Photo of a review of HackerRank as a software engineer interview prep tool

A review of HackerRank as a software engineer interview prep tool

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.

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 leader of technical skill assessments for developers. Many of the top tech companies use HackerRank when giving coding challenges and performing technical interviews for their candidates.

They also have practice questions for software engineers looking to learn new languages and skills. In addition, people who want to prepare for upcoming technical interviews can benefit. Their questions are classified by skill level in data structures, algorithms, and general math and in a variety of languages. HackerRank also has a variety of contests and a job board.

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 benefit.

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 and 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

There are other websites that compile software engineering questions, similar to HackerRank. A good option is AlgoExpert, which is a platform where software engineers can practice questions that cover a variety of interview topics.

Leetcode is another well known alternative. Most people who use Leetcode feel that the questions are more geared towards real work. Therefore, they are often better practice for technical interviews. Software engineers can use the tracks offered by Educative to brush up on skills or practice for specific-language interviews.

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. Similarly, Codebasil features questions written by software engineers at top tech companies like Facebook, Apple, and Amazon.

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. For people looking to prep with real world problems, CodeKata provides challenges that mimic requests from real tech companies. With exercises in Python and JavaScript for beginners and advanced engineers, CheckiO is a good free resource to check out.

InterviewBit is similar to HackerRank, as well, but they are an Indian-based company, focused on Indian users. They compile their questions into tracks, such as systems design, programming, and databases. You can also check out CodeChef and Quastor for a free online community and platform to practice software engineering technical questions.

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 in preparation for their technical interviews. The questions are typically puzzle-based, which can be good for people who are looking to advance their problem-solving and 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 young 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 any of our advisors 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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