If you want to earn tons of money as a programmer, then a FAANG company is what you need to be looking for. However, you can’t work in FAANG without knowing Leetcode. Is it worth the struggle though? Will you be able to keep your head straight up and maintain social life along the way?  

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Key Takeaways

  • LeetCode is a challenging but necessary platform for those aiming to work at top tech companies like FAANG. Its difficulty often leads to stress and questioning of one’s abilities.
  • The debate over whether the stress and time commitment for LeetCode preparation are worth it varies, with some arguing for a more balanced lifestyle and others highlighting the need for a rigorous preparation routine.
  • Soft skills and interpersonal relations are often overlooked but are just as important as technical knowledge when aiming for high-paying tech jobs. Practicing just LeetCode may not be sufficient for overall career growth.

What is Leetcode? The question arose when this platform made a huge comeback last year. LeetCode is actually an online platform well-known among coders as it was designed to make their coding skills better. The website was founded way back in 2015 and it includes thousands of questions that allow professionals to practice their programming skills. The platform’s practices are mostly focused on technical tasks, set to prepare programmers for a relevant part of a job interview. 

Why LeetCode is Hard?

The talk that started going around the website 9/10 times touches upon the difficulty of LeetCode. See, the mentioned practice tasks can take anywhere between a month to a whole year to be actually solved. Of course, this doesn’t refer to the easy-level questions on the platform. It seems that the issues for many coders begin when they move on to medium and hard tasks. Why is that though? Don’t they have enough skills already to handle those?

The answer is yes, they do, and that’s exactly the reason why for many skilled programmers LeetCode is a tough nut to crack. As you build up confidence in solving easy tasks, you may transfer that approach to the more hard questions. This, in turn, will leave you bewildered as to how so could happen that you don’t know the answers to ALL the questions.  

Arrogance and self-assurance play a crucial role here. It’s not harmful to be confident in your abilities, but you need to stay critical and understand that you can’t know everything. When solving LeetCode problems, especially on medium and hard levels, it’s essential to question the abilities you have and understand that you will not be able to solve something. Gaining this mindset will become the beginning of your studying and professional growth processes, as it will allow you to look at other solution methods and perspectives aside from your own.

Doing LeetCode and Keeping a Social Life – Can You Do That?

Since LeetCode tasks are quite hard, many of them become the major part of interviews for job positions at FAANG companies – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google. So, to land a position there, you need to practice hard on LeetCode. This can take a lot of time and effort. However, is there a way to make the study process not so excruciating and still keep up with a normal social life? The question was raised on Reddit.

This raised a huge discussion with opinions going all over the place. Some coders agreed that it wasn’t worth it, while others said that it’s just a matter of the right approach.

Do A Regular Job Instead

There was a fair share of comments who agreed that FAANG companies, even though they pay well, weren’t really worth the struggle and stress. Some even shared their and their friends’ experiences of having a successful work-life outside the top five stakeholders:

“A friend gave up his meta job for a fairly stress-free job at a b2b consultant company that pays 90k + 20k variable bonus and works remotely from a cheap beachside town in Washington. He says since they have an almost assured clientele who don’t demand a lot, they just do maintenance updates most of the time and write some minor features from time to time. Barely works more than 5 hours a week.”

“Who woulda thought. I’ll take my well above average pay with no stress and no drama with VC funding and be happy”

“Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely understand the allure of money, and I would prolly go do 2 years at FAANG if I could… but at the same time fuck them, their products, their practices, and especially their lifestyle.”

Others, however, noted the fact that LeetCode is a requirement for most tech-related positions, but many less popular companies are more chill about it:

“I hire lots of people and I don’t do any sort of technical interviews anymore. That stuff is a waste of time. It’s the references that matter, and if the person seems competent enough to learn whatever they might not know.”

“…they’re more relaxed about it and don’t tend to do 36-round interviews. I work for a multi-billion dollar non-FAANG and we at most do 2 rounds of technical interviews, with discretion for the interviewers to pass them through if they like them. And we’ve tried moving away from Leetcode, more towards questions that mimic real work.”

Switch The Course

Some Redditors put the emphasis on the fact that just studying LeetCode won’t bring you far on such interviews. What also matters is the ability to read social clues and be viewed as a likable person:

“Oh, Christ. Stop what you are doing. Go practice actual engineering skills like bullshit-executive speak, project manager dialect, and appropriate eye contact. It will get you much further at this point… To start you need a combination of confidence and apathy. You need just enough to be brutally honest with enough speech skills to present your honesty in a kind wholesome way. For an interview answers like this go a long way, “I’m not sure, I would need to reference XXX for the best answer”, “Hmm I’m not sure, do you mind if I brainstorm some ideas and show you my thought process?””

“Can confirm this works. I am slightly on the spectrum and have above-average problem-solving skills. But being able to keep eye contact, smile, give compliments, etc. is what actually made my salary go up. That is what my manager cares about.”

“A probably more useful way to think about it is people want to work with people who are easy to work with. Interpersonal/soft skills aren’t bullshit, they are the necessary grease that keeps the engine running smoothly”

No Need to Study That Much

Is It Possible to Keep Your Head on Your Shoulders When Learning Leetcode?
Image: freepik.com

There was also a portion of people who noted that it’s not necessary to study that much LeetCode. They emphasized that 30 to 40 minutes is enough time to work on the tasks and that you are given just about the same timeframe for solving problems during an interview:

“2 hours per day is a ton, time-box yourself to 30-40 minutes to simulate an interview. If you don’t finish it figure out what kind of problem it is & come back to it later. You’ll start to get a feel for what specifically you need to work on then you can be more intentional. I’m not saying you can’t pull 2-hour days or spend more time on the weekend if you’ve got it but that pace isn’t going to be sustainable for most.”

“We usually do a 30-40 whiteboard process… I sometimes go over that time when I don’t understand the problem and I have to look up the solution, at that point, I’m doing a walk-through and going over the whiteboard process to make sure I know what is going on. Get good at your visuals”

There was, however, only one reply, that formulated the perfect answer to the OP’s original question:


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