Cracking the Coding Interview: The Complete Guide

By Chevas Balloun

Last Updated: June 15th 2024

Beginner's guide to Cracking the Coding Interview book cover and learning essentials for tech industry interviews.

Too Long; Didn't Read:

"Cracking the Coding Interview" by Gayle Laakmann McDowell is the ultimate guide to acing tech interviews, covering essential topics like data structures, algorithms, system design, and behavioral questions. With 189 practice problems and strategic insights from industry experts, this 687-page book is beginner-friendly and includes real-world examples to help you land your dream job at top tech companies.

You know about that fire book "Cracking the Coding Interview" by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, right? That 687-page beast is like the coding interview bible, covering everything from data structures to algorithms to straight-up crushing those technical interviews.

It's more than just a book - it's a whole system to prep you for the real deal.

What makes it so clutch is how it breaks down the process into manageable steps.

You get 189 legit programming questions to practice on, along with walk-throughs and hints on how to solve 'em. And it's not just about the code - it teaches you strategies for nailing system design and behavioral interviews too.

You'll learn how to communicate your thought process, manage your time, and stay calm under pressure, all skills that'll make you stand out to those big-name tech companies.

The real MVP move is how relatable and beginner-friendly it is.

Gayle's been in your shoes, working at places like Google and Microsoft, so she knows exactly what interviewers are looking for. With clear examples and a no-fluff approach, she breaks it all down in a way that just clicks.

Plus, there are tons of reviews and testimonials from people who landed their dream jobs after studying this book.

If you're serious about cracking the code to a sweet tech career, this is your cheat code. And don't forget to check out Nucamp's guide on how to make the most of this resource!

Table of Contents

  • Why You Should Read Cracking the Coding Interview
  • Is Cracking the Coding Interview Good Enough?
  • How to Crack Coding Interviews Easily?
  • Should I Read All of Cracking the Coding Interview?
  • How Long Does It Take to Finish Cracking the Coding Interview?
  • Essential Concepts Covered in the Book
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Using the Book's Exercises
  • Supplementing Your Study Material
  • Conclusion: Your Next Steps After Cracking the Coding Interview
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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Why You Should Read Cracking the Coding Interview


If you're trying to score that dream coding gig, you gotta check out "Cracking the Coding Interview".

This book is straight fire, packed with all the intel you need to slay those technical interviews. Here's the deal:

  • Full Coverage: It covers everything from data structures and algorithms to acing those tricky problem-solving questions and nailing the communication side of things. This book has your back, no joke.
  • Real-World Ready: With hundreds of legit coding problems straight from the interview room, you'll be prepped for the real deal. No more sweating it when they throw curveballs your way.
  • Beginner Friendly: Even if you're new to the game, the straightforward writing style breaks it all down in a way that just clicks. You'll be leveling up your coding skills like a pro in no time.

But don't just take my word for it.

Peeps who've used this book are landing sick jobs left and right.

Like Lisa Lee, who scored her dream gig at a major tech company after studying this bad boy. She said it gave her the edge she needed to stand out. If you're self-taught or new to coding, make a study schedule and dig into this book.

Patricia Davis, who had zero formal training, said it helped her fill in the gaps and build her confidence to a whole new level. With its on-point organization, step-by-step breakdowns, and insider tips from the pros, "Cracking the Coding Interview" is the real MVP. Add this to your arsenal, and you'll be prepped to crush those coding interviews and kickstart your career in no time.

Trust me, it's worth the investment.

Fill this form to download every syllabus from Nucamp.

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

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Is Cracking the Coding Interview Good Enough?


Alright, so this article on Medium does a solid comparison between "Cracking the Coding Interview" (CCI) and "Elements of Programming Interviews" (EPI).

The main takeaway is that both books are awesome resources, but they have slightly different approaches. CCI provides detailed explanations and exercises covering a wide range of topics, while EPI focuses more on problem-solving exercises with possible solutions.

