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Top C++ Interview Questions and Answers for Experienced Developers
Jun 19, 2024

Top C++ Interview Questions and Answers for Experienced Developers

Ace your next tech interview with key insights on C++ interview topics, tailored for experienced developers seeking to impress.

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Feeling the interview jitters? Don't sweat it!Β  This guide will equip you with the key C++ interview topics that'll make you shine in your next technical showdown.

We'll brush up on the basics (you know, those fundamentals that interviewers love to test!), then dive deeper into essential concepts like object-oriented programming (OOP) - think classes, objects, inheritance, the whole jazz.

Memory management can be tricky, so we'll tackle that too, along with pointers and how to avoid those nasty memory leaks.Β  Templates and the Standard Template Library (STL) are up next, showing you how to write clean, efficient code with reusable components.

Ever wanted to write code that does multiple things at once? Multithreading is your friend, and we'll break down the concepts and best practices for you.Β  C++ keeps evolving, so we'll touch on the latest features in C++ 11, 14, 17, and even the brand new C++ 20.

Last but not least, we'll cover performance optimization techniques to make your C++ code run like a champ. Remember, practice makes perfect, so get out there and apply these concepts in real-world projects.
Now that we've set the stage, let's dive into the specifics, starting with the very foundation of C++.

Key Takeaways:

  • C++ interview topics for experienced developers
  • Introduction to C++ and its features
  • Object-oriented programming (OOP) in C++
  • Memory management and error handling in C++
  • Templates and generic programming

Introduction to C++

The Basics of C++

C++ is a general-purpose programming language that was developed as an extension to the C programming language. It was first introduced in 1985 by Bjarne Stroustrup as an enhancement to C, adding additional features such as object-oriented programming (OOP) and generic programming.

With C++, developers can write powerful, efficient, and reusable code for a wide range of applications, including system software, game development, and high-performance computing.

Question: How does C++ support object-oriented programming principles, and what benefits does this offer for code reusability?

C++ incorporates a range of features that make it a versatile and powerful programming language. Some of the key features of C++ include:

  • Object-Oriented Programming: C++ supports the principles of object-oriented programming, allowing developers to organize code into classes and objects, encapsulate data and behavior, and achieve code reusability.
  • Templates: C++ enables generic programming using templates, which allow developers to write code that can work with different data types.
  • Memory Management: C++ provides control over memory allocation and deallocation, allowing developers to efficiently manage system resources.
  • Standard Template Library (STL): The STL is a powerful library in C++ that provides ready-to-use data structures and algorithms, saving development time and effort.
  • Exception Handling: C++ supports exception handling, allowing developers to handle and recover from runtime errors effectively.

Question: Beyond its foundational role, what are some specific industries or application areas where expertise in C++ is particularly advantageous?

Learning C++ is essential for aspiring software developers and experienced programmers alike. It is widely used in various industries and offers career opportunities in fields such as game development, embedded systems, and financial technology.

By mastering the basics of C++, you'll gain a solid foundation that will serve as a stepping stone for advanced programming concepts. Whether you're just starting your programming journey or looking to expand your skill set, C++ is a language worth exploring.

A Brief History of C++

C++ evolved from the C programming language, with Bjarne Stroustrup serving as its creator. Stroustrup designed C++ to retain the efficiency and low-level capabilities of C while adding modern programming paradigms such as OOP.

Over the years, C++ has undergone several revisions, with notable releases including C++98, C++11, C++14, C++17, and the latest C++20. Each release introduced new features and improvements to the language, making it more powerful and expressive.

C++ Versions Table
Version Year Features
C++98 1998 Standardized version of C++
C++11 2011 Introduced lambda expressions, range-based for loops, and smart pointers
C++14 2014 Added binary literals, generic lambdas, and improved compile-time performance
C++17 2017 Introduced structured bindings, if constexpr, and filesystem library
C++20 2020 Added modules, coroutines, and ranges library


Question: What is Object-Oriented Programming in C++?

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a fundamental concept in C++. It is a programming paradigm that revolves around the idea of creating objects, which are instances of classes that encapsulate data and behaviors.

