Interview Prep Resources
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Preparing for software engineering interview needs time, attention and practice; and to help with that, there are many resources sprinkled all over the internet and bookshelves. Some of them are wonderful and some of them are meh. Browsing through these can be overwhelming.
Therefore, I have tried to create a curated list of resources – these are just some of the good options you can
chose from. To help you decide on which resource to try, I have annotated each item.
By no means, you have to go through all of it. I do not claim that, these are the best resources out there either; there must be resources I don’t know about which are even better and there might be some resources which I haven’t included but is useful to someone else.
I would suggest you to go through some of the articles and look at some of the study plans. Then pick one learning resource (book/course/lecture series) and one practice resource. It is best to learn something everyday and practice a bit everyday.
Good luck & have fun!
Table of Contents
- Study Plans and Reading Lists
- Video Lectures
- Online Learning Resources
- Coding Practice
- Mock Interview
- Cheat sheets
- On Résumé
- Official Guides
- Even if you are not interviewing
- More Stuff
Here are some insightful articles. All of them are personal takes on interview process and/or how to ace them.
ABC: Always Be Coding: “there’s no silver bullet to getting hired. But, as an engineer, the best thing you can do is to ABC: Always Be Coding” – this is a nice in a nutshell guide for every one.
Get that job at Facebook – a former Facebook engineer describes how Facebook hiring works and how to prepare for it.
The 2 types of software engineering interviews… discusses about two broad categories of software engineering interviews: (1) domain specific interviews and (2) computer science fundamentals interviews.
Crack the System Design interview – tips from a Twitter software engineer.
Following articles, are not about how to ace an interview, but these are for the other side of the table; about how to hire a good engineer.
Study Plans and Reading Lists
Coding Interview University – this became a wildly popular compendium of resources for self-paced software engineering training. John Washam wanted to gear up himself as a software engineer and embarked on an 8 month long journey towards being an skilled software engineer. This study plan is overly comprehensive and as John mentioned, several times, you do not need to go through everything he went through. My personal recommendation is to go through some of the articles and pick up at least one algorithm book (more on it later) and one coding prep book/website (more on it later as well). This directory lists a lot of good reading material on specific topic collected from various sources; don’t be voracious, eat healthy and read (study) as needed.
Ace the coding interview, every time – An Amazon engineer’s take on how not to fail any technical interview.
The 30-minute guide to rocking your next coding interview – a recent NUS grad’s reflection on how he prepared for tech interviews. Yangshun Tay↗ now works as a front-end engineer at Facebook. Oh, and this guide comes with a handbook.
The System Design Primer 🌟 - a comprehensive illustrated guide on how to improve your system designing skills, particularly for interview prep. Includes a flow chart of topics to cover, a study guide and then goes into providing brief overview of each topics along with useful references materials. By Donne Martin, Engineering Manager at Facebook.
System Design Preparation – “a collection of links/documents for the following use cases: a) Prepare for a system design or open ended rounds. b) Learn more about how large scale systems work and thought process of designing a new system.” – Shashank Khare↗.
Here is great pinboard containing links to useful resources on system design, curated by Farsan Rashid.
There are plethora of books on algorithms, problem solving, software engineering and computer science in general. There are also, as many book-lists. One thing, I’d like to mention is that, picking up a good book is important. In many cases people are in a time crunch. So, you want to study a book which you can cover within a limited time; similarly, you would want to learn enough and understand them correctly.
There are people who have studied and compared a good number of books. What they have to say about these books can give you sufficient insight for picking up the right book.
Shawn Bullock’s Quora answer on best algorithms and data structures books – this answer is probably one of the most comprehensive overview of good algorithm books. I mostly agree with him, except, I have much more reverence for CLRS than he has. I’m glad that he likes Sedgewick too.
Programming Algorithms & Data Structures – a Goodreads list of well recognized and revered books on programming algorithms, data structures, problem solving and programming challenges.
A comparison of four algorithms textbooks: Knuth, CLRS, DPV, Skiena.
