- Paperback: 687 pages
- Publisher: CareerCup; 6th edition (July 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0984782869
- ISBN-13: 978-0984782857
- ASIN: 0984782850
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.6 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 566 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions 6th Edition
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About the Author
Gayle Laakmann McDowell is the founder and CEO of CareerCup and the author of Cracking the PM Interview and Cracking the Tech Career.
Her background is in software development. She has worked as a software engineer at Google, Microsoft, and Apple. At Google, she interviewed hundreds of software engineers and evaluated thousands of hiring packets on the hiring committee. She holds a B.S.E. and M.S.E. in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Wharton School.
She now consults with tech companies to improve their hiring process and with startups to prepare them for acquisition interviews.
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I've been writing software for a long time, and I'm competent at my job. I've worked at some well-known companies, and I've interviewed a LOT of people. But I'm here to tell you that even I can't pass one of these interviews without studying. That's a bad thing. If the goal of an interview is to identify competent programmers, we've gone far, far off the rails with these kinds of interviews.
But of course, that isn't (entirely) the author's fault. She's just a cog in the machine, and profits by perpetuating it. Because the presence of books like these create a vicious cycle: prep book gets written; interviewees study/memorize answers; interviewers make questions "harder" to compensate; new book gets written! It never ends. The grinder continues to turn, and whereas ten years ago you could get a good job with some string or linked-list manipulation questions, now you've got people who consider whiteboard coding of topcoder elite questions to be the baseline measurement of programmer competency. That's nuts.
You'll even run into lazy interviewers who take questions directly from this book, which is the ultimate in stupidity: if "good" candidates have prepared from the book, and you ask questions directly from the book, what are you really accomplishing, other than a test of memorization skills? And yet, this is distressingly common. I've seen it myself. I've had recruiters from major tech companies send me pages from this book so that I can "prepare" for their interviews. What now?
This kind of crap only stops if the more senior amongst us simply *refuse* to do it anymore. New grads have no leverage, so it's up to the rest of us to stand up and demand change. If you work at a company, please, INSIST that your interview process avoid questions from this book. If you interview programmers, please, stick to questions that demonstrate actual day-to-day work competency. And yes, if you're interviewing and you have the leverage, stand up to companies that try to abuse you with this kind of demeaning nonsense.
If we are to be professionals, we have to demand the career respect afforded to professionals. That includes not being treated like children when we are interviewed.
The DP solutions in this book are not actually tabular DP formulations--I recommend looking at the problems here http://people.cs.clemson.edu/~bcdean/dp_practice/ (Brian Dean's Dynamic Programming Practice Problems). Gayle presents memoized solutions, which are much easier conceptually but not as clean or performant as bottoms-up tabular solutions.
After the chapters comes a slough of example interview questions rated as easy/medium/hard, each with hints that interviewers might provide if you were to get stuck as well as a solution.
Interviewing with companies can be a pretty grueling process so if you want a much better chance of landing the job the first time, I would highly recommend this book.
This book works as a study guide. it is NOT a panacea. There's no real cracking or hacking the process here, it just prepares you for what to expect and prepares you for the process. This is actually a huge thing - you're already nervous when you walk in, and knowing what might be thrown at you will make it easier to deal with when it happens.
There are some negatives. The book is in its sixth edition and it can be a disjointed read, you can probably identify the revisions by looking where the tone and style changes. It could also use a section on how to use it and how the book is organized. At first glance it's a dauntingly large book, but a large part of the book is solutions to questions earlier in the book, but it seems to skip around. Generally solutions to problems would be in the back of the book, but here they're in the middle. This brings me to the last issue I had - this book is BIG at almost 700 pages. A Kindle version would be extremely useful so it's not a book you can read casually, which is a shame.
Overall, it's very much worth your effort to work through it and I'd highly recommend it for everyone who is looking for that high tech job.