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How To Pass Coding Interview

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How to pass a coding interview | Coding interview preparation|Interview tips for software developer

Talking about projects youve worked on provides you an opportunity to show your skills with real-world examples. In this question, youll learn about the STAR method of answering interview questions. STAR stands for:

  • Situation: Describe a challenging situation.
  • Task: Talk through the tasks that solved the issue and describe your role.
  • Action: Demonstrate actions and strategies that helped you complete your objective.
  • Result: Close with outcomes.

Example: _When I was a freelancer, I created an e-commerce site for a client, Melbourne Glass. It was a challenge to get the customers outdated database to interact properly with the e-Commerce page in the CMS editor.*

*However, because I have a deep knowledge of front and backend systems, I was able to create code that pulled from the database inventory system when a customer completed actions like moving an item into a cart or making a purchase. This paid off because it allowed the customers business to become fully digital._

Related:How To Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

Tip : Map Out Your Thought Process

Before you just dive into the code, think about writing out or diagramming your code. Now I know, I know, some of you are like, No I want to show that I can get my feet dirty! Well, let me tell you. If you just take one moment and really read through the problem, you might catch or miss a critical feature that you looked over because of our human tendency towards heuristics and mental shortcuts.

Practically speaking, if you are using something like CodePad, then write out some comments or skeleton code to outline your thinking process, so your interviewer knows how youre thinking. It also helps a benevolent interviewer to lightly guide you in the right direction if you seem to be veering off course.

I cant help you if I dont know where youre trying to go.

In other words, make sure to map out your thought process before you start diving into the code. At the very least, try to break down the problem first and share with us your general approach BEFORE you begin writing code.

This leads us to one of our most critical points.

Study Your Algorithms And Data Structures

This goes hand-in-hand with the hard skills but deserves its own section. You dont need to be a master of computer science to ace a coding interview, but there are some standard algorithms and data structures that you should feel good about referencing, or at least mentioning and talking about. For instance:

  • How does a bubble sort work vs. a merge sort?
  • Whats the difference between a stack and a queue?
  • Whats a linked list? What about a hash table?

Its likely that youll be asked one algorithm question in a job interview, so becoming familiar with and being able to speak about them to a degree is a good thing. Cracking The Code Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell is a great book covering all of the essential algorithms, data structures, and how to implement and use them in sample code challenges.The coding interview is an opportunity for you to not only show off your skills as an engineer, but also to demonstrate how well you work with others as a data scientist. Its designed to simulate what its like to work with you on a team. So be yourself, study, know the programming language and practice, take a deep breath, and crush that coding interview!

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Picking A Programming Language

Before anything else, you need to pick a programming language for your algorithmic coding interview. Most companies will allow you to code in the language of your choice. The only exception I know is Google. They allow their candidates to pick from only Java, C++, Python, Go or JavaScript. For the most part, I recommend using a language that you are extremely familiar with, rather than one that is new to you but that the company uses widely.

There are some languages that are more suitable than others for coding interviews. Then there are some that you absolutely want to avoid. From my experience as an interviewer, most candidates pick Python or Java. Other languages commonly selected include JavaScript, Ruby, and C++. I would absolutely avoid lower-level languages like C or Go, simply because they lack standard library functions and data structures.

Personally, Python is my de facto choice for coding algorithms during interviews. It is succinct and has a huge library of functions and data structures. One of the top reasons I recommend Python is that it uses consistent APIs that operate on different data structures, such as len, for … in … and slicing notation on sequences . Getting the last element in a sequence is arr , and reversing it is simply arr. You can achieve a lot with minimal syntax in Python.

Best Coding Interview Books: Conclusion

How to Pass A Coding Interview

Today we looked at 11 of the best coding interview books we could find.

And from there, we picked our three favorites:

Best Overall

So whether youre looking for a coding interview book based on budget, XP or best quality, we think theres a coding interview book for everyone.

Up next:

  • What are the best coding interview books?

    We picked three of the best coding interview books based on the following criteria. For the best overall, we recommend Cracking the Coding Interview. For newbies, we recommend Programming Interviews Exposed. And for the best value, we think Elements of Programming Interviews in Java is the way to go.

  • Is the Programming Interviews Exposed worth it?

    We think Programming Interviews Exposed is worth it. In addition to coding problems and solutions, you’ll get a thorough walkthrough of each solution. This way you’ll learn the techniques on how to solve these problems yourself. You’ll work on classic coding interview questions based on data structures and algorithms. However, you’ll also work on newer topics covering probability, data science and statistics.

  • Read Also: What Do You Look For In A Job Interview Question

    Common Technical Interview Mistakes To Avoid

    Knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing what to do, so lets quickly cover a few common technical interview mistakes.

