Introduction to the coding interview


Week 1: Introduction to the Coding Interview

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Introduction to the Coding Interview INTRODUCTION

Welcome to Introduction to the Coding Interview, part of the Meta Front-End Developer Professional Certificate from Coursera.

In this module, you will gain an understanding of what a coding interview is and how it works, as well as specific strategies for preparation. You’ll also be introduced to important computer science concepts such as binary numbers, Big O notation, and time and space complexity.

By the end of this course, you should have the knowledge needed to start preparing for your own coding interview experience. So let’s get started!

Learning Objectives

  • Grasp the fundamentals of computer science
  • Recognize the role pseudocode plays in coding interviews
  • Identify the core components that you will need to prepare for the interview process
  • Identify strategies for successful interviewing


1. What are softskills?

  • They relate to the way you conduct yourself social. (CORRECT)
  • Skills that you would not feel very competent at.
  • Coding skills that improve presentation of code.

Correct: That’s correct! When an interview talks about your softskills they are interested to know how you will function in a team.  

2. When are you most likely to be asked about your Softskills?

  • During a technical interview. 
  • During a quiz.
  • During a screening call. (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct! The screening call is designed to identify whether a candidate is a good fit for a company’s culture. It is done before any competency is established.

3. What is the purpose of the online coding assignment?

  • It is designed to give you an opportunity to show what you can produce in an unpressurized environment that mimics potential job activities you will be asked to undertake. (CORRECT)
  • To help you get into the mindset of working for this company before you start?
  • It is to get you to solve some company problem?

Correct: That’s correct! The role of the coding assignment is to demonstrate your thought process and your hands-on coding ability.  

4. Pseudocode is a structured way to engage with code.

  • True 
  • False (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. Though using pseudocode can help you find the structure in code, it has no formalized way or structure for engaging with it.

5. When should you test your code?

  • Whenever the application crashes to identify what the issue is. 
  • At the end.
  • Continuously as the project progress. (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. Ideally, the code should be tested as you go.


1. Which has the largest time to compute?

  • O(N) (CORRECT)
  • O(1) 
  • O(log n) 

Correct: That’s correct! This is known as linear time. As the input increases so does the time to compute an output.

2. Given the following lines of code pseudocode; 

N = 7 
FOR i = 1 TO N:
  • O(N) (CORRECT)
  • O(1) 
  • O(n^2) 

Correct: That’s correct! As the loop is set to the size of N, when N increases so does the time complexity.

3. Given the following lines of code pseudocode; 

 N = 7 
FOR i = 1 TO N:
      FOR j = 1 TO N:
  • O(N) 
  • O(1) 
  • O(n^2) (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. There are 2 loops so every time the application runs, it must do N*N executions. 

4. Given the following lines of code pseudocode: 

N = 37 
FOR i = 1 TO N:
      WHILE i < 10:
  • O(1) 
  • O(N) (CORRECT)
  • O(n^2) 

Correct: That’s correct. The inner loop is only run a finite number of times that does not increase with N.

5. Given the following lines of code pseudocode; 

N = 37 
FOR i = 1 TO N:
        WHILE i < 10:
  • O(N) (CORRECT)
  • O(n^2)
  • O(1)  

Correct: That’s correct. The inner loop is only run a finite number of times that does not increase with N.

6. Given the following lines of code pseudocode: 

N = 10 
FOR i = 1 TO 5:
        FOR j = 1 TO i:
  • O(Log N) 
  • O(n^2)
  • O(1) (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. As I is limited to 5. Regardless of how large the input becomes it will always be limited to the number of executions. 

7. Given the following lines of code pseudocode:                                               

7. Given the following lines of code pseudocode:                                              
N = 7 
FOR i = 1 TO N:
           FOR j = 1 TO N:
  •  O(N) 
  •  O(n^2) (CORRECT)
  •  O(1) 

Correct: That’s correct. There are 2 loops so every time the application runs, it must do N*N executions.    


