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Why Big Companies Use Coding Challenges to Interview Developers

Posted on 
February 16, 2022
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart

Coding challenges often help hiring managers choose the right candidate based on their real-world skills. FAANG and other big companies use coding challenges to hire the best talent. The questions in these coding challenges test your algorithms and data structure knowledge. However, the questions are quite tricky — you’re expected to use your technical skills and creativity to solve them.

Preparing for Coding Challenges can accelerate your problem-solving ability, enhance your skills, and boost confidence. Every software developer has to face coding challenges in the technical interviews. 

If you're a software engineer, coding engineer, software developer, engineering manager, or tech lead preparing for tech interviews, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! 

Having trained over 10,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the most challenging tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have landed lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%.

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Why big companies use coding challenges to interview developers, what are coding challenges, and how to solve coding challenges in an interview — these are some of the questions we’ll answer in this article.

  • What are Coding Challenges?
  • Why Do Companies Use Coding Challenges to Interview Developers?
  • What Are the Different Types of Coding Challenges?
  • Sample Interview Coding Challenges
  • FAQs on Coding Challenges 

What Are Coding Challenges?

Interview coding challenges or hiring coding challenges are tests that companies use to screen the technical skills and coding proficiency of potential candidates. Interview challenges can include brainteasers, business problems, coding tests, and behavioral questions. For software engineers, the focus is on coding problems. They can precede or follow phone and in-person technical interviews or be a separate event from the interview. 

To stand a good chance at solving problems in coding challenges, you must brush up on:

Check out our learn folder to strengthen your DSA basics. 

Why Do Companies Use Coding Challenges to Interview Developers?

Coding challenges as a part of the interview process offer multiple benefits. Besides simply testing your abilities, the discernible features of a coding challenge make it better than just any traditional interview: 

  • Live coding processes, where you have to solve a problem in the interviewer’s presence, help them understand how you code. They get an insight into how you think about the problem.
  • Coding challenges put potential employees in an environment similar to the workplace. 
  • Giving candidates real-world problems to solve reflects how well they will do on the job and how they would impact the company.
  • It provides a sample of your quality of work in a condensed presentation.
  • It offers big companies a credible and effective way to understand your skills than they would by merely talking to you. 
  • It helps the hiring managers in making hiring decisions. Based on their observations, they can figure out the right position for you and estimate which skills they will have to hone.  

What Are the Different Types of Coding Challenges?

Recruiters follow one of these four ways to assign coding challenges: 

Open Coding Challenges

Many tech companies conduct open coding challenges. These are tech events that invite programmers worldwide to participate, solve coding problems, and win rewards for finishing on top. For instance, Google conducts three coding challenges every year.

Amazon also hires candidates through coding challenges on HackerEarth and TechGig throughout the year. Click here to learn more. 

Take-home Coding Challenges

Here, the recruiter emails the coding challenges. You can solve it at your convenience but within the deadline. Take-home challenge is an efficient way to check candidates' problem-solving skills and knowledge as they get the time and space just like an employee.

Pair Programming

In this type of coding challenge, you solve the problems by coordinating with the interviewer. Pair programming is usually applicable for senior programming candidates.

Whiteboarding

Whiteboard tests help recruiters assess your ability to manage stressful situations. Here, you have to solve the coding challenge problem on a whiteboard in the recruiter's presence.

Screening Questions

It consists of quiz-like coding challenges. These are pretty short, so they are not precisely full-fledged coding challenges. However, screening questions work well when big companies have too many applicants.

Sample Interview Coding Challenges 

The best advice to ace a coding test is to practice as many coding problems as you can. You must participate in open coding events. For interviews, although coding challenges differ for every company, here are a few samples of some of the most popular languages and frameworks. 

Python Coding Challenges

Here are a few sample python coding challenge problems:

  1. Given a list of numbers, write a program using Python to convert every item of a list into its square.
  2. Swap two tuples in Python.
  1. Use Python to write a program that returns a list containing only the common elements between two lists. Ensure that the list is without duplicates and that your program works on both lists. The lists are: x = [1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 13, 14, 34, 55, 89] and y = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 15, 22, 54]
  2. Create Morse code translator in Python. Take in a string with alphanumeric characters in lower or upper case. The string can also contain any special characters handled in Morse code. The function should return the Morse code equivalent for the string. 
  3. Find the domain name using an IP address. You can import the Python socket library.
  4. Write a function in Python that accepts a string of ASCII characters. It must return each character's value as a hexadecimal string. You must separate each byte by a space and return all alpha hexadecimal characters as lowercase.
  5. Using Python, create a function that accepts one parameter: a string that is a sentence. This function should return True if the sentence has a word containing duplicate letters and False if not.

