10 Essential Computer Science Interview Questions and Answers
Whether you’re about to graduate or are simply looking for a new position, finding a job related to your computer science major can be a challenging process. As you interview, it may seem like everyone in the world is searching for a career in your field, but don’t let this intimidate you. In addition to our interview preparation resources, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 computer science interview questions and sample answers to help you prepare and stand out against your competition.
Table of Contents:
- Tell me about yourself.
- How would people describe you?
- What is your most significant accomplishment?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What are your preferred programming languages and why?
- What is a class? What is a super-class?
- What is a default constructor? What is a conversion constructor?
- What is the difference between C and C++ ? Would you prefer to use one over the other?
- What is multiple inheritance? What are its advantages and disadvantages?
This is typically one of the most common interview questions most interviewers will ask you in order to find out how you differentiate from other candidates. The goal with this question is not only to get a brief summary of your experience and background, but also to get a clue about your personality. Do you reveal it all or can you keep it concise and to-the-point?
A sample answer could be:
“I recently graduated with a degree in computer science and am really excited about the prospect of this position. I have interned with a few mid-size companies and was able to work closely with their mobile developers. I also have a lot of experience with online code repositories, and I love to contribute as much as I can.”
Read the full details of answering the "tell me about yourself" interview question here.
This is another common interview question that allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition and share why you would be an asset to the company. While answers like being a hard worker or a good communicator are pretty common, you can elaborate on these by adding how those skills would benefit the prospective organization:
“I would say that people would describe me as a good communicator because I’m always able to articulate people’s needs, whether it be clients or my teammates. I’m able to quickly pick up on subtle hints and nonverbal clues, and I believe this has helped contribute to my success.”
Interviewers tend to like this question as it clues them into your work patterns, how you perform, as well how comfortable you are talking about your general abilities. While it might seem awkward to talk about yourself, this is not the time to be humble! Take advantage of this question and really let yourself shine:
“When I first started at my internship, the onboarding process wasn’t very thorough, and the initial training for developers left a lot to be desired. After sharing my concerns with my trainer, I was able to help develop better resources for new employees as well as restructure the program entirely. I feel like this showed both my initiative and my problem-solving abilities.”
With this common interview question, it’s important to frame your answer in the context of the prospective company’s needs and how your strength can help to meet them. Keep your strength work-related and relevant to the position.
Your answer could be something like:
“I’m highly motivated and am extremely passionate about developing. Everyone knows me for completing projects ahead of deadlines, and I feel this is especially important when things are constantly evolving and changing. I take initiative and am always coming up with various ways to solve a problem without needing to wait for direction. I also am always up-to-date with the newest trends and am willing to try the latest thing.”
This is another one of those questions that is fairly common in interviews these days. While it may seem easy on the surface, your interviewer is actually looking to see what you will come up with and how honest you are. Answers like “I’m a perfectionist” are overplayed and feel disingenuous, so have something prepared ahead of time. You can read more about this popular, tricky question here.
“I would say my biggest weakness is that I’m a recent graduate and don’t have a lot of work experience, but I’m a fast-learner and am highly adaptable. I’m up-to-speed with the latest programming trends and have a fresh perspective. I know I have enthusiasm for the work, and I will bring my strong work ethic and commitment every day.”
While it would make sense why an interviewer would be interested in this question, it’s important to note that there is no correct answer here. You may want to research the company beforehand to find out their favorite languages, but if you aren’t fluent in them, don’t lie! Simply choose what you’re the most comfortable with and own it.
Here’s an example:
“My preferred programming language is Python because it’s easy for a beginner to pick up and it has a lot of excellent libraries. The support libraries greatly reduce time spent on coding, and I find it helps me be creative yet efficient.”
As with any interview, there will be multiple technical questions to assess your general knowledge and familiarity with common terms and topics. You might answer:
“A class defines the characteristics of a certain type of object such as which messages they will respond to and what form of response they will take. On the other hand, a super-class is the basis of the class under consideration.”
As you prepare, it is necessary to go over basic concepts and refresh your memory about important skills and subjects you may need to study again:
“A default constructor either has no arguments, or all of the arguments have default argument values. A conversion constructor accepts one argument of a different type and uses this as a way to infer conversion rules for a class.”
While there is no right answer for a question like this, the interviewer is assessing your knowledge of these common programming languages while also checking to see if you can compare and contrast them.
You might answer something like:
“C++ supports the object-oriented programming paradigm while C is based on structured programming. I prefer C++ due to its object-oriented nature but also the fact that almost anything can be built using it.”
Being able to explain common topics but also point out their advantages and disadvantages will be critical to your interviews:
“Multiple inheritance is the process where a subclass can be derived from more than one super-class. Its advantage is that a class can inherit the functionality of more than one base class, but its disadvantage is that it can lead to a lot of confusion when two base classes implement a method with the same name.”
Although computer science is an extremely broad field, we know that these top ten computer science interview questions will prepare you for what lies ahead. By brushing up on basic concepts and becoming familiar with the best sample answers, you will be on your way to the job of your dreams in no time.