The Top Data Structures Interview Questions You Need to Know

This article gives you the answers to the most common Data Structure Interview Questions so you know what to expect during the interview process.

You may be wondering what questions you’ll face in your next data structure interview. Remember that people interviewing you for a job in data structure aren’t trying to trick you, and they don’t expect you to be perfect. This is just their chance to see how much you know before they hire you. Proper preparation is always advised.

A big part of any programming job interview is questions about data structures and algorithms. This is especially true for roles in Data Science and Java. Sound knowledge of data structures and algorithms will help you stand apart from the herd. The following Data Structure interview questions will help you crack your next interview!.

Check out the video below that will show you the roadmap to learn data structures and algorithms.

Data structures are a crucial part of any technical interview, especially for software engineering roles. Having a solid grasp of data structures demonstrates to interviewers that you have strong programming fundamentals and can write efficient code.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll cover some of the most common and critical data structure interview questions that you need to know. We’ll look at key concepts like arrays, linked lists, trees, graphs, and more.

Whether you’re prepping for your next coding interview or just want to brush up on data structures, this guide has got you covered!

Why Data Structures Matter in Interviews

Data structures form the building blocks of many algorithms and enable you to organize data for efficient storage and retrieval. They are a core component of computer science curriculums for good reason.

In interviews. being able to discuss data structures intelligently shows interviewers that you

  • Have a solid CS background
  • Can select the right data structure for the job
  • Can implement data structures in code
  • Understand how to analyze time and space complexity

Common data structure types that frequently appear in interviews include arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, graphs, and hash tables.

Knowing how these structures work their key operations, use cases and complexity tradeoffs is essential.


Arrays are one of the most basic but widely used data structures. Here are some key array questions:

Q: What is an array? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using arrays?

An array is a collection of elements stored in contiguous memory locations. Arrays allow random access and efficient lookups by index. However, adding/removing elements can be expensive as it requires shifting elements.

Q: How do you find the largest and smallest number in an unsorted integer array?

Iterate through the array keeping track of the largest and smallest values seen so far by comparing them to each element.

Q: How do you check if two integer arrays are equal?

Iterate through both arrays and compare elements at each index. Return false if any elements differ, else return true once finished.

Q: How do you remove duplicates from a sorted array?

Use two pointers – one iterates through the array while the other tracks the next open position to insert unique elements into. Only advance the second pointer and insert when a unique element is encountered.

Linked Lists

Linked lists are fundamental dynamic data structures. Be prepared for these linked list questions:

Q: What is a linked list? What are the advantages over arrays?

A linked list contains nodes that store data and point to other nodes. Linked lists allow for constant time insertion/removal and dynamic size allocation. However, elements cannot be accessed directly by index.

Q: How do you reverse a singly linked list?

Iterate through the list, changing the next pointer of each node to point to the previous node. Keep track of the previous node and temp node as you traverse the list.

Q: How do you detect if a linked list contains a loop or cycle?

Use two pointers – a slow pointer that moves one node at a time and a fast pointer that moves two nodes at a time. If a loop exists, the fast pointer will eventually move behind and “catch” the slow pointer.

Q: How do you find the kth node from the end in a linked list?

Use two pointers – one that leads by k nodes, and another that trails behind from the head. When the leading pointer reaches the end, the trailing pointer will be at the kth node from the end.

Stacks and Queues

Stacks and queues are fundamental linear data structures that run on LIFO and FIFO principles. Know how to implement and utilize them.

Q: What is a stack? What operations does it support?

A stack works on LIFO (Last In First Out) principle. It supports push, pop, peek, and empty operations.

Q: Give some examples of when stacks are useful.

Stacks can be used for expression evaluation, parsing, backtracking, and undo/redo functionality.

Q: What is a queue? What operations does it support?

A queue works on FIFO (First In First Out) principle. It supports enqueue, dequeue, peek, and empty operations.

Q: Give some examples of when queues are useful.

Queues can be used for waiting lists, buffers, maintaining playlists, print spoolers, and simulating network traffic.

Trees and Graphs

Trees and graphs involve hierarchical and networked relationships between data. Be ready for questions like:

Q: What are some different types of tree data structures?

Common tree data structures include binary trees, binary search trees, AVL trees, red-black trees, and n-ary trees. Each has different properties and tradeoffs.

Q: How is a binary search tree different from a binary tree?

Binary search trees have the property where left child ≤ parent < right child to enable faster lookups. Binary trees have no ordering guarantees.

