How To Get Better At Coding Interviews

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Suppose you’ve been looking for your first job or a new job and found that companies are not calling you back after the coding interviews. In that case, you must be asking yourself how to get better at coding interviews from AlgoMonster.

To get better at coding interviews, you need to set yourself a full 12-week schedule to go over everything that companies will ask you in the coding interview process. If you have been going into coding interviews cold with no preparation, then you’ve been doing yourself a disservice.

Three months is a long time to prepare. Depending on how long you have, and if you’ve already been training, you could look to shorten the timeframe or cut out steps that you have already covered.

How To Get Better At Coding Interviews

Best Programming Language for a Coding Interview

It’s essential that you pick your best programming language and stick with it. Don’t try to impress with how many languages you know or all the obscure languages you’ve been learning. Coding interviews are usually relatively short. However, companies emphasize bug-free code or at least fixing bugs quickly.

However, you may want to see what programming language the job is requesting, and if that is in your top languages, then use that. If it’s not, then why are you applying for this job?

Coding Interview Behavioral Review

Coding interviews aren’t all about code. Part of the interview will be reviewing you as a person, how you interact with others, and whether you’d be a good fit for the team you’re interviewing for.

Being the best programmer in the world does nothing for large organizations that rely heavily on teamwork to get products and services released on time. Having a developer who can’t or won’t work with others causes problems and creates an often toxic work environment that nobody wants to be part of.

It’s challenging to change your personality, but make sure you put your best foot forward. Talk through everything with the interviewer, be positive, be passionate, and show why you want to work for the company and how you can make your new team better.

At a minimum, you should review the company culture, ensure you’re a good fit and discuss why you’d fit the company culture with the interviewer.

Week 1: Review Your Programming Language Basics for Coding Interviews

Coding interviews aren’t about the day to day of programming. Instead, they are a specific kind of test that reviews your general knowledge and ability to code.

Review your programming language basics:

  • How do you process input/output to files
  • Can you process input from the console
  • How to split strings
  • How to process command line input
  • Parse different types of data files (CSV/txt)

Week 2 – 3: Algorithms and Data Structures for Coding Interviews

You’ve probably heard that data structures and algorithms are the most common types of questions asked in coding interviews. Therefore, you need to be prepared to answer questions on the most common.

Review common data structures and algorithms like BigO Analysis, arrays, stacks, queues, lists, trees, graphs (DFS and BFS), hash tables/maps, heaps. You should also review sorts, searches, and traversals.

Week 4 – 5: Practice Data Structure and Algorithm Tests

After reviewing data structures and algorithms in previous weeks, you’ll want to start practicing simple tests that prove your understanding of them.

These types of questions are not especially common with larger companies like Amazon, Facebook, or Google. However, they are common with coding interviews in general.

  • Practice your array skills
  • Understand linked list skills
  • Practice your stack and queue skills
  • Review tree problems
  • Practice graph problems
  • Review trie problems
  • Study heap problems

Week 6 – 8: Practice Complex Coding Interview Problems

With the simple review and problem tests you’ve been practicing, it’s time to move on to more complex problems. You are more likely to get these problems in coding interviews or will be the chunk of your coding interview.

Find an excellent coding interview site that provides complex problems and questions to solve, such as LeetCode.com.

Spend a good 2-3 weeks practicing these complex problems. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable and confident in solving the problems; otherwise, you’ll fail the coding interview.

Some simple tips while you’re doing this are:

  • Time yourself. Your coding interview problems will allow around 30 minutes to solve. So you shouldn’t be taking more than that. Otherwise, you need to review what is taking so long.
  • Don’t give up if you run out of time. If you haven’t solved a problem in 30 minutes, keep going to understand the problem. Once completed, review what was taking so long. It’s important to know where your weaknesses are so you can study or practice those further.

Week 9 – 10: Designing Systems Coding Interviews

If you’re a junior developer, this may not be essential. However, your ability to comprehend, design, and explain system design principles will give the interviewer an understanding of what level of developer you are.

Suppose you are shooting for a senior role but do poorly in the systems design portion. In that case, the company may offer you an intermediate position, which affects how much money you will make.

Learn distributed system concepts like Load-balancing, Partitioning, and Consistency.

Companies will test you on questions such as:

  • How can you load-balance systems?
  • Can you share databases across systems?
  • What’s the best method to store large files to be accessed across systems?
  • How do you design a network to be redundant and highly available?

Week 11: Operating Systems and Concurrency for Coding Interviews

This is a more advanced topic, which is unlikely to be asked if you are a junior developer. However, as a senior developer, you will be expected to know how threading, locking, and synchronization benefits your system.

Study various multithreading and concurrency topics. Your studying will give you a general understanding of how to use them and what situations they work best.

Week 12: Designing Object Orientated Systems for Coding Interviews

This is also a more advanced topic. As a junior developer, companies won’t expect you to know or answer these questions. Though if you do, maybe you’ll impress somebody enough to get the job.

As a senior developer, companies will expect you to have some understanding of Object Orientated Design questions. You will need to discuss and explain how you will turn requirements into components and interfaces and how they will interact with each other.

Final Thoughts

The most important things to take from this guide are to come across as a positive team player and practice coding interviews until you can complete them in the timeframe.

Twelve weeks may be too long or may not be long enough for you. Stay on each section discussed until you fully understand the topics that are needed.

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