1. Given an array that holds 12 integers at 4 bytes per integer, contains an additional 12 bytes for the header and 4 bytes for padding. What is the total space complexity for this data structure?

  • 16 
  • 48
  •  64 (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. The total space is equal to the header + padding + space for the integers. 

2. A program requires two arrays to compute a function. First array has a header of 12 bytes, and padding of another 4 bytes. It contains 8 integers of 4 bytes each. The second array also has a header of 12 bytes and 4 bytes padding. The second array contains 24 integers of 4 bytes each. What is the input space of this function?

  • 32
  • 160
  • 128 (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. The input space refers to the value that changes as N increases. The header and padding remain constant for the duration of the function. 

3. Changing the values in an array leads to greater space complexity over creating a new array and copying in the values?

  • True
  • False (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. Performing an in-place swapping of values is a more efficient use of space as it does not have the same memory tax as creating a new array and copying in the values.

4. Does reducing the space complexity of a function increase the time complexity?

  • Yes
  • No
  •  Sometimes (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. There is no direct correlation between space and time complexity, but often in an effort to reduce one we can increase the other. Hash maps are a good example of this. In reducing the time it takes to look up a value, we introduce the over head of a look-up table. 

5. What does auxiliary space refer to?    

  •  The space used to store data that the CPU is processing    
  •  Virtual memory    
  •  It is the space required to hold any additional variables used in the computations of an application. (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. It relates to space complexity, and what variables are used in computing the final output.    

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1. What should be done when presented with a technical problem where the solution is not immediately obvious?

  • Move the conversation along and try not to draw attention. 
  • Ask the interviewer how they would solve the problem. 
  • Ask questions. (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. It can be that the question was posed in a way you were unfamiliar with, or discussing the problem might give you some clarity.  

2. During a technical interview, is it better to rely on the work of others, or code everything yourself?

  • Use the data structures, but don’t use any other external implementation. 
  • Write as much code as you can to show off your skills. 
  • Use code written by others. (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct! Code written by others can be in the form of established libraries and data structures. When possible, always use code that has been shown to be effective.

3. Given an array that represents sock colors:  Sock_colors = [3,3,2,1,1,3,5,1,4,2], how many pairs of the same color socks exist?

  • 2
  • 3 (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. Socks 1, 3, 4, and 5 are odd.

4. Is it better to remain silent when writing code during a technical interview?

  • True 
  • False (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. The interviewer is there to assess your ability in a short space of time. You may not get a chance to implement all of your ideas. Drawing rough solutions on a whiteboard and explaining your thought process can give them insights into how you think.

5. Should I ask questions in an interview?

  • Yes. Ask questions for clarity or during an appropriate time. (CORRECT)
  • Yes, but only when the conversation looks like it is going to help the interviewer along. 
  • Yes. Asking questions can run down the interview clock and so avoid awkward questions. 

Correct: Correct. It is natural that you will have questions about the company that you may be working for. However you will be given time at the end to find this information out. Though you may be unsure of a question directed at you and want some clarity. In this instance it is also a good idea to ask questions.

6. What is the STAR method?

  • A stellar answer to a good question.
  • A coding practice with 4 key components.
  • A structured approach to answering questions. (CORRECT)

Correct: That’s correct. The STAR methods refers to (Situation, Task, Action, Result), it is away of structuring answers in an interview that will give the interview some good scope into your thought process.

7. What is meant by transfer rate in relation to a CPU?

  • The rate at which instructions are processed.
  • The rate at which memory is transferred into cache. (CORRECT)
  • The rate at which a processor can convert input from a terminal. 

Correct: That’s correct. CPU processes cache memory. The transfer rate refers to how fast information can be transferred from memory into cache.

8. When engaged with a coding interview what sorts of tests should you aim to include?

  • Integration tests 
  • Unit tests (CORRECT)
  • Functional tests 

Correct: That’s correct. All testing is important, but you will only have so much time in an interview. Unit tests are simple tests that are easily implemented and will demonstrate your propensity to test while still leaving you time to complete a workable solution.

