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How to crack technical interviews as a developer? A comprehensive, practical guide.

Updated: Jun 12

Hard skills are what they’re called — the skills that you need to have to actually do the job. They’re the first things that you’re tested on. And technical interviews can be properly nerve-wracking.

Not only are they a crucial part of the hiring process but they can challenge even the most experienced developers out there.

This guide aims to help you navigate the complexities of technical interviews by providing insights into coding challenges, system design questions, algorithm and data structure questions, and behavioral and situational questions.

With a focus on practical strategies and a confident mindset, you'll be better equipped to showcase your expertise, solve problems effectively, and get the job that you’re aiming for.

Let’s get started!

How to crack technical interviews as a developer?

How to crack technical interviews as a developer

Understand Different Types of Technical Interviews

Not all technical interviews are the same. They can happen at different stages of the assessment process, they can have different objectives, and they can have different end goals.

However, you can break down technical screenings into a few broad categories.

Coding challenges and exercises:

In this format, interviewers present coding problems that test your knowledge of programming languages, algorithms, and data structures. These challenges can range from simple coding tasks to complex problems, requiring you to implement efficient solutions under time constraints.

Familiarizing yourself with common coding problems and practicing on platforms like LeetCode or HackerRank can help you excel in this type of interview.

System Design Questions:

System design interviews assess your ability to design scalable, maintainable, and efficient systems while considering trade-offs and real-world constraints. These questions may require you to design an architecture for a given problem, optimize an existing system, or analyze the performance of a specific component.

Preparing for system design interviews involves studying key design principles, common problems, and their solutions.

Algorithm and Data Structure Questions:

These questions aim to evaluate your knowledge of advanced algorithms and data structures, as well as your ability to optimize solutions for time and space complexity.

Interviewers may present problems that require you to implement or analyze specific algorithms, optimize existing solutions, or use appropriate data structures.

Behavioral and Situational Questions:

While technical skills are critical, interviewers also assess your soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and leadership. These questions may involve discussing past experiences, lessons learned, or hypothetical situations.

Preparing for behavioral questions involves reflecting on your experiences and demonstrating your ability to adapt, learn, and collaborate effectively.

Technical Screening or Take-Home Assignments:

Some companies may use a technical screening or take-home assignment to gauge your skills before inviting you for an on-site interview. These assignments often involve completing a small project or task within a specified time frame.

To excel in this type of interview, ensure you follow the given requirements, demonstrate clean and efficient code, and adhere to deadlines.

Tips for acing coding challenges

It’s not uncommon for interviewers to ask you to code during a technical interview. The idea is to assess how you do when you’re given a challenge and see your approach and methods to solving a problem.

NOTE: Most coding interviews aren’t about solving very difficult problems. They’re about seeing how you approach a problem.

Here are a few tips to ace those coding challenges:

Review language-specific best practices:

Each programming language has its unique features, syntax, and best practices. Ensure that you're well-versed in the language you'll be using during the interview. Familiarize yourself with language-specific nuances, libraries, and optimization techniques to write efficient and clean code.

Strengthen your knowledge of algorithms and data structures:

A deep understanding of algorithms and data structures is crucial for solving coding challenges effectively. Review essential topics such as sorting, searching, tree traversal, dynamic programming, and graph algorithms. Practice implementing various data structures like arrays, linked lists, trees, and graphs to solve problems optimally.

Practice problem-solving methodologies:

Develop a systematic approach to problem-solving, which includes understanding the problem, identifying constraints, devising a plan, implementing the solution, and testing your code.

Practicing this approach on platforms like LeetCode, HackerRank, or Codewars can help you become more efficient in solving coding challenges under time pressure.

Manage time effectively:

Most coding challenges last less than an hour. Multiple companies have told us that they usually allocate around 40 minutes for a coding challenge during an interview. Depending on the candidate’s performance, they can add another 10 minutes. Another 10 minutes is usually allocated to debriefing.

So, with this in mind, time management is critical. Allocate sufficient time to understand the problem, design your solution, and debug your code.

Break down complex problems into smaller tasks, and prioritize them based on difficulty and importance. Remember to keep an eye on the clock and adjust your approach accordingly.

Test and debug your code:

A well-tested and bug-free code demonstrates your attention to detail and professionalism. Ensure that your code handles edge cases. Validate your solution against various inputs.

Familiarize yourself with debugging techniques and tools to quickly identify and resolve any issues in your code during the interview.

Communicate your thought process:

Effectively communicating your thought process throughout the coding challenge is crucial. Interviewers are interested in understanding how you approach and solve problems, so make sure to verbalize your thoughts and rationale behind your decisions.