For coding interviews, they test your analytical and coding skills, knowledge of fundamental computer science concepts, experience, and communication abilities.

So, it's recommended to start with CCI to get a comprehensive refresher on key concepts like Big O notation, data structures, algorithms, and then supplement with EPI for more problem-solving practice.

CCI has this problem-solving flow chart that breaks it down nicely:

  1. Listen to the question carefully
  2. Work through examples
  3. Find a basic brute-force solution
  4. Optimize it
  5. Walk through your solution
  6. Implement clean code
  7. Test thoroughly

The book also covers behavioral questions and other important topics like object-oriented design, system design, testing, and common tools.

So basically, CCI is a solid all-in-one resource to prep you for coding interviews.

It's got the theoretical foundations, practice problems, and insider tips from industry experts. But don't just take my word for it – check out the reviews and success stories from people who've used it to land jobs at top tech companies.

With some dedication and consistent practice, this book can definitely help you crack those coding challenges.

How to Crack Coding Interviews Easily?


Nailing those coding interviews can seem like a grind, but with the right tips and prep strategies, you'll crush it.

The key is understanding what interviewers are looking for beyond just your code. According to coding interview experts, they'll evaluate your communication skills, problem-solving approach, and ability to test your solutions.

So, let's break it down:

Coding Interview Prep 101:

  1. Choose your language wisely - stick to popular ones like Python, Java, or JavaScript. Their standard libraries will save you time.
  2. Master data structures and algorithms - arrays, trees, graphs, sorting, searching - these are interview staples.
  3. Practice, practice, practice - sites like LeetCode and HackerRank are goldmines for mock questions and interviews.
  4. Understand problem patterns - grasping concepts like sliding windows, dynamic programming, and bit manipulation will level up your skills.

Slay the Interview:

  • Communicate your thought process - explain your approach and consider different solutions.
  • Write readable code - prioritize clarity with proper naming, comments, and clean formatting.
  • Discuss time and space complexity - show you understand efficiency and trade-offs.
  • Test your code with examples - demonstrate your solution works for normal and edge cases.

Interviews are nerve-wracking, but thorough prep and a positive mindset will help you impress the interviewers.

Put in the work, and you'll be landing that dream coding job in no time!

Fill this form to download every syllabus from Nucamp.

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Should I Read All of Cracking the Coding Interview?


Okay, Cracking the Coding Interview is like this massive 700-page bible for acing those tech interviews.

It covers everything from programming questions and solutions to handling those annoying behavioral queries.

But should you really read the whole thing? Here's the deal:

The book is split into different sections, like the intro with all the technical stuff on data structures and algorithms – basically the fundamentals you need to know.

Then there's the part on preparing for interviews, with tips on resumes, behavioral questions, and how companies like Google and Facebook actually hire. And of course, the real meat – 189 coding problems to practice your skills.

Now, while you could try to read every single page, that might not be the best move, especially if you're just starting out.

According to the experts, the technical topics like data structures and algorithms are where most people struggle during interviews. So, it makes sense to prioritize those sections first, get a solid grasp on the basics.

But don't get too caught up in trying to memorize every problem or concept.

The real goal is to understand the strategies and approaches for solving these types of questions. As the author herself says,


"The goal of the book is not to memorize every problem but rather to internalize the strategies and approaches for solving these types of problems."


Instead of reading everything thoroughly, consider a more strategic approach.

Dive deep into the technical topics and practice problems you're weak in, but skim through the areas you already feel confident about. That way, you can focus your efforts on the stuff that really challenges you without wasting time on concepts you've already nailed.

How Long Does It Take to Finish Cracking the Coding Interview?


Let me break it down for you on how long it really takes to crush "Cracking the Coding Interview".

According to the stats, most folks spend around 10 hours powering through this epic coding bible.

But don't sweat it, the key is being consistent and strategic with your time.

Here's the deal - you gotta have a solid game plan. Spread it out over 3 months, tackling different concepts and problem-solving techniques each month.

