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Saturday, January 20, 2024

7 Topics You Must Prepare for Programming Job Interviews in 2024

Hello folks, are you thinking of a new job in 2024 and looking for which topics and skills to prepare for your coding interview? There is no doubt cracking the Coding interviews of tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon is very hard. However, you can still break it by carefully planning and preparing the essential skills which matter most, like Data structures and Algorithms, System Design, Multithreading and Concurrency, SQL and Database design, and of course, problem-solving skills. Being an author of Java and a programming blog, I often receive queries about preparing for coding interviews? How to pass Google or Microsoft Software Developer interviews? Or how can I get a software development job on Amazon or Facebook? After answering many of my readers one by one on Facebook and LinkedIn, I thought to put together a list of essential topics for coding interviews.

This list will give a good head-start for your preparation for any tech company interview like Google and Amazon. However, even if you are not targeting Google and just want a Software developer job, you can still prepare these topics.

In fact, preparing for tech giants like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook means you are miles ahead of other candidates, and you will most likely secure many job offers from smaller firms, startups, and investment banks.

That's why I suggest aiming higher because even if you don't get what you want, you will still get job offers that are desirable by many programmers.

Another critical thing to note is that different interviews need different skills. For example, when you go for a Java developer interview, you are bound to know Java. Similarly, for a Python developer interview, it's expected you to learn Python and some popular Python frameworks like Django and Flask.

For a Web developer, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are core skills, and you will be grilled on those, apart from modern web development frameworks like Angular, React, and Vue.js, with a bit of node.js as well.

I'll not touch that topic, but I'll share the essential skills required to pass all of those interviews. They are also known as core programming skills, and it's expected from every Software developer to know that.

7 Essential Topics for Coding and Programming Job Interviews

Anyway, without wasting any more of your time, here is my list of topics you can prepare to boost your chances on Google, Amazon, and Microsoft Programming Job Interviews.

1. System Design

This is one of the most crucial skills for coding interviews and one of the complex topics you need to prepare well for your programming job interviews, especially at big tech companies like GoogleMicrosoftAmazon, and Facebook. You need to have some ideas about how to design your solution, from architecture to coding.

System design is actually very vast. At a high level, it covers things like software architecture, I mean the advantage between monolithic and microservice architecture and choosing between a NoSQL and SQL database. It covers things like how we will design an application that can handle 10000 concurrent users? And includes things like scalability.

At a low level, it covers Object-Oriented Programming and Design, which talk about designing your classes and their relationships, following good coding practices, and software design principles like SOLID.

Because of this, many candidates struggle to answer system design questions, and if you want to succeed, you must emphasize this skill. If you need a resource, I recommend you check the Grokking Modern System Design for Software Engineers & Managers course on Educative, which is prepared by people who served as hiring managers on those tech companies. It also walks you through common system design interview questions.

Software design for coding interviews

For Object-Oriented design and analysis, I recommend the Head First Object-Oriented design book to learn fundamentals and Grokking the Object-Oriented Interviews course on Design Guru for some practice. 

Though, if you are preparing for coding interview, you can get all of DesignGuru's Grokking courses for a big discount here. They will help you prepare all coding interview topics better.  You can use coupon code GURU to get 30% discount as well. 

2. Data Structure

As a programmer, it's Ok if you cannot write web apps using Django or React, but it's Not Ok if you don't know how a hash table works and when to use a list over an array? And, what advantages B-Tree offers over an array? Data Structure and Algorithms are the core of computer science and programming, and it's expected for every software developer to have a solid knowledge of fundamental data structure.

It's imperative to understand data structure for writing a robust, performant application that your users will appreciate. Imagine that if Facebook or Google takes 1 minute to log you in, you will never go there and forget how important they are. Performance is critical, and unless you understand how your program is working and how your data is stored, you will not go anywhere.

In technical interviews, you will be asked to optimize your solution for time and space. You can't do that unless you have a solid understanding of how your code works and how data is stored and accessed.

