Sunday, December 3, 2023

How To Start Preparing For Coding Interviews

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How to prepare for coding interviews

The topic of computer science is, by its very own nature, very dense, and the subject matter can be hard to digest. Pick a particular area, increasing the difficulty as you go, and try to solve 23 coding questions per day. Anymore than this, and you may start to lose your drive to study, begin skipping days, etc., and a good study plan will immediately unravel.

Dedicate one day to reviewing that weeks questions and study topics. This is extremely important for material retention. Take one day off per week to give your brain a break. This is important, everyone needs to rest and reset.

Lets say you devote 6 weeks to interview preparation. At 6 days per week, with 1 day dedicated to review , youre going to solve 60 questions , or 90 questions . Thats pretty serious progress, and 6 weeks will go by in a blur! Again, dial the time up or down as needed.

Dont cram, unless absolutely necessary! Re-read the section on properly preparing if needed. A crash course will yield marginal results at best, failure at worst.

What Does A Coding Interview Generally Entail

Typically, interviews for a tech job start with a casual phone call from the company’s recruiter. Then, the applicant moves on to a technical interview, which usually lasts about an hour and often takes place over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts. It includes a series of technical questions and allows the interviewer to watch the applicant code in real-time.

Questions may focus on the applicant’s ability to build or debug, or prompt the applicant to demonstrate their competence with data structures and algorithms.

This is a chance to show off your coding skills and how you work with others. With the interviewer present, you can talk through your thought processes for completing the challenge, which gives you an opportunity to demonstrate problem-solving skills.

While the interviewer is evaluating your competence in completing the challenge, they are also watching your diligence in checking and correcting the code. The interviewer may assess your logical reasoning, use of best practices, and communication.

In addition to the coding challenges, applicants are typically asked different behavioral questions. Questions might cover the applicant’s experience with various programming languages and development tools and what skills the applicant would bring to the position.

Second: How To Prepare For The Coding Interview

Now lets cut to the chase.

How do you prepare for your coding interview?

First, let me put you in the right mindset.

If you try to google for generic job interview preparation questions, you will get the most useless answers.

I did that for you and here is the first result at Google.

Rest assured your interviewer will never ask you these questions.

Even if your interviewer asks you one of these lame questions, its probably because he/she ran out of intelligent questions to ask.

I can also assure you that your answers to these types of questions will have zero impact on the hiring decision.

So dont waste your time trying to prepare for an intelligent answer to what your weaknesses are especially if you dont have any

Here is the thing.

Your coding interview is a technical interview.

Your interviewers care mostly about how technically sound you are.

They care about how competent and fast you are at solving problems.

So my advice to you is to spend your valuable preparation time focussing mainly and mostly on the technical aspects of the interview because this is what really matters.

With that said, here are the technical questions that you can expect in your coding interviews.

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How To Prepare For A Technical Interview

Some elements of coding interview preparation should ideally start well before you even land the interview. Other job interview preparation steps can be accomplished closer to the day itself.

So, here are some of the most important coding interview preparation tips to master in the days, weeks, or months leading up to your job applications and interviews:

1. Prepare a 30-second to 1-minute elevator pitch for the tell me about yourself question

Its important that you go prepared to talk about non-coding topics like your employment history, career goals, past projects, etc. The technical interview could just be one part of many if youre at a company with a long interview process, and youll probably have to answer some version of this question when you meet new interviewers. Its a great time to demonstrate soft skills and passion.

2. Before you go, study up on the most important CS fundamentals

Dont stress yourself out like youre cramming for an exam and trying to learn everythingbut do dedicate extra preparation time to key technical interview skills.

Parker advises narrowing your focus to two main areas: Fill the gaps in your knowledge of data structures and algorithms. Run a lot of practice problems.

Start with these must-study topics:

3. Pick one programming language and know it really well

Check out these LTCWM resources for places to go to brush up on your coding skills:

What Is The On

How to Prepare for Your First Coding Job Interview ...

The final stage of the interview process is usually referred to as the on-site. This is often the most in-depth and the most important to perform well at.

One of the main questions the company would like to have a good answer for is, how does this person work? The answer to this question is usually echoed through multiple levels as well, personal, technical, and professional.

