XML. You could dig more into this, but assuming they aren’t looking for basic understanding, its possible to utilize other context such as “large data volumnes” to assume they mean either massive REST requests, or some kind of streaming platform (??) I have limited experience in this aswell, so I couldn’t offer my insight.

Now when I hear “large data volumes” I think of big data use-cases. So data analytics over huge data-sets (not your run of the mill SQL query, more like terabytes of data) and performance over such situations usually comes to mind. If you aren’t sure your working with “large data sets” then you probably aren’t. For example, searching over all all the users of a system vs searching over all the server logs.

Now I personally haven’t done most of the FCC courses due to life being in the way, but I have heard about most of them and I would say FCC does teach you how to build a full-stack REST app, but I don’t think it covers any of the other topics.

  • Building a SaaS product is different than building a full-stack app in that you need to build entire “service” part of the product, IE, billing, scaling, ops, security, etc. Lots of devils in the details.
  • Not sure what they mean by serialization, but again if they mean something beyond JSON/XML I don’t think FCC goes over that. (if I’m wrong please correct me :smile:)
  • Large data volumes are probably partial covered (data vis courses?) but without more info on what they mean when they say “large data volumes” it depends.
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This is just what I was looking for!

Thanks a million for taking the time!

How do you interpret “service” when you say:

’ Building a SaaS product is different than building a full-stack app in that you need to build entire “service” part of the product… ’ ?

Is creative “functionality” that solves a problem one way that you interpret “service”?

(FCC does, in a small way, address the issue of security but this involves merely adding the Helmet middleware.)

The term “Service” here is doing some extra work than it normally does in a technical context: In “Software as a Service”, it’s using the business meaning of the word, in that it’s not a product you buy in a box or download from a site, but a service you subscribe to, typically with no installation steps required. You buy a subscription to the service and it’s just there, like a utility. Of course there are also free services, such as gmail or google maps (and I do remember when you had to buy maps on a CD-rom)

As technology goes, what “service” means is really dependent on context (it’s a really context-dependent word). It can mean anything from a particular object or module in code to an API to a whole internet-connected application.


Thanks, Chuck!

Just so I know that I understand, if I created an app that reminded the user to change the air-filter in their car–would this be a simple example of having created a SaaS product? Am I over-simplifying things?

It’s a service, sure, but it might be a little presumptuous to call it “SaaS”, which usually refers to big app platforms with teams of developers. It’s more of a business term for a whole segment of industry than anything else, so it isn’t really used anymore to describe a single app unless it’s something huge like Salesforce or Office365.

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This response clears things up for me.

Thanks for your time!

Thanks again for your response, thanks to you I was able to formulate a response that got me to 2nd round of interviews. And now onto practicing for the tech screening…

Thanks again!

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These 2 links provide additional information on SaaS, as well as PaaS and IaaS:


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Updated thanks: thanks to your response, I was able to formulate a confident answer that got me through the phone screen, then interviews with 4 others who asked me tech questions, and now I’m scheduled to start my first role on Thursday!

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that’s awesome, great to hear! :smiley:

Good luck and keep up the learning! :smile:

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