    1. Not preparing enough

    Seriously, theres no such thing as too much coding interview preparation. The good news is, most candidates dont put in that time. So it doesnt take much to really pull ahead of the pack, says Parker . Its such a bummer as an interviewer to watch a candidate really come up short and just think to yourself, I can tell youre smartif you had just reviewed some of this stuff Im sure youd be able to get this.

    2. Jumping into the code without taking a moment to think it through

    You might be eager to start solving the problem, but take a few minutes to question your assumptions and make a game plan first! Starting too quickly gets a lot of people into trouble when they could have taken a moment to prevent confusion down the road, says Refael . Some of the most common mistakes candidates make are avoidable. Pause for a moment to think through the problem-solving process.

    3. Being too arrogant or opinionated

    4. Not making conversation/chit-chat

    Meaningful Questions To Ask The Interviewer

    Interviews are a two-way street. You should be learning about them just as much as theyre learning about you!

    Asking thoughtful questions is also a good way to stand out in the interview. The age-old adage people dont remember what you say, but they remember how you made them feel is so true when it comes to interviews, says Refael . When a candidate keeps the flow going in a friendly conversation, instead of making me feel like I am conducting an interrogation, I will remember our brief time together fondly.

    Of course, you should tailor your questions to the specific situation, but here are a few meaningful questions you can ask:

    • What do you like most about working here?
    • What frameworks, tools, tech stack, etc. does your company use?
    • Can you describe the development process here?
    • How do you test your code?
    • Does the company offer opportunities for professional development, training for engineers, etc.?
    • Whats the most challenging project youve worked on here?

    The other upside: while youre listening to their answer, you get a little break from talking!

    Also Check: What To Ask A Babysitter In An Interview

    How To Pass A Coding Interview As An Automation Developer

    Are you an automation developer looking for a new position? Let’s simulate the experience of a coding interview:

  • Open up a browser and Google the keyword “stopwatch.”
  • Take out a blank piece of paper and a pen.
  • Press the “Start Button” on the stopwatch web app, then attempt to answer the following question:
  • “Using your favorite programming language: Write a method that checks to see if a given word is a palindrome. Example palindromes: ‘noon’ and ‘racecar’.”

    Ready? … GO!

    Yes. Seriously. Attempt to answer the question. I’ll wait.

    Try this exercise for at least a good 60 seconds, even if you think you can’t do it. Don’t give up!

    … Time’s up! How well did you do?

    If you had trouble with this question, if your paper is mostly or completely blank, if your forehead is covered in flop sweat, or if your first thought was, “Why are you forcing me to do this? I’m an automation developer, not a coder!” this article is for you.

    Search For A Solution

    How to PASS a Coding Interview – Tips, Advice & Resources

    Now you need to find an optimal solution to the given problem. I want to be straight with you, and tell you that you wont magically find an optimal solution if you didnt practice a lot before.

    I know that finding the solution might not come naturally to you from the beginning. So, the first thing when you receive the problem is to make an idea of the data structure that you need to use.

    After you spot the data structure, think of typical algorithms and problems that you have seen before using this data structure. For example, if you receive a problem with trees, its clear that you need to use algorithms specific to trees, such as recursion, right? If you receive a problem telling you to find the minimum or maximum, then think of heaps, sorting or stacks. And the list of such examples continues.

    The key here is that practice will tell its word now, and I have good news for you! Many interview questions are similar, so there is a high chance that you practiced a similar problem before and you can build a solution starting from that.

    The Moral here is basic:

    The more you practice, the faster you will find optimal solutions

    Now, the other thing that is crucial at this step is to talk aloud. The interviewer is interested in seeing your thinking process and hearing your explanations. Most people stay quiet for three minutes while thinking of a solution, and that is the worst strategy possible for them.

    Keep in mind to talk aloud and explain what you are thinking.

    Recommended Reading: How To Not Be Nervous For An Interview

    How To Ace A Coding Bootcamp Technical Interview

    Flatiron School no longer requires a technical interview. Instead, students will take a 15-minute admissions assessment. Read this article about how to pass the assessment.

    No matter how much you prepare on your own, demonstrating your technical proficiency can be one of the most daunting parts of applying for a coding bootcamp especially for students coming from non-technical backgrounds. While most students probably have experience with the other parts of the admissions process from their previous educationnon-technical written applications and interviews that just seek to get to know youa technical assessment is a new, slightly scary, prospect. But, technical coding bootcamp interview questions it doesnt have to be.

    Assessing your aptitude

    What is a technical review?

    First, lets break down the ways coding bootcamps might assess your technical aptitude. Online coding bootcamps like Flatiron Schools Online Software Engineering Bootcamp look to see that youre making great progress coding on your own, either through our free Coding Bootcamp Prep or other resources. In-person programs, like our immersive Software Engineering course, on the other hand, generally rely on some form of technical assessment in the interview process. Coding bootcamps have to cover a lot of ground in a short time span, so we move through curriculum fast.