OOP is implemented through the use of classes and objects. A class is a blueprint for creating objects, defining their attributes (data) and behaviors (functions). Objects, on the other hand, are instances of classes that can store data and perform operations.

Question: Explain the main principles of object-oriented programming (OOP) in C++ and discuss how they contribute to code reusability, maintainability, and overall design.

There are four main principles of object-oriented programming:

  1. Encapsulation: This principle focuses on hiding the internal details of an object and exposing only the essential functionalities. It ensures data security and allows for easy maintenance and modification of the code.
  2. Inheritance: Inheritance allows for the creation of new classes based on existing ones. It promotes code reusability and provides a way to define relationships between different classes.
  3. Polymorphism: Polymorphism enables objects to take on multiple forms. It allows for the use of a single interface to represent different types or behaviors. Polymorphism can be achieved through function overloading and function overriding.
  4. Abstraction: Abstraction refers to the concept of hiding unnecessary details and complexity. It allows programmers to focus on essential features and simplifies the understanding and implementation of the code.

Describe the practical steps involved in implementing object-oriented programming concepts in C++. Explain how you would use classes, objects, inheritance, and polymorphism in your C++ code to achieve modularity and reusability.

You can implement OOP concepts using classes, objects, inheritance, and polymorphism. Here's a brief overview of how each of these concepts is used:

  • Create a class: Use the class keyword to define a class with its attributes and member functions.
  • Create objects: Instantiate objects of the class using the class name followed by parentheses.
  • Inheritance: Use the inheritance mechanism to derive a new class from an existing one, inheriting its attributes and member functions.
  • Polymorphism: Utilize function overloading and function overriding to achieve polymorphic behavior, allowing objects of different classes to be treated interchangeably.

By leveraging the power of object-oriented programming, you can build modular and reusable code that is easier to understand, maintain, and extend.


OOP Concepts Table
Concept Description
Encapsulation Hides the internal details of an object and exposes essential functionalities.
Inheritance Allows for the creation of new classes based on existing ones, promoting code reusability.
Polymorphism Enables objects to take on multiple forms, providing flexibility in implementation.
Abstraction Hides unnecessary details and complexity, simplifying code implementation and understanding.


Why is memory management considered critical in C++ programming?

Memory management is a critical aspect of C++ programming. Properly managing memory allocation is essential for optimizing performance and preventing memory leaks.

Question: C++ offers two main memory regions: stack and heap. Briefly explain which one you'd typically use for local variables within a function and why.

Memory is divided into two main regions: the stack and the heap. The stack is used for storing local variables and function call information. It follows a LIFO (Last In, First Out) approach, where the latest data is added to the top of the stack and removed when the function execution completes.

The heap, on the other hand, is used for dynamic memory allocation. It allows you to allocate memory at runtime, which can be accessed even after the function execution completes. However, it is crucial to manage heap memory properly to avoid memory leaks and ensure efficient memory utilization.

Question: C++ offers new for dynamic allocation. Why use it over stack memory, but what is crucial to avoid leaks?

Dynamic memory allocation is achieved using the new keyword. It allows you to allocate memory for variables and objects at runtime, based on your program's needs. The allocated memory needs to be explicitly deallocated using the delete keyword to prevent memory leaks.

When allocating memory dynamically, it is important to keep track of the allocated memory and deallocate it when it is no longer needed. Failing to deallocate memory can lead to memory leaks, which can degrade the performance of your program and even cause it to crash.

Question: C++ pointers manage dynamic memory. Why are they crucial, but what can go wrong with uninitialized pointers?

Pointers play a crucial role in memory management in C++. They allow you to store the memory address of a variable or object, enabling you to access and manipulate the data it points to. Pointers are commonly used in dynamic memory allocation, as they provide a way to manage and interact with dynamically allocated memory.

When dealing with pointers, it is important to ensure proper initialization and deallocation. Using uninitialized or dangling pointers can result in undefined behavior and memory corruption.

