Is Competitive Programming Must For Getting Jobs at Product-Based Companies?

Is Competitive Programming Must For Getting Jobs at Product-Based Companies?
Updated:24 Aug, 2022

Getting into any of the top product-based companies is a dream of every IT graduate. Not only because these companies are the most renowned companies but also because of the ravishing salary packages, remarkable learning exposure & career growth opportunities, balanced work culture, and much more they offer to their employees. Hence, every aspiring individual works super hard to get better at the necessary skills, and technologies to crack the interview of these product-based companies and get placed in his/her dream organization. 

But....whether it's MAANG or the popular product-based companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Uber, etc there's a question that remains the same, is competitive programming necessary for getting jobs at product-based companies?

Not only this, but several other similar questions often arise in the mind of individuals, especially fresh graduates or college students, like:

  • Is Competitive Programming Necessary For Placements?
  • Is Competitive Programming Must For Becoming a Software Developer?
  • Is Competitive Programming Helpful for Tech Interviews?
  • and so on...!

With this article, we will bring you all the sides of this so you can reach an answer that makes the most sense for you.

Before That Let Us Understand The Craze Behind Competitive Programming:

Competitive Programming (CP) was initially reserved for algorithmic enthusiasts, who had a lot of fun with it, and they still do, but it was never about competition or disruption of the status quo. It's about the adrenaline rush you get once your solution is accepted. Think of it as a sport, you solve a problem by writing a code that is fast and optimal, consumes a minimum amount of memory, and satisfies various other such parameters. 

Doesn't sound like something that can be used extensively at work, where productivity and collaboration between teams is the key core aspect of a project, right?

CP is widely popular despite, and especially with events like Facebook Hackercup and Google’s Code Jam where CP is a major advantage, has made it even more popular among university students and anyone trying to get an entry into these companies.

For a long time, CP was still limited to being the sport and not a medium of assessment in these companies. But now with the great resignation and dearth of great talent, the developer job market has undergone major changes. And as the market became elitist jobs were complex, and competition arose.

Adding to the mix is the new normal of work-from-anywhere. While this does open up the avenues for companies to get more experienced developers, assessing them on the internet has become a task. One of the ways through that is, "Did you train on competitive programming platforms?"

But this doesn't still answer the question at hand. For that let us first get into the interview process at product-based companies.

Interview Process at Product-Based Company Interviews:

Post-resume shortlisting, a candidate generally needs to go through 4-5 rounds of interviews to get a job in any of the large-scale product-based companies.

1. Aptitude and Logical Reasoning Round: 

This is generally an MCQ round that is kept to evaluate the basic programming, aptitude, and reasoning skills of candidates. This isn't as long and hard as government and competitive jobs. Brushing up your programming concepts, aptitude, and logical reasoning ability will work.

2. Online Coding Round:

A coding round that accounts for whether you move ahead or are dropped off the list. This is a Data Structures and Algorithms (DSA) focussed round since most of the questions asked in this round can be solved with the combination of problem-solving and coding abilities. You will be assessed on your capabilities to apply data structural concepts and code with consideration of constraints to develop the best possible solution.

3. Multiple Technical Interview Rounds:

These rounds are conducted to match your strengths with what you submitted in your resume and further, evaluate your foundation in computer science and raw programming ability.

Also, here you need to prepare yourself with all the questions related to your projects.

Moreover, here you might be given live coding challenges. Skills that will help you clear this round would be critical thinking, problem-solving, coding, and communication.

4. HR Round 

Last would be the culture fit round which is non-technical.

Now that we have delved into the interview process of product-based companies, let us get to the question.

Is CP Must For Placement or Getting Jobs at Product-Based Companies?

CP is often considered handy or compared to the technical and/or engineering round, involving problem-solving, data structures, and algorithms (PS/DS).

However, sound knowledge of DSA, with the practice of its varied applications and tradeoffs is good enough for the PS/DS round, across the major product-based companies.

Some candidates confuse this round with CP because CP also requires individuals to have problem-solving and coding abilities; however, it's a sport that challenges participants to solve programming with/without applications of DSA under given constraints.

So you can say that CP may help you become an efficient coder and even problem solver given it requires you to solve a problem quickly. But only the fundamentals and practice of DSA can guarantee you success in a PS/DS round. In case you already have strong problem-solving skills with adequate foundational knowledge in Data Structures & Algorithms and other relevant subjects (DBMS, Operating Systems, Computer Networks, System Design, etc.) - then you surely can crack the interview of top product-based companies without going through the CP route.

So, How Should You Prepare For Product-Based Companies?

For Problem Solving / DSA round, platforms like GeeksforGeeks come with great hands-on resources with important practice questions, well structured and tagged by concepts. And yes, DSA-centric.

Invest your time wisely and equally across the online or offline resources that help you work on both your problem solving as well as coding abilities. And in case you are enticed towards CP, go for it, it will enable you to solve problems faster. However, do not do it just for the sake of it, and if it's not fun to you instead learn a lot of real-world things that can boost a strong portfolio for your resume.

TL;DRCP though provides an advantage but is not necessary or mandatory to get a job in product-based companies. 

You should go for it in case it seems fun to you and if you want to learn how to solve your problems faster. It's a sport, and it's never harmful to learn one and compete across the levels, right?

Other than that, focus on the things you like, and master those so that you become unbeatable in them.


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