An annotated list of programming books by Dan Luu.
Following are some books I studied or vetted and are in my to-read list.
See also: r/cscareerquestions/wiki/faq_books
Algorithms and data structures
🚀 Sedgewick – I read his Algorithms in C++ during my freshman and sophomore years and I loved how he handled some very intricate topics. Later on I also looked at the more updated Algorithms 4e in conjunction with his Coursera courses 1, 2. Another book he authored focuses on analysis of algorithms and thus more mathematical in nature.
📜 CLRS – Introduction to Algorithms (3e) by Cormen, Leiserson, Rivest & Stein – this is undoubtedly the most cited algorithm text book. However this is by no means an intro book. A lot of the materials covered here are intended for formal undergrad and grad level algorithm courses. This is one of the best book to study; if you can master this book, you can call yourself a master of algorithms. I specially liked graph related topics here during my sophomore/junior year algorithm class. However, I think this is less accessible for some readers.
Skiena – Steven S. Skiena is well known in fields of algorithms, programming challenges and data science. His The Algorithm Design Manual 2e balances between practical applications of algorithms and academic study of it. This book is organized in two parts: (1) text on algorithms and data structures & (2) catalog of algorithms. He resorts to mathematics less often and explains things in detail. This is a nice book to study with and keep as reference material.
DPV – Algorithms by Dasgupta, Papadimitriou, and Vazirani. This book’s PDF↗ is officially available for free online. People have mixed opinion about it. IMHO, this is a well balanced and venerable algorithm text. This tends to jump too quickly into mathematics; so if you are not math savvy, then this might seem difficult to you. I haven’t studied the book in depth yet, but one thing I liked about the contents is that, it appears to be industry appropriate. It breaks up algorithms into classes, and teaches you how to recognize what kind of algorithm should be used to solve a particular problem.
TopCoder Tutorials lists some great articles written by the TopCoder competitive programming community over the years. “They are very informal, which lets them stay short and to the point - a luxury no serious algorithm book can afford. The goal of these tutorials is to refresh your knowledge if you studied these algorithms before, or to give you an initial direction in exploring a particular group of algorithms.” – ↗
Interview Prep Books
Virtually everyone is familiar with Cracking the Coding Interview 🌟 [CTCI] by Gayle Laakmann McDowell and probably you would be benefited from it too. Solutions are posted on Github in several languages.
Programming Interviews Exposed [PI-Exposed] by John Mongan et al. is a very basic book for people who are totally uninitiated. If CTCI seems difficult for you, you can pick this up to build some foundation.
Design & Development
- Designing Data-Intensive Applications – The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems by Martin Kleppmann
There are some really good lectures on fundamentals of computer science and some on interview prep.
CS50 2017 - Lecture 0 - Scratch – Harvard’s CS50 lectures are famous and now most of them are available online. This is a good intro.
Jackson Gabbard, one of the early Facebook engineers, made some really great video lectures circa 2016-2017.
CTCI/Cracking the Coding Interview lectures on HackerRank – Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of CTCI made a series of video lectures in collaboration with HackerRank in 2016.
MyCodeSchool – YouTube videos explaining fundamentals of computer sciences (data structures and algorithms).
Online Learning Resources
MOOCs on Algorithm, Data Structures etc.
Tim Roughgarden, a Stanford Professor, offers a 4 part algorithms course on Coursera. This is one of the earliest algorithms course on Coursera and is well received.
UCSD offers Data Structures and Algorithms Specialization on Coursera with 6 well designed courses.
Grow Your Technical Skills with Google
Interview Prep Courses
💎 InterviewBit has six tracks: Programming, System Design, Scripting, Databases, Mock Interviews and Puzzles. Their courses are, in a nutshell, genius. It is organized as gamified levels. Each level has some tutorials and then relevant problems/challenges. You have to achieve certain score to unlock next level. This, imho, is very affective. You can learn fundamentals of comp-sci and solve interview style problems side-by-side in a well structured plan.