This not only demonstrates your analytical and problem-solving skills but also shows your ability to work collaboratively in a team setting.

Stay calm and composed:

Coding challenges can be stressful, but it's not the end of the world. Keep calm and code on.

If you encounter a difficult problem, take a deep breath, and assess the situation. Remember that it's okay to ask for clarification or request a moment to gather your thoughts. Staying calm and composed will help you tackle the challenge more effectively.

Learn from feedback:

After completing a coding challenge, take the time to review the feedback provided by the interviewer. This feedback can offer valuable insights into areas where you can improve your problem-solving skills, coding techniques, or communication abilities. Embrace constructive criticism and use it as an opportunity to grow as a developer.

System Design Interviews

System design interviews evaluate your ability to design scalable, maintainable, and efficient systems while considering various trade-offs and real-world constraints. Preparing for system design interviews involves understanding key design principles, common problems, and their solutions. Here are some tips for experienced developers to excel in system design interviews:

Study key design principles and patterns:

Understanding fundamental design principles, such as modularity, abstraction, and encapsulation, will help you create well-structured and maintainable systems. Additionally, familiarize yourself with common design patterns, such as Singleton, Factory, and Observer, as they offer proven solutions to recurring design problems.

Learn about system components and their interactions:

Develop a strong understanding of the various components that make up a system, such as databases, caches, load balancers, and message queues. Recognize how these components interact and communicate with each other and the trade-offs associated with using different technologies and architectures.

Focus on scalability, reliability, and performance:

A well-designed system must be scalable, reliable, and performant. Understand the concepts of horizontal and vertical scaling, data replication, sharding, and caching. Familiarize yourself with techniques to improve system reliability, such as redundancy, fault tolerance, and monitoring. Finally, learn about performance optimization methods, including load balancing, data compression, and indexing.

Practice solving real-world problems:

Work on real-world system design problems to improve your skills and gain practical experience. Start by studying existing systems and understanding their architectures. Analyze how these systems handle scalability, reliability, and performance issues. Practice designing solutions for various problems, such as designing a distributed file system, a messaging app, or a web crawler.

Develop a structured approach to problem-solving:

During the interview, start by understanding the problem requirements and constraints. Break down the problem into smaller components and design the solution step by step. Explain your thought process, discuss trade-offs, and validate your design with the interviewer.

Review case studies and learn from others:

Study case studies of successful system designs from companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Understand the challenges they faced, the solutions they implemented, and the lessons learned. This knowledge will provide valuable insights and inspiration for your own system design interviews.

Master Algorithm and Data Structure Questions:

Anyone who’s had anything to do with software development will tell you that Algorithm and Data Structure Questions are at the heart of technical interviews. They’re such a staple that it has become somewhat of a cliche.

In fact, there are entire websites and companies dedicated to cracking DSA questions. That is how important these questions are.

So, how do you ace this part of a technical interview? Here’s a bit of help:

Strengthen your knowledge of algorithms and data structures:

Ensure you have a solid understanding of essential algorithms, such as sorting (e.g., quicksort, mergesort), searching (e.g., binary search), and graph traversal (e.g., depth-first search, breadth-first search).

Familiarize yourself with various data structures, including arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, graphs, and hash tables, as well as their time and space complexities.

Deepen your understanding of advanced topics:

For more complex problems, delve into advanced topics like dynamic programming, greedy algorithms, backtracking, and divide-and-conquer techniques. Develop a strong grasp of these concepts to solve challenging problems more effectively.

Practice, practice, practice:

Consistent practice is crucial for mastering algorithm and data structure questions. Use platforms like LeetCode, HackerRank, or Codeforces to solve a wide range of problems with varying difficulty levels. This practice will help you identify patterns, improve your problem-solving skills, and increase your confidence.

Optimize for time and space complexity:

Interviewers often look for solutions that are both time and space-efficient. Learn how to analyze and optimize your solutions for time and space complexity, and be prepared to discuss these trade-offs during the interview.

Develop a structured problem-solving approach:

When faced with a problem, first ensure you understand the requirements and constraints. Break down the problem into smaller components, and devise a plan to tackle each component. Implement your solution, and then test and optimize it as needed. Clearly communicate your thought process and rationale throughout the interview.

Learn from others and share your knowledge:

Participate in coding competitions or collaborate with other developers to learn from their experiences and share your own expertise. Engaging in discussions on forums like Stack Overflow or Reddit can also provide valuable insights and help you refine your understanding of algorithms and data structures.

