How to prepare for coding challenges?

Many people are passionate about coding. 👩‍💻 Every year, millions of students study Computer Science as their major. And many others enroll in different courses related to it. The biggest part of this field is Programming.

If you have recently graduated and are looking for a programming job, then you should study to pass coding challenges.

Coding challenges are an excellent way of testing your skills and capabilities. They can be used as part of a job interview, or even just as fun exercises to help improve your programming ability. 

👉 In this article, we will look into how to prepare for them and what they actually involve. We’ll also take a look at some tips and tricks on how to get better at them! 🙌

Everything You Need to Know About Coding Challenges 👇

What are coding challenges?

A code challenge is a test conducted by companies to recruit new employees. It is the first step to pass before conducting technical interviews.

These challenges or tests are for new internees and graduates. Usually, people with prior experience in programming do not have to take part. However, they are sometimes taken after the interview. These tests take place among many people in a limited timeframe to shortlist qualified and suitable candidates.

Generally, the organization you are applying for gives you the choice of language. But, other times, they might go with some specific programming languages.

Why do I need to engage in programming challenges?

Even if you are not applying for a job, there are many programming contests as well. Taking part in them will provide a lot of benefits.

Many students and beginners do not understand the potential of Programming Challenges. Here are all the reasons to tell you why you should engage in such challenges:

  1. Develop problem-solving skills
    Many tech interviews ask you to debug an already-written program. While it may seem easy to some, it can be very difficult for newbies. That is because they are used to getting the help of different tools for search bugs in their programs.
    Engaging in Coding Challenges will help you become a real problem solver. You will be able to point out the mistakes in lines of code easily. Plus, it will empower your technical skills to write error-free codes.
  2. Faster than ever
    The main constraint of a coding interview or test is the time limit. In a given period, you will have to write a completely error-free program. For a beginner, it is nearly impossible.
    When you newly learn to program, you are very slow at it. You take hours to write simple codes and check them again and again for mistakes. While this is a good aspect in terms of care, it is unacceptable in coding tests.
    Engaging in different coding contests helps you get faster at it. You will notice a significant change in speed in your coding skill and projects.
  3. Write better codes
    In programming, there are always multiple ways to write a single code. But, only a few of them are optimal solutions. And, this is an important factor in coding. You always have to check the efficiency of a program.
    For instance, a code can be written on ten lines, and the same can be written on two lines. It would be best if you always went for the shorter route. It helps you get the job done faster and cleaner.
  4. A Plus point for interviews - interview preparation tips
    Although passing the test does not necessarily mean you are recruited, it is certainly a positive point. Software Developer candidates who have passed the challenge are one step closer to getting the job.
    Tech Companies usually look for practical workers. A code challenge helps organizations to identify which program can excel at writing codes. Hence, it will give you a considerable upper hand over other candidates.
  5. Get a better grip on a language
    Programming challenges will help you strengthen your skills in a specific language. If you are a new programmer, you should concentrate on only one language. You can find the right one by researching which one is currently in demand.


Programming Languages: Choose Wisely


Most common programming challenges and coding languages 

Like we mentioned earlier, usually, companies allow you to choose a programming language. However, not all of them give you this option. Some companies work with certain coding languages. Here are some of the most common:

  • Python 
  • Java
  • Javascript
  • Rust
  • TypeScript
  • Ruby
  • PHP
  • SQL
  • CSS
  • C#
  • C++
  • HTML

The reason for providing this list is so that you can learn and practice one of these languages. With a strong grip, you will definitely get ready for technical interview questions. 💪

How to get better at competitive programming

Many beginners and students look for tips for coding practice. But, you do not have to worry. We have covered all the ways of how you can get better at programming challenges and interview prep.