Q: When would you use a graph data structure?

Graphs are useful for problems involving networked relationships like social connections, routes between locations, recommendation systems.

Q: What are some ways to traverse a tree or graph?

Common traversal methods include pre-order, in-order, and post-order traversal for trees. For graphs, breadth-first search and depth-first search are used.

Q: What are the time and space complexities of a breadth-first graph traversal?

Breadth-first traversal uses O(V+E) space for vertex and edge tracking. The time complexity is O(V+E) where V is number of vertices and E is number of edges.

Hash Tables

Hash tables enable fast O(1) lookups by key. Here are some key questions on hash tables:

Q: What is a hash table? When would you use one?

Hash tables store key-value pairs and enable amortized O(1) lookup by key. Useful for caching, lookups, object storage.

Q: How are hash collisions handled?

Collisions occur when two keys hash to the same slot. Chaining and open addressing are two strategies to handle collisions.

Q: What is the time complexity for lookups, inserts and deletes in a hash table?

Lookups take O(1) time on average. Inserts and deletes take O(1) on average with chaining collision resolution.

Q: What are some common hash functions used?

Common hash functions include modulo division, folding, mid-square, digit shuffling. A good hash should be fast, uniform, and minimize collisions.

Time and Space Complexity

Always be prepared to discuss time and space complexity tradeoffs for data structures and algorithms.

Q: What are the time and space complexities of an array?

  • Indexing: O(1) time
  • Search: O(n) time
  • Insertion: O(n) time if inserting at end, O(n) time otherwise
  • Deletion: O(n) time
  • Space: O(n)

Q: What is the time complexity of binary search on a sorted array?

Binary search runs in O(log n) time since the search space is halved each iteration.

Q: What are the complexities of common operations on a hash table?

  • Lookup: O(1) time on average
  • Insert: O(1) time on average
  • Delete: O(1) time on average
  • Space: O(n)

Knowing the big O time and space complexities of core data structures is key to analyzing algorithms and making optimal choices.

Tips for Acing Data Structure Interview Questions

Here are some tips to crush data structure interview questions:

  • Review common data structures – know what they are, use cases, and complexities
  • Understand how to implement data structures in code
  • Analyze time and space tradeoffs between data structures
  • Practice implementing data structure operations like search, insert, delete
  • Explain your reasoning – don’t just state facts
  • Ask clarifying questions if you don’t understand the problem

With diligent practice and review, you can master data structure interview questions and show interviewers your technical aptitude. The key is being able to discuss data structures intelligently while also implementing them efficiently in code.

Data structures serve as the nuts and bolts of complex algorithms and allow you to organize data for efficient access. Focus on understanding these fundamental building blocks, and you’ll be well-prepared to take on any data structure interview questions that come your way!

3 What are Binary trees?

A binary tree is a type of tree data structure made up of nodes. Each node has two children, which are called the left and right nodes. The tree begins with a single node called the root.

Each node in the tree carries the following information:

A pointing device indicates the left kid.

An arrow pointing to the correct child

4 Explain the jagged array.

It is an array whose elements themselves are arrays and may be of different dimensions and sizes.Â

Top 10 Data Structure Interview Questions And Answers | Data Structure For Freshers | Simplilearn


How to crack a data structure interview?

Take the interviewer through your thought process. Explain the reason why you’ve selected a particular algorithm to solve the problem. Let them know the complexity of the solution, and provide an example if necessary. This can also help the interviewer give you any clarification if needed.

What are the most common data structure interview questions?

This is one of the most frequently asked data structure interview questions. In terms of data structures, other common interview questions relate to numerical analysis, operating systems, AI, compiler design, database management, graphics, statistical analysis, and simulation. 5. What is the difference between file structure and storage structure? The difference lies in the memory area accessed.

What are some examples of data structures?

Arrays, Linked Lists, Stacks, and Queues are examples of data structures. Data structures provide clarity, organization, and structure to the program’s code while also helping the programmer ensure that each line of code performs its function correctly.

How do I prepare for a data structure interview?

To help you prepare for your upcoming data structure interview, here are 15 questions that are worth reviewing beforehand. If you’d rather practice solo, you can record yourself answering questions and then play the recording back to find the areas that you need to work on.

Why is data structure important in a tech interview?

In the world of tech interviews, having a good understanding of data structures is important for candidates aiming for jobs in computer science. It demonstrates your ability to solve problems effectively and write programs that run efficiently. This article is packed with top interview questions and answers about data structures.

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