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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.
What Concepts Are Emphasized During a Coding Interview?
Concepts frequently emphasized include arrays and strings, binary trees, dynamic programming, and linked lists. Other common interview topics include breadth-first search algorithms, palindrome checker, and sorted lists of numbers. Interviewers may emphasize on data structures and algorithms.
Common data structures tested include arrays, linked lists, stacks, and queues. Common algorithms tested include recursion, bubble sort, insertion sort, and binary search.
Of course, the interview topics will also depend on the role you are interviewing for and the skills and tools that will be needed for the job.
In addition to assessing your technical skills, the interviewer will also be watching for examples of creative thinking and the ability to receive and apply feedback. They may look for signs that tell them how you may fit in with the team and company culture, and judge your understanding of the role and the company’s work.
Data structures and algorithms will likely be an integral part of the coding challenges, so it’s important to spend time on those topics when preparing for your interview. Try to mimic the actual interview conditions in your preperation. Practice on a whiteboard and set a timer to check the time pressure during coding challenges. As you write your code, practice explaining your thought processes loudly.
It is also important to do your research on the company — this will give you a better idea of what languages, frameworks, and other technology it uses. You can also research the company’s current strategies and goals to best identify how you will contribute to the company.
Remember that while much of the interview will focus on technical skills, there will also be behavioral and soft skill components involved. It is a good idea to connect to the company’s recruiter to get the full picture of the process. Lastly, run through a couple of mock interviews.
What Resources Should I Use to Prepare for a Coding Interview?
Read and practise common technical interview questions and go through each solution. Also check on tips on how to complete on-the-spot algorithms and how to handle behavioral questions. Also check for hundreds of sample interview questions. Applicants can hone their soft skills and get ready for behavioral questions too.
How Long Should I Prepare for a Coding Interview?
Coding interview preparation time largely depends on the persons level of experience. If you’re an entry-level programmer, it is a good idea to spend at least 2-3 months preparing. If you have more experience, 1-2 months is suggested for interview preperation.
Study the company’s programming language and tools of choice. Practice a couple of coding challenges each day. Finally, as you practice, make sure to time yourself to see how you are progressing.
How to crack the interviews and get a decent job?
Below are the basic skill sets required to crack an interview and get a decent job.
Basic Skill Set (BSS):
- Quick implementation & debugging (practice questions on codeforces, hackerrank, participate in contests)
- String Matching (important, KMP, Z-Algorithm, etc)
- Binary Search, Sorting, STL (sets, maps, unordered set/map, vector, sort) – very very very useful
- Data Structures: (Linked Lists, stacks, queues, BIT useful, Segment Tree – asked in Google)
- Dynamic Programming: Very important (medium level problems, all companies ask)
- Binary Trees & BST: Super important! (All companies ask this)
- DFS/BFS questions on Graphs (Dijsktra and flows are rarely asked)
- DP on Trees (yes, an important topic)
- Greedy, Backtracking: (Important, can be tricky)
- Math Concepts like Prime Sieve: Not that much important
- Bitmask DP: Sometimes asked in interviews, cover it later.
Though there are always many other topics that can be covered, but I would suggest don’t get overwhelmed and focus on these first. Once you are ready with these basics, you should move on to study other Data Structures and Algorithms. Knowing more and in detail will always make you more interesting and awesome.
Many recruitment problems are based on usages of sets, maps. Do many practice problems based on them.