A review of HackerRank as a software engineer interview prep tool – 2021 update

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now software engineering mentor at Pathrise. I have helped hundreds of software engineers land their dream job. Check out my review of HackerRank.

Updated in 2021

What does HackerRank do?

If you have applied for technical positions at all, you have probably seen a HackerRank test. HackerRank was the first company from India to be backed by the tech investor Y Combinator. They have now grown to become the leading technical skill assessment tool for developers. Many of the top tech companies use HackerRank to give coding challenges and technical interviews to their candidates.

But, HackerRank also has practice questions available for software engineers who want to prepare for upcoming technical interviews in the same environment they will likely be tested in. It can also be helpful for people looking to learn new languages and skills. Their questions are classified by skill level in data structures, algorithms, general math, and a variety of languages. HackerRank also has contests and a job board aspiring software engineers can use.

Photo of HackerRank platform

Photo of HackerRank software engineering coding problem

Photo of HackerRank coding window

Who is HackerRank for?

HackerRank has two main audiences. The first is companies who are looking to hire developers. They use the platform to test their candidates on technical questions. The second is software engineers who are looking to advance their skills and practice for these technical interviews. Beginners, intermediate, and advanced software engineers can all benefit from the platform.

What does HackerRank cost? How much work is involved?

For users, HackerRank is free. They make their money from the companies that use their platform to assess candidates. Users do need to sign up for a profile in order to access the questions. But, there is no application process.

Ratings and reviews

Most software engineers looking to practice for technical interviews approve of HackerRank in their reviews. But, a lot of the comments mention that the questions are a little too much like puzzles, making them feel less geared towards real world problems that one might encounter when coding at a job. Candidates also admit that they sometimes have a lower view of companies who ask them to do HackerRank tests as their technical assessments. They feel this way because the questions are out of the realm of the work they would actually be doing.

There are some negative reviews about the way HackerRank judges the responses to questions, as well. People explain that it is a very narrow window of what they deem correct. This results in users spending more time trying to figure out the “right” way to write the solution, rather than the right way to do the problem.

Alternatives to HackerRank

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

  • Created by a former Google software engineer, Interview Cake is a platform that helps people prepare for their software engineering interviews. Discover how Interview Cake can help you by reading our review. 
  • One of the most popular alternatives to HackerRank is Leetcode. The platform has over 1,050 interview-type questions that software engineers can code in the browser. Plus, premium subscribers get access to problems based on actual company questions.  
  • Another interview prep alternative is Coderbyte, which also hosts an online editor and includes tens of thousands of user solutions. Learn more about Coderbyte in our review.
  • Similarly, Edabit and Skilled.dev allows users to code in-browser and has a robust community of users who share solutions. 
  • Another option is AlgoExpert, a paid platform that allows users to write in 5 different languages to answer questions on data structures, algorithms, problem-solving, and more topics.
  • CodinGameCodewarsCodeChefCheck.io, and CodeSignal gamify the interview prep experience by turning interview practice problems into challenges.
More alternatives
  • If you are looking to participate in mock interviews with software engineers at top tech companies, you should check out Interviewing.io. Learn more about Interviewing.io in our review.
  • Similarly, GainloTech Mock Interview, and Pramp give users the opportunity to practice for technical interviews with experts and peers.
  • Daily Coding Problem is a newsletter that sends 1 practice interview problem directly to your inbox each day. The questions are free. However, users must subscribe to access the solutions.
  • In the same vein, Quastor has a newsletter with software engineering interview questions. They also offer a free course and users can connect with one another on their site to discuss problems and solutions.
  • People looking to prepare with real world problems can check out CodeKata. They provide challenges that mimic requests from real tech companies.  
  • Software engineers who use Ruby on Rails can check out RubyTapas, which has challenges in that language.

We compiled a list of resources to practice software engineer interview questions that you can use to decide the best one. You can also check out our list of 93 software engineering interview questions from top tech companies to practice.

How does HackerRank compare to Pathrise?

HackerRank is a good tool for software engineers of all skill levels to use as they prepare for their technical interviews. The questions are typically puzzle-based, which can be good for people who are looking to advance their problem-solving skills or practice less traditional thinking.

At Pathrise, we are focused on helping our fellows with the entire job search. Part of that is mastering the technical interview and so we recommend that software engineers in the program practice these types of questions as much as possible so they can go into their interviews with confidence. Sometimes, fellows come back from technical interviews saying that the problem they were assigned was similar to a problem they did in practice, so it is extremely important to utilize online practice platforms like HackerRank.

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 want to work with our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with your software engineer interviews or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow.

Apply today.

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