Question: Dynamic memory allocation is great, but what can happen if you don't deallocate it properly?

Memory leaks occur when dynamically allocated memory is not properly deallocated, resulting in memory resources being unavailable even after they are no longer needed. This can lead to the gradual depletion of available memory, causing your program to consume more and more memory over time.

Preventing memory leaks requires careful management of dynamically allocated memory. By ensuring that every allocation is matched with a corresponding deallocation, you can effectively manage your program's memory resources and avoid memory leaks.

One way to prevent memory leaks is to use smart pointers, which provide automatic memory deallocation based on their usage scope. Smart pointers manage the memory they point to and automatically deallocate it when it is no longer accessible.

Question: C++ templates enable generic programming. Briefly explain how templates (like template classes or functions) promote code reusability and improve code maintainability.

templates play a significant role in achieving generic programming. They allow developers to write reusable code that can work with different data types without sacrificing performance.Β 

Templates offer a powerful mechanism for creating generic algorithms and data structures that can adapt to various data types at compile time. By utilizing templates, developers can write code that is flexible and efficient, making it easier to maintain and extend their applications.

A template class is a blueprint for creating generic classes that can be used with different data types. It allows developers to define the structure and functionality of a class without specifying the actual data type to be used. This abstraction enables code reusability, as the same class template can be instantiated with different types depending on the specific requirements of the program.

In addition to template classes, C++ also provides template functions, which allow developers to create generic functions that can operate on different data types. Template functions are defined with one or more template parameters, which serve as placeholders for the actual data types used during function invocation. This flexibility enables developers to write generic algorithms that can be applied to a wide range of data.

To demonstrate the power of templates and generic programming, let’s consider the following example:

template <typename T>
T maximum(T a, T b) {
return (a > b) ? a : b;
int main() {
int intResult = maximum(5, 10);
double doubleResult = maximum(3.14, 2.71);
return 0;

In the above example, the maximum function is defined as a template function. It takes two arguments of type T, which can be any data type. The function returns the larger of the two values. In the main function, we demonstrate how the maximum function can be used with both int and double data types, thanks to templates.

Using templates in C++ facilitates code reuse, enhances flexibility, and promotes cleaner and more maintainable code. By leveraging the power of generic programming, developers can create efficient and versatile applications that cater to a wide range of data types.

Templates in C++ Table
Advantages of Templates in C++ Disadvantages of Templates in C++
Code reusability Increased compile time
Improved compile-time checks Code bloat if not used carefully
Flexibility with different data types Complexity in debugging template errors
Better performance compared to run-time polymorphism


Question: How does exception handling in C++ contribute to writing robust and reliable code? Briefly describe the key concepts involved (e.g., exceptions, try/catch blocks).

Exception handling is a crucial aspect of writing robust and reliable code in C++. It allows developers to anticipate and handle runtime errors effectively, ensuring that their program gracefully recovers from unexpected situations.Β 

The Basics of Exception Handling

Exception handling involves dealing with exceptional conditions or errors that occur during the execution of a program. These exceptions can be caused by various factors such as invalid user input, unexpected system behavior, or resource unavailability.

Here, exceptions are typically raised using the throw keyword and caught using the try-catch blocks. The try block contains the code that might raise an exception, while the catch block handles the exception and performs the necessary error recovery actions.

try { // Code that may raise an exception } catch (ExceptionType e) { // Code to handle the exception }

By catching exceptions, you can prevent your program from crashing and provide meaningful error messages or alternative actions to the user. It enables you to gracefully handle errors and maintain the overall stability of your application.

Throwing and Catching Exceptions

Here you can define your own exception classes by deriving them from the std::exception class. This allows you to create custom exception types that represent specific error situations in your program. By throwing these exceptions at appropriate points in your code, you can communicate errors and handle them accordingly.