9. Which memory location is closest to the CPU?

  • Secondary memory 
  • Cache (CORRECT)
  • Main memory 

Correct: That’s correct. A cache is located closest to the CPU so has the quickest access.

10. When designing a solution it is best to:

  • Planning an outline, engaging the main obstacles, looking at the potential solutions and constantly reviewing. (CORRECT)
  • Doing a quick sketch then implementing everything on the page. 
  • Tackle every problem as it arises.

Correct: That’s correct. Planning is important and will need to be revised when new aspects of the project are met over the course of implementing it.

11. Which of the following are good examples of optimizing your code? Select all that apply.       

  • To optimize space complexity, you may opt for a solution that does in-place changes over creating a new data structure to house the result. (CORRECT)     
  • Avoid excessive compiler calls. If you are searching for a value in an array, terminate the loop when the item is found. (CORRECT)       
  • If there are portions of your code that are no longer required as a result of modularizing, or as a result of an avenue of thought that was not completed, remove it. (CORRECT)
  • Modularize this code into a function that is callable repeatedly and reuse the code when possible. (CORRECT) 

Correct: Well done. Some sorting algorithms like quicksort will move the data around a lot in coming to a final solution.       

Correct: Well done! There is nothing to be gained by repeatedly asking the question after you have gotten the answer you want.       

Correct: Well done.  It is natural that redundant code creeps in during the process of solving the problem. It is ok to delete these unused code segments after you see that they are no longer needed.     

Correct: Well done.  Wrapping the code into a function means that you can call it repeatedly in your code.     

12. Which of the following actions are important when an interview is conducted? 
Select all that apply.   

  • Exaggerate your abilities from the start of the interview.      
  • Always respond to questions with everything you know on the topic.       
  • Speak clearly and concisely. (CORRECT)        
  • Dress appropriately (CORRECT)          
  • Be on time for the interview. (CORRECT)

Correct: Well done.  It is important to speak clearly and concisely to ensure you are understood by all parties.     

Correct: Well done. First impressions are very important. A neatly dressed person creates an impression of respect.      

Correct: Well done. It leaves a good impression to be on time.     

13. Consider that you have a lock with 7 different digits. Each digit can be a 1 or 0, how many potential pass numbers can you have for the lock?     

  • 128 (CORRECT)
  • 256
  • 64
  • 32

Correct: That’s correct. A lock with 7 digits would have two to the power of seven and thus 128 different combinations.       

14. Which of the type of memory is described in the following statements? 
This memory relates to external memory that can be plugged in externally and used to increase the storage capacity of your system. Accessing this type of memory is slower and requires transferring all required information and instructions into RAM.        

  • Secondary Memory (CORRECT)
  • Cache Memory       
  • Main Memory       

Correct: Well done.  Secondary memory relates to external memory that can be plugged in externally and used to increase the storage capacity of your system.   Accessing this type of memory is slower and requires transferring all required information and instructions into RAM.      

15. Given an array of numbers and a target value, using a loop  what is the worst-case time complexity to check if the number is present in the array?      

  • O(n) (CORRECT)
  • O(1)      
  • O(log n)      

Correct: Correct. To determine if a value was there using a loop would mean checking every element in the array.      

16. Given the following snippet of pseudocode: 

array = [ ]
n = 4
FOR i = 0 TO n:
          FOR j = 0 TO n:

What is the space complexity of this problem?                      

  • O(n^2)  (CORRECT)
  • O(log n)       
  •  O(n)    

Correct: Correct. As n is looped through twice, the number of computations will reflect n*n or n^2.      


Now that you’ve completed this module, you should have a better understanding of what a coding interview is and how to approach solving problems during one. You should also be familiar with some of the fundamental concepts in computer science. If you’re interested in learning more about coding interviews and preparing for them. With our comprehensive course, you’ll be ready to take on any coding interview challenge that comes your way, join Coursera now!