This is probably the most essential topic for coding interviews, and you should prepare it well. At a bare minimum, you should know about the array, linked list, binary trees, binary search tree, self-balanced trees like AVL tree, a hash table(or map or dictionaries as known in Java and Python), stack, queue, and graph.

You should understand how to store and access elements from these data structures and the computing cost involved. You should also have a comparative analysis of when to use a particular data structure like a faster search array, and the hash table is better. Still, for more immediate addition and deletion, a linked list will outperform an array.

If you need a resource to get up to speed, I suggest you pick a data structure course where examples are shown in the language you are most comfortable with. For Java devs, I recommend Data Structure and Algorithms: Deep Dive in Java, and for Python devs, I recommend Algorithms and Data Structure in Python course on Udemy. You can check out that course here.

5 Essential Skills to Crack Coding Interviews

3. Algorithms

While it's essential to know the actual data structure like an array, linked list, and tres, it's equally important to learn how to work with those data structures. If you don't know the difference between linear search and binary search algorithms and what running in O(log n) as opposed to O(n^2) means, you need to spend some time learning algorithms.

This can often be the difference between a fine-tuned application and a slow, crappy process that hangs more than it works. At a bare minimum, you should know about sorting algorithms like quicksort, mergesort, heapsort, etc., searching algorithms like binary search, and some graph algorithms like fastest route-finding algorithms, which are the base of many deliveries and taxi-hailing apps like Uber, Grab, and Ola.

You should also understand how the library methods you are using for sorting an array work, which algorithm it uses internally, and when a different algorithm would do a better job.

I strongly suggest you prepare for this topic in depth. If you need a resource, Thomas H. Cormen's "Introduction to Algorithms" is the most recommended resource, but it's not for the faint-hearted. For a less intimidating entry, I would recommend the Grokking Algorithms book by Aditya Bhargava and Algorithms course on Coursera.

Best Data structure and algorithms for coding interviews

4. Multithreading and Concurrency

Concurrency is one of the employers' most desired skills and one of the most advanced topics in interviews. Because it shows your ability to design a program that efficiently uses resources, but at the same time, it's a very tricky topic to master, and that's why interviewers love it. Concurrency can be used to gauge your expertise and technical depth and is often used as a key deciding factor in your overall hiring level.

Whether you are just entering your career or are looking to switch jobs, it never hurts to dedicate some time to mastering concurrency. At a bare minimum, you should know about threads, processes, shared memory, monitors, locks, critical section, and deferred callbacks. Having a good knowledge of how to avoid race conditions and deadlock can be even better.

Practicing classical concurrency interview questions like Producer-Consumer, Dining Philosopher, and others can teach you a lot about concurrency and multithreading and give you the confidence to visualize how code and data work when multiple threads run in parallel.

If you have an interviewing coming up, then I highly suggest you double down on concurrency. This is because I know it can be one of the most challenging topics brought up during most of the interviews, even for experienced developers. However, gaining a mastering concurrency will put you at a considerable advantage over other candidates.

If you need resources, I strongly suggest you check out Multithreading and Concurrency Interview Questions by C.H. Afzal on Educative. This course contains the most common concurrency interview questions solved in Python, Java, C#, and Ruby. Going through those questions will give you a good background on Concurrency and Multithreading.

Best Concurrency Course for Coding Interviews

5. Database Design and SQL

As a software developer, working with a relational database is a critical skill that you'll need, and it will stick with you no matter where you are in your career. Every small company uses a DBMS, so you will likely come across different data models, type such databases (NoSQL and SQL), and dependencies on various companies.

Knowing how to structure your data within a DBMS is critical. Should you use an entity-relationship (ER) model? A hierarchical model? A three-schema architecture? The choices can be intimidating, but it's good to know about the different ways to structure your data so that when you switch database vendors like from Oracle to SQL Server or PostgreSQL, you can plugin with minimal hand-coding.

As a programmer, you should also know about SQL, the syntax and how the database actually runs your query, and how joints are executed and indexes are used. The difference between table scan, index scan, and index seek. These details are not just important from the coding interview perspective but also from day-to-day jobs.

