Monday, January 30, 2023

How To Prep For Coding Interview

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Practice Responses To Behavioral Questions

How to Prepare for Technical Interviews, Part 1 – Coding

Behavioral questions feature extensively in programming interviews. Even though this isn’t a coding interview tip, practicing responses to commonly-asked behavioral questions is crucial. Make sure you use the STAR method while practicing answers to behavioral questions.

You can also check some more prep tips on how to prepare for behavioral rounds at FAANG+ tech interviews.

How Much Time Can You Spend In A Day

Before you devise a prep plan, you might want to ask yourself – how much time can I really commit to solving problems everyday? Is my job too demanding to devote time everyday? How long would it take me to revise the concepts Iâve studied?By asking yourself these questions, you can form clarity around what your timeline should look like.

Moving ahead, you must commit to solving at least one or two coding problems everyday, as problem-solving only comes with practice. And to land offers at the biggest firms, you must be nothing less than a superb problem solver.

Being consistent with how much time you spend everyday is extremely important. To begin, spend at least two hours a day solving problems, and practicing coding questions on platforms like Leetcode, Codechef and TopCoder.

If youâre willing to take it to the next level by giving yourself a formidable chance, sign-up for Interview Kickstartâs webinar on cracking technical interviews.

Interviews Are Not Interrogations

If you have ever been to a rapid-fire question interview, you can relate. Interviewers work with a set list of questions, expect short answers, and keep the interviewee on edge. It is always good to put the candidate at ease. Let them briefly talk about themselves. Ask follow-up questions instead of turning the interview into a Q& A.

However, this doesnt mean that you, as the interviewer, dont prepare a list of questions. Programming interview questions ensure that all interviewers evaluate all candidates equally. The trick is knowing how to use the questions as conversation starters.

Look for passion. Smart people are passionate about the projects they work on. They get very excited about the subject. They talk quickly and get animated. Being passionately negative can be just as good a sign. Joel Spolsky, Board Chairman for Stack Overflow, Glitch, and HASH

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During The Technical Interviews/live Coding Part:

  • After receiving a task, do not start right away with coding. First, make sure that you understood what is expected of you. Dont be afraid to ask questions, seek clarification!Ive seen many candidates who failed live coding because they either didnt understand the task or didnt ask enough questions and just made some assumptions never do that.
  • Be communicative while writing a code. As youre probably being interviewed by your future colleague, he/she needs to understand your ways of thinking while solving a problem, what kind of approach you take, would you be a good fit for the team, etc. And staying silent does not help in that.
  • Listen to what the interviewer is saying. Theyll probably try to help you when youll be stuck or your solution wont be going in the right direction.
  • Think about edge cases.
  • Test your code.

Ace The Coding Interview Every Time

Practice Programming

Disclaimer and proviso: The postings on this site are my own and dont represent Amazons position in any way whatsoever.

Have you ever failed a code-intensive technical interview? I have, and can 100% relate. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my professional career. It happened once, because I got complacent, didnt put in the prep time, and took the fact that my professional experience and ability to code would carry me through.

What a colossal mistake that was. I remember struggling in front of the white board for two hours and walking out of the interview dejected, knowing I missed out on a great opportunity due to a false sense of security and arrogance, and lack of preparation. I swore I would never let it happen again, and it hasnt.

Thus, whats contained here is my own blueprint, from having participated in technical interviews with many software companies of note, and from conducting literally hundreds of technical interviews at companies I work for. This methodology has also been refined with the help of other experienced Engineers and seasoned technical interviewers. Follow this, and you will absolutely crush most code-intensive tech loops as well as most other software companies out there.

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Revise The Basic Algorithms

Algorithms are an essential component of technical interviews. Reviewing the basic algorithms -BFS and DFS, and sorting algorithms can help a great deal as most algorithm-based problems employ these concepts. While reviewing the algorithms, you donât necessarily have to solve long and complex problems. Rethinking how to implement them is good enough.

Plan Your Time And Tackle Topics And Questions In Order Of Importance

How long does it take to prepare for a coding interview? It actually depends on how well prepared you want to be. On average, it takes about 30 hours to cover the bare minimum and ~100 hours to be well prepared.

To start preparing for your coding interviews, always begin with a plan. Calculate the amount of time you have left to realistically prepare for your interview from now till the day of the coding test, and carefully make a plan of the topics and questions you will cover per day, prioritizing the most important ones first.