Interview Camp – created by Harsh Goel↗, who worked for NetApp, Google and sold his Pext app to Pinterest. From the looks of it, this seems to be a good camp; but this is paid content and I haven’t purchased it yet.
Interview Cake – this is money-back guarantee freemium interactive course. The reading materials are free, but interactive problem solving steps are not.
Hired in Tech – Algorithm design
Design & Development
UIUC offers a Cloud Computing specialization on Coursera. It has 5 courses, 2 on cloud computing concepts, 2 on applications of it, 1 on cloud network and one capstone project. Looks interesting. A more succinct course could be better, but this offers more up to date understanding of this now growing field.
Best way to sharpen your algorithm and problem solving skills is by engaging in competitive programming. But if ACM, TopCoder or Codeforces are not your cups of tea, then you can resort to one of the following:
- LeetCode – This site originally hosted some two-three hundred programming
interview problems. It is run by Winston Tang↗, an engineer at Google,
Amazon and Intel. Recently he started working full time on LeetCode and since, the problem archive has grew to about
a thousand. It now also organizes contests regularly, resulting in the surge of problems. First two-three hundred
problems cover a wide range of everything; so you do not have to solve all 900 of them. Also, a good thing about this
site is that, with premium subscription, you can filter problems by company tags. So, if you are preparing for a
particular company, you can review their trend.
- My personal suggestion is to, solve a few problems everyday and not to exhaust yourself. They also have a revisit and favorite list. You should definitely utilize these. Also, session is a nice feature.
- HackerRank evolved from InterviewStreet. It originally provided a tool for companies to arrange online coding tests. Later, they started HackerRank for programmers to practice and solve coding problems. Their problem set ranges nicely from ACM/TopCoder style competitive programming problems to technical interview focused problems.
InterviewBit – organizes contests, collaborates with software companies and has some wonderful prep courses.
- GeeksforGeeks – it has a lot of articles, some are really good while some are meh. So use with caution. I have found a lot of their explanations to be spot on and very useful in understanding difficult problems.
Doing some mock interview is a good idea. Specially, if you can get feedback.
interviewing.io - anonymous interview with potential employers. Interviews are conducted by engineers from companies that are actually hiring; after a successful interview the company may ask you to unmusk if they want to bring in for on-site.
Pramp “is a FREE, online peer-2-peer platform for practicing technical interviews.” It matches you with other engineers for doing 1-on-1 video sessions.
VisuAlgo – visually explains algorithms and data structures in action. By Steven Halim.
Cracking the Coding Skills – from CTCI companion website.
Joel on Getting Your Résumé Read
Both CTCI and PI-Exposed have very good sections on resume. Look at them.
Software industry is probably that odd industry where they reveal all secrets about their interview process. Most large companies have standardized their interview process so much so that, and they want interviewees to succeed so much that they actively generate and provide prep materials.
- Preparing for your Software Engineering Interview at Facebook
- Code Lab – coding practice arena made in collaborarion with InterviewBit.
- Preparing for Your Instagram Interview
- CS50 Lecture by Mark Zuckerberg – Given in 2005 at Harvard as guest lecture.
- How We Hire
- How to: Work at Google — Candidate Coaching Session for Technical Interviewing – YouTube video from 2012.
- Grow Your Technical Skills with Google – not specifically for interview.
Even if you are not interviewing
Since you are here, and I got you reading this far, I am going to share some of my favorite resources. These do not directly help you in acing your technical interview but they are really useful to software engineers in general.
❤ Programming Pearls (2e) by Jon Bentley – some time tested articles originally published on CACM.
Joel on Software [JoS] – Joel Spolsky, the guy behind StackOverflow, Trello, FogCreek and other wonderful things, posts read-worthy articles here.
Project Euler – a collection of mathematical problems for which answers can be found using computer programs.
not so random though
- I failed my effing coding Interview!?
- Coding Interview Tips
The ultimateguide to acing your technical interview
- System Design Interview
- 5 things you need to know …
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