Which coding interview prep product should you use?
At Moonchaser we have helped 100s of software engineers negotiate their compensation at leading tech companies from FAANG to startups like Brex, Databricks and Roblox. The engineers we work with provide feedback on which tools were effective for their interview prep.
LeetCode is best if you:
AlgoExpert or InterviewCake will help you learn more efficiently and effectively if you:
HackerRank isn't optimized for software engineering interview prep, but it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the platform towards the end of your prep because many companies use it for their first-round screen.
LeetCode rarely has sales, but in the past, they have run a Black Friday deal for $30 off the yearly subscription.
LeetCode has a strict no refund policy if you have a yearly subscription. LeetCode Premium also automatically renews. The easiest way to avoid an accidental auto renewal is to immediately cancel. After cancellation, your subscription will remain active until the end of the existing subscription period.
Interview Cake's refund policy is the best in the industry. Parker – the Interview Cake founder – provides a "no questions asked" refund within the first 100 days of sign up. We tested the refund and Parker, indeed, honored it.
There are discount codes available online. The AlgoExpert team has previously shared save10 to get 10% off. There are also discounts for bundling packages together and for repeat customers.
AlgoExpert has a zero refund policy, so purchase carefully.
Do you need to learn data structures? Do you need a refresher? Who offers one?
If you recently learned data structures and algorithms, then AlgoExpert and InterviewCake won't provide considerable value.
Both offer a crash course that covers the basics (Big-O Notation) and more advanced materials like Trees and Graphs.
Algo Expert Course Material
Disappointingly, AlgoExpert and InterviewCake don't teach advanced algorithms like Dikstra's and Bellman-Ford.
Even worse, AlgoExpert falls flat by skipping Dynamic Programming in their lessons – a concept that is commonly discussed in FAANG interviews. Given the gaps, AlgoExpert and InterviewCake aren't comprehensive enough teach you all of the data structures and algorithms needed for FAANG-style interviews.
LeetCode Premium and HackerRank don't have formal data structure and algorithm courses. They both have articles available on select topics but they aren't a good substitute for a well designed course.
Leetcode Premium's question bank is much better than AlgoExpert, Interview Cake or HackerRank. Roughly 5x better!
Why is LeetCode Premium better?
AlgoExpert has 150 questions spanning easy to very hard. If you haven't done extensive interview preparation within the last few years, most of the questions will challenge you and feel "net new". However, if you have prepped before, you will likely find yourself doing repeat questions – a significant value reduction. In those cases, using LeetCode is more valuable.
InterviewCake and HackerRank don't have enough content to be a sole source of interview preparation. InterviewCake's questions are well rounded and are a good starting point to build a foundation.
AlgoExpert's solutions are top notch and the best of the group. Clément – AlgoExpert's co-founder – personally created video solutions that give you a conceptual overview and a code walkthrough. The solutions are elegantly explained and well suited for visual learners. They even have multiple solutions for the same questions.
Interview Cake's solutions come in a close second. They are professionally written and explained in a clear and concise way. However, unlike AlgoExpert, they lack video solutions – a significant advantage for visual learners.
LeetCode Premium and HackerRank have two versions of solutions:
When completing interview questions, it is easy to get stuck. In live interviews, interviewers will often be able to give you a hint.
AlgoExpert and Interview Cake have hints while HackerRank and LeetCode don't.
The hints on AlgoExpert and Interview Cake are both well thought out and each hint progressively provides more guidance.
However, Interview Cake takes the cake (sorry, we had to) because their hints are natively added to questions. The native integration naturally encourages you to keep trying rather than giving up on a problem. This makes a huge difference as it is easy to give up on tough problems!
Are mock interviews useful? Yes but they aren't important until you have developed a strong foundation solving problems in a non-interview setting.
AlgoExpert has two mock interview features:
Both are helpful but aren't recommended until you have developed a strong foundation – most users will leverage the mock interview features shortly before their first round of real interviews.
AlgoExpert has also built out a seamless mock interview experience allowing for a shared code editor for both parties.
LeetCode takes a different approach to mock interviews. Instead of pairing you with another user, they provide timed, company-specific interview questions.
For example, to prepare for a Google interview, there is a simulator that will provide a series of Google questions to complete within a time limit. LeetCode intelligently changes the amount of time allocated based on the difficulty of the question.
After you feel comfortable with questions from a specific topic (e.g., graphs), we recommend using the simulator to help you ace your interviews.
HackerRank and Interview Cake don't offer mock interviews. However, if you still want to do mock interviews, here are two alternative products that offer mock interviews, specifically:
If you need a refresher course on Data Structures or haven't previously completed "common" interview questions then AlgoExpert or Interview Cake are the most efficient way to build a foundation. Otherwise, LeetCode is the best investment for your interview prep.
Once you have an offer in hand, the next step is to make sure you aren't leaving money on the table.
Step 1 is defining the strategy, which often starts by helping you create leverage for your negotiation (e.g. setting up conversations with FAANG recruiters).
Step 2 we decide on anchor numbers and target numbers with the goal of securing a top of band offer, based on our internal verified data sets.
Step 3 we create custom scripts for each of your calls, practice multiple 1:1 mock negotiations, and join your recruiter calls to guide you via chat.