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Educative

Is LeetCode the best way to prepare for interviews?

Erin Schaffer
Technical Content Marketing Specialist for Educative, Inc. (she/her)
Originally published at educative.io ・5 min read

The coding interview process is notoriously difficult, and the preparation process isn’t any easier. Developers often spend months preparing for their coding interviews. At most big tech companies, coding problems are the biggest part of the interview process.

LeetCode is a popular tool that developers use to prepare for their technical interviews. Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at LeetCode along with its advantages and disadvantages. We’ll also discuss alternative ways to prepare for your coding interviews.

We’ll cover:

What is LeetCode?

LeetCode is a website where people can practice solving coding problems and prepare for technical interviews. Their main users are software engineers. LeetCode has over 1,900 questions for you to practice, covering many different programming concepts. Every coding problem has a classification of either Easy, Medium, or Hard.

The problems focus on algorithms and data structures. Here are some example problems you can find on LeetCode:

  • Anagrams
  • Binary Search Tree (BST)
  • Level order traversal
  • Linked lists
  • Longest substring without repeating characters
  • Palindromes
  • Path sum
  • Two sum
  • Sorted arrays
  • Sorted lists
  • Subsequences
  • Valid parentheses
  • 2D matrix

Advantages of LeetCode

Let’s take a quick look at the advantages of LeetCode.

Multiple programming languages

LeetCode questions support multiple programming languages, which allows you to practice in the languages you use.

Supported languages:

  • Bash
  • C
  • C#
  • C++
  • Go
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Kotlin
  • MySQL
  • MS SQL
  • Oracle
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Python3
  • Racket
  • Ruby
  • Rust
  • Scala
  • Swift
  • TypeScript

Helpful and active community

LeetCode has a large and active community. This community provides users with a great platform to engage with other developers, gain insight into how other developers are solving problems, and learn from other developers’ mistakes.

Disadvantages of LeetCode

It’s just about the code

You need to be an impressive programmer to get hired by a top tech company, but being a good coder isn’t the only thing that matters. While LeetCode is a solid resource for coding problem practice, they have no content that covers soft skills.

Soft skills are becoming increasingly important in the tech industry. Companies are looking for great leaders and communicators. They want their candidates to have strong teamwork skills and to thrive in ambiguous situations. These are qualities that simply cannot be learned with LeetCode.

Remember that you’re being evaluated not just on your coding abilities, but also on fit. Here are some important qualities to demonstrate in a technical interview:

  • Empathy
  • Listening skills
  • Teamwork
  • Effective communication
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Etc.

Applicants who don’t receive a job offer aren’t necessarily bad candidates. Many of them got great grades, attended a top university, and spent months and months preparing for their interviews, but it’s about more than that.

It’s not free

While LeetCode has a solid amount of free coding problems, you need to pay for a Premium subscription to access their entire collection of questions.

Memorization vs. lasting learning

LeetCode helps you pass your technical interviews, but its usefulness doesn’t extend much beyond that. The solutions you memorize for LeetCode don’t transfer to real-world software engineering problems. In fact, many tech companies are moving away from LeetCode-style interview questions and moving toward job-focused questions.

Many candidates use services like LeetCode to prepare for interviews and memorize countless solutions to problems. Since most candidates know the answers to these questions, companies are beginning to incorporate more creative coding problems into their interview process.

Developers have been seeing more companies use methods like paired programming to assess a candidate’s skills. Paired programming is a great opportunity to showcase your communication, leadership, and teamwork skills. It’s important to gain relevant experience prior to applying for positions. This can be done in various ways, such as internships and projects.

Let’s take a look at some alternative ways to prepare for coding interviews that will help you develop long-lasting skills for your career.

Alternative ways to prepare

While LeetCode is a popular tool for interview prep, there are other ways to prepare for difficult coding interview problems. Your resume is the perfect place to highlight your talent and experience. Let’s look at some alternative prep options.

Projects

Keep in mind that you’re not the only person applying for a position. It’s important to have a strong resume that highlights relevant and interesting experiences and accomplishments. Personal projects will allow you to showcase your creativity and problem-solving skills.

Your projects should use skills that you’ll regularly use on the job. While you don’t need to perfectly match the job requirements, make sure the skills are relevant. Additionally, it’s a good idea to work on realistic, practical problems in your projects. Your interviewer wants to see that you can solve real-world problems.

Tip: Contributions to open source are great too! Open source is viewed very highly. Doing this kind of work allows you to contribute to something much larger than yourself.

Internships

Internships are a great way to gain relevant experience and skills. Internships give you a taste of real-world programming. A solid internship prepares you for your full-time career and gives you a lot of experience to highlight when interviewing. Make sure to highlight relevant experience and skills, quantifiable achievements, and your unique qualities when adding internship information to your resume.

Mock interviews

Mock interviews are a great way to practice demonstrating your soft skills. See if you can partner up with a friend or classmate and perform mock interviews together. You can practice talking through problems, asking and answering questions, and showcasing your communication, collaboration, and leadership skills.

Wrapping up

Leetcoding is a popular way to practice various coding problems. Many questions that appear in coding interviews are available to practice on LeetCode. Although LeetCode has its advantages, there’s more to the coding interview than just memorized LeetCode solutions. It’s important to engage in lasting learning to prepare yourself for not just your technical interview, but for your career.

Educative offers online courses for fields like machine learning, data science, app development, interview prep, and much more. Begin preparing for your coding interview today with Educative’s course Decode the Coding Interview. Our interview prep course has helped developers prepare for interviews with top tech companies like Netflix, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.

By the end, you’ll be ready to interview with confidence and you’ll have lasting skills to help you in your journey.

Happy learning!

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