Cracking tech interviews and getting that employment letter is no easy task.
And I get it. Software stuff is delicate and requires the best hands to come outright.
That is why tech companies deliberately raise the bar high to ensure only the most refined software engineers filter in through the sieve.
The flood of information on the Internet is not helping matters.
It’s either they are totally outdated or downright irrelevant.
With that in mind, many have resorted to solving heaps of coding problems hoping that some of them will manifest in the interview.
And they get disappointed.
Are there tools that can effectively teach one to pass tech interviews easily?
Yes, there are. In this review, we will look at one of the tech interview prep platforms that exist now.
It is Interview Camp. At the end of the review, you will see whether it ticks all the boxes for you or not.
An overview of the software is necessary. So let’s start with that.
Interview Camp Overview—What is it?
Interview Camp is an online site that software engineers can enroll in for training on passing coding interviews.
Harsh Goel, its founder, first launched the program as an in-person training center before being moved online.
Interview Camp features a self-paced study routine through pre-recorded video sessions. Hence, the term boot camp that the sessions are often called.
There are over 60 hours of video content that cover major topics in algorithms and systems design.
Then there are live video sessions that last for two hours and thirty minutes every Thursday from 7 pm to 9:30 pm Pacific time.
Members join the live video sessions through a conference call. In these sessions, attendees can ask questions and get answers.
Missing any of the sessions is not much of a big deal. Every session is recorded for you to rewatch at any time.
Interview Camp has three components of training: on-demand course materials, weekly live sessions, and a slack community.
The course materials form the basis of the training through the videos and live sessions.
They are a compilation of information from textbooks, online materials, and individual experiences, primarily that of successful candidates.
The major highlight of the Interview Camp is the techniques format for solving problems. You will see it directly from their homepage.
The techniques format forms the backbone of their training process.
What they are trying to tell you is that they don’t just focus on solving individual problems.
They instead give you the general principles of dealing with them.
Another claim they make is that their program is beginner-friendly. In other words, you can catch up fast since they will start from the foundation up.
Once you enroll for the program, you have until seven days from when you signed up to request a refund if you are unsatisfied with the product.
Risk-free is the term to use here.
Interview Camp Course Instructor
We are talking about Harsh Goel here.
His biography tells us that he was a software engineer at Google and Pinterest in San Francisco.
Before that, he also worked with Yahoo, Microsoft, and many other startups.
Being a software engineer in those kinds of places is an excellent advantage as you will be exposed to the tricks and tactics the top tech companies use to sieve in suitable candidates.
Back to Harsh. His work in the companies above motivated him to mentor others on how to ace tech interviews.
And that is how he launched Interview Camp in 2015.
Interview Camp Course Outline
Interview Camp covers a wide range of data structures & algorithms, and systems design concepts.
What that means is that all the topics covered in the course are grouped under two categories which are algorithms and systems design.
The list of topics covered in the course outline is as follows:
- Arrays and Strings
- Binary Search
- Binary Search Tree
- Linked List
- Dynamic Programming
- Binary Tree
- Hash Table
- Hash Functions
- Sorting Algorithms
- Bit Manipulation
- Approaching Problems
- Selection Algorithm
- Execution in Memory
- Common Myths
- Approaching System Design
- Anatomy of Scalable Backends
- Distributed File System Design
- Partitioning Functions
- Distributed Processing
- Dynamic Sharding
- Sorting Large Data
- Distributed Caching
- Consistent Hashing
- CAP Theorem
- Database Indexing
- Load Balancers
- Key-Value Stores
- Wide Column Stores
- Messaging Backend
- Nearest Neighbors Search
- Designing Web Backends
- E-Commerce Backend
This comprehensive listing shows that Interview Camp offers solid technical coverage of all the aspects of coding that might come out in an interview.
It is also here that their techniques and format of training comes into play.
For each technique, they explain practice problems and assign homework.
For the systems design part, they provide a framework for system design questions and cover several core system design components in great depth.
Interview Camp Features
When reviewing a product before purchasing, we are usually concerned about what the product has to offer.
While no product, software or otherwise, is perfect (it can’t have all the features), we usually settle for the one that ticks most boxes.
It’s our way of ensuring that we are making a safe decision.
So what can we look forward to gaining in Interview Camp?
#1 Proven Course Material
Interview Camp course material covers a vast range of content as far as coding is concerned.
Their materials are rich and include information from various sources, including personal experience.
As a result, you will be hard-pressed to find coding problems you can’t answer if you are the studious type.