Companies seek this answer by giving the candidate various exercises, technical and interpersonal, to gauge your skills and how well you will fit in at their company.

Depending on the company this interview can include various elements, but a few that are most common are:

  • Pair programming
  • Whiteboarding

Also Check: What Not To Say In An Exit Interview

Technical Interview Practice With Python On Codecademy

Even if you dont have a technical interview scheduled just yet, practicing these common problems will help you grow as a programmer and problem solver, and will help you write cleaner and better code. After completing this course, youll be ready to ace coding interviews anywhere and youll write more efficient code!

Fifth: After Your Coding Interview


There is nothing more you can do other than waiting for the final decision.

Your recruiter will contact you shortly after and inform you of their decision.

If the final decision is a hire, then big congratulations

Invite your friends and family over and have a big celebration.

Your recruiter will contact you again to discuss the details of your offer.

Very good times indeed!

If the final decision was no hire, its OK.

You will definitely be sad for some period of time.

But after your sadness is over, its time to analyze why you got a rejection.

Either one of two things could have happened:

1- You havent prepared well

In this case, you know what to do.

Keep learning and improving yourself and then try again when you are ready.

2- It was outside of your control

Sometimes the rejection isnt really under your control.

If you feel that you did well in your interviews and you still got a rejection, just move on and try again later or try with a different company.

Good luck with your career!

With dedication and consistency, everything is possible

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The Coding Interview: A Preparation Guide

Are you feeling a little nervous because you have a coding interview coming up?

I feel you!

You are definitely not alone.

Every person experiences some level of nervousness before big defining moments in their life.

Especially if this is an interview for your first job then the stakes are pretty high.

This coding interview is literally the only thing standing between you and making a six-figure income.

I have been interviewed many times and I remember being a little nervous before every single interview.

Also now that I am on the other side of the table interviewing candidates, most of the exceptional candidates I have interviewed showed some degree of nervousness as well.

You cant completely eliminate being nervous but you can absolutely reduce your level of nervousness.

This is critical because if your level of anxiety is extremely high then you might ruin your chances of getting hired even if you are genuinely competent.

To get your anxiety under control you need to know what to expect and prepare very well for it.

Preparation is key.

And this is exactly what this article is about.

In this article, I am going to share with you my personal experience both as an interviewee and as an interviewer.

I will teach you how to get a coding interview in the first place, prepare very well for it, and eventually get hired and kickstart your career.

Before you proceed, I want you to know that all the information in this article is based on my experience working in the USA.

But how?

What Should I Do Before The Coding Interview

How I Prepare For Coding Interviews

The single most important thing is to practice, practice, and practice. There is no trick to passing the coding interview. It simply comes down to the amount of time you spend mastering the important computer science topics and learning coding interview patterns.

Youll want to be comfortable with a mainstream coding language like C++, Java, or Python, though companies will also accept other languages like JavaScript. Its important that you stick with the language that you choose as you prepare to make your learning more effective!

In terms of preparation, the coding interview heavily revolves around data structures and algorithms, as previously indicated from the list above. Beyond the technical preparation aspect, you should reach out to your interviewee to get a better idea of how the interview will be structured so that you dont come into the interview blind-sided.

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Learn Career Skills With Treehouse

With Treehouse, youll learn the skills needed to land a high-paying job in tech. Learning with Treehouse starts at only $25 per month. If you think youre ready to start exploring if tech is right for you, sign up for your free seven day trial.

What sets Treehouse apart is their dedication to helping you find your perfect job or develop your own business.

Follow us on , , and for our favorite tips, and to share how your learning is going. Well see you there!

If you liked reading this article, you should also look at these two:

Ace The Coding Interview Every Time

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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Which Programming Language Should I Use

Before you start preparing for the other steps of the interview process, it would be prudent to have a good idea of which programming language you will use during the interview.

When it comes to this question, I have some pretty simple advice: embrace what you are comfortable with, and stick to what you know.

It is fairly common to want to use multiple languages in our field. But, when preparing for an interview, it is best to stick with just one.

This will help shift your focus from worrying about which language you will use, to thinking of problems you have solved with the language you are most comfortable with.

Once you know which programming language you will use, you are ready to take on the challenge of the technical phone interview.