When catching exceptions, you can either catch specific types of exceptions or catch all exceptions using the ellipsis (...) syntax.

try { // Code that may raise an exception } catch (SpecificExceptionType e) { // Code to handle specific exception } catch (...) { // Code to handle all other exceptions }

Best Practices for Error Handling

Effective error handling is crucial for developing reliable C++ applications. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Handle exceptions at the appropriate level: Catch and handle exceptions at the appropriate level of your code to avoid excessive clutter and ensure proper separation of concerns.
  • Provide informative error messages: When catching exceptions, provide clear and concise error messages that help users understand the issue and guide them towards resolving it.
  • Gracefully recover from exceptions: Whenever possible, attempt to recover from exceptions and continue program execution instead of terminating abruptly. This helps maintain the overall stability of your application.
  • Use RAII for resource management: Follow the Resource Acquisition Is Initialization (RAII) principle to ensure proper resource management and avoid leaks. RAII involves using objects with constructors and destructors to acquire and release resources automatically.
  • Avoid overly broad exception handlers: Be cautious when catching exceptions using the ellipsis (...) syntax, as it can unintentionally catch unrelated exceptions and make it difficult to diagnose and fix issues.

By following these best practices, you can enhance the reliability and maintainability of your C++ code, making it more resilient to errors and easier to debug and maintain.

Question: The Standard Template Library (STL) offers a rich collection of data structures and algorithms. Explain how the STL can improve developer productivity and code maintainability.

The Standard Template Library (STL) is a powerful tool for C++ developers, offering a comprehensive collection of reusable data structures and algorithms. With the STL, you can enhance your productivity and streamline your code by leveraging pre-built components.


One of the key components of the STL is its wide range of containers, which provide efficient ways to store and manipulate data. Examples of containers include vectors, lists, stacks, queues, and maps. Each container has its own unique characteristics, allowing you to choose the most appropriate one for your specific use case.


STL iterators provide a way to traverse through the elements of a container. By using iterators, you can access and manipulate individual elements without directly accessing their memory addresses. This abstraction simplifies the process of iterating over containers and makes your code more flexible and maintainable.


The STL includes a vast array of algorithms that can be applied to containers, enabling you to perform various operations efficiently. These algorithms cover a wide range of functionalities, including sorting, searching, modifying, and comparing elements within containers. By leveraging these algorithms, you can solve complex problems with just a few lines of code.

"The Standard Template Library is a game-changer for C++ developers. Its containers, iterators, and algorithms provide a solid foundation for building robust and efficient applications."

Question: C++ supports multithreading for improved program performance. Briefly explain the concept of multithreading and why thread synchronization is critical in this context.

Multithreading and concurrency are essential concepts in modern C++ programming that allow for efficient and parallel execution of tasks. By leveraging these techniques, developers can significantly improve the performance of their applications.

Multithreading enables programs to execute multiple tasks simultaneously by dividing them into smaller threads. These threads can run concurrently, taking advantage of the CPU's multiple cores or processors.

In this platform, developers can create and manage threads using the std::thread class from the Standard Library. This class provides functions to create, join, and synchronize threads.

One of the key challenges in multithreading is thread synchronization. When multiple threads access shared resources, such as variables or data structures, synchronization ensures that the interactions happen in an orderly and predictable manner. Failure to properly synchronize threads can result in race conditions, deadlocks, or data corruption.

Thread Synchronization Mechanisms

C++ provides various mechanisms for thread synchronization, including:

  1. Mutexes: Mutexes (short for mutual exclusion) are used to protect critical sections of code by allowing only one thread to access them at a time. Developers can use the std::mutex class to create and manage mutex objects.
  2. Locks: Locks, such as std::lock_guard and std::unique_lock, provide a convenient way to acquire and release mutexes automatically. They ensure that mutexes are released even in the event of an exception.
  3. Condition Variables: Condition variables allow threads to wait for a certain condition to be met before proceeding. They are typically used in conjunction with mutexes to coordinate the execution of multiple threads.
  4. Atomic Operations: Atomic operations provide low-level synchronization mechanisms for individual memory operations. They ensure that certain operations, such as incrementing a variable, happen atomically without being interrupted by other threads.

Developers need to understand these synchronization mechanisms and choose the appropriate ones based on the requirements of their application.

