Entering the workforce with a brand new computer science degree means preparing for both technical and personal interview questions. Are you well-versed in Big O? Do you know how to solve a recursive staircase problem? Have you ever worked as part of a team?
If you're applying to positions that are looking for candidates with computer science degrees, you can expect questions about not only Big O and staircases, but also trees, arrays, algorithms and programming language proficiency.
Computer science jobs can range from software engineer to database administrator, but no matter the role, you'll be asked technical interview questions that probe the depths of your knowledge to see if you can handle the job's duties.
The key to a successful interview is to do enough research to prepare yourself for the types of questions you'll encounter. Start with the job description and look at all the terms they name.
Below are five examples of the types of interview questions for computer science majors you're likely to encounter. And If you're still looking for work and applying for jobs, put our Resume Templates and Cover Letter Templates to work to speed your applications across the finish line.
1. The behavior assessment
Talk about a time when you made a mistake. How did you handle it?
Have you ever worked as part of a team? How did you handle conflicts with other team members?
Behavioral questions are designed to figure out how you handle stress, challenges and conflicts. The STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Results) provides an excellent roadmap for answering these types of questions.
For instance, let's say you worked on a group project building a sample website for a company, and one person kept blowing their deadlines.
Situation: I was assigned to be in a group with three other students to create a website for a class.
Task: Since I had the most experience coding, I volunteered to take that role, while the others took on various aspects of the project, from design and wireframe to writing copy and finding images to testing the final site. As the coder, my part of the process relied on the wireframe and sitemap, along with the content.
Action: The person tasked with the writing kept missing deadlines, so I communicated directly with that person to nudge them along. When that didn't work, I looped in the rest of the group to see if they could help with the task because they were finished with their assignments. I continued to code the website using placeholder text that I wrote. Eventually, we got the final copy, and it was excellent.
Results: We hit our project deadline and received an A on the project. The team member apologized for missing the first two deadlines and thanked me for not losing my cool or getting mad, as it was already a stressful semester.
This answer shows that you are a good team player and can hold others accountable while still staying on track with your responsibilities and pushing to hit the final deadline.
2. The brain teaser
How many ping-pong balls can fit in a 747 airplane?
Brain-teaser questions are designed to see how you think — not whether you can get an answer right. For instance, in this case, you'd talk through your logic on how to find the answer, step by step, using assumptions. Assume ping-pong balls are a specific volume based on their approximate size. Do the same for the interior of an airplane, account for the seats, etc.
As you work through the problem, your interviewer will get a chance to watch your brain in action. It's not about the final answer so much as to see your process.
3. Basic technical questions
What is your favorite programming language?
What experience do you have with Unix, scripting or SQL?
What do you know about databases and Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) frameworks such as Hibernate?
Technical interview questions for computer science majors assess standard knowledge of data programs and languages that the job will require. It's essential to research the company thoroughly, so you know if it is service-based or product-based.
If they sell their own software as a service, they won't expect you to be an expert in their proprietary software, but they will want you to be an expert in the programming language in which it's written. Knowing that sort of technical detail is essential before going into the interview.
4. In-depth coding questions
Write a program to find the lowest common ancestor in a binary tree. Write a program to reverse this array of numbers.
You must prepare thoroughly for coding tests. Logan Roberts, who graduated with a computer science degree from The Citadel in May 2019, went through Amazon's grueling coding interview. It took him four hours.
"The coding test was the most daunting part of the job-hunting process," he says. "I did fine on the test and made it past that." But Roberts ended up taking a job with a smaller intelligence consulting firm in DC that had a more informal approach to interviewing.
"The smaller companies, like the one I took a job with, just talk about the company and see if you're a good fit," Roberts says.
Many programmers recommend spending time on Leetcode and solving sample problems from real computer science interview questions. The site also ranks the frequency that each question appears on coding tests and provides a discussion forum to share information.
Another excellent way to bone up on your skills is via GitHub. This robust project management tool has millions of users, but it also offers a free personal account option that allows you to see developers building open source programs in real-time. GitHub is a great way to acquire new knowledge that will help you prepare for a big coding interview.
5. Do you have any questions for us?
Yes, you do! You always have questions at the end of the interview.
As you research the company to prepare for the interview, take notes. Think about what questions you have and keep a list. Take the list with you to the interview. When it comes time for this inevitable question, you can consider what didn't get answered during the interview and ask what questions are left. Stay away from questions about salary at this point, as it's too soon to discuss those numbers.
Also, have a few general questions ready: When will you be ready to decide on this position? Do you think I'm a good fit for the job?
Still trying to land an interview for your dream job? Our Resume Builder can help you create a professional resume that highlights your skills and experience. Our Cover Letter Builder helps you show your passion for the job, and helps you demonstrate why you're the best fit for the position.