Coding interviews 101: What they are, what to expect, and how you can prepare
Coding Interview. These two words can sound terrifying to any aspiring software engineer. If you have decided to prepare for coding interviews or simply want to know more about them, don’t worry, we got you! Let’s break down the myth and get you from zero to hero for your technical interview!
So, what are coding interviews?
Whether they are called coding interviews, technical interviews or programming interviews, their main objective remains the same: to test your technical skills and knowledge as a developer. They also allow interviewers to assess soft skills such as your ability to communicate your ideas clearly and solve problems.
Those interview types are usually encountered when applying for a programming or software development position. Each round typically lasts for about 30 to 45 minutes, during which you are given one or several questions to solve in front of the interviewer. You will have to explain your reasoning out loud while writing your code and your interviewer may ask questions about your work.
What type of questions should you expect?
In general, most of the questions testing your conceptual understanding will revolve around data structure and algorithms. However, they can also be specific to the field you are applying to. So, make sure to brush up on your fundamentals before going to your interview!
When solving a coding question, it is also common for the interviewer to ask you about your code and reasoning. Be prepared to explain why you choose to solve the problem in a specific way, the limitations of your solution or if there is anything you think could be improved upon.
As simple as it sounds, explaining concepts and ideas at the same time as you write code is not something programmers are very used to, and it can feel quite unnatural at first. It may be a good idea to practice beforehand to be as ready as possible!
How can you prepare for a coding interview?
Jumping straight into it can be tempting, but don’t be fooled! It can be very easy to get lost with all the resources available online. So, here are a few steps for you to maximise your preparation and make the most out of it.
- Plan: Know how much time you have and want to invest in preparing for your coding interview
- Prioritise topics: You may not have the time to study everything, so select the most relevant topics to prepare to ensure that you cover the most essential areas
- Pick your language: Choose a coding language you are comfortable with (preferably one that the company uses!)
- Review your knowledge: Especially of data structure and algorithms
- Practice: Now you can dive into it! You can use platforms such as LeetCode, HackerEarth or AlgoMonster which provide a significant range of questions for you to practice
Last but not least
Keep in mind that you probably won’t be “fully prepared” for interviews like these, similar to how you wouldn’t know what is in a test before you take it. But what is important is to go over the useful patterns that can be used to form functions or processes and do your best!
Peer Career Advisor
Brenda is a Peer Career Advisor at UTS Careers and a fourth year Business and IT student. She has also worked in other roles across the university, such as Library Officer, Outreach Program Coordinator, and FEIT International Student Ambassador.