Regardless of your field, preparing for job interviews is rarely fun, as you navigate the pressures of phone calls, technical screenings, and team fit evaluations. It gets even more challenging if you are in a highly competitive field like data science. Data science as a popular tech field has been attracting tons of new talent in the past few years, and for good reason. From its relatively high demand and high pay, to the field’s potential insight into every aspect of our daily lives, data science makes an attractive space to learn, grow and work.
If you are an aspiring data scientist who is thinking about how to prepare for the technical screening portion, then you have probably looked into various platforms to help you hone your skills. Two popular options have likely caught your attention: Algoexpert and Leetcode. Both platforms were built to help developers navigate tech interview preparations. However, neither platform was specifically designed and built for data science practitioners. Here we’ve set out to explore where their strengths and weaknesses emerge, and present an alternative platform that is built specifically for data scientists.
Before we dive in on what the platforms are and how they perform, a general note on these platforms not being built for data scientists: since data science is a part of the wider tech field, using these websites will give you a basic understanding of programming and algorithms, which are essential parts of the data science field. For an initial exploration Algoexpert and Leetcode may still be useful for your first steps towards mastering the technical screening portion of your interviews.
AlgoExpert was designed by a previous Google/Facebook software engineer Clement Mihailescu, who saw the need for a structured skills platform. The platform was designed for students to learn and master the core basics of those algorithms that are needed to ace the software development technical screening. Clement wanted to present students with various algorithmic problems and to teach them how to address these problems in a flexible, versatile environment. The focus of the original platform was narrow: AlgoExpert focused on algorithms and their implementations and SystemExpert focused on system engineering and design.
The platform has grown bigger and added more topics throughout the years. Out of all of these expansions there is one that we at Interview Query think is additionally important to data science interviewing: MLExpert. This section was recently added and focuses on machine learning and its applications.
In its current state, most of AlgoExpert is paywalled off, and there are only a few free questions that people can access without purchasing the product subscription.
Leetcode had a different design philosophy. The creators wanted a platform for developers to prepare for their interviews by practicing on real questions asked by real tech companies. As a result, many questions on Leetcode can be accessed using the platform’s free version, as the questions themselves are openly sourced. While this allows you to navigate more freely and try your hand at solving a greater number of questions, the provided solutions are paywalled. Only after upgrading to the paid service can users see more optimized solutions concerning time/ space complexities and even LOC functions.
Recently, Leetcode has added video explanations of problems and their proposed solutions — a feature which had previously already been in AlgoExpert. This additional format allows the user to better practice their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
With many options available you may be concerned about the best platform to sign up with, a valid concern. The simplest way to evaluate is to look at three aspects of each service, and considering if those evaluations match your requirements and needs.The three aspects to consider are:
Although both of these platforms teach you the basic skills you need to approach the coding interview, it is usually the case that you are being asked in that interview to target a specific knowledge domain. If you are reading this article, that domain is data science. To meet the interview requirements, you want a platform that addresses general computer science questions and algorithms, but is also centered around the data science domain.
With these two goals in mind, neither platform adequately covers both objectives. For a platform that offers general computer science and algorithm questions, AlgoExpert is an excellent choice. However, for more specific questions about core data science topics, then Leetcode is the superior option.
As we mentioned at the start of this article, there is a platform created to cover both the general concepts of computer science and algorithms, but is still rooted in data science. We highlight the benefits of that platform farther below.
Any platform that can help you ace the technical interview will probably have free and paid versions of their services. We know that when you are job hunting the need to find a service that is both beneficial and cost-efficient is a priority. As of writing this article (March 2022), the price of AlgoExpert the machine learning bundle is $222 for a one year subscription. When broken into a monthly rate this comes out to $18/ month, but it is important to clarify that there is only an annual option for billing.
Leetcode offers both monthly and yearly subscription options, at $159 per year or $35 per month. The annual subscription therefore offers a roughly 60% discount vs the annualized monthly rate, at a cost of $13.50/month when divided out.
Based on these calculations, the most cost-efficient option is Leetcode, where you can expect about $6.50 in savings per month when you compare the two annual subscriptions.
The final consideration is how well each platform meets an interviewees needs. Some people may go for a platform that has it all — learning, practicing, and interview prep. Others may prefer just a problems-based platform because they did the learning portion elsewhere. Certain individuals may go for platforms that offer more community interactions and coaching, as they know it helps them retain knowledge better.
Finding a platform that meets your needs is essential, and those needs are likely unique to your approach.Use everything outlined in this guide to inform which platform is best tailored to meeting your requirements.
We have repeatedly noted the constraints of AlgoExpert and Leetcode, but there is no reason to have to choose between a platform that only builds general computer science or algorithm skills, and a platform that has a section of data science-specific content.
The third option is the one custom built for data scientists: the Interview Query platform. At Interview Query, everything is created specifically for data scientists. The benefits for data scientists are clear:
All the questions on the platform are sourced from real life data science interviews at top companies.
We have extensive company guides so you know exactly what to expect for the role/company you are interviewing at.
Assessments to take to see where you stand.
Real take home challenges you can practice with.
And data science interview courses where you can review the concepts you need.
Large sections of the Interview Query platform are free after a simple email sign-up.
Interview Query has everything you need to ace your data science interview - built purely for data scientists, by data scientists.
Based on each platform’s fit to your approach on the three aspects we covered (Domains, Price, Needs Met), you can make a more well-informed decision of which best prepares you for an interview. In general, if you want a more problem-centered platform for algorithms with video explanations, then AlgoExpert or one of its packages may be a good option for you. But, if you would like to practice actual questions asked by various tech companies with a focus on optimizations, then Leetcode is a valid option.
However, for a platform that has everything you need for your data science interviews, then you may want to consider Interview Query. And with an annual subscription starting at $199/year, you are getting the best bang for your buck for the content that suits your needs.
With any of these three programs, we do also advise people to leverage video tutorials on Youtube, and see if there are other free resources out there to supplement your learning. Interview Query also has the added benefit of a free Daily Coding Problem to build skills or keep existing ones sharp.
Regardless of what platform you end up choosing and how you approach your learning, remember that effort can make or break your journey; no platform is guaranteed to land you the job if you didn’t put in the work. What you can be confident in is that hard work pays off, that it is worth being patient with yourself, and to trust yourself to do your best. In the end, I leave you with all the best wishes in your learning and job hunting in data science!