Computer science is one of the most lucrative and rewarding fields in the working world. But before you land that great CS gig, you have to go through the application process. That’s why we’ve put this guide together: to help you prepare for the most common computer science interview questions.
With the tech industry growing rapidly, Computer Science has become a popular career choice for many students. Common roles Computer Science graduates apply for are: Computer Science Engineer, Computer Science-IT Engineer, Software Development Engineer, IT Software Developer, and Applications Engineer.
Computer Science is one of the top-earning bachelor’s degrees among engineering, math, science, and business. As a Computer Science graduate, you can earn an average salary of $50-$130k per year. In this field, you will also have a lot of growth potential as your salary will increase exponentially every year.
After graduation, getting your foot into a tech company’s door can be tricky. In today’s time, job interviews are not straightforward anymore as employers try to hunt for high-class talent. For the Computer Science field, you are going to have to raise your bar much higher.
To help you with your interview process, we have gathered tips and suggestions that you can use to ace your interview. Here is a list of some of the common computer science questions that can help you perform well in your next interview.
In this guide, we will go over the non-technical and technical interview questions employers often ask. These questions will examine your overall attitude, evaluate your software development skills and analyze your problem-solving skills.
Technical Computer Science Interview Questions
In a computer science interview, the way you answer the general and technical questions will be a major deciding factor in your selection for the role. Most of the questions will be based on coding, programming languages, operating systems, computer hardware and software, and a number of other computer system topics.
These are the sorts of questions that establish baseline knowledge. For example, what is a class/superclass? What is an object? What is a file? Linked list, class variable, multiple inheritances, base class, input and output, conversion constructor, object oriented programming, etc.
Let us take a look at some similar questions and answer the above.
Which programming languages do you prefer and why?
This is a very basic question and you should know that there is no right answer to it. If the role you are applying to requires the usage of a certain language then you can mention some of the things you like about that particular language. Or you can mention the language you prefer and give the reason for your preference for it. For example:
What is a class and a super class?
The answer to this question and similar others should be at the tip of your tongue. You can answer this question in the following way:
A class defines the blueprint from which types of objects are created. For instance, the characteristics of an object, and what methods and variables is it associated with. A super class, on the other hand, refers to the direct class under consideration.
What’s the difference between Process and Thread?
While a process and thread may seem similar in concept, both are independent sequences of execution. You can answer this question as follows:
Process is a program in execution. Thread is a segment of a process which means a process can have multiple threads.
Process takes longer to terminate compared to a thread. Process also takes longer to create while thread takes a shorter time. Process is isolated while threads share memory.
What is a constructor?
In object-oriented programming, a constructor is a special method of a class or a structure and initializes an object of that type. Your answer can go somewhat like this:
A constructor constitutes of methods used to create or prepare an object of a class. A default constructor accepts arguments to set required member variables.
Most of the CS interview questions as covered above will revolve around similar concepts. Here is a list of some more common questions.
- What is a message?
- What is an array?
- What is a stream?
- Describe a singleton
- What is an abstract class?
- Provide some C source code
- Comparison between method and constructor
- What are the steps for creating the object?
- What is the difference between overloading and overriding?
- What is the difference between an interface and an abstract class?
- What do you know about the software development cycle?
- What is the transport layer?
- What is the application layer?
These were some of the examples of technical questions that you can expect in your next interview. The best way to prepare would be to revise the basics of CS and then go from there towards comparing concepts, identifying similarities and differences and understanding the structure and components involved in each concept. Another good idea would be to check websites like Glassdoor for the types of questions that the previous candidates were asked for a similar role.
If you are in an in-person interview, the interviewer might ask you to answer questions on a whiteboard. In a phone interview, however, the focus will be on the delivery of your understanding of concepts and their application.
Behavioral Interview Questions
When you are preparing to interview for a computer science or a software development role, don’t assume that the hiring manager will only ask the technical questions. Behavioral interview questions have become a huge part of the hiring process at all companies including the tech giants as well as at the startups.
Behavioral questions are usually phrased like this:
- Tell me about a time when…
- Describe a situation when…
- Give me an example of a time…
The purpose of the behavioral questions is for the employer to understand the results you achieved in your past work experience. For example how you applied your knowledge and skills from your previous job(s) to take a concrete ‘action.’ This action can be a task you completed successfully, a team you managed or a real-world problem you solved.
The interviewer might ask general questions as well. For example:
- Describe your strengths and weaknesses
- Why are you leaving your current role?
- Why are you applying for this role?
- How do you handle multiple projects?
Be sure to go over your resume multiple times before the interview so you can answer any questions related to the resume as well.
The hard part is over, however, this last part which many people tend to not pay much attention to is also very important. In this last step, you can show the interviewer that you are interested in the position and were attentive throughout the interview process.
So at the end when an interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” you should always have a list of 2-3 questions. You can ask a follow-up question based on the job description or inquire about the team.
Interview preparation is not an easy process, it requires time and dedication. Each company has a different way of interviewing. And you can look at some of the sample interview questions about your role on sites like Glassdoor to get a better understanding of what could come your way.
Also, make sure to follow up on the hiring process after the interview. If you don’t hear back from HR in a few days it would be a good idea to contact them and ask for updates.