    Dont Jump Straight In

    When in the interview, many engineers tend to jump straight into the challenge, coding away from the get-go. Although an eagerness to show off your coding skills might push you into that direction, its better to first step back, take your time and discuss the problem at hand.

    Ask any questions you might have share any doubts you might have. This will not only provide you with a more thorough understanding of what is expected but will also enable you to avoid any pitfalls during the challenge.

    Here is an article that shares the common mistakes that developers make during an interview.

    Read Also: How To Discuss Salary In An Interview

    Dev Community Is A Community Of 749580 Amazing Developers

    We’re a place where coders share, stay up-to-date and grow their careers.

    When you are applying to a tech company, most likely you will get into a series of online coding tests, live coding tests, or even system design interviews.

    Hypothetically, there would be those kinds of rounds you will be facing:

  • Online coding/take-home test.
  • “Tell me about yourself” round.
  • Live coding/pair-programming test.
  • System design/whiteboard exercise test.
  • Depending on the size and type of company you are interviewing at, the way they interview might differ. If the members would be still around 10~20 people, you could expect only two rounds of interviews . If the members are on > 20 people or if you are applying for some higher-level position, you could expect you would having 3~4 rounds of interviews.

    Let’s get started immediately on breaking those down.

    Design Interview Preparation Tips

    How to pass a coding interview! (for junior developers ...

    Understand service-oriented architecture. These design problems typically involve drawing boxes and arrows to convey how your system works and is coupled together. You should be intimately familiar with what makes a good SOA design and how/when to abstract services in logical and physical ways.

    Read about how some companies built their large-scale systems. Im not suggesting you read and digest the BigTable white paper, but its probably a good idea to read a primer on how systems like S3, Google File System, and Google Spanner work.

    Watch YouTube videos on solving design problems. You can find many useful videos that break-down common problems. Head over to YouTube and search design interview questions.

    Put pencil to paper. Its not enough to passively watch some YouTube videos you should be able to solve them yourself with paper and pencil. You should speak to the overall system design , API design, and database design. Here are some good examples of these sorts of problems:

    • Design a ticket reservation system .
    • Design an app like Twitter, assuming 100M active users. Make sure you cover how a user can post a tweet and also fetch their home timeline.
    • Design an app like WhatsApp, assuming 100M+ active users. Consider end-to-end encryption as a design requirement.
    • Design a distributed web crawler to run on N remote machines that you can run arbitrary software on.

    Recommended Reading: How To Crack Amazon Data Scientist Interview

    6 Step Through Line By Line With Test Cases

    You might think you’re done once your code is done, but this is another place people slip up. It’s easy to breathe a sigh of relief and declare your solution ready, but you need to go back and make sure it’s actually doing what you think it is.

    If you wrote real unit tests, this part becomes a lot easier. Run them to prove that your code has satisfied all the requirements.

    If you don’t have actual tests, you should step through the code, line by line, with each inputs/output combination from your test cases. Describe what would happen at each line, and confirm that you didn’t make any mistakes.

    Don’t just skim over this part it’s really easy to just assume your code works and miss bugs. The point of this is to identify mistakes. It’s fine if you did make a mistake, as long as you catch it in this step and correct it.

    Your interviewer will also be looking out for bugs, so communicate out loud as you step through your code, and listen carefully to any feedback .

    How To Prepare For Whiteboard Exercises

    To prepare for coding interviews, I’ve built up my fluency in Java using some of the tips below. You can take similar steps for any programming language:

    1. Take refresher courses

    Check to see if your local library or your college alma mater offers subscriptions to free onlineprogramming classes. Members of the Boston Public Library can get a free subscription to, the online education company. The Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, Massachusetts, has free subscriptions, too. I love David Gassner’s course on Lynda, Java Essential Training, which covers a good six hours of material.

    2. Follow learning trails

    Completely new to the Java language? Has it been a while since college?

    Take a look at Oracle’s Java Tutorials: “The Java Tutorials are practical guides for programmers who want to use the Java programming language to create applications. They include hundreds of complete, working examples, and dozens of lessons. Groups of related lessons are organized into ‘Learning trails‘.”

    • Getting Started“An introduction to Java technology and lessons on installing Java development software and using it to create a simple program.”
    • Learning the Java Language“Lessons describing the essential concepts and features of the Java Programming Language.”
    • Essential Java Classes“Lessons on exceptions, basic input/output, concurrency, regular expressions, and the platform environment.”

    3. Study the API documentation




    4. Ditch the IDE: Practice on paper

    Recommended Reading: How To Code Qualitative Interviews

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