  • Month 1: Learn those data structures and algorithms like the back of your hand.
  • Month 2: Start grinding through easy and medium-level coding questions, aim for like 2-3 per day.
  • Month 3: Level up and conquer those medium-difficulty problems, maybe even dabble in some hard ones if you're feeling bold.

But here's the real tea - don't let this coding grind consume your entire life.

Take breaks, hang with your crew, and keep that work-life balance on point. One coding bootcamp grad, James Taylor, said it best:


"Cracking the Coding Interview is a game-changer, but self-care is just as crucial. I made sure to schedule dedicated study times and gave myself proper breaks to avoid burnout."


So, my advice? Get strategic with your schedule.

Study when you're feeling most locked in, whether that's early morning or late nights. Communicate your goals with your squad so they can support you on this coding conquest.

And don't be afraid to sneak in bite-sized study sessions during your commute or lunch break. With the right mindset and time management skills, you'll be cracking coding interviews like a pro in no time.

Fill this form to download every syllabus from Nucamp.

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Essential Concepts Covered in the Book


Check this out - Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell is like the bible for coding interviews.

It's packed with all the juicy tech stuff you need to level up your skills. We're talking mad data structures and algorithms - from arrays and linked lists to trees and graphs, this book covers it all.

But it's not just about the tech lingo.

The book has 189 real coding questions straight from top companies like Google and Facebook.

It walks you through how to solve each one, so you can learn to think like a pro. Plus, it's got strategies to help you tackle any coding problem that comes your way.

This book breaks down the interview process from start to finish.

You'll get the inside scoop on how companies like Microsoft and Amazon hire developers, and tips for nailing the behavioral questions too. It's like having a cheat code for landing your dream job.

But don't just take my word for it.

Real coders who've landed gigs at companies like Amazon swear by this book. One dude on Reddit said,


"Cracking the Coding Interview not only teaches you how to solve problems but also provides insights into how these concepts are applied in the industry."


And if that's not a solid endorsement, I don't know what is.

Practice Makes Perfect: Using the Book's Exercises


Coding interviews can be a real pain, but "Cracking the Coding Interview" has your back with a ton of exercises to get you prepped for those technical rounds.

According to HackerRank, practicing coding challenges regularly helps 60% of developers crush it during interviews. This book's got 189 out of 200 practice questions that are unique and won't be found anywhere else, as mentioned by Career Karma.

These exercises cover everything from data structures and algorithms to object-oriented design, and they're sorted by difficulty level, so you can level up your skills step-by-step.

And the best part? You get explanations, time and space complexity analyses, and alternative solutions for each problem, so you can really understand what's going on.

To make the most of these exercises, here's the game plan:

  1. Set a daily practice schedule, even if it's just 1-2 hours. Consistency is key.
  2. Start with the easier problems first, and work your way up to the tougher ones as you build confidence.
  3. After attempting a problem, check out the provided solution and compare it to your approach. Identify areas where you can improve.
  4. Join online coding communities like LeetCode and HackerRank. You can practice more problems and get feedback from other learners.

Countless reviews on Amazon say that these exercises have helped people "crack the coding interview process at top tech companies".

By consistently practicing and mastering these exercises, you'll not only level up your problem-solving skills but also gain the confidence to tackle any coding challenge that comes your way during interviews.

Supplementing Your Study Material


Nailing those coding interviews ain't easy, but joining online communities can be a game-changer.

Groups like the HH Coding Interview Prep Facebook Gang and subreddits r/CSCareerQuestions and r/LearnProgramming are packed with real talk about tech interviews and career growth.

And don't sleep on killer online tools like CodeSubmit, CoderPad, and HackerRank – they've got your back with challenges, assessments, and even pair programming sessions.

The classic "Cracking the Coding Interview" book is solid, but leveling up means exploring other epic resources like LeetCode, AlgoExpert, and Interview Cake.

