Photo of a review of CodeChef as a software engineering interview prep tool

A review of CodeChef as a software engineering interview prep tool

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now industry advisor at Pathrise. I work with hundreds of software engineers to help them land their dream jobs in tech.

What does CodeChef do?

Hosting thousands of challenges and user solutions, CodeChef is an online community and platform where software engineers can complete practice problems to prepare for technical interviews. Ranging in level from beginner to advanced, the challenges test users’ skills in algorithms, binary search, array size, and more. Each problem is tagged by difficulty level and topic, so users can easily find problems that address specific skills and concepts. 

CodeChef has an in-browser coding window where users upload, write, and run code. Users can submit solutions in over 35 languages. They earn points for correct answers, which allows them to move up through the CodeChef ranks. After they submit, a judge evaluates their solution, highlighting any errors or discrepancies in the code. Once users feel ready, they can challenge their peers and participate in contests. In addition to accessing their peers’ solutions, users can ask questions and offer advice on the discussion forum.

Photo of CodeChef as a software engineer interview prep tool

Who is CodeChef for?

Intermediate and advanced software engineers who are looking to advance their skills and learn new techniques to prepare for technical interviews could benefit from using CodeChef’s exercises. Users should have a strong background in databases, algorithms, and arrays. 

What does CodeChef cost? How much work is involved?

CodeChef is free. To register, users can create a profile with their GitHub, Facebook, Google, or email accounts. 

Ratings and reviews

In general, advanced software engineers praised the rigor of CodeChef’s challenges and the thoroughness of the user solutions, though they emphasize that the problems are not for beginners. For instance, one Reddit reviewer recommends CodeChef for competitive coding, but suggests that you “start with HankerRank and then slowly after some time start doing long challenges on CodeChef.” 

A reviewer on Quora advised that “you should be efficient enough to implement moderate level data structures like BST, graphs, stacks and heaps using lists” before using CodeChef. Highlighting the importance of having advanced knowledge before doing problems on CodeChef, a beginner on Reddit reported that he “was stumped” by “the most submitted questions in the easy section.”

Alternatives to CodeChef

If you decide not to use CodeChef’s exercises, there are a number of alternatives to help prepare you for your technical interviews. 

  • A good option is AlgoExpert, which is a platform where software engineers can practice questions that cover a variety of interview topics. Get 15% off using the promo code: Pathrise. Learn more about AlgoExpert in our review.
  • Created by a former Google software engineer, Interview Cake is a study tool that teaches people the right way to think about technical questions so they do well in interviews. Read more about Interview Cake in our review.
  • CodinGame, Codewars and CodeSignal also allow users to challenge their peers in order to gamify the interview prep experience. 
  • One of the most common technical interview prep tools is Leetcode, which has over 1,050 interview-type questions and hundreds of thousands of active users. 
  • Coderbyte offer a mix of free and paid resources and challenges for software engineers looking to practice their skills. Read more about Coderbyte in our review.
  • Software engineers can also check out Edabit, which hosts an online editor and provides access to tens of thousands of questions and user solutions.
  • If you are looking for technical questions directly in your email, Daily Coding Problem is a newsletter that sends 1 problem a day and the solutions for those who subscribe.
  • HackerRank, which is a common tool used by companies to evaluate software engineering applicants on their technical interviews, allows users to practice questions in the environment that they will likely be tested in. 
  • Software engineers can use the tracks offered by Educative to brush up on skills or practice for specific-language interviews.
  • For people looking to prep with real world problems, CodeKata provides challenges that mimic requests from real tech companies.
  • Those looking to participate in mock interviews with software engineers at top tech companies should check out Interviewing.io. Learn more about Interviewing.io in our review.
  • Pramp and Gainlo are other resources for software engineers looking for mock interview prep with their peers or anonymous engineers.
  • With exercises in Python and JavaScript for beginners and advanced engineers, CheckiO is a good free resource to check out.

How does CodeChef compare to Pathrise?

CodeChef is a useful tool for advanced software engineers looking to prepare for their technical interviews. Though they provide access to user solutions and other resources, CodeChef does not offer job-seeking resources. 

Pathrise is a full service organization that works extensively with software engineers to prepare for technical interviews by providing workshops, 1-on-1 mentoring, and pair programming sessions. In addition, we assist fellows with resume and portfolio building, behavioral interview preparation, salary negotiation, and more. 

Advancing technical skills is a key component of landing a job as a software engineer, so fellows in our program should feel free to use CodeChef, as well as our technical workshops, to further their programming knowledge. You can also check out our list of 93 software engineering interview questions from top tech companies to practice.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With our tips and guidance, we’ve seen our fellows interview performance scores double.

If you are interested in optimizing your job search by working 1-on-1 with a mentor, become a Pathrise fellow. 

Apply today.

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