Question: What are the Best Practices for Concurrent Programming in C++?

When utilizing multithreading and concurrency in C++, it's crucial to follow best practices to avoid common pitfalls and ensure the reliability and correctness of your code:

  • Identify critical sections and protect them with mutexes to prevent race conditions.
  • Minimize the use of global variables to reduce the chances of shared resource conflicts.
  • Avoid excessive locking and synchronization, as it can introduce performance overhead and potential deadlocks.
  • Use atomic operations when performing simple and independent updates on shared variables.
  • Understand and handle exceptions properly in threaded code to prevent crashes and data corruption.
  • Consider using thread pools or task-based parallelism techniques, such as std::async, to manage and distribute work across threads.
Synchronization Mechanisms Table
Synchronization Mechanism Use Case
Mutexes Protecting critical sections of code by allowing only one thread to access them at a time.
Locks Acquiring and releasing mutexes automatically, ensuring their proper use and exception safety.
Condition Variables Coordinating the execution of multiple threads by waiting for a certain condition to be met.
Atomic Operations Ensuring atomicity of specific memory operations without the need for locks or synchronization.


Question: C++ undergoes regular updates with new features. Briefly describe two key improvements introduced in C++11 that enhance code safety and readability. Additionally, mention one feature from a later version (C++14, 17, or 20) that further improves developer productivity.

C++ is a continuously evolving programming language, with each new version introducing exciting features that enhance productivity and code quality.

C++ 11 Features

C++ 11 introduced several groundbreaking features that revolutionized the way developers write code. Some of the notable features include:

  • Lambda expressions: Lambda expressions allow concise and inline function definitions, improving code readability and reducing the need for function objects.
  • Move semantics: Move semantics enable efficient resource management and improve performance by transferring the ownership of resources rather than copying them.
  • Smart pointers: Smart pointers provide intelligent memory management, preventing memory leaks and simplifying resource handling.

C++ 14 Features

C++ 14 built upon the foundation laid by C++ 11 and introduced additional features to further enhance code expressiveness and safety. Some of the key features include:

  • Generic lambdas: C++ 14 extended lambda expressions to support auto parameters, enabling the creation of generic functions.
  • Return type deduction: C++ 14 introduced auto return type deduction for functions, reducing the need for explicit return type declarations.
  • Variable templates: Variable templates allow the creation of generic variables, providing a more flexible and concise syntax.

C++ 17 Features

C++ 17 focused on improving the standard library and simplifying common programming tasks. Here are some of the significant features introduced:

  • Structured bindings: Structured bindings provide an elegant syntax for decomposing tuples and other structured types into individual elements.
  • Inline variables: C++ 17 allows the inline declaration and definition of variables within function bodies, improving code modularity.
  • Filesystem library: The filesystem library provides a standardized and portable way of interacting with the file system.

C++ 20 Features

The latest version of C++, C++ 20, builds upon the foundation of its predecessors and brings several powerful features to the table. Some notable features include:

  • Concepts: Concepts provide a way to express and enforce constraints on template arguments, enhancing type safety and code clarity.
  • Coroutines: Coroutines introduce lightweight cooperative multitasking, simplifying the development of asynchronous code.
  • Ranges: The ranges library provides a uniform and composable way to work with sequences of values, improving code expressiveness.

Summary Table: C++ 11/14/17/20 Features

C++ Features Table
Feature C++ 11 C++ 14 C++ 17 C++ 20
Lambda expressions βœ“
Move semantics βœ“
Smart pointers βœ“
Generic lambdas βœ“
Return type deduction βœ“
Variable templates βœ“
Structured bindings βœ“
Inline variables βœ“
Filesystem library βœ“
Concepts βœ“
Coroutines βœ“
Ranges βœ“


Question: C++ offers various techniques for code optimization. Briefly explain two key strategies for optimizing C++ code for improved performance, and mention one factor to consider when selecting data structures for performance.

Optimizing the performance of your C++ code is crucial for efficient execution. By following best practices and implementing code optimization techniques, you can significantly enhance the speed and efficiency of your programs.


