LeetCode Review: Why I Can’t Recommend LeetCode

June 8, 2020
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LeetCode is an excellent tool for honing your programming skills in preparation for your big tech interviews. However, because recruiters are looking for much more than just competent coders, we feel that LeetCode falls short in sufficiently preparing applicants to land their dream job. Instead, we recommend Tech Interview Pro, a proven program offering hundreds of coding walk-throughs that also prepares you for the soft side of the interview.

LeetCode is an online community designed to help you ace your technical interviews at big tech companies. It has a database of hundreds of coding problems, each of which is classified as Easy, Medium or Hard.

Here are some of the problem topics you’ll find on LeetCode:

Binary search treesData structuresLinked lists
Bit manipulationAlgorithmsBrain teasers
GraphsDynamic programmingDivide & conquer
ArraysQueuesMathematics

Advantages Of LeetCode

#1 Multiple Programming Languages

Most questions on LeetCode support multiple programming languages, so you can do them in the languages you know best and avoid unnecessary learning. 

LeetCode currently supports C, C#, C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, Python3, Ruby, MySQL, MS SQL, Oracle, Bash, Swift, Go, Scala, Kotlin, Rust, and PHP.

#2 Community Discussions

Aside from the coding problems itself, the LeetCode community is its most valuable asset. It’s the #1 thing users talk about, and it’s a great resource for getting insight into how others are solving problems and learning from others’ mistakes.

LeetCode Community
A few threads in the LeetCode community discussion board.

The LeetCode community also has special threads for things like Compensation, where you can post the compensation package you’ve been offered—including signing bonuses, stock options, and everything else—and get feedback and advice from the community.

A post within LeetCode’s Compensation thread about an offer from Amazon in Seattle.

LeetCode Premium

LeetCode Premium is LeetCode’s paid subscription, which currently costs $35/month or $159/year. It gives users access to premium problems and solutions, a built-in debugger, and interview simulations. 

Some of the problem sets you get access to with LeetCode Premium.

One thing I particularly like about LeetCode Premium is that it allows you to target specific companies—if you’re preparing for an upcoming interview with Facebook, you can choose to only see questions and mock interviews relevant to Facebook.

The data for this feature is crowdsourced and tends to be fairly accurate.

LeetCode Premium categorizes additional problem sets by company so you can practice the most relevant problems for your upcoming interviews at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Uber, Slack, and more.

LeetCode also has monthly coding challenges, which are a fun way to hone your skills quickly.

As I write this, LeetCode Premium offers more than 300 unique questions, including:

  • Customers Who Bought Products A and B but Not C
  • Check If a String Is a Valid Sequence from Root to Leaves Path in a Binary Tree
  • Find the Start and End Number of Continuous Ranges
  • Print Immutable Linked List in Reverse
  • Palindrome Removal
  • Minimum Time to Build Blocks
  • Missing Number In Arithmetic Progression

Is LeetCode Premium Worth It?

If all you’re looking for is a way to brush up your coding skills, LeetCode Premium is a great choice. It has a (nearly) endless amount of problems for you to work on, so you can spend months honing your skills.

But I still can’t recommend LeetCode (Premium or not), because while it will make you a better programmer, LeetCode will not land you a job in big tech.

LeetCode’s Biggest Weakness: It’s Only About The Code

Here’s something you probably don’t know about the FAANG hiring process:

The applicants who don’t receive job offers are no less capable than those who do.

The losers, just like the winners, also spent weeks and months honing their knowledge of recursion, data structures, hash tables, stacks, and queues on LeetCode.

The losers also got great grades at the top schools and, on the whole, are excellent programmers.

But what the losers don’t realize is that their programming knowledge had nothing to do with why they weren’t hired.

Because the reality of big tech is that hiring decisions come down to 90% fit and 10% code.

Of course your code needs to be good to get hired by Google or Facebook—we all know that.

But good code will only get your foot in the door.

There are still several other qualities you need to prove in order to get an offer.

Here are three of the biggest ones.

#1 Leadership

This is the #1 quality applicants overlook on their journey to getting hired.

Because what recruiters are really looking for is not your ability to be a strong junior engineer, but your ability to develop into a strong senior engineer.

They want to know that you have the empathy and the listening skills to lead a team of strangers, and that you’re willing to put in the work.

And if you can’t demonstrate that you’re a leader in your interview, it doesn’t matter how good your code is—you won’t be getting an offer.

#2 Teamwork & Communication

Teamwork and communication are two other necessary skill sets you won’t learn in LeetCode.

But just like leadership, you must demonstrate your teamwork and communication skills if you expect to get a FAANG offer.

Why?

Because building the world’s best technology is a team endeavor, so if you want to thrive in big tech, you need to prove yourself as a team player.

Don’t overlook the importance of this.

FAANG companies routinely pass on highly competent engineers solely because they haven’t shown that they’ll be productive members of a larger team.

Don’t be the genius engineer that gets overlooked. Be the genius team player that gets the job.