Java Coding Challenges 

Here are a few sample Java coding challenge problems:

  1. Given a string S, return the “reversed” string. All letters will reverse their positions, and characters that are not a letter stay in the same place.
  2. Create a Java program to reverse a string. Do not use the reverse method of Java's String class.
  3. Write a phone number word decoder. Write a Java program that will accept a contact number with letters and convert it to a contact number with digits only.
  4. Write a code to design a vending machine.
  5. Write a Java program that returns an MD5 hash.
  6. Create a Java Singleton class.
  7. Print all permutations of String in both iterative and Recursive ways.
  8. Given an array of size N, sort the array elements by completing functions heapify() and buildHeap() to implement Heap Sort.

React Coding Challenges 

React is a popular front-end web framework. For a React developer, the coding challenges are used to check your experience. Interviewers expect you to understand the coding problem quickly and solve it in an organized way. 

Here are a few sample React coding challenge problems for practice:

  1. Add and delete items from the list: Create an input field with a button. On clicking the button, the text in the input field should be added below in a list. Also, when any list item is clicked, it should be removed from the list.
  2. Displaying data coming from an API: In this challenge, you will be given an API that will return some data. This may be an array of objects. You have to display the data in the UI.
  3. Write code to re-render the view when the browser is resized.
  4. Write code to pass data between sibling components using React router.

Netflix Coding Challenges

Netflix seeks developers who could display their content in innovative ways. Here are a few examples of Netflix coding challenge questions:

  1. Improve search results by enabling users to see relevant search results without being hindered by typos. This will be called the “Group Similar Titles” feature.
  2. Given an array of integers and a value, you have to determine whether there are any three integers in the array whose sum equals the given value.
  3. Given the head nodes of two linked lists that may or may not intersect, you have to determine if they do intersect and return the point of intersection. Else return null. 
  4. Convert binary tree into a doubly-linked list.
  5. Given a sentence, reverse words’ order.
  6. Print all braces combinations for a given value n so that they are balanced.
  7. Serialize a binary tree to file and deserialize it back to a tree.
  8. Search for a given number in a sorted rotated array by some arbitrary number. Return -1 if the number does not exist. Assumption- the array does not contain duplicates.

IBM also conducts coding challenges through third-party websites like HackerRank, HackerEarth, and TechGig. Sometimes, these coding challenges act as a preliminary round for your IBM interview. Read this article to learn more.

Practicing these coding challenge problems and more will help you get better at problem-solving and gain confidence for your next tech interview. You can check out our problems page for more questions.

FAQs on Coding Challenges 

Q1. How can I crack coding challenges?

To crack a coding challenge in an interview, you must thoroughly understand data structures and algorithms and different coding languages and their application. To get fluent in applying the codes, you must practice solving numerous coding challenges.

Q2. Does solving coding challenges help to crack a job interview?

Yes, the more coding challenges you solve, the more efficient your work gets. Many big companies evaluate your coding and problem-solving skills by challenging tricky coding. It is a crucial part of the recruitment process.

Q3. Can coding challenges make me a better programmer?

Coding challenges are designed to challenge your ability to solve a problem. They make you an efficient and smart programmer in the most fun way.

Q4. How tough are the coding challenges that are asked in big companies?

Coding challenges asked in job interviews are a little tough as they all are different. But with rigorous practice, you can solve them efficiently.

Q5. How do recruiters evaluate a candidate through coding challenges?

Recruiters look for your coding knowledge and problem-solving skills through the coding challenges. They want to know how well you know the coding methods and their application in different situations. You will be evaluated on your DSA knowledge, coding methods, and how well you handle a problem. 

How to Nail Coding Challenges in FAANG interviews

IK’s preparation strategy has helped thousands of software engineers and software developers land their dream jobs. You, too, can nail your next coding interview with Interview Kickstart

We offer interview preparation courses that are designed and taught by FAANG+ tech leads and hiring managers. With such a cracking team of instructors, Interview Kickstart is a powerhouse of expert knowledge and guidance on how to nail tech interviews.

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