LeetCode For Interview Preparation: Everything To Know

LeetCode (LC) is a popular online platform that software engineers use to practice coding interview problems and prepare for software engineer technical interviews. LeetCode provides thousands of questions, each tagged with relevant information such as their difficulty and the types of companies that ask questions like it. Additionally, there is a strong community on LeetCode that provides solutions and support to answer LeetCode questions both on the platform and on other platforms like YouTube.

How to use LeetCode for Interview Preparation

In this article, we’re going to discuss what LeetCode is in more detail, explain its key features, discuss how you can get better at LeetCode, and talk about what good alternatives to LeetCode are.

What Is LeetCode?

LeetCode (abbreviated as LC) is a popular online coding interview preparation platform that is extensively used by software engineers to practice coding interview questions for coding interviews. It offers an extensive database of over 2,000 questions (in standardized difficulty levels of easy, medium, and hard) that cover the fundamental data structures and algorithms in computer science, and its platform is compatible with popular programming languages, including Python, JavaScript, Java, and C++.

LeetCode has developed an extensive ecosystem of community contributions toward the answers to its technical questions. This includes a large number of high-quality text and video explanations, both within the platform (through its discussion sections) and through other platforms like YouTube, to assist users in understanding the optimal approaches to solving problems.

As a result of LeetCode’s effectiveness in preparing software engineers to solve software engineer interview problems, it’s the most popular and most used resource for preparing to pass coding interviews.

LeetCode homepage with questions listed

What Are The Key Features Of LeetCode?

The 8 key features of LeetCode are listed below.

  • Extensive questions bank: LeetCode has over 2,000 relevant questions for the purposes of preparing for coding interviews.
  • Multi-language support: LeetCode’s coding platform allows you to use any popular programming language to solve its coding problems.
  • Company-tagged questions: LeetCode’s questions are all tagged with labels that contain information about the companies that ask similar questions.
  • Frequency-based sorting: LeetCode’s questions are able to be sorted by the frequency they come up within coding interviews, so you can be sure that you’re only doing relevant questions.
  • Detailed solutions: LeetCode has many solutions provided in ways that address different learning styles (like written and video) and different programming languages (like Python and JavaScript). 
  • Mock interviews: LeetCode has a mock interview simulation feature that allows you to complete coding interview questions under the pressure of a time limit, similar to an interview
  • Weekly coding contests: LeetCode has weekly coding contests that you can do to practice coding interview problems and win prizes.
  • Dark mode: LeetCode provides you with the ability to use its site in a dark theme called “dark mode.”

It’s important to understand that some of these features are provided for free as part of LeetCode’s free plan, and some of the features are provided as a part of LeetCode’s paid subscription service called LeetCode premium.

Is Getting LeetCode Premium Necessary?

Getting LeetCode Premium is not strictly necessary for coding interview preparation, but it provides a significantly enriched environment for those targeting high-profile tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Meta. For a monthly subscription of $35 or an annual package of $159, users unlock features like exclusive video solutions, the ability to filter questions by company and frequency, and access to structured curriculums through premium explore cards.

The image below depicts the different subscription packages you can purchase on LeetCode’s official website.

LeetCode website's LeetCode premium options

These features enable a more targeted and efficient approach to preparing for technical interviews, making the subscription a valuable investment for those committed to landing competitive software engineering roles in tech. So, make sure to do your own research on whether LeetCode Premium is worth it for you, based on its features.

How Do You Enable Dark Mode On LeetCode?

To enable dark mode on LeetCode, you’ll want to log in, go to the appearance tab, and enable “dark mode” from there. Enabling dark mode on LeetCode is easier to do once you see a visual example. Also, the steps to enable light mode on LeetCode follow the same steps, except for selecting light mode at the end.

The image below depicts the LeetCode homepage with “Dark Mode” enabled.

LeetCode dark mode enabled on the home page

Are LeetCode Mock Interviews Worth It?

LeetCode mock interviews are worth it because they closely simulate real technical interviews, incorporating time constraints and question difficulty similar to what candidates experience in actual interviews. These mock sessions offer immediate performance feedback, allowing you to identify and address weaknesses in your coding and problem-solving skills.

Additionally, the mock interviews cover company-specific questions, enhancing your targeted preparation for interviews with specific tech companies.

How Do You Get Better At LeetCode As A Beginner?

To get better at LeetCode as a beginner, you’ll want to make sure that you know how to start practicing coding questions on LeetCode. This involves understanding the fundamentals of programming in a single programming language like Python, JavaScript, Java, or C++, understanding fundamental data structures, and understanding common algorithms.

In other words, starting LeetCode as a beginner requires strategic practice and a review of coding skills. However, once you start practicing coding questions on LeetCode, it tends to get easier over time as you recognize essential LeetCode problem patterns and understand which questions are important to practice.

Does LeetCode Get Easier Over Time?

Yes, LeetCode gets easier over time as you learn and memorize the most common patterns that are used to solve LeetCode problems. The vast majority of LeetCode problems, of all difficulties, can be solved by applying a combination of one to three common LeetCode solution patterns. 

