How To Prepare For A Coding Interview

The thought of going for a coding interview can be intimidating, especially if this is your first one. You’re not sure what to expect, which makes it even more difficult to know how to prepare for a coding interview. What should you focus on during your prep? Which are the best books to prepare for a coding interview? Which is the best website to prepare for a coding interview.

Before we get into how to prepare for a coding interview, here’s what you can expect at your upcoming interview.

person in interview.

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What To Expect At A Coding Interview:

Coding interviews can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Not surprisingly, these interviews are highly technical. The interviewer or interviewers will kick things off by asking you a series of questions to evaluate your depth of coding knowledge and experience. You can expect to be asked to demonstrate your proficiency in algorithms and data structures among others.

But the most important thing for the interviewers will be watching you code in real time. Interviewers will want to observe you closely as you build or debug a program in real time. This is because they are interested in more than just the solution. They want to get to know your thought process – how you approach the problem, how you brainstorm the solution, and your use of best practices.

The interviewer may give you a technical question and then look on as you write the code to solve the problem within a time-frame. Working on resolving coding problems in front of spectators can be challenging by itself. But there’s another factor that makes it even more challenging.

Interviewers expect you to talk through your thought process as you go about building or debugging the program. They want to get some insight into your logical reasoning and problem-solving skills. They also want to assess your communication skills. Sometimes, they may interrupt you with questions asking why you did something the way you did. This can be unnerving.

The best to have a successful coding interview is to take all of the above factors into consideration when preparing. Here’s how to prepare for a coding interview.

Coding Interview Preparation Tip #1 – Make Use Of The Right Resources 

You may be a coding expert but that by itself isn’t enough to get you the job. All other applicants are likely to be just as skilled as you. The key to winning that coveted job is impressing the interviewers and acing the interview. The best way to start preparing to do this is by using a few reliable resources.

Cracking the Coding Interview” is regarded as one of the best books to prepare for a coding interview. The book offers a detailed break down and solutions for 189 technical questions that are commonly asked at coding interviews. It also includes tips on how to answer behavioral questions and general best practices.

If you’re looking for a resource where you can practice your coding skills, check out LeetCode. This is the best website to prepare for coding interviews with numerous test questions that you can practice solving. Solve even a few of the questions on this site will help you get faster at problem-solving. It will boost your self-confidence too. LeetCode has a premier membership that will take your prep to the next level.

Launched by Google engineers, AlgoMonster is another excellent website to prepare for coding interviews. At this site you’ll find a lot of practice questions accompanied by detailed guides that explain the breakdown of the answers. The website aims to help members learn key patterns so they can solve any interview question, even if they’ve never encountered it before.

Glassdoor is another interesting resource. Here you can read actual questions that applicants were asked during their coding interviews. You can actually put yourself in the applicant’s shoes and assess how you fare. There’s no better way to prepare for your upcoming interview.

If you need help with answering behavioral questions, Grokking the Coding Interview: Patterns for Coding Questions may be a good resource to consider. 

Coding Interview Preparation Tip #2 – Research The Company

Different companies operate differently. They may focus on different frameworks, different software, and different languages. Each company also has different goals and a different vision too. Before you head out to any interview, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the company you’re hoping to be hired by. This will help you frame your answers in such a way that it aligns with the company’s goals and vision.

Coding Interview Preparation Tip #3 – Practice Mock Interviews

You know that timing, accurate coding, and communication are the 3 keys you’ll need to ace for a successful interviewer. Doing plenty of mock interviewers will help you be as prepared as you could ever be for your upcoming interview.

  1. Make sure to simulate real interview conditions when doing your mock interviews.
  2. Pick a question from one of the resources above and solve it.
  3. Set the timer for the time recommended to solve the question you picked.
  4. If you can, get someone to represent an interviewer during your practice sessions.
  5. Lastly, while solving the problem, explain your thought processes out loud to your mock interviewer. Talking while coding can be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. It’s important to get comfortable with this aspect of the interview.

Doing practice mock interviews while simulating real interview conditions will help you understand your strengths and your weaknesses. You’ll know where to spend more time preparing.

How Long Should You Spend Preparing For A Coding Interview?

There is no fixed time for everyone. The amount of time you should spend will depend on your skills, experience and self-confidence. Goes without saying, the more time you spend preparing for the interview, the better prepared you’ll be.

During your practice sessions, focus on these three areas that you’ll be evaluated on – technical competency, problem-solving, and communication.

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