Sample Computer Science Interview Questions and Answers

Here’s a comprehensive guide to how to answer computer science-related interview questions.

Sample Computer Science Interview Questions and Answers

Devise strong answers to computer science interview questions.

Employers in almost every industry rely on computer science professionals' in-depth understanding of computer systems. And the need for this essential skill isn't going away anytime soon—the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 15% increase in computer and information technology jobs over the next decade. But landing a computer science job takes more than tech skills. You must be able to show employers that you're the right fit by providing strong answers to computer science interview questions over multiple rounds of interviews.

Not sure what computer science-related interview questions to expect? Some CS interview questions are very basic and apply to all job types, but others will be very specific and technical. Need some examples? Here's a list of commonly asked computer science questions with sample answers.

Computer Science Interview Questions

  1. What Are the Main Components of a Computer System?
  2. What Do You Know About Programming Languages?
  3. How Familiar Are You With Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence?
  4. Define Inheritance.
  5. What Is a Chipset?
  6. What Is the Purpose of an Operating System?
  7. Can You Explain What a Constructor Is?

Question #1: What Are the Main Components of a Computer System?

Every candidate for a CS job should be prepared to answer technical interview questions. Computer science interview questions will measure your general knowledge of computer systems and technology literacy that's relevant to your specific field. Your answer to this general question should include:

  • The five key components of a computer system: the motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), random access memory (RAM), and storage.
  • The main functions of each component.

How You Could Answer

"There are five main components of a computer system. First, you have the motherboard, which connects the parts of a computer. Without it, the other four components wouldn't be able to interact. Next, you have the central processing unit or CPU. The CPU processes data within a computer system and outputs it to software and tools. The graphics processing unit, or GPU, is designed to process memory for computer graphics speed. The random-access memory, or RAM, temporarily stores data so it can be read or accessed immediately. Lastly, storage includes either hard disk or solid-state drives that store files for easy access."

Question #2: What Do You Know About Programming Languages?

One of the key computer science questions posed by employers will ask about your knowledge of programming languages. Here's what your response should include:

  • The purpose of programming languages.
  • The difference between imperative and declarative programming languages.
  • An overview of the most common programming languages.

How You Could Answer

"Programming languages are used to write computer programs or instruct computers to perform certain tasks. There are two types of programming languages: imperative and declarative. Imperative programming is made up of step-by-step instructions for a computer system. They provide specific commands and tasks a computer must perform in a certain order. Examples of imperative programming languages include Fortran, Java, C, and C++. In contrast, declarative programming provides desired end results rather than step-by-step instructions. Some examples of declarative programming languages include SQL, Prolog, Lisp, Haskell, and Miranda."

Question #3: How Familiar Are You With Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an emerging area of computer science. If you encounter computer science interview questions about AI, discuss what you know about the technology and draw from previous experience. Your answer should cover:

  • The purpose of AI.
  • How AI is helpful.
  • AI programs you're familiar with.

How You Could Answer

"In today's digital world, the amount of data generated outpaces humans' ability to obtain and process it. Artificial intelligence sorts and processes data at a much faster pace than humans can. It also plays an important role in helping humans make critical decisions based on the data it collects. The programs I'm most familiar with include IBM Watson, Cloud Machine Learning Engine, and TensorFlow."

Question #4: Define Inheritance.

Inheritance is key in the field of computer science. If an interviewer asks computer science interview questions relating to inheritance, make sure you discuss the following details:

  • An overview of inheritance.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of inheritance.

How You Could Answer

"In computer programming, you have classes, which are blueprints for creating specific data structures called objects. Inheritance occurs when one class inherits the properties of another class or a parent class. The advantage of inheritance in programming is that once one class inherits the properties of another class, the code can be reused and becomes easier to read. The disadvantages include slower functioning of inherited classes and the potential for errors and memory wastage."

Question #5: What Is a Chipset?

Chipsets are embedded into motherboards and serve as communicators between the motherboard and other computer components. If you encounter any computer science questions about chipsets, include the following in your response:

  • The definition of a chipset.
  • The main function of a chipset.

How You Could Answer

"A chipset is a circuit made up of multiple electronic components. It's a critical part of the data flow management system. Chipsets are often found in a motherboard and can determine which components are compatible with the motherboard as well as control communications between the CPU and USB devices."

Question #6: What Is the Purpose of an Operating System?

The first thing computer users encounter when turning on a machine is the operating system. Everyone knows what an operating system does on the surface, but potential employers want you to dig a little deeper. When answering computer science interview questions relating to operating systems, here's what you should include:

  • The main parts of an operating system.
  • The functions of an operating system.
  • The types of operating systems.

How You Could Answer

"There are two main parts of an operating system: The kernel controls everything that happens within an operating system, and the user space is made up of all the other code that exists outside the kernel and is critical for running applications. Within an operating system, you have process management, interrupts, memory management, the file system, device drivers, networking, security, input, and output. Just about every computer requires an operating system to manage hardware, software, memory, and processes. The most commonly used operating systems include Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS, Google's Android OS, Apple macOS, and Linux."

Question #7: Can You Explain What a Constructor Is?

Potential employers may look for candidates who have specialized knowledge, such as when, how, and why to use a constructor. Make sure you include the following details when answering this question:

  • An overview of constructors.
  • The purpose of constructors.

How You Could Answer

"Constructors are invoked when classes or objects are created in object-based computer programming. Constructors often share the same characteristics of classes and objects, but they don't have the same return type. A class may execute a code to perform a task, but a constructor does not. Instead, its purpose is to initialize an object once it's been created. Java is one programming language that automatically requires each object created to be initialized by a constructor."

Get Into Monster's System to Find Computer Science Jobs

Now that you're prepared to answer some of the most common computer science interview questions, what's next? Create a free profile at Monster to start applying to jobs. We'll also send you custom job alerts in your field along with job hunt tips and tricks from our career experts.