#3 Mastery Over Complexity & Ambiguity

It’s common for technical recruiters at big tech firms to give applicants extremely ambiguous problems to solve—just to see how they handle them.

So if you can’t walk the recruiter through a logical process for solving that problem, they’ll move on to the next applicant before you even leave the room.

To be clear, the sort of ambiguous problems I’m talking about aren’t at all like the problems you face in LeetCode. They’re much more open-ended, and there truly are no right answers for them.

These are the sort of questions you need a guide to help you navigate through. That’s why you need something more comprehensive than LeetCode if you want to give yourself the best chance at getting an offer.

LeetCode vs. Tech Interview Pro

There’s no doubt that LeetCode will help you polish your skills for the coding portion of your interview, but to neglect the rest of the process is just plain irresponsible.

That’s why we recommend Tech Interview Pro, a program designed by former software engineers at Facebook and Google who have compressed years of interview knowledge and experience into a single course.

Here are just a few of the reasons we recommend Tech Interview Pro over LeetCode.

#1 A Comprehensive Approach

Tech Interview Pro will coach you on all aspects of getting hired, not just your technical skills. And as more FAANG recruiters come forward and stress the importance of soft skills and leadership qualities in their hiring decisions, you can’t afford to overlook the human side of the hiring process any longer. 

Here’s a breakdown of Tech Interview Pro, with the non-technical modules bolded:

  1. Understanding The Interview Process
  2. Four Axes of the Interview
    1. Coding
    2. Data Structures & Algorithms
    3. Systems Design
    4. Communication
  3. Interviewing Masterclass
  4. Data Structures & Algorithms
  5. 100+ Coding Sessions
  6. The Mock Interview
  7. Systems Design
  8. Transitioning Careers
  9. Negotiating & Accepting Your Offer

As you can see, there’s more programming practice in there than you’ll ever get through, but the real value comes in the non-technical modules: that’s how you’ll set yourself apart from everyone else who’s just focused on LeetCode.

You can get more detail on each of these nine modules in our in-depth Tech Interview Pro review.

#2 Private Facebook Group

The Tech Interview Pro private Facebook group is a goldmine of opportunity.

With over 1,500 past students in there posting hundreds of times per month, it’s an invaluable resource for getting immediate feedback on your interviews and offers, and for meeting other engineers who have successfully made the leap into FAANG and other tech firms. 

Here are some of the posts by past Tech Interview Pro students:

LeetCode vs. Tech Interview Pro
LeetCode vs. Tech Interview Pro
LeetCode vs. Tech Interview Pro
LeetCode vs. Tech Interview Pro
LeetCode vs. Tech Interview Pro

#3 Run By Industry Insiders

Tech Interview Pro is run by two industry veterans who have reverse engineered the hiring process to give you the best chance of success:

  • Joma (Jonathan Ma) studied computer science at the University of Waterloo and has held internship and full-time positions at Microsoft, LinkedIn, BuzzFeed and Facebook
  • TechLead (Patrick Shyu) has grown his own websites to millions of users, spent his recent years working at Facebook and Google, and has conducted over 100 technical interviews for Google.

If there’s anyone who knows how to get a job at FAANG, it’s these guys.

#4 Bi-Weekly Q&A Sessions

Every two weeks, TechLead and Joma do a live Q&A session for all Tech Interview Pro students. The Q&A sessions normally last for about an hour, and they cover a lot of ground. 

Tech Interview Pro Review

Some sample questions you might want to ask in the Q&A sessions include:

  • I want to get hired at Amazon. How do I get started?
  • I have an upcoming phone screening at Facebook. What should I be thinking about?
  • I have an upcoming interview at Microsoft. How should I prepare?
  • I didn’t get the internship I wanted at Google. What should I work on over the next 6 months to ensure I get the next one?

Every Q&A session is recorded, so as soon as you join Tech Interview Pro, you’ll gain access to all previous Q&A sessions, too.

The best part about the Q&A sessions is that you can get specific feedback for your scenario, which can be incredibly valuable. Make sure to tune in every two weeks! 

#5 Resume Reviews

TechLead and Joma personally review your resume and help you tailor it for the position and the company you’re pursuing. Your resume will probably be a recruiter’s first interaction with you, so having it check all the right boxes is key. 

#6 Lifetime Access

Every student gets lifetime access to everything within Tech Interview Pro: new video lessons as they’re added, the private Facebook group, all of the live Q&A sessions, and everything else.

So not only will you be able to leverage the course to get this job, but you can use it to get your next job 2, 5, or 10 years down the road, too.

In Summary

LeetCode is a good tool for polishing your programming skills. But because everyone is doing LeetCode—and big tech recruiters know it—mastering LeetCode problems isn’t enough to land the job you want.

If you want to get ahead of your peers and give yourself the best shot at getting a big tech job offer, you’re going to need a better edge. We recommend setting yourself apart from the rest of the job market with Tech Interview Pro.