A Starting Point: The Common 8 (SLIC FAST)


While you don’t need to design a perfect solution in your interview, you do need to design a complete solution. And as we discussed in the previous chapter, you only have 20-25 minutes to design your solution after accounting for discussion time and introductions.

To help you get to the finish line with your design, I’d like to offer some tools and tips to help add structure to your design process in this chapter:

  • The common 8—A starting point to get you off the ground in the beginning of a system design solution.

  • Completing your solution with RESHADED—An 8-step method for completing a system design solution.

  • How to tackle a problem you’ve never seen before—Tips to prepare you for the unknown.

For this lesson, let’s focus on the common eight, which serve as some of the building blocks of any system.

Building blocks

When under pressure, it can be easy to forget some essential system components—which can make your design fall short. To help prevent missing any important components, you can start with a foundation of the most common components in a system.

At a high level, every system needs a few basic things. Imagine that you’re designing a single-family house. Two competing designs could each have a garage, two bathrooms, a living room, three bedrooms, and so on. Despite sharing these components, the details of the blueprints might be quite different.

Similarly, you’ll customize your System Design Interview solution according to your requirements, but the structure of the solution will have some basic features.

You can start by considering the eight most common system design components:

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