Are You Expected To Solve LeetCode Mediums In Interviews?

Yes, you are expected to solve LeetCode medium questions in interviews for software engineering roles for junior, mid-level, and senior-level roles. LeetCode medium is the difficulty of questions that are commonly asked throughout all of the interviewing stages like online coding assessments, technical phone screenings, and onsite interviews. 

Are You Expected To Solve LeetCode Hards In Interviews?

No, you are generally not expected to solve LeetCode hard questions in interviews for software engineering roles for junior, mid-level, and senior-level roles. LeetCode hard is the difficulty of questions that are uncommon to ask in coding interviews because it’s difficult to solve without understanding advanced topics beyond the reasonable expectations of a general software engineer candidate.

However, some hyper-competitive companies in the HFT (high-frequency trading) space may ask you difficult “LeetCode hard” questions as a part of their interview process.

What Are The Most 8 Important LeetCode Patterns To Know?

The 8 most common LeetCode patterns that are used in interviews are the two pointer, fast and slow pointer, binary search, sliding window, recursion, depth-first search, breadth-first search, and topological sort patterns. Learning these patterns will greatly improve your chances of passing coding interviews because it’s rare for an interview problem to not cover at least one of these 8 common LeetCode patterns for solving problems.

Is Dynamic Programming An Important LeetCode Pattern For Interviews?

Yes. Dynamic programming is an important LeetCode pattern for interviews. However, it’s important to understand that you’re only typically asked easier (LeetCode easy and LeetCode medium) dynamic programming questions during interviews at the vast majority of companies. Most of the hard LeetCode dynamic programming questions aren’t appropriate for an interview setting because they’re unreasonably difficult to solve in a short period of time. 

What LeetCode Questions Should You Practice?

You should practice the type of LeetCode questions that appear on interviews the most if your goal is to pass a coding interview and get an offer as a software engineer. There are many curated LeetCode question lists that serve this purpose like the Blind 75, Grind 75, NeetCode 150, and LeetCode 75.

The most popular list of LeetCode questions that people do is the blind 75 to prepare for coding interviews. It was created by an ex-Facebook (ex-Meta) software engineer.

Do Companies Ask Exact LeetCode Questions?

Sometimes. Companies sometimes ask exact LeetCode questions as they appear on LeetCode. However, this is not common because companies usually rephrase questions in more ambiguous ways when they ask their candidates interview questions. Alternatively, companies will stop asking their candidate questions that appear on LeetCode because they may have memorized the solution.

Do Companies Ask LeetCode Easy?

Yes. Companies ask LeetCode easy questions during coding interviews. For junior software engineer candidates, you may be expected to solve 2 LeetCode easy problems in 30 to 45 minutes. For more senior software engineer candidates, you may be provided a LeetCode easy problem to solve as a warmup to a harder main LeetCode-type question.

Do Companies Ask LeetCode Medium?

Yes. Companies ask LeetCode medium questions during coding interviews. This is the most popular type of coding interview question difficulty that you should expect to be able to solve during a technical interview because it’s asked throughout technical interviews for Fortune 500 and big tech companies.

Do Companies Ask LeetCode Hard?

No. Companies generally do not ask LeetCode hard questions during coding interviews. LeetCode hard questions typically are too involved for the purposes of evaluating whether a candidate is qualified for a software engineering role at a company. Many times, LeetCode hard questions require you to know some sort of “trick” in order to solve the problem, which is what you don’t want in an interview question.

What Are Good Alternatives To LeetCode For Interview Preparation?

Good alternatives to LeetCode for interview preparation include platforms like HackerRank, Codecademy, AlgoExpert, CodeForces, KhanAcademy, Codewars, and Project Euler. These seven alternatives to LeetCode for interview preparation are useful in different ways such as teaching you the fundamentals of programming and computer science with Khan Academy and giving you harder problems to complete with CodeForces.

Is HackerRank A Good Alternative To LeetCode?

HackerRank is a good alternative to LeetCode. One of the main features of using HackerRank vs. LeetCode is the ability to have an alternative platform for solving coding interview questions in a format that’s more similar to what you’d receive in an online assessment interview.

The image below depicts HackerRank’s official website homepage.

HackerRank website with 2 preparation kits for interviews

Is AlgoExpert A Good Alternative To LeetCode?

AlgoExpert is a good alternative to LeetCode. One of the main features of using AlgoExpert vs. LeetCode is the ability to have an alternative platform that provides high-quality video explanations for all its questions which cover everything relevant to coding interviews.

The image below depicts AlgoExpert’s official website homepage.

algoexpert coding interview course

Is Codewars A Good Alternative To LeetCode?

Codewars is a good alternative to LeetCode. One of the main features of using Codewars vs. LeetCode is the ability to have easier questions that you can use to practice a programming language practicing data structure and algorithm interview questions on LeetCode.

The image below depicts Codewar’s official website homepage.

Codewars home page website

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