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The Essential Guide to Coding Bootcamp Interview Questions

August 18, 2021

You've found your perfect coding bootcamp. You've followed a guide on how to choose a coding bootcamp, considered what direction you'd want to pursue as a software engineer, and now you are preparing for the coding bootcamp interview. Perhaps you are yet to apply, and you just want to get a general understanding of a coding bootcamp and the interview process? In either case, this guide will help with your interview prep.

Most coding bootcamps are intense training programs designed to teach skills like data science, full-stack web development, UX/UI design, programming and languages like PHP, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, Python, Python, Django and more. In this vein, it means they want to interview and accept students who show a strong interest in coding prior to accepting them. This benefits both the student and the bootcamp. Maximizing the chances for student success is in the best interest of both parties.

This is why the programming process is so important. This article provides an overview of coding bootcamp interview questions and tips on how to ace your interview. Prior to diving into the interview process, let’s review why bootcamp interviews - unlike many undergraduate applications you may have completed - are taking place at all.

Why Coding Bootcamps Perform Interviews

Admission into a bootcamp typically requires an interview or assessment as part of the application process. The interview process is a key part of the coding bootcamp experience and is your chance to show the admissions team that you are not only capable but that you also have the work ethic and desire to learn to code.

Considering the time and resources you’d be investing in a full or part-time program, it’s in the best interest of both you and a coding bootcamp to make sure you have the foundational skills to be able to handle the work. The good news is that you’re not on your own. Coding bootcamps typically provide or recommend refresher courses to prepare you prior to your application and interview. For example, Fullstack Academy provides free, self-paced prep courses to introduce or refresh the prospective developer on the fundamentals of HTML, CSS, & Javascript. Being able to understand syntax and write simple code will likely be asked of you prior to admission.

Woman interviewed by coding bootcamp instructors

Remember that a bootcamp interview is quite different from a traditional job interview. This interview aims to look for people who are passionate about coding and have a desire to create useful applications on a small and large scale. There are a lot of questions from those who haven’t experienced a programming interview before, but provided you've been improving your basic technical skill, it's not something to worry about.

Understanding the interview process

First, you must understand how the interview process is carried out. Coding bootcamp interview questions are often a two-part process:

  1. Telling the interviewer a little about yourself.
  2. Handling a basic coding question and completing an assessment.

The first part is meant to get to know you and learn more about your background and skills to decide whether or not you would be a good fit for the program. The second part is meant to determine your level of skill and knowledge to gauge how much time you will need for the coding bootcamp, as well as what resources you will need from the program to succeed.

What kind of questions can you expect in a coding bootcamp interview?

In a coding bootcamp interview, you may encounter a variety of challenging questions. If you’re not prepared to field them, you might stumble through your coding bootcamp interview.

Bootcamp interview questions are designed to identify how much you know about the fundamentals of coding and to gauge your passion for learning to be a software developer. It’s important to prepare for these questions in advance so you can be ready when an interviewer asks about them.

Let’s break down the questions into two parts: Technical questions and Non-Technical questions.

Technical Questions

Technical questions are simply used to understand how knowledgeable and passionate you are for the specific role you are applying for. You are going to attend their program to advance your coding skills, so they assume that you are already familiar with basic coding, so you will be tested on that. The technical interview will often include talking about your background and knowledge of programming languages and concepts.

While some of these questions are based on your previous experience with coding, others are based on a basic understanding of programming logic, data structures, and algorithms.

The following are examples of common technical questions that may be asked during coding bootcamp interviews.

  • What languages do you know? How would you go about solving this problem in this language?
  • What is the difference between binary and hexadecimal?
  • What is the difference between a variable and a constant?
  • How would you “QA” your code?
  • What’s the role of CSS in front-end development?
  • Find the minimum and maximum element in an array

In most cases, you’ll undergo a technical coding challenge to complete your interview. Some coding schools will use an online whiteboard where you work with an interviewer on a problem and they watch how you solve it. Here, you need to be able to both explain what you’re coding and complete the assignment at the same time.

If you’ve been completing the preparation courses before your interview, then simply review the basics and practice solving some more programming problems before the technical interview.

Non-Technical Questions

The purpose of these kinds of questions is to gauge candidates' personalities and skill sets to determine their fit for the position.

Common Non-Technical questions include:

  • Tell us why you want to pursue a career in software engineering.
  • What type of projects have you worked on and what are you most excited about learning?
  • What types of jobs are you interested in after becoming a bootcamp grad?
  • Do you have any previous experience in coding? (It’s OK if not. Many working professionals are pursuing a coding education because they’re transitioning their careers.)

Be open and honest about what you hope to gain from the bootcamp and why you’re there. Ensure you communicate to the interviewer that you’re interested in becoming a software developer, communicate your eventual path whether it be data science, full stack development, cyber security, or UX. While the bootcamp curriculum may give you exposure to all of them, it’s worth showing you have a point of view on where you want to be in six months.

In the next section, we will be looking at common coding bootcamp interview mistakes you should avoid.

Tips on how to ace your coding bootcamp interviews

Interviewing for a coding bootcamp can be overwhelming. There's a lot of pressure to perform well and it's not always easy to know what is expected of you. There are ways, however, to prepare yourself and show your best self in the interview.

Here are some tips to help you nail your coding bootcamp interview;

Do some background work before the interview. It's necessary to research the company you are interviewing at so that you can get a hint of what to expect in the interview. A lot of companies have specific cultures so a quick Google search should give you the necessary information on this company's culture. This way, you get to learn a lot of things about the company and the role you are looking forward to.

Prepare using a mock interview. Many people become nervous or get anxious before an interview. Practicing your responses can lower that level of anxiety. Grab a friend or family member and have them perform a mock interview. Use the questions above, your research on the exact questions asked of previous applicants at the bootcamp, and ask them to drill you on the technical interview questions.

Practice difficult coding questions. Review your past assessment from the bootcamp prep courses. Identify the hardest coding problem you encountered, remember how you solved it, and be able to explain your reasoning to yourself. We like Viking Code School’s approach to coding prep. They recommend you break down the problem and model how it’s supposed to work if you run into something too difficult.

Ensure you’re set for the interview. Coding bootcamp interviews are done in person or remotely over Zoom or Slack. As most bootcamps are currently operating remotely due to the pandemic, plan for Zoom. No matter what software they’re using, ensure you eliminate all distractions from your workplace so you can give full attention to the interviewer. Shut off any phone app alerts and make sure to silence texts.

Get Matched to a Coding Bootcamp

While this guide is geared toward students who are already deep into coding interview prep, many people remain undecided about which bootcamp is right for them. Since hundreds of in-person and online boot camps are being conducted in cities across the world, that makes sense.

We’ve built a quantitative and qualitative matching tool for students interested in completing a bootcamp to land a coding job. Click here to begin a search for the right coding bootcamp for you.