Discussing Technical Achievements And High

Join over 7 million developers. Practice coding, prepare ...

In a typical technical phone interview, you’ll have a conversation with a senior member of the team you would join or with the manager of that team. You can expect a lot of this conversation to be focused on two things:

  • Recent problems you have experienced in your current position and the solutions you implemented for them, and
  • General language familiarity ?)

To help prepare for this interview, I suggest you start to write down answers to these questions.

Personally, I have used an Excel or Google sheet document that consists of 3 columns: questions, answers, and notes. You will find that taking the action of writing your answers down will help you come up with a concise and impactful answer.

There are a lot of resources online that list common interview questions, for frontend, backend, or full-stack roles.

This might seem like a lot of work upfront, but trust me spending the time to prepare and convert your thoughts to pen and paper will really help you mentally flesh out your answers.

Okay, you’ve spent ample time preparing and you impressed your interviewer! The next step you can expect is the “on-site” interview.

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Data Structures And Algorithms

Impact: very highFrequency: very high

Most of the technical questions you will face in your coding interviews are related to data structures and algorithms.

If you dont know what data structures are, then you need to build a strong foundation in computer science first before you are ready for the next steps.

In other words, if you are not familiar with terms like linked lists, trees, graphs, binary search, and dynamic programming , then you have some work to do!

A solid understanding of data structures and algorithms help you write efficient programs that can run faster and utilize resources more efficiently.

It is one thing to write code that is functionally correct, it is a completely different thing to write efficient code that is functionally correct.

Interviewers value candidates who can analyze code, spot performance bottlenecks, and possibly come up with better solutions.

Some Tips For Coding Interviews

  • There is no better way to do well in Coding interviews than practicing as many coding problems as possible. This will not only train your mind to recognize algorithmic patterns in problems but also give you the much-needed confidence to solve the problem you have never seen before.
  • My second tips are to learn about as many data structure and algorithms as possible. This is an extension of the previous tip but it also involves reading and not just practicing. For example, If you know about the hash table you can also many array and counter-based problems easily. The same is true for trees and graphs.
  • Choosing the right data structure is a very important part of software development and coding interview and unless and until you know them, you wont be able to choose.
  • Time yourself candidates who solve interview problems within the time limit and quickly are more likely to do well in the interview so you should also time yourself.
  • Think of edge cases and run your code through them. Some good edge cases might be the empty input, some weird input or some really large input to test the boundary conditions and limits.
  • Another useful tip to excel Coding interviews is to appear in the coding interview and lots of them. You will find yourself getting better after every interview and this also helps you to get multiple offers which further allows you to better negotiate and get those extra 30K to 50K which you generally leave on a table if you just have one offer in hand.
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    Study Common Interview Concepts

    A large percentage of interview questions feature data structures and algorithms. For better or worse, this is the truth. We gather question details from our candidates who interview at companies , and algorithm questions make up over 70% of the questions that are asked. You do not need to be an expert, but knowing the following list of algorithms and data structures will help at most companies.

    • Hash tables
    • Dynamic programming
    • Big-O analysis

    Depending on your background, this list may look trivial, or may look totally intimidating. Thatâs exactly the point. These are concepts that are far more common in interviews than they are in production web programming. If youâre self-taught or years out of school and these concepts are not familiar to you, you will do better in interviews if you study them. Even if you do know these things, refreshing your knowledge will help. A startlingly high percentage of interview questions reduce to breadth-first search or the use of a hash table to count uniques. You need to be able to write a BFS cold, and you need to understand how a hash table is implemented.

    Studying algorithms and data structures helps not only because the material comes up in interviews, but also because the approach to problems taken in an algorithm course is the same approach that works best in interviews. Studying algorithms will get you in an interview mindset.

    How Long Should I Prepare For A Coding Interview

    How to Prepare for a Programming Interview! (Tips & Tricks)

    Coding interview preparation time largely depends on the interviewee’s level of experience. If you’re an entry-level programmer, it’s a good idea to spend at least twelve weeks preparing. If you have more experience, 4-8 weeks is suggested for interview prep.

    Study the company’s programming language and tools of choice. Practice a couple of coding challenges each day don’t let your practice be a cram session right before your coding interview. Finally, as you practice, make sure to time yourself to see how you are progressing.

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