who is gayle laakmann mcdowell? [author of cracking the coding interview] with faded background

Who is Gayle Laakmann McDowell? [Cracking the Coding Interview Author]

Who is Gayle Laakmann McDowell? Some know her as an author, others as a guest teacher for a reputable coding site.

A few have met her when interviewing for one of the major FAANG companies.

In addition, some have worked alongside her as a software engineer.

And some even turn to her to tell a killer bedtime story (we’ll explain later).

There are many sides to Gayle Laakmann McDowell.

And today we’re going to look at most of them.

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TLDR: Who is Gayle Laakmann McDowell?

Gayle is a teacher, former software engineer at a couple of FAANGs, ex-interviewer at Google, and founder of CareerCup.com.

But she’s also an author. And is probably best known for her book Cracking the Coding Interview.

Gayle Laakmann McDowell
โœ…Software Engineer
โœ…Company Founder

Who is Gayle Laakmann McDowell?

Gayle Laakmann McDowell is many things: teacher, author, software engineer, interviewer, and company founder.

So why don’t we take a closer look and see what she’s all about.


Gayle Laakmann McDowell has a Bachelors of Science in Engineering (BSE) and Master of Engineering (MSE) in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition, she’s got an Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Wharton School.


Before McDowell became an author, she was an interviewer at Google where she interviewed hundreds of software engineers.

In addition, she worked on a hiring committee where she evaluated hiring packets well into the thousands.

Software Engineer

McDowell worked as a software engineer at 3 FAANG-level companies: Google, Microsoft and Apple.

Gayle Laakmann McDowell: Author

Gayle Laakmann McDowell is perhaps best known for her tech career books:

Cracking the Coding Interview

Cracking the Coding Interview is meant to prepare you for your FAANG-level interview.

The first part of the book covers the interview process.

In addition, you’ll study:

  • special situations
  • behavioral questions
  • technical questions
  • the offer

And beyond.

Then you’ll move onto the second part of the book which contains 189 programming problems. You’ll look at big O notation, data structures and algorithms.

These are problems that are actually asked at FAANG interviews.

There’s a walkthrough and solution for each problem.

Also, you’ll learn 5 strategies to take on algorithm questions.

Cracking the Coding Interview book laying on dry cracked earth

Note that the majority of of the solutions are presented in Java.

Because Gayle has worked for various FAANG companies, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how some of these companies operate.

Read our full review of Cracking the Coding Interview.

Cracking the Tech Career

Cracking the Tech Career is the follow up to The Google Resume, which you’ll read more about in just a minute.

Cracking the Tech Career cover with blue background and diagram

Here you’ll gain access to insider tips on how to get hired at FAANG-level tech companies.

This book isn’t geared solely towards programming. It also covers other facets within a tech career.

First, you’ll learn how to get your foot in the door with a killer resume.

Then you’ll learn how to pass the coding, technical and estimation questions.

Cracking the Tech Career also takes an extensive look at how to navigate game design.

In addition, you’ll learn about some of the most common career paths you can expect to find in a typical FAANG company.

Finally, you’ll see what top companies are looking for. Then you’ll learn how to become exactly that.

So with Cracking the Tech Career, you’ll learn not only what skill sets companies are looking for.

But you’ll also learn how to be the perfect culture fit.

Cracking the PM Interview

Cracking the PM Interview is co-authored by McDowell and Jackie Bavaro, a product manager at a leading startup.

Here is where you’ll learn how to nail the product management interview for a tech startup or larger company.

First you’ll learn how the role of product manager differs depending on the company.

This includes the functions of the PM, myths about product management and beyond.

Then you’ll learn how to craft a stellar PM resume based on your experience.

More importantly, you’ll learn how to get experience.

In addition, you’ll learn how to knock the interview out of the ball park with questions on:

  • estimation
  • behavior
  • case
  • product
  • technical

And finally, you’ll work on your pitch to get hired as a PM.

There’s also a section on tips and tricks for career advancement. This section includes interviews with higher ups at places like Yahoo, Microsoft and Airbnb.

Cracking the PM Career

Cracking the PM Career is the most recent book by McDowell and Bavaro.

A natural progression from Cracking the PM Interview, here is where you’ll learn the skills, and practices to becoming a top product manager.

Here you’ll learn 6 key skills to improve your PM career.

First, you’ll learn about product skills. This includes performing research and data analysis to make better product decisions.

Next you’ll read about execution skills. So here you’ll learn how to effectively run your team to deliver quality, efficient projects.

After that, you’ll hone in on strategic skills. These will help with giving your team direction while optimizing your goals.

In addition, you’ll work on your leadership skills. Hear you’ll learn how to lead effectively using mentorship, communication and motivation.

Moving on, you’ll learn a set of management skills like coaching to better lead people.

Finally, you’ll examine the career ladder. This will help you set goals and set the path for personal advancement.

The Google Resume

The Google Resume is a little outdated, published in 2011. But we wanted to include all of McDowell’s works.

And much of the book is still relevant today.

It takes a mentorship approach from McDowell who has worked at Microsoft, Apple and Google.

Whether you’re seeking a major role or internship, you’ll learn how to become a superior candidate.

The Google Resume contains over 150 “action words” to make your resume more enticing.

There are also some sample answers of how to answer particularly difficult interview questions.

In addition to basic resume help, you’ll learn how to land an interview and create a lasting impression.

Plus you’ll be able to navigate hiring procedures typically expected at interviews for programmers and game devs.

Finally, you’ll learn how to negotiate offers.

The Bedtime Bunny

Maybe you didn’t know this, but McDowell recently partnered up with her sister to create a children’s book: The Bedtime Bunny.

Not to be dismissed, this book takes a reward-based approach for getting children to go to bed… And stay there.

Included with the book is a novelty carrot which will prove pivotal in the effectiveness of the story.

Gayle Laakmann McDowell: Teacher

When she’s not busy writing books, you can find Gayle Laakmann McDowell appearing as a guest educator for HackerRank YouTube videos.

Most of these videos clock in at under 10 minutes.

And much of what she discusses can be found in Cracking the Coding Interview:

  • data structures
  • algorithm strategies
  • big-O notation
  • behavioral questions

And more.

So the videos can be a strong companion to the book.

Also, you can find her giving lectures on the engineering interview process or creating a better interview.

You can also find Gayle Laakmann McDowell teaching lessons on the HackerRank YouTube channel

Gayle Laakmann McDowell: founder of CareerCup

CareerCup.com is a website dedicated to helping developers ace their programming interviews.

Here you’ll find some of Gayle Laakmann McDowell’s books.

You’ll also find a series of mock interview videos.

In addition, there’s a forum where interviewees submit questions they were asked at their interviews.

So there’s a constantly evolving and updated list of questions that are actually asked at FAANG interviews.

You can also sign up for your own mock interviews on CareerCup. These interviews are performed by engineers from some of the top companies in tech.

These engineers are also available to review your resume if the free resume tips on the site aren’t enough.

They also offer career coaching.

Gayle Laakmann McDowell: Conclusion

There are many faces of Gayle Laakmann McDowell: teacher, author, software engineer, interviewer, and company founder.

So how do you know Gayle?

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