Top Computer Science Interview Questions
You received the necessary education to become a computer scientist. Now, you want to take the skills you acquired and put them to practice. However, before you land that dream job, you’ll need to first convince your prospective employer that you’re the perfect candidate. And so you’re faced with one final obstacle: acing the computer science interview questions.
Job interviews are a great way to showcase your skills, accomplishments, what you hope to achieve with your potential company. Dread and anxiety are the common response to job interviews. However, they are actually a chance for you to see how you can meet the organization’s needs and how the organization can meet yours. So, how do you prepare for a computer science job interview?
To begin with, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula to passing interviews. That said, these interviews do share core questions, and these are exactly what we’ll be discussing in this guide.
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What Is Computer Science?
Computer science is the study of computational theories, algorithms, and programming, and how these can be used to develop software and interact with computers.
As we usher in a new era of digital transformation, computer science has become a staple field across industries. An industry simply cannot thrive without it, which brings us to the next section.
Why Become a Computer Scientist?
There are a lot of reasons why you should become a computer scientist. Primary of these is the demand in the computer science industry.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information research scientists earned $122,840 on average in 2019. Tie that up with a 15 percent growth rate that’s much faster than the average and you open a world of opportunities.
But the computer science industry is not just restricted to computer scientists. Other job titles include software developers, computer systems analysts, and database administrators. Just like computer scientists, these positions earn impressive salaries that range from $90,000 to 110,000 annually.
Top Computer Science Interview Questions
Now that we’ve talked about the why, let’s talk about the how. Particularly, how do you perform well in a computer science job interview? The trick is in knowing that such interviews usually share certain questions.
These questions may cover both technical and non-technical aspects of a computer science job. Hiring managers want to know two things. One, that you have the industry knowledge to be successful. Two, that you have the right set of soft skills to be a great team member.
To help you, we’ve pulled together a list of top computer science interview questions that you should be ready to answer.
Technical Interview Questions
To be successful in a computer science role, you need to know the fundamentals through and through. If you received the right education, whether from a coding bootcamp, the university, or through self-learning, then you’re all set for this.
Commonly asked technical questions revolve around your familiarity with key concepts like programming, coding, operating systems, and software. Below are a few technical questions you can expect in a computer science interview.
1. What is your preferred programming language?
Share which programming language that you’re most fluent in, and explain why you prefer it over the others. Incorporate relevant content that shows your familiarity with the terminology and the finer details of the language. You can also share a personal project that made use of the particular programming language.
2. What is the difference between an interface and an abstract class?
These types of technical questions gauge your knowledge about the applicable topics that you’ll likely work with. Being able to compare similar terminologies while noting their key differences will demonstrate your proficiency in the field.
Sharing your own experience with interfaces and abstract classes also helps. It elevates your credibility and proves that you know what you’re talking about.
This question is a great opportunity to explain your experience, both positive and negative, of working with the popular tools in the industry. Accurately describing the tools, their uses, and your experience of using them will demonstrate your expertise in computer science.
To help you prepare for these types of questions, familiarize yourself with those fundamental concepts you’ve been learning to master. Review your previous course content and related questions. How you answer these questions will immediately showcase how well-versed you are with the core computer science topics.
Non-Technical Interview Questions
When looking for a new addition to a team, managers also pay close to attention to your ‘cultural fit.’ How compatible are you with the team? Do your core values and behaviors align with the company?
Unlike technical questions, questions that gauge these are often subjective and open-ended. Below are some common behavioral-oriented interview questions you should look forward to.
1. Tell me about yourself.
This open-ended question is often asked at the beginning of an interview. However, it’s not just for small talk. Rather, it provides you the opportunity to share your experience and accomplishments relevant to the position. Explore things like your educational background, applicable project experience, other organizations you’ve worked with, and your career aspirations.
You can also use this question to showcase your personality and how you’d be a right fit for the organization. Keep your response intentional and relevant to the position you’re applying for.
2. What is your greatest strength?
This common interview question invites you to explore what you see as your best characteristics. It also informs the manager of what you can contribute to the company. Make sure your response signals that you’re the right candidate for the position. Put simply, match your strengths with what the company is looking for in this position.
Share the characteristics others would use to describe you. Support these with examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits.
3. Tell me about a time that you led an important project.
This question allows to showcase your leadership skills, from how well you manage a team to how capable you are of achieving company goals. Be specific in your story-telling. Share how that experience helps contribute to what the organization is hoping to achieve. Earn additional points by throwing in relevant technical knowledge that they’re on the lookout for.
Remember to Ask Your Own Questions
“Do you have any questions for me?” This is a common concluding question to a job interview. The rule: always say yes. Once you’ve answered all the hiring manager’s questions, be sure to respond with your own. Having a few questions ready shows your interest with the company and your determination to align your skills with their needs.
Come prepared with two to three questions. These could be about clarifications regarding the job description or more details about the team you’ll be working with.
Land a Computer Science Job
Are you ready to make that career change into computer science? If not, start preparing with these helpful tips for computer science job interviews in mind. Review, practice, and go into the interview with confidence. With the right preparation, you can secure that career opportunity and lucrative computer science salary that you’ve been waiting for.
Computer Science FAQ
There are three main avenues that you can take to learn computer science. First is taking the traditional path of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Second is the nontraditional path of attending a coding bootcamp. Lastly, you can take the self-learning route by making use of YouTube videos, computer science textbooks, and free courses found online.
The length usually depends on the kind of computer science education that you take. A bachelor’s degree in computer science would usually take four years to complete. Coding bootcamps, meanwhile, last from three months to less than a year. The self-taught path may take longer or shorter depending on your focus, discipline, and resources.
Yes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer scientist jobs are expected to grow by 15 percent from 2019 to 2029. That is much faster than the average across all occupations and equivalent to 5,000 new jobs.
Absolutely. As we welcome a new era of machines, learning to communicate with computers will be more relevant than ever. What better way to do this than learning how to write code?