Don’t forget that it’s still an interview

While solving problems, writing code, and answering difficult questions are all absolutely important, always keep in mind that this is still an interview.

The interviewer is still keeping track of how you behave, talk, respond, and generally carry yourself.

Here are a few tips to show off how valuable you could be to a potential employer:

Reflect on your past experiences:

Take the time to think about your past work experiences, challenges faced, successes, and lessons learned. Consider situations where you demonstrated strong communication, teamwork, problem-solving, or leadership skills. This reflection will help you articulate your experiences effectively during the interview.

Use the STAR method:

The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a structured approach to answering behavioral questions. Describe the Situation and Task you faced, the Action you took, and the Result you achieved. This method ensures you provide a complete and coherent response while highlighting your skills and accomplishments.

Prepare for common behavioral questions:

Some common behavioral questions for developers include:

  • Describe a time when you faced a challenging technical problem. How did you resolve it?

  • How do you handle conflicts within your team? Can you provide an example?

  • Tell me about a time when you had to explain complex technical concepts to a non-technical audience.

  • Describe a project where you had to work under tight deadlines. How did you manage your time and resources?

Prepare for situational questions:

Situational questions present hypothetical scenarios to assess how you would handle specific situations. Some examples of situational questions for developers are:

  • How would you approach a situation where a project is behind schedule due to unforeseen technical challenges?

  • Imagine you are assigned to work with a team member who lacks the necessary technical skills. How would you handle this situation?

  • If you discovered a critical bug in a product just before its release, how would you address the issue?

Show adaptability, learning, and collaboration:

Emphasize your ability to adapt to new situations, learn from your experiences, and collaborate effectively with team members. Highlight your willingness to seek feedback, share your knowledge, and support your colleagues in achieving project goals.

Practice, practice, practice:

Practice answering behavioral and situational questions with a friend or family member or even by recording yourself. This practice will help you become more comfortable and confident in articulating your experiences and skills during the interview.

Take-home assignments:

Technical screenings and take-home assignments are common methods used by employers to assess the technical abilities of developers during the interview process.

These assignments provide a more realistic evaluation of a candidate's skills and problem-solving capabilities, compared to traditional whiteboard-style interviews.

Here are some tips to help you excel in technical screenings and take-home assignments:

Understand the requirements and constraints:

Before starting the assignment, ensure you have a clear understanding of the problem statement, requirements, and constraints. If anything is unclear, don't hesitate to ask the interviewer or recruiter for clarification. This will help you avoid potential misunderstandings and design a solution that meets the employer’s expectations.

Plan your approach:

Once you have a solid grasp of the problem, take some time to plan your approach. Break down the problem into smaller, manageable tasks and outline a high-level solution. This planning will help you stay organized and focused throughout the assignment.

Write clean, modular, and maintainable code:

Employers are not only looking for a working solution but also assessing your coding style and ability to write clean, modular, and maintainable code. Follow best practices, use meaningful variable and function names, and add comments to explain your code where necessary.

Test your solution:

Thoroughly test your solution against various inputs, including edge cases and potential error scenarios. A well-tested solution demonstrates your attention to detail and commitment to delivering high-quality work.

Optimize for time and space complexity:

If possible, optimize your solution for time and space complexity. This may involve selecting more efficient algorithms or data structures, or refining your code to eliminate unnecessary operations.

Document your work:

Provide clear documentation for your solution, including an explanation of your approach, any assumptions made, and instructions on how to run and test your code. Good documentation ensures that the reviewer can easily understand and evaluate your work.

Manage your time effectively:

Technical screenings and take-home assignments often have tight deadlines. Allocate your time wisely, striking a balance between implementing the solution, testing, optimizing, and documenting your work.

Review and submit your work:

Before submitting your assignment, double-check your code, documentation, and test cases to ensure everything is in order. This final review can help you catch any last-minute issues or errors.


Technical interviews aren’t always easy but there are things you can do to make the whole experience less stressful and genuinely enjoyable.

The tips and strategies mentioned above are just meant to be the starting points. Once you’ve attended a few interviews, you’ll start to get a hang of it for yourself. You’ll start to see patterns, a few ideas that work for you, stuff that you should stay away from, and so on. So, all you have to do is make sure that you attend interviews.

If you’re not sure about where to find awesome companies to interview for, check out Simple Job Listings. On SJL, you will find quite a few jobs that simply aren’t listed on any other job boards. Each job is verified, all jobs are remote, and most jobs pay really well. So, if you’re looking for a great place to find awesome companies and jobs, check out Simple Job Listings!

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