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How to Leetcode Effectively and Find Success in Your Coding Interview

Published on Mar 17, 2022
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Leetcode leetcode leetcode! That's what you hear every software engineer insist on when you ask the infamous question:

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How should I study for my interviews?
Leetcode Strategy Question from Engineer on Blind

I see questions that express confusion around Leetcode strategy daily!

These questions come from students fresh out of college looking for their first SWE job and even from more senior developers. Maybe you recently tried interviewing at a company and it didn't go so well…you might've even tried more than one interview and found all of them haven't gone well. When you ask your coding community that same frustrating response keeps coming back.

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You probably didn't leetcode enough

Ok... But I did 200+ problems! How can this be? What is this magic number I need to hit before I start nailing my interviews?

Unfortunately, the study strategy behind Leetcode falls through for many. The Leetcode studying process does not discriminate when it comes to who it intimidates! I noticed the tendency of engineers to tackle an exorbitant number of questions in a short range of time and they would still struggle in their interviews. I'm here to share the strategy that helped me ensure that I nailed any coding interview I took on with the companies I was interested in.

Let me keep this short and simple.

It's not so much about the number of Leetcode questions you complete, it's the content you cover!

Sure, after some point the number of questions you go over helps you get better at solving questions faster. But the path to success at interviews lies in a well-targeted overview of the computer science fundamentals.

Content

The 2 fundamental blocks to target when studying are:

  • Data Structures
  • Algorithms

That's really it. The high level of your strategy is to target a well-rounded study set oriented around those two topics.

Strategy on paper highlighted by pencils

Leetcode has thankfully worked to address this lack of strategy engineers would have when studying for interviews.

With Leetcode premium, you get access to study sets that give you an overview of fundamental data structures, supplemented with questions and answers that require the usage of relevant data structures and algorithms. You also will be able to reference a tagged set of questions that were asked by your company of interest.

Know that this article is not paid promotion. Take on Leetcode premium for 2 months then cancel it when you nail your dream job.

When you are going over the study sets and tackling the integrated questions, I implore you to write down your observations. Always pause and ask yourself. Why does this data structure work for this question?

Look for patterns

These patterns will represent the strategy you will employ when faced with a question you've never seen before. After solving a question in your own way, if you spend so much as an extra 30 minutes analyzing the question and answer provided by Leetcode, you'll be golden. Closely evaluate your solution versus the provided solution from Leetcode. Write down the data structures their solution uses and what makes their solution elegant. Most of these questions are implemented with shorter easy read code. Try to pick up the strategy behind these provided solutions and begin to utilize them on your own.

Company question curation

After completing the study sets (and I implore you to review all of them) you can further use Leetcode to search for questions asked by the company. If you know you are going to interview with Lyft for instance, filter the LeetCode questions repository by the company. Make sure that you leverage the LeetCode community! Individuals who were interviewed recently tend to return to the platform and mark which questions were asked by which company. This is an amazing resource for your interview preparation that you must take advantage of. Here's a sample link of tagged Leetcode questions asked by Hulu.

Finally, when studying make sure to attempt medium to hard range questions on Leetcode. When you filter by your desired company you can see their level of difficulty (whether or not they ask questions that are in the medium range, or if they tend to target the hard LC range). If you see Leetcode hard questions asked by your desired company, don't ignore that level! Ensure you've done enough hard questions until you are able to tackle them with ease.

And there you have it! Leetcode has already compiled an effective study set that when studied proactively will dramatically increase your chances of interview success.

Many tend to study Leetcode passively and at random, and as a result, lose out on learning the underlying patterns to these questions. Once these patterns are unveiled, you will realize that unfamiliar questions are no longer as intimidating!

Best of luck in your studying adventures, go out there and nail it in your interviews!

Remember, developers are creatures that turn coffee into code. So I'd very much appreciate if you bought me a coffee! buy me a coffee icon I’m a new writer and I will be posting very frequently on my findings and learnings in the tech industry and beyond. Join my newsletter if you would like to stay tuned!

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