If you need resources, I suggest you go through with Database Design Fundamentals for Software Engineers. You will learn about the different concepts and techniques to structure your data and explore why you should use particular approaches for specific problems.

Best SQL and Database Course for coding interviews

You will also be exposed to techniques like normalization, which help increase the efficiency o the database and avoid duplication. I also suggest you go through an SQL-focused course like The Complete SQL BootCamp by Jose Portilla on Udemy, as SQL queries are also an essential part of coding interviews along with database design. I also suggest Use The Index Luke book to better understand how SQL query works in general.

6. AWS, Docker, and Kubernetes

While these five are definitely must prepare topics for coding interviews, employers are also looking for modern tech skills like AWS, Docker, and Kubernetes, making them essential topics for technical discussions. 

Since cloud computing is the next big thing and this decade of software development will be cloud-native, a software developer should know about Cloud and modern deployment tools like Docker and Kubernetes.

This is also important if you want to stay ahead of the curve and give a reason to your employer to hire you than the next candidate in line. For AWS and Cloud, one more thing you can do is to get a certification, not that because you can't get a job without a certificate but to learn better and get recognition for your skill.

For AWS, I suggest you at least have an AWS Cloud Practitioner certification to showcase the necessary cloud skills. If you prefer Microsoft Azure, then Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) is an excellent certification to start with.

important tech skills for software developers

Docker is a container, which allows you to run your application as a whole, along with all the dependencies. This makes both development and deployment more accessible, particularly for Microservices. Since the container makes cloud deployment more manageable, it is also more accessible for the manager to scale up and down.

Kubernetes is a container orchestration tool, which means it can use manager containers at scale. It's easy to deploy and manage a few boxes, but when you have to deploy 100s of containers for your application for a promotion event like Amazon prime Sale and then taking it down once traffic returns to normalcy is not easy. Kubernetes can do that for you and provide automation and peace of mind.

While both Docker and Kubernetes are not mandatory skills for a programmer but definitely essential from the Job perspective. I recommend every Software developer or aspiring programmer to learn Docker and Kubernetes. Stephen Grider's online course - Docker and Kubernetes: The Complete Guide on Udemy, is a great starting point if you need a resource.

key skills for software developers interviews

7. Object Oriented Programming

Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) is a fundamental concept that plays a crucial role in programming interviews. OOP is a paradigm that organizes code into reusable and modular structures called classes and objects. It is based on four main principles: encapsulation, inheritance, polymorphism, and abstraction. 

In interviews, candidates are often expected to demonstrate a solid understanding of these principles and apply them to solve problems. Proficiency in creating and using classes, understanding relationships between classes (inheritance, composition), and implementing concepts like encapsulation and polymorphism are essential. 

Interviewers may present scenarios where OOP principles can be applied to model real-world situations or solve complex programming challenges. Being able to design and implement solutions using OOP not only showcases a candidate's coding skills but also their ability to create maintainable and scalable code structures. 

Hence, a comprehensive understanding of OOP is vital for success in programming interviews, where candidates are assessed not only on their ability to solve problems but also on their ability to write clean, organized, and object-oriented code. If you need a resource to prepare for Object Oriented programming then Grokking the Object Oriented Design Interview is a nice course to start with on

Top 6 Topics You Must Prepare for Programming Interviews

That's all about some of the most essential skills and topics you can prepare to crack the coding interview of companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. Along with sills, I have also listed some of the best books and courses you can take to learn those skills and be better prepared for your next technical coding interview.

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Thanks for reading this article so far. If you find these essential Coding interview skills and topics valuable, please share them with your friends and colleagues. If you have any questions or feedback, then please drop a note.

P. S. - If you are aiming for FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) companies, I suggest you join the Master the Coding Interview: Big Tech (FAANG) Interviews course by Andrei Negaoie on ZTM Academy. FAANG interviews are the toughest to crack, and this course is a valuable resource to crack FAANG interviews. 

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I think design patterns are also important thing to know for coding interviews

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