How to prepare for coding challenges in 2023

Coding challenges are an excellent way of testing your skills and capabilities and have become an integral part of the interview process for software engineering positions in top companies. 

If you are looking to land one such job, it is important that you are well-prepared for these challenges. 

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


Table of contents

  • What are coding challenges?
  • Best practices for preparing for coding challenges
  • How to get better at competitive programming
  • Mistakes to avoid during a programming challenge
  • Common programming languages that you will encounter in coding challenges
  • Recommended tools and websites to use for practicing coding challenges
  • Real-life practice through hackathons and bounties
  • The benefits of coding challenges
  • Final thoughts

What are coding challenges and why they are important?

Coding challenges are tests given by a potential employer as part of the interview process. They allow employers to assess your coding skills and problem-solving abilities in a practical way. 

In many cases, coding challenges are timed and completed on a coding platform during the interview.


Best practices for preparing for coding challenges

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

It is important to stay up-to-date with industry trends and learn new technologies, languages, and coding frameworks. Familiarize yourself with coding challenge platforms and practice on them before the actual interview.

Practice solving coding challenges regularly to improve your speed and accuracy. It can also be helpful to study common coding interview questions and practice answering them out loud. 

Lastly, make sure you understand basic data structures and algorithms, as they are often tested in coding challenges.

Remember to also keep track of the time limit and make sure you do not go over it.


How to get better at competitive programming

If you're a beginner or student looking for tips to improve your coding skills, don't fret. We have all the information you need on how to get better at programming challenges and interview prep.


Efficiency

When programming, your number one focus should be on efficiency. 

Always seek ways to make your code more concise and readable as this is what companies look for in a good programmer.

While the easy way out is alluring, it often leads to complicated code. If you want to get better at coding challenges, learn to be efficient instead of taking shortcuts.


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 at debugging code that you can do it without any problems. That is only possible by deep-diving into your technical skills in a specific programming language, so that you will 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.


Always review your code

Reviewing your code multiple times may seem tedious, but it will improve the quality of your code tenfold. Not only that, but you can also find and correct any errors. 

By rechecking your code, you can also remove unnecessary statements that increase the time complexity of the overall program.


Coding practice

As the saying goes, “Practice makes (a programmer) perfect.” It is 100% true that practicing your skills can help you get better exponentially.

If you want to pass a coding challenge or work as a professional programmer, practice is essential. It will help you write error-free programs faster and without needing to look up solutions online. With enough practice, you can become the ultimate problem solver.

Mistakes to avoid during a programming challenge

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


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.


Avoid repetition

Many codes will require you to follow the same formula. However, it would be best if you never repeat any segment. If you have to, then try to write it differently.


Choose the 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.


Do not go 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.


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 online software tools that can you with this.


Common programming languages that you will encounter in coding challenges

Many coding challenges involve commonly used languages such as Java, C++, Python, and JavaScript. Make sure you have a strong understanding of at least one of these languages before an interview.

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

Recommended tools and websites to use for practicing coding challenges

Some coding challenge platforms that you can use for practice are LeetCode and CodeWars. In addition, coding interview prep websites such as Interview Cake and Pramp offer coding challenges and resources for interview preparation. 

Finally, hackathon and bounty platforms such as TAIKAI and Bepro Network, respectively, can take your training to the next level.

Here are some of the best platforms where you can train your coding skills:


Leetcode

LeetCode is a platform where programmers can practice coding challenges and prepare for programming interviews. It offers challenges in multiple languages and also provides editorial solutions and coding discussions for each challenge.


CodeWars

CodeWars is a platform where programmers from all levels can practice coding and improve their skills through challenges. The site offers coding challenges in multiple languages and has an active community for support and collaboration.


Interview Cake

Interview Cake is a website that offers coding challenges and resources for coding interview preparation. It also offers personalized support and guidance for coding interviews, as well as practice questions in various programming languages.


Real-life practice through hackathons and bounties

Hackathons

Hackathons are events where programmers come together to solve coding challenges and build innovative projects in a limited amount of time. 

TAIKAI is a platform where programmers can participate in coding competitions and hackathons, allowing them to showcase their skills and potentially attract the attention of companies. 

A few of the notable companies that use TAIKAI to host their hackathons are Microsoft, ETH Foundation, TikTok, Solana and Aurora

These hackathons cover a diverse range of topics such as blockchain, AI, and data science, to name a few.

First, sign-up to the platform and explore which hackathons interest you from the list. 

After choosing and entering a hackathon, use the matchmaking system to join an existing team or find new teammates. Now, it's time to start developing your project and code away!

Participating in hackathons is a great way to practice coding challenges in a real-life setting and also network with other programmers.


Bounties

On the other hand, you can participate in bounty platforms such as Bepro Network.

Bepro Network is a platform where programmers can participate in bounties and earn monetary prizes.

Bounties are focused on blockchain technology and coding challenges related to it.

Essentially, they are rewards given to people for completing tasks, like fixing bugs or developing new features. 

These bounties provide a decentralized and transparent way for project teams to crowdsource work and tap into a global pool of talent. 

Using cryptocurrency as payment also removes barriers to participation, allowing anyone with internet access to contribute and earn rewards regardless of their location or socioeconomic status.


Why should I engage in programming challenges?

Even if you are not applying for a job, solving coding challenges can provide many benefits:


Develop problem-solving skills

A frequent question in tech interviews is to debug a program that has already been written. 

Newbies may find this difficult because often they are accustomed to relying on tools to help them identify errors in their programs.

Coding Challenges will assist you in becoming a real problem solver. You will be able to point out easily the mistakes present in lines of code. Plus, it writes error-free codes, empowers your technical skills, and enhances your coding mentality.


Strengthen coding fundamentals

Coding challenges also reinforce coding fundamentals such as data structures and algorithms. This is crucial for coding interviews, as they often focus on these fundamentals and their applications.


Code 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 may seem nearly impossible.

When you just start to 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 challenges helps you get faster at it. You will notice a significant change in speed in your coding skill and projects.


Write better code

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.


Frequently Asked Questions about coding challenges

Which language should I opt for?

One common doubt is not knowing which language to use in a coding challenge. 

In these cases, it is often best to go with the language that you are most comfortable and confident in using.


How should I approach a coding problem?

In these situations, it is helpful to take a step back and break down the problem into smaller, manageable tasks. 

It is also important to keep in mind that coding challenges are meant to test your problem-solving skills and communication, not necessarily your knowledge of a specific language or algorithm. 

Lastly, it can be tempting to look up solutions online during a coding challenge, but it is important to resist this urge and try to solve the problem on your own first.


Final thoughts

Coding challenges are a great way to strengthen your problem-solving skills, coding fundamentals, and speed. It is important to approach them with a positive mindset and not give up if you encounter difficulties. 

There are also numerous resources available online, such as coding websites, forums, interview prep websites, and real-life challenges such as bounties and hackathons.

Overall, the most important thing is to practice regularly and stay confident in your coding abilities.

Rodrigo Nogueira
Rodrigo Nogueira
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