CPFAQ: How Do Coding Interviews Differ from Coding Contests?

Egg

I’m working on a project this year to build a competitive programming FAQ. This is one in a series of articles describing the research, writing, and tool creation process. To read the whole series, see my CPFAQ category page.

It’s no secret that the popularity of competitive programming depends partly on the popularity of the coding interview, the ubiquitous interview format in which interviewers present candidates with a problem and ask them to to solve it using code. Like candidates for software jobs, contestants in a programming contest also face tough coding puzzles. But programming contests and coding interviews are not the same thing. Even in a company-sponsored contest like Google Code Jam, doing well doesn’t get you a job offer, though it can get you invited for an interview.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about whether programmers should see competitive programming as a way to get a programming job. This week, I’ll go into some similarities and differences between programming contests and coding interviews.

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CPFAQ: A Topcoder Chat with Petr Mitrichev

Petr Mitrichev

I’m working on a project this year to build a competitive programming FAQ. This is one in a series of articles describing the research, writing, and tool creation process. To read the whole series, see my CPFAQ category page.

On September 20, 2008, Petr Mitrichev took part in a Topcoder Spotlight Session where he answered questions from competitive programming enthusiasts. I ran across a reference to this session on Quora while researching another topic and thought it would make a good addition to my current series on how top competitive programmers practice.

The transcript below is an edited version of the original. I included just the questions that Petr answered directly, and I rearranged the chat order to put his answer directly after the corresponding question. I also fixed spelling, grammar, and word choice, and converted textspeak to standard English. I left in the original user handles, which should help if you want to find something in the original chat. I hope my edited version captures the essence of the original while being easier to read.

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