#2 60+ Hours of Video Content
Interview Camp has a reassuring amount of videos on passing coding interviews.
The videos contain in-depth explanations of core areas and practical demonstrations that bring the information to life.
Hence, if you learn best through video, this might be a good reason to go for Interview Camp.
The video format of the lessons also eliminates the risk of forgetting something without having a way to recover it.
#3 Weekly Live Session
The weekly live sessions help a lot. They are the means through which you can receive expert assistance on any challenges you might face.
The sessions hold for two hours every Thursday, and members can connect through conference calls.
If you like to know every detail of what you study, it might make sense to choose Interview Camp.
If you miss a session, you can always watch the recording at your convenience.
The structure of the live sessions is worthy of mention. It is always in two parts
In the first half, a systems design topic is treated in deep detail, and several members share their expertise.
The second half is for algorithms and general discussions. The public talks can be anything from graph problems to advice on the job search.
#4 Private Slack Community
A community is one of the many features Interview Camp offers. It is accessible to you as soon as you sign up for the platform.
In the community, you can discuss complex topics and solutions with others on a similar or higher level of progress.
Another advantage of the community is the ability to discuss job offers with other students s, such as those who have gone for interviews before.
Self-paced courses are the way to go these days. There is no joy in fitting into the mold of some rigid system of study that will require you to sacrifice a lot.
At Interview Camp, there is no rigid schedule that forces you to start and finish on set dates.
It makes learning very convenient. You can even continue your work or schooling without hassle while using the platform.
#6 Technique-oriented System
It’s a nice thing to know that one of the hallmarks of a good tech interview prep course is here.
Interview Camp doesn’t burden you with having to solve hundreds or thousands of coding problems.
They know that solving as many problems as you can isn’t much help.
New questions come out every time, and if one doesn’t know how to approach them, he might fumble.
The trick is in knowing how to solve problems rather than trying to predict what issues might be presented.
Luckily, Interview Camp teaches you the general techniques of handling any coding problems that you might face in an interview.
Downsides of Interview Camp
All along, we have seen the strong points of Interview Camp, and when taken together, they make the platform seem worthy of notice.
That said, the tool is less than perfect. And where it falls, it falls flat.
Without wasting time, let’s check out the downsides.
Lacks Soft Skills Training
While Interview Camp has comprehensive coverage of technical topics, it doesn’t provide any training for soft skills.
This is what we mean by soft skills. They are the skills that have to do with relating to people and working well with them.
Some of these soft skills include but are not limited to
Lacks Leadership skills
Tech companies don’t expect successful candidates only to have head knowledge of the software.
The likes of Google also expect software engineers to be able to lead other software engineers to victory whether you know them or not.
This aspect is closely related to the one above. Of course, there is no good leadership without effective communication.
If good communication is lacking, misunderstandings can ruin a project that could have had a better ending.
A poor communicator will also lack the following skill.
The ability to cooperate with others to achieve a common goal is something no company or business, tech or otherwise, can afford to do without.
There is no doubt that success is usually a collective effort. One person’s effort alone will not grow the company’s reputation.
Besides, interviewers are often quick to detect when a person lacks teamwork skills.
So if you are looking for a tech interview prep course that will hone your soft and technical skills, you might have to look elsewhere.
That’s because you will not be dealing with machines alone. You’ll also be dealing with people.
There is another downside of Interview Camp that also deserves our attention. And that is,
No Lifetime Access
You read that right. Paying for the program will only get you one year of full access.
If you consider using Interview Camp or recommending it to someone else, you have to bear the lack of lifetime access.
Interview Camp Pricing
We are almost at the tail-end of this review. But let’s look at the pricing before we call it a day.
Unlike in some other software in its niche, there is no monthly subscription.
You get a straight one-year subscription of $250, although the price will soon double.
But, as I said earlier, you can request a refund after a seven-day trial, and you will get your money back in full. No questions asked.
It’s now time to draw the curtain. After everything we’ve considered, is Interview Camp worth paying for?
The program has some nifty features that compel. For example, you get comprehensive technical coverage of everything coding.
Plenty of content, weekly live sessions, and community support are also included in the package.
On top of that, the program is also self-paced and risk-free.
You will have to decide whether those advantages compensate fully for the lack of soft skills training and absence of life access.
If not, there are plenty of other viable options. In the end, what you can’t do without is what matters.
Got any questions or comments on what you’ve just read? I’d love to hear.