How LMU Used Interview Query for Their College Class

How LMU Used Interview Query for Their College Class


University professors in a variety of analytics, coding, and computer science courses are often faced with the challenge of providing content applicable to day-to-day work in the industry. Learning materials and textbooks that are generally assigned within these courses can be outdated and full of theory-based examples that fail to encompass concrete examples of how this information is utilized by data scientists and other positions in tech.

In considering ways to address this problem, Interview Query was recently used in a pilot program at Loyola Marymount University, where courses in SQL and Business Analytics were provided at the undergraduate and Master’s levels, respectively. A professor utilized Interview Query take-home challenges, the SQL course, and SQL interview questions as supplementary material.

The result? The content provided an opportunity for students to work through real business analytics case studies and SQL problems from companies like Grubhub, Lyft, and O’Reilly, which was an invaluable opportunity within a classroom setting for students to engage with content on a new front to help them prepare for interviews, internships, and full-time positions.

Ultimately, this pilot program – which was introduced out-of-pocket by the professor– presented Interview Query with the opportunity to learn how our courses, take-home challenges, and interview questions can be integrated into college courses.

Why IQ Makes Sense for College Courses

Interview Query materials can be readily integrated into the course curriculum to provide relevant and rich learning examples to students. These materials can be used to assess skills, introduce or reinforce learning topics, or provide additional learning opportunities outside of the traditional structure of university courses.

Some of the reasons you might consider using Interview Query for college curricula include:

  • Real-world case examples are key to bolstering student learning. Interview Query’s content can supplement textbooks and online learning platforms that are otherwise lacking relatable problem sets.
  • Interview Query’s case questions come from top tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Netflix, making content more engaging and relevant.
  • Accessibility to detailed written solutions, step-by-step video walk-throughs, and sample mock interviews equips students with flexible learning tools.

Examples: Using Interview Query at LMU

Interview Query content was integrated into course work in two ways, the first through a group program for Business Analytics Master’s students, and the second within an undergraduate SQL course to introduce concepts and assess student understanding.

Group Project Case Study Students

The focus of the LMU master’s course was integrating technical skills into case studies. Interview Query’s take-home challenges provided numerous case studies that:

  • Focused on real business cases from a variety of tech and retail companies
  • Reflected actual interview questions that were used to screen candidates for different positions students were working towards (e.g. data scientist, business analyst, business intelligence engineer)

Case studies were assigned to be completed in groups. Students were asked to perform research and analyses, and ultimately created solutions using the CRISP-DM framework (Cross Industry Standard Process for Data Mining), which has six phases that cycle between:

  • Business understanding – What does the business need?
  • Data understanding – What data do we have or need?
  • Data preparation – How do we organize and analyze the data?
  • Modeling – What modeling techniques should we apply?
  • Evaluation – Which model best meets the business objectives?
  • Deployment – How do stakeholders access the results?

Solutions were presented in class through group presentations, which included an extensive Q&A session with the professor and other students, mimicking interviews or work scenarios where candidates would be expected to justify and explain their approaches/results.

Grading criteria

To further the impact of this real-world application, rather than employing a traditional rubric-based grading system, this assignment was assessed through the lens of a hiring manager.

Students learned where they fell short, if the solution they chose instilled confidence, and whether or not they seemed to be good candidates for the job based on their performance.

SQL Practice Problems

In the undergraduate SQL course, Interview Query’s SQL case studies and practice problems were used to reinforce concepts taught in class, and to help students improve technical communication and documentation skills. These questions allow the students to practice:

  • Making assumptions about the business to clarify the scope of the given problem
  • Digging into the data (e.g., is the data incomplete or understanding data labeling)
  • Identifying data structures

Ultimately, these problems helped open discussion into common approaches and questions within the industry and allowed students to start building their data intuition from real-world applications. For example, they might be asked: How might a data engineer see your solution? Or, how could this SQL query be better improved?

Use Interview Query as a Learning Tool at Your School

There are several ways you might approach integrating Interview Query’s courses, practice problems, and take-home case studies in courses, including:

  • Reinforcing concepts - Our extensive SQL and Python interview questions can be used to reinforce concepts like joins, subqueries, and string manipulation.
  • Project-based learning - Our library of take-home challenges provides extended case studies that cover a range of topics, including business analytics, marketing/growth, etc. These are great for longer-form technical projects and practice for case study presentations.
  • Introducing new concepts - Our courses provide in-depth instruction on SQL, Python, machine learning, and other data science topics. These modules can be used to gain an introductory understanding or to supplement prior knowledge with additional details.
  • Self-guided learning - LMU also provided additional access for motivated students who wanted to explore questions and Interview Query content on their own. This can be used as a powerful tool to help students prepare for summer internship interviews and to continue developing their technical skills.

Want to bring Interview Query to your classroom? Contact Interview Query today to learn more about using our data science learning platform in your next course.