Empowering Recent Graduates for Success in Applied Data Science

4 min read

The data science interview process can be as diverse and dynamic as the field itself. From my own journey, I’ve learned that while the core technical questions may revolve around statistical knowledge, programming skills, and case study analyses, each company has its unique flavor. For instance, interviews at Facebook often delve deep into product sense and the ability to drive impactful data-informed decisions, reflecting their emphasis on user growth and engagement metrics.

Conversely, a data science interview at Amazon might challenge you to think about scalable solutions for e-commerce problems, often involving questions on AWS tools and large-scale data processing. This reflects their operational backbone, where data science intersects with cloud infrastructure to enhance customer experience.

Sharing these experiences offers a more comprehensive view, giving readers a feel for what’s to come and how they can tailor their preparation for specific company cultures and technical expectations.

Best Books for Interview Preparation

As you embark on the challenging path of data science interviews, arming yourself with knowledge is key. The following books have been meticulously selected to build your foundation, hone your technical skills, and polish the soft skills that will set you apart.

  1. Foundational Understanding:
    • The Data Science Handbook” by Carl Shan, William Chen, Henry Wang, and Max Song: Offers career advice and insights from industry leaders, valuable for understanding the broader landscape of data science careers.
  2. Technical Interview Preparation:
    • Cracking the Data Science Interview” by Maverick Lin: Provides an in-depth exploration of common technical interview questions in data science.
    • Ace the Data Science Interview” by Nick Singh and Kevin Huo: Contains 201 real interview questions from top tech companies, focusing on statistics, machine learning, SQL, and coding.
    • Practical Statistics for Data Scientists: 50+ Essential Concepts Using R and Python” by Peter Bruce, Andrew Bruce, and Peter Gedeck: A resource for brushing up on statistical concepts, with practical examples in R and Python.
    • Machine Learning Interviews” by Susan Shu Chang: Offers insights into acing machine learning interviews with practical advice and examples, focusing on understanding machine learning concepts and applying them in interview scenarios.
    • Build a Career in Data Science” by Emily Robinson and Jacqueline Nolis: Provides a roadmap for building a successful career in data science, covering job search strategies, interview tips, and career development advice.
  3. Soft Skills Development:

Websites for Learning and Practice

In preparing for data science roles, leveraging online resources for learning and practice is invaluable. These platforms offer a diverse range of materials, from interactive coding exercises to comprehensive courseware, tailored to enhance your technical skills and understanding of data science fundamentals. While the list of such websites is extensive, we have selected a few standout options based on their quality of content, user experience, and focus on data science competencies. These resources are designed to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, ensuring you are well-equipped for any challenges you might face in the field.

  1. Initial Learning and Practice:
    • Kaggle: For engaging in real-world projects and competitions and collaborating with a global community of data scientists.
    • LeetCode: To sharpen coding skills with a variety of challenges, crucial for data science interviews.
    • DataCamp: Learn data science and analytics skills through interactive courses and projects.
    • GeeksforGeeks: Comprehensive computer science and programming tutorials, including data structures and algorithms.
  2. Advanced Preparation and Mock Interviews:
    • Interview Kickstart: Offers comprehensive interview preparation courses and live practice sessions with interviewers from top tech companies.
    • Pramp: Provides a platform for mock interviews, simulating real scenarios and offering feedback.
    • CodeSignal: Practice coding challenges and technical interview simulations.
    • HackerRank: Offers coding challenges and competitions, enhancing algorithmic skills.
  3. Company-Specific Insights and Real Interview Questions:
    • Glassdoor: Features real interview questions from companies like PayPal, Amazon, and Facebook.
    • Interview Query: Provides insights and actual interview questions from leading data science companies, covering various topics.
    • Coursera: Courses for interview preparation, including those from universities and companies.
  4. Comprehensive Course and Articles:
    • Udacity : Course covering data science interview topics including questions and assessments.
    • Towards Data Science on Medium: Updates on trends and best practices in the data science industry.
    • Brilliant: Interactive learning in math, science, and computer science to enhance quantitative reasoning.
    • StrataScratch: Real interview questions for practical data science interview preparation.

Actionable Strategies for Success

  1. Build a Strong Portfolio: Showcase your data science projects to demonstrate your capabilities. In the journey to a successful data science career, your portfolio is your narrative. For instance, when I tackled the housing prices prediction project using a Kaggle dataset, it was not just about applying machine learning models; it was about understanding the story the data talked about real estate trends over the years. I documented each challenge faced, such as dealing with missing values and choosing the right model, which not only honed my problem-solving skills but also improved my ability to convey technical concepts in simple terms. These experiences, shared through blog posts or portfolio descriptions, add a personal dimension to your technical showcase, making it resonate more with readers and potential employers alike.
  2. Practice Mock Interviews: Use platforms like Pramp for realistic interview simulations and feedback. Pramp has been a personal game-changer for many, myself included. The platform’s realistic interview simulations not only prepared me for the types of questions to expect but also the pacing and pressure of actual data science interviews. After each session, I would reflect on the feedback received, fine-tuning my approach to problem-solving and communication. Sharing specific anecdotes about these experiences can make your preparation journey relatable and encourage others to embrace mock interviews as a critical step towards success.
  3. Network and Seek Guidance: The adage ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ holds a kernel of truth in the data science world. I’ve found forums like Data Science Central invaluable for connecting with industry veterans and peers. One discussion thread led to a mentorship that significantly shaped my career path. By sharing your own stories of networking success, you illustrate the tangible outcomes of engaging with the community and underscore the importance of building relationships in the field.


The transition from a recent graduate to a successful data scientist requires a balance of technical knowledge and strong soft skills. By utilizing these resources and strategies, you can position yourself as a competitive candidate. Remember, it’s not just about the technical aspects but also about your ability to communicate effectively and think creatively. Good luck on your journey to landing your dream job in data science!

Considering Earning Your Master’s in Data Science?

Free checklist helps you compare programs, select one that’s ideal for you.