  1. Master a language
    The best way is to just work on a single language first, for example, Python. Do not jump into different languages at this stage. Learn all that you can about it Python. Write different and difficult codes in it.
    You should be so good that you can debug a code without any problems. That is only possible by deep-dive your technical skill in a specific programming language for you to be ready for a python challenge in the future. These common practices will help you advance fast in a challenge and give you an advantage during the interview process.
  2. Efficiency
    Your first priority should be efficiency. Always look for a better way of writing codes. Companies prefer clean and readable programs.
    Most people look for the easiest way to execute a program. However, sometimes that solution contains a long code. If you want to get good at coding challenges, you need to look for an efficient way rather than an easy one.
  3. Constantly check your code
    While it may take some time, checking code again and again can make it ten times better. You can even find your mistakes. It can also help you make the right changes to your code.
    Sometimes, you will see some statements that do not affect the overall program but increase the time complexity. Rechecking your code will allow you to remove such statements.
  4. Coding practice
    As the saying goes, “Practice makes a programmer perfect.” It is 100% true that practicing your skilled language can help you get better exponentially.
    Whether you are looking to pass a coding challenge or work professionally, practice is a MUST.
    It will enable you to write error-free programs in less time. Plus, you will no longer need to look up solutions on the Internet. Once you start exercising your programming skills enough, you can become the ultimate problem solver.

Don't get desperate. Follow these five simple rules to avoid mistakes

Mistakes to avoid during a programming challenge

Here are some of the most common mistakes that you should avoid during a coding test.

  1. Do not rush it
    While there is a time limit, it is long enough for you to write the full code. If you try to rush things too fast, you will be compromising on the quality of your program.
  2. Avoid repetition
    Many codes will require you to follow the same formula. However, it would be best if you never repeated any segment. If you have to, then try to write it differently.
  3. Choose correct variable names
    Although it may seem like a small thing, companies pay a lot of attention to it. The choice of variable names depends on you. That is why most new programmers go for simple names, like A, B, C, etc. Instead, go for more specific and clearer names, like FirstValue, SecondValue, etc. It will increase the readability of the code, and users will understand the purpose of the variable on the first viewing.
  4. Do not go to the long route
    A long code means less readability, more time complexity, and less efficiency. But, most programmers do not understand that. If there is an optimal solution available, take it and go for shorter and neat codes.
  5. Not pre-planning for the project
    If you have an upcoming test, then give your best to prepare for it. Practice with difficult codes and try to debug them. There are many software tools online that can you with this.

How to plan for a hiring coding challenge

Every task requires pre-planning. If you were to build architecture, you would first construct a blueprint. Programming is not much different.

Planning for a coding challenge includes identifying the problems and ways how to solve them in the code editor.  First, you have to set a goal for your solution and discover how you can accomplish it. Then, you will work towards it. It is best to go in prepared for the challenge.

Best coding challenge websites to test your coding skill 📚

Here are some of the best platforms where you can try your coding skills and get one step closer to being employed.

  • CoderPad
    CoderPad is one of the most well-reviewed platforms where companies provide challenges for coders.
  • CoderByte
    CoderByte is the most popular website with more than 600 organizations. These companies share MCQs and other programming challenges for potential employees.
  • HackerRank
    HackerRank is most suitable for advanced-level programmers. Here, companies can select the ready-made challenges or create their own to test people.
  • CodeFights
    CodeFights is a one-stop shop that allows companies to find, test, and interview candidates.

Final thoughts

Whether it is a coding interview or online coding challenges, practice is the key.

By going through this article, you will understand everything about such tests, including why you need to take part in them, how to get better, which mistakes to avoid, and how to pre-plan.

Each aspect will give you a different perspective, and every new coding challenge will teach you a new lesson.

At TAIKAI we take the coding challenges to a different level 😲, with hiring challenges any organization can manage their coding challenges and follow the candidate progress using a single platform. 

If we are looking for a platform to evaluate your candidate's coding challenges, we are the right partner for you.

Not Convinced 🤨, talk with us today or Request a Demo.

Rodrigo Nogueira
Rodrigo Nogueira
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