Before I get a chance to start, you might immediately say: Aleks, I am currently happily employed at a pretty cool company, why would I be interested in reading about preparing for a coding interview?
Well, I have a suspicion that if you’re reading about preparing for the coding interview as you’re preparing for the coding interview - it’s a tad too late. Memorising a bunch of algorithms beforehand, spitting them out at the interview and immediately forgetting them might seem like a legitimate strategy, but establishing the right knowledge base beforehand and then using that to devise your answers feels more time-efficient, I think. Also, we don’t know what we don’t know and going through a book like ‘Cracking the Coding Interview’ should help fill in the blanks.
What’s the Book About?
‘Cracking the Coding Interview’ by Gayle Laakmann McDowell is a pretty good book. It is also a massive book. It’s about 700 pages long and most of those contain exercises, solutions to those exercises and explanations to those solutions. The exercises are of three different difficulty levels - normal, moderate and hard. There are coding exercises and logic exercises.
Roughly 200 pages are dedicated to theory, there’re chapters on technical stuff like data structures, big O, bit manipulation, object oriented design, recursion, and more. There’re also chapters on behavioural questions and handling job offers or rejections. I think the book provides a pretty good coverage of how to prep for the interview, what to expect at the interview and what to do afterwards.
I don’t think this book is perfect, though. Some of the explanations could have been phrased better, I did have to re-read a few of them several times before it clicked; there could have been less typos; and a book talking about the importance of clean code could have avoided stuff like using the letter ‘a’ as a name for an array.
But I do think that ‘Cracking the Coding Interview’ is worth getting. The amount of useful information and practice questions makes it worth the full price.
Alternatively, if you don’t like books or would like to get a feel of it before spending money - there’s a ‘Cracking the Coding Interview’ section on HackerRank with 20 exercises that are similar to, but not exactly like the exercises in the book.