Man in cape for Coderust course

Coderust: Hacking the Coding Interview review [FAANG interview prep]

Coding interviews are a pain in the butt.

Frequently, the questions asked have nothing to do with the tasks you’ll be performing on the job as a software engineer. When’s the last time you needed to serialize and deserialize a binary tree when debugging that Vue ecommerce app?

But these types of questions are becoming more popular among employers, and are the de facto practice at the FAANGs. If you want to pass their coding interview, you have to play their game. So where do you start?

Coderust dropped a course exactly for that purpose. Hacking the Coding Interview walks you through over 80 problems, showing you their solutions with step-by-step visualizations. With coding playgrounds that run in the browser, there is zero configuration time and you can modify your solutions easily.

Today we’re taking a look behind Hacking the Coding Interview, what to expect, and whether or not you can benefit from it.

Disclosure: I’m an affiliate of Educative.io and may get compensated if you buy something. Read my disclosure for more details.

Vital Stats

  • 83 lessons
  • 414 challenges
  • 548 code playgrounds
  • 52 code snippets
  • 1525 illustrations

Major sections include:

  • Arrays
  • Linked Lists
  • Math and Stats
  • String
  • Trees
  • Stacks and Queues
  • Graphs
  • Back Tracking
  • Dynamic Programming
  • Miscellaneous

Table 1: Coderust sections and challenges

Coderust Sample Problem

Now let’s take a look at a sample problem you’ll encounter in Hacking the Coding Interview. Each problem starts off with a table of contents so you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Implement Quicksort

Given an integer array, sort it in ascending order using the quicksort algorithm.

Right away you’re given two “freebie” hints: 1) use the divide and conquer strategy 2) use Hoare’s algorithm. Then, it’s time to have fun in the built-in coding playground with your language of choice:

Coderust Quicksort challenge with multiple language support screenshot

Then, you’re provided a written overview of how a quicksort algorithm works. Finally, you’re provided another coding playground that contains a possible solution:

coderust hacking the coding interview javascript console
Controls for running, saving, and resetting your code are right in your browser.

Of course, you should always optimize your answer. Try coming up with a few and see how they perform! There is a timer in each playground for that purpose. The implement quicksort challenge is less “bulky” than many of the other questions here, but the layout and workflow is essentially the same for each of them.

Coderust Pros & Cons

There are lots of courses out there that show you how to solve computer science challenges. So what makes Coderust’s Hacking the Coding Interview stand out? And what makes it not so great? Let’s look at its pros and cons.

Pro: Multiple Programming Language Support

Most prep courses offer solutions in only one language. For example, the highly acclaimed Cracking the Coding Interview book only includes solutions in Java. But Coderust expands to five languages. That means you can test your solutions in C++, Java, Python, JavaScript and/or Ruby. This is the case for every challenge, whether you’re asked to rotate an array, implement quicksort or find the smallest common number.

Pro: Feature rich

Platforms like leetcode and codewars can help prepare you for real-life interview coding questions. But one of their downsides is that they don’t walk you through the solutions in explicit detail. This is where the Coderust course outshines the free platforms.

From its organization and diversity of topics, to the code playgrounds, code snippers and illustrations, it’s a classic case of “you get what you pay for.” There are over 1500 illustrations including slideshows that should you exactly how things work. For example, while the quicksort algorithm is explained with text in bullet points, it’s also depicted in a 22-slide illustration:

coderust problem illustrating quicksort algorithm
Slide 1 of 22 that illustrates how the quicksort algorithm works.

Pro: Fair Pricing & Subscription Option

From a financial investment standpoint, the nice thing about Coderust’s Hacking the Coding Interview is that you can buy a monthly subscription to Educative. That way, you can take this course and dozens of others as needed.

It’s also part of a learning track called Ace the Java Coding Interview, consisting of 8 other courses in addition to this one. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the subscription even if you just need to prepare for a technical interview. But if you only need this course, you can buy it a la carte too.