But how do you know which are the most important topics and questions to practice based on the time you have left? You may use the free Grind 75 tool which produces coding interview study plans for varying lengths of preparation time. The algorithm behind it includes a ranking of questions by priority and also a balance between breadth and depth of topics covered.

If you have the luxury of time to prepare, it is recommended to spend around 3 months to prepare more holistically. I came up with a personal 3-month study plan, which takes you from start to finish on which topics and questions to complete.

Recommended Reading: How To Use The Star Interview Response Technique

Tip #: Hone Your Communication Skills

In a virtual whiteboard interview, the recruiter wants to know how you handle complex technical issues, whether you are open to feedback, and how you communicate and request input to find a workable solution.

Ultimately, this helps them assess how well you fit into their teams and whether youd work well with other engineers and non-technical colleagues.

Having good communication skills is always an advantage, and you can always sharpen them:

  • Take it slow. Practice speaking thoughtfully and without rushing. Carefully read tutorials and watch videos to learn how others explain technical topics.
  • Practice asking questions. If you get stuck or something is unclear, dont hesitate to ask. Think about questions you could ask in the interview to get to a better solution.
  • Ask for feedback frequently. What do the interviewers think of your approach? Do they have suggestions about your pseudocode? Find appropriate situations during an interview to ask for feedback. You can also ask friends and family for input on everyday things to practice.

Want tech hiring insights straight to your inbox? here!

Live Coding Interview Questions

Python Coding Interview Preparation – For Beginners

What are the best live coding interview questions? Depending on the live coding interview platform, you can typically use your own tasks or choose from a task library.

Either way, your interview questions should not be overly difficult. Keep the testing time to around 45 minutes.

The task should be a real-world task something your candidates would work on as part of their job.

For instance, heres a take-home task from our CodeSubmit task library:

As you can see, this task isnt theoretical but asks candidates to develop a real feature. In the same way, you can create a live coding task that asks them to solve a problem or create a feature that they can complete in under an hour.

A few example live interview questions are:

Python

Find the size of a Set in Python.

A Set is an unordered collection data type. The size indicates the amount of memory occupied by a set object.

How do you print multiple arguments in Python?

An argument is a value thats passed within a function when its called. During the time of call, each argument is assigned to the parameter in the function definition.

Find duplicate characters in a string in Java.

To find duplicate characters, candidates count the occurrence of each character in the string. If the count is greater than 1, the character has a duplicate entry in the string.

Remove duplicate elements from ArrayList in Java.

Also Check: How Do You Handle Conflict Interview Question

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!

How Many Interviews Will I Face

That depends on the role and company youre interviewing for. Software engineers usually face one or two technical screens involving coding questions as part of the early rounds, before 3 coding interviews at the onsite stage. Engineering managers and data scientists will usually face just one coding interview at the onsite stage.

Refer to our specific guides for each role and company to get the exact breakdown of what you can expect from the interview process, including the exact number of interviews and what type of questions you can expect in each.

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Resources For Coding Interviews

Choosing the best resources for your coding interview determines your interview success. As a tech recruiter, your goal is to hire the best talent as soon as possible while conducting the recruitment process at affordable costs. Software engineers are highly skilled tech savvies who will choose to accept an interview based on your recruitment process and communications. As a result, you need to have resources that make the interview process seamless for both you and the candidate.

One of the best tried and tested resources is CodinGame Assessment, a powerful software solution that helps you access and interview developers. From shortlisting to picking the final software engineer, CodinGame increases your confidence in tech recruitment.

The Interview Process At Faang+ And Tier

Studying for startup interviews with

If youâre a software engineer who wants to crack challenging technical interviews, it is essential that you know the interview process at top companies and accordingly plan your prep.

For junior software engineering and IC positions, coding is a significant part of tech interviews. Coding problems, typically around algorithms and core data structures, feature in multiple interview stages.

After the Initial Screen with the recruiter, youâre invited to the Technical Screen, which is typically a coding interview. Youâre asked to solve 1-2 coding problems in this interview. Hiring managers in this round carefully assess how you factor in Big-O complexities, your approach to problem-solving, and your ability to write error-free code.

The Technical Screen is a time-bound interview, usually lasting about 30-45 minutes. While some companies prefer conducting this interview remotely, others may ask you to appear at the company premises for the technical screen.