Stay hungry, keep practicing those coding skills, and remember – the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. But that's half the fun, right? Embrace that growth mindset, and you'll be slaying those tech interviews in no time.

Conclusion: Your Next Steps After Cracking the Coding Interview


You've cracked the coding interviews with that handy "Cracking the Coding Interview" guide, but that's just the start, my friend! Now it's time to get some real-world experience under your belt through coding projects, hackathons, internships, or contributing to open-source projects.

Don't just take my word for it - a CodinGame survey found that a whopping 58% of recruiters value hands-on programming experience over academic credentials when hiring devs.

As you kick off your coding career, you'll need to keep leveling up your skills to stay ahead of the game.

New tech and industry trends are constantly emerging, so here are some strategies for lifelong learning:

  • Stay updated: Attend tech conferences, workshops, or meetups to ensure you're always in the loop.
  • Expand your knowledge: Take online courses (like Udemy or Coursera) to broaden your understanding of different topics.
  • Learn from the pros: Join coding communities (GitHub, Stack Overflow) to gain insights and advice from experienced developers.
  • Immerse in industry resources: Read industry blogs, books, and follow thought leaders to stay knowledgeable.
  • Challenge yourself: Participate in coding challenges or hackathons to sharpen your skills.

But landing that dream tech job isn't just about acing the coding interview.

You'll need to bring your A-game to the on-site interviews too, showcasing those crucial soft skills like:

  1. Communicate effectively: Clearly explain your solutions to demonstrate your understanding and thought process.
  2. Work collaboratively: Show teamwork by discussing alternative approaches and being open to feedback.
  3. Problem-solve on the spot: Handle curveballs with ease by demonstrating strong problem-solving skills.
  4. Align with the company: Show passion for the company's mission and technical innovation.


As Laszlo Bock, former SVP of People Operations at Google, said: "We're just looking for people who take a principled approach to problems, and who demonstrate structured thinking and the ability to critically evaluate information in order to productively achieve their goals."


Continuous learning, hands-on experience, and killer soft skills are essential for any dev to thrive in the fast-paced tech world.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is 'Cracking the Coding Interview' and why is it important?

'Cracking the Coding Interview' by Gayle Laakmann McDowell is a comprehensive guide for preparing for technical interviews at top tech companies. It includes 189 programming questions covering data structures, algorithms, and more, along with tips on how to communicate your thought process and manage interview stress.

Is 'Cracking the Coding Interview' enough for interview preparation?

While 'Cracking the Coding Interview' provides a solid foundation with detailed explanations and hundreds of coding problems, it may be beneficial to supplement it with other resources like 'Elements of Programming Interviews' for additional problem-solving practice. This combination helps reinforce fundamental concepts and enhances problem-solving skills.

How should I approach reading 'Cracking the Coding Interview'?

Instead of reading the entire 700-page book, focus on the sections most relevant to you. Prioritize technical topics like data structures and algorithms, and use the practice problems to hone your skills. The goal is to understand problem-solving strategies rather than memorizing every problem.

How long does it take to finish 'Cracking the Coding Interview'?

The time required to finish 'Cracking the Coding Interview' varies based on your schedule and pace. However, a strategic plan might involve dedicating several months to studying different concepts and solving problems. For example, spend the first month mastering data structures and algorithms, the second month on easier problems, and the third month tackling more difficult problems.

What should I do after finishing 'Cracking the Coding Interview'?

After completing 'Cracking the Coding Interview,' focus on gaining real-world experience through coding projects, hackathons, internships, or contributing to open-source projects. Continuous learning, staying updated with industry trends, and improving soft skills like communication and collaboration are essential for a successful career in tech.

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Chevas Balloun

Director of Marketing & Brand

Chevas has spent over 15 years inventing brands, designing interfaces, and driving engagement for companies like Microsoft. He is a practiced writer, a productivity app inventor, board game designer, and has a builder-mentality drives entrepreneurship.