My Perspective as a Software Engineer: Why I Dislike Data Structures and Algorithms (DSA)


In this blog post, I will share my personal perspective as a software engineer on why I dislike data structures and algorithms (DSA). I will delve into your initial struggles with DSA, your shift in mindset, and your views on the hiring processes of different types of companies. Please note that this post reflects my personal opinions and experiences.

Struggling with DSA:

Throughout your college journey, you developed a strong dislike for data structures and algorithms. From the very beginning of your computer science classes, you found yourself dreading the concept and feeling frustrated. You yearned for the day when you would start learning how to build real-world applications, but it seemed like that day never came.

Changing your approach:

To overcome your aversion to DSA, you decided to adopt a “bottom-up” approach to learning. Instead of following the traditional curriculum, you started by exploring real-world projects that you could create. You identified the concepts required for those projects and focused on mastering them. This reversed approach helped you gain a better understanding of the practical aspects of programming and motivated you to appreciate the knowledge gained through data structures and algorithms.

Different hiring approaches:

You discovered that the hiring processes of different companies varied significantly in terms of their emphasis on DSA. Startup companies tended to prioritize speed and the ability to quickly develop and deliver apps. They focused less on DSA knowledge and more on assessing how fast you could create functional applications. On the other hand, larger companies, such as FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google), prioritized efficient and mistake-free code, emphasizing the importance of DSA proficiency during their recruitment processes.

Navigating the DSA interview landscape:

Given your preference for project-based work and your struggle with DSA interviews, you found ways to navigate the interview landscape and showcase your skills. One key strategy was practicing extensively through mock interviews, which allowed you to experience both sides of the interviewing process. This helped you improve your problem-solving abilities and gain insight into the best ways to explain and approach different coding challenges.

Effective communication and problem-solving:

During interviews, you realized that effective communication and problem-solving skills were just as important as technical proficiency. Clear and concise communication helped you convey your understanding of the problem and your approach to solving it. While you might not have been able to provide the most optimal solution within the interview time frame, you made sure to demonstrate your knowledge and thought process, indicating that you could improve upon and optimize the solution given more time.

The case for project-based assessment:

In your opinion, project-based assessment provides a fairer evaluation of your skills and suitability for software engineering roles. Assessing your ability to navigate through a large codebase, maintain code quality, and develop clean, maintainable code is crucial. Real-world projects often involve utilizing existing libraries and tools, rather than reinventing basic DSA concepts from scratch. Therefore, emphasizing project-based assessments can better gauge your ability to work effectively in practical scenarios.

Addressing the fairness of DSA interviews:

DSA interviews can be seen as somewhat unfair due to various factors. For example, in some cases, companies provide candidates with coding challenges to solve at home, followed by face-to-face interviews where you explain your solutions. This approach opens up the possibility of unfair advantages, such as candidates receiving hints or even being aware of the exact questions beforehand. To improve fairness, some companies conduct face-to-face interviews to assess your thought process and experience, reducing the potential for cheating or unfair advantages.


In conclusion, while DSA knowledge remains an important aspect of software engineering, there are valid arguments against its overemphasis in certain hiring processes. The ability to work on and navigate through large codebases, along with effective communication and problem-solving skills, are equally important. Emphasizing project-based assessments can provide a fairer evaluation.

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