Coding questions also feature during On-site or In-person interviews. Depending on the position youâre applying to, On-site interviews typically have 1-2 coding rounds. These rounds are time-bound and seek to evaluate your general approach to coding and problem-solving.

To learn more about the FAANG+ interview process, you can read our blog on âUnderstanding Technical Interviews at FAANG+ and How to Crack Them

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Algorithmic Complexity / Big

  • Nothing to implement here, you’re just watching videos and taking notes! Yay!
  • There are a lot of videos here. Just watch enough until you understand it. You can always come back and review.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t understand all the math behind it.
  • You just need to understand how to express the complexity of an algorithm in terms of Big-O.
  • Implement a vector :
  • Practice coding using arrays and pointers, and pointer math to jump to an index instead of using indexing.
  • New raw data array with allocated memory
  • can allocate int array under the hood, just not use its features
  • start with 16, or if starting number is greater, use power of 2 – 16, 32, 64, 128
  • size – number of items
  • capacity – number of items it can hold
  • at – returns item at given index, blows up if index out of bounds
  • insert – inserts item at index, shifts that index’s value and trailing elements to the right
  • prepend – can use insert above at index 0
  • pop – remove from end, return value
  • delete – delete item at index, shifting all trailing elements left
  • remove – looks for value and removes index holding it
  • find – looks for value and returns first index with that value, -1 if not found
  • resize // private function
  • when you reach capacity, resize to double the size
  • when popping an item, if size is 1/4 of capacity, resize to half
  • O to add/remove at end , index, or update
  • O to insert/remove elsewhere
  • contiguous in memory, so proximity helps performance
  • space needed = * size of item, but even if 2n, still O
  • Tip #: Practice Thinking Out Loud

    Of course, recruiters want to test your technical and creative skills when they give you programming tasks. But they also want to understand how you approach a problem and how you arrive at a solution.

    Thats why its essential to learn how to express your thoughts aloud in an understandable way. A skilled interviewer will also ask you questions to get you talking take this chance to give them insight into how you work and think.

    Thinking aloud is a skill you can practice yourself even if it may feel strange at first. To do this, solve a programming task and comment on what you do and think. Also, imagine what questions you might get and answer them, for example:

    • What do you think is the problem?
    • Where do you see possible edge cases?
    • What solutions can you think of?
    • What are the benefits of one solution over another?

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    What Is A Coding Interview

    A coding interview provides you with a chance to demonstrate your technical skills in a practical environment. The interviewer gives you a problem to solve and asks you to write working code to solve that problem. The interviewer may ask questions as you are coding about your thought processes.

    In addition to the hands-on portion of the interview, you also answer questions about your experience and training, and you may also answer behavioral questions. Depending on where the interview takes place, you could complete the coding portion on your own computer at home or at the job site. Sometimes, the hiring manager may send the coding test before inviting you in for an interview. Other times, you may only see the test once youve begun the interview.

    Related:

    Coding Interviews: Everything You Need To Prepare

    Prepare for Your Google Interview: Coding

    The ultimate guide on how to efficiently prepare for your software engineering technical interview – coding test round.

    If you have decided to embark on the arduous process of preparing for your coding interviews and you don’t know how to maximize your time, this is the only guide you need to go from zero to hero on your coding test.

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    Faqs On Coding Interviews

    Question: What are some key Data Structures and Algorithms to learn when preparing for a coding interview?

    Arrays, strings, maps, linked lists, queues, graphs, and associated algorithms are crucial to clear a coding interview in any tier-1 company. Start solving some easy problems first. If you canât solve some easy and medium problems first, it may be unwise to target difficult problems directly. Read Best Way to Learn Data Structures and Algorithmsfor more tips.

    Question: How to start preparing for coding interviews?

    You can start by visiting your target companyâs website, careers page, and the specific job posting you applied for to see what theyâre looking for.

    You can then learn skills that make you a better fit for the job and figure out how you can be best aligned with their vision, values, and their company goals. Practice problems that vary in type but belong to the difficulty range your target company desires and tests for.

    You may also want to look at your target companyâs competitors and competing offers to better understand the job market and requirements.

    Recommended Reading:How to Crack a Coding Interview With 2 Months of Prep

    Question: What is the best website to prepare for coding interviews?

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