Con: Perpetuates an impractical ritual

Asking a candidate to find Kth permutation at an interview is nothing less than a high-tech hazing ritual. These questions almost always have nothing to do with your daily duties as a software engineer.

Unfortunately, interview prep for software engineers that centers on computer science trivia is now a cottage industry. And although a solid course, Coderust’s Hacking the Coding Interview only further contributes to the inane practices originally adopted by FAANGs, and now used by many other companies too.

Coderust vs Grokking

Let’s take a look at how Hacking the Coding Interview by Coderust compares to Grokking the Coding Interview: Patterns for Coding Questions by Design Gurus.

coderust vs grokking vital stats for coderust
coderust vs grokking vital stats for grokking

Software engineer interview prep materials are competitive.

And Coderust has plenty of competition just on the Educative platform alone. Their biggest rival is Design Gurus, whose Grokking series includes fan favorite Grokking the Coding Interview: Patterns for Coding Questions.

And while Grokking is a high quality series, it targets intermediate developers while Coderust is geared towards beginners.

Additionally, the Coderust course emphasizes challenges over lessons, whereas Grokking weaves in a lesson (often multiple) for each coding challenge.

Both courses offer multiple programming language support, but Grokking doesn’t support Ruby.

The Coderust course also has nearly 7x more illustrations than the Grokking course. If you’re a visual learner, Coderust has the clear advantage here over Grokking.

Most significantly, the Coderust course focuses on solving very specific coding challenges, while Grokking teaches you patterns to solve problems thrown your way.

For example, Coderust wants you to reverse a singly linked list, while Grokking introduces you to the Fast & Slow pointers pattern. This is a pointer algorithm that uses two pointers to move through an array/sequence/linked list and you can use it to solve many problems.

If you are a beginner, a visual learner, or need Ruby support choose Coderust.

If you’re more advanced, and need to focus more on patterns rather than implementation, choose Grokking.

Summary

Hacking the Coding Interview by Coderust is an ambitious entry into the FAANG interview prep world. Its strongest selling points are its selection of programming language options, diversity of questions, and visual aids such as illustrations and code snippets.

Despite perpetuating an impractical ritual, this course is highly useful for people wanting a FAANG-level job where they are certain to encounter computer science trivia questions.

And while there are numerous other platforms like leetcode that provide similar coding challenges, the Coderust course is more illustrative and descriptive with step-by-step explanations.

  1. What is Coderust?

    Coderust is the company that created their flagship software engineer interview prep course, Hacking the Coding Interview. It's available on Educative.io as either a single purchase or as part of their subscription service.

  2. What's the difference between Hacking the Coding Interview by Coderust and Grokking the Coding Interview: Patterns for Coding Questions by Design Gurus?

    Coderust's Hacking the Coding Interview course is geared towards juniors seeking FAANG-level jobs, visual learners, and also supports Ruby in its interactive coding environments.
    On the other hand, Grokking the Coding Interview: Patterns for Coding Questions is geared towards intermediate developers, and teaches you patterns rather than focusing heavily on implementation.

  3. How is Coderust different than platforms like leetcode or codewars?

    Whereas leetcode and codewars can sometimes feel “bare bones,” the Coderust course is more explicit with how things work and includes more educational aids like illustrations and coding snippets.

Pros
  • Multiple programming language support
  • Feature rich
  • Fair price and subscription option also available
Cons
  • Perpetuates an impractical ritual of asking questions not relevant to the job position
Review Overview
Content
Features
Organization
Interactivity
SUMMARY

Hacking the Coding Interview by Coderust is an ambitious entry into the FAANG interview prep world. Its strongest selling points are its selection of programming language options, diversity of questions, and visual aids such as illustrations and code snippets.

Despite perpetuating an impractical ritual, Hacking the Coding Interview is highly useful for people seeking a FAANG-level job.

4.5