coding interview

9 Tips to Prepare Your Coding Interviews In One Week

You never expect that recruiters just scheduled your interview for next week.

This actually happens all the time. Although people are asking for ideal schedules for interview preparation, most of them can barely have more than a week to do the work.

That’s exactly why after I published How To Prepare For an Interview In One Month, a lot of readers asked me to share tips when they have only a week left.

It might sound crazy, but in one week there are actually a lot of things you can do instead of getting your finger crossed. In this post, I’m going to show you how to boost your chance of getting hired in the last week before interviews.


Tip #1 – Basic knowledge review

If I had to choose only one thing to prepare, I wouldn’t even hesitate to get my basic knowledge reviewed.

Although this should be done at the first step of your preparation, you will still be surprised by how many people are confused about things like Big-O analysis. That’s why I think it’s essential to make sure you have a solid computer science foundation.

You don’t need to read every page of Introduction to Algorithm, but it’s recommended to go over basic data structures/algorithms to make sure you are familiar with all of them.

I won’t recommend too many resources as you have no time to check them. Here I would only list 2 sites: The Technical Interview Cheat Sheet and Big-O cheat sheet. Both are concise and provide a perfect summary of things you should know.


Tip #2 – Glassdoor

coding interview

For people who are not familiar with Glassdoor, it’s a platform that provides reviews for each company. More importantly, you can find recent interview questions asked by different companies.

If you have one week before your Google interview, you should definitely search Google interview questions on Glassdoor.

Remember that the whole point is not to expect to expect the same questions asked in your interview. Instead, it’s a great chance for you to understand each companies interview style and find your weakness.


Tip #3 – Mock interviews

coding interview

Within one week, what you really need is practice. Imagine that if you had interviewed Google for 5 times in the past, would you be more confident?

That is the whole point of this. If you have friends working at one of top tech companies, beg for mock interviews. Also, you can use Gainlo to prepare with employees from Google, Amazon etc..

Doing mock interviews can both help you find your weakness and overcome nervousness.


Tip #4 – Be familiar with whiteboard/code sharing tools

It depends on whether it’s an on-site interview or phone screen. In both cases, you will code on “platforms” that are much more uncomfortable than your familiar editor or IDE.

If you don’t have much interview experience in the past, do make sure you have enough practice with a whiteboard or those code sharing tools. Many people complaints that whiteboard coding is quite different from coding on your laptop. It’s true since you won’t be able to insert/copy/paste and edit can be very inconvenient.

The golden rule is to mimic the same interview environment and practice throughout the last week. I’m pretty sure that you don’t want this kind of non-technical issue to have a negative effect on your performance.


Tip #5 – Know more about the company

Prepare well for questions like why you want to join us. For many companies like Facebook, you will be asked for this question for sure.

More importantly, every company will evaluate the so-called culture fit. You should have a clear reason why you are best fit for this company and vise versa. From this perspective, doing an investigation to know about the company more than its name can make a big difference.

Also asking yourself why you want to join the company helps you better understand whether you are making the right decision. I encourage people to work for companies that resonate with them, otherwise, you might end up with a terrible work life even if you get paid well.


Tip #6 – Prepare questions to ask interviewer

At the end of each interview, you will have a chance to ask any questions to the interviewer. Many people pay no attention to this process, but in fact, good questions can make a difference sometimes.

Although there’s no clear cut between good and bad questions, I recommend you spend some of your preparation time thinking about this. In fact, it won’t cost you much time and effort, but you get a chance to impress your interviews.

If you have no idea of what to ask, some common questions are about company culture, product, technical infra and so on so forth. You can also use these questions to evaluate whether it’s a company you really want to work for.

By the way, don’t expect to get any feedback on your interview performance.


Tip #7 – Connect with friends at your target company

If you have some friends working at your target company, it’s a great chance to get more information about the interview.

I’m not saying that you can ask things like common interview questions they usually ask, what I would suggest is to know more about the interview process, what interviewers care and anything that is potentially useful.

For instance, some companies like Facebook care about product sense for engineers. In their interviews, they might discuss with you about specific features and ask your feedback. For Airbnb, they will evaluate if candidates share the same passion for its mission. If you can have more information about your target company, you can be better prepared for sure.


Tip #8 – Time

coding interview

There are two meanings here about time. First, given that there’s only one week left, it’s highly recommended to make a timeline of your preparation and stick to it. The timeline should be very detailed like what you should look into at each day.

Secondly, when working on a coding question, try to put a timer beside you. You won’t know how slow you are until you start tracking your time. Also having a timer set will make you nervous, you should get adapt to solve coding problems under time constraints.


Tip #9 – Sleep well

Never compromise your sleep. If you need to have more time for preparation, try to get up earlier. Some people argue that their minds are usually clearer after 12am, however, you should never forget that your interviews happen at morning or afternoon.

In addition, if travel is needed for on-site interviews, allocate enough time for you to rest well.



Although people usually believe that you can change nothing within one week, there are a lot of things you can do to be better prepared.

The most important thing is to make a detailed plan that works well for you based on your current situation and the target company. Never underestimate changes you can make in a week.

Any other tips that work well for you?

The post is written by Gainlo - a platform that allows you to have mock interviews with employees from Google, Amazon etc..

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