Before diving into code optimization, it is essential to identify the bottlenecks in your code. Profiling tools such as Valgrind or Gprof can help you analyze your code's performance and pinpoint areas that require optimization. By identifying hotspots and time-consuming functions, you can prioritize your efforts for maximum impact.

Code Optimization Techniques

There are several techniques you can employ to optimize your C++ code:

  1. Loop Unrolling: Unrolling loops can reduce loop overhead and improve performance by reducing branch mispredictions and loop control costs.
  2. Inlining: Inlining functions eliminates the function call overhead, allowing the compiler to inline small, frequently used functions for performance gains.
  3. Reducing Memory Access: Minimizing memory access can improve performance by reducing cache misses. Techniques such as loop reordering, data structure optimization, and cache-aware algorithms can help achieve this.
  4. Compiler Optimization Flags: Utilize compiler optimization flags, such as -O2 or -O3, to enable higher levels of optimization during compilation. These flags enable the compiler to perform various optimizations, including function inlining, loop unrolling, and constant folding.
  5. Use Appropriate Data Structures: Choosing the right data structure for your problem can significantly impact performance. Ensure you understand the time complexity of different operations and select the most efficient data structure accordingly.

Tips for Writing Efficient C++ Code

Here are some additional tips to improve the performance of your C++ code:

  • Avoid Unnecessary Copying: Minimize unnecessary copying of objects by utilizing move semantics and using references or pointers instead of object copies.
  • Avoid Resource Leaks: Properly manage resources such as memory and file handles to avoid leaks. Use smart pointers and RAII (Resource Acquisition Is Initialization) to automatically clean up resources.
  • Minimize Function Calls: Excessive function calls can cause overhead. Consider consolidating multiple function calls or inline small functions where appropriate.
  • Use Standard Libraries: Utilize the power of the Standard Template Library (STL) for optimized and efficient container classes, algorithms, and data structures.

Remember, performance optimization is an iterative process. Measure the impact of each optimization technique and profile your code after implementing optimizations to ensure you're achieving the desired improvements.

Optimization Techniques Table
Optimization Technique Benefits
Loop Unrolling Reduces loop overhead and improves cache utilization
Inlining Eliminates function call overhead and improves execution speed
Reducing Memory Access Minimizes cache misses and improves data locality
Compiler Optimization Flags Enables higher levels of optimization during compilation
Use Appropriate Data Structures Improves efficiency and reduces computational complexity


With the technical know-how under your belt, let's pivot to the final stretch: acing that C++ interview.

Interview Preparation Tips

This section provides a roadmap to help you excel in your upcoming C++ interview:

  • Key C++ Interview Topics: Brush up on fundamental C++ concepts that are frequently tested, like:some text
    • Memory Management: Understanding memory allocation and deallocation is crucial to prevent memory leaks and ensure program stability.
    • Object-Oriented Programming (OOP): Master the core principles of OOP like encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism to effectively design and implement C++ applications.
    • Standard Template Library (STL): Familiarity with the STL's data structures (vectors, lists, maps) and algorithms (sorting, searching) will help you write efficient and reusable code.
  • Sample Coding Questions for Practice: Hone your coding skills by tackling practice problems designed for C++ interview topics. Various online platforms offer these resources, allowing you to test your problem-solving abilities and coding under pressure.
  • How to Prepare for Advanced C++ interview topics: Explore resources and strategies to deepen your understanding of advanced C++ topics and impress interviewers. This may include:some text
    • Multithreading and Concurrency: Understand how to utilize multiple threads for improved program performance and optimize applications for parallel execution.
    • C++ Features Introduced in Recent Versions (C++11, C++14, etc.): Stay updated on the latest advancements in C++ by exploring features like smart pointers, lambdas, and concepts.
  • Usage of C++ in FAANG Interviews: Gain insights into how C++ is utilized in interviews at top tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (FAANG). Researching their approach can help you tailor your preparation accordingly.
  • Average Salary Insights for C++ Developers: Get a sense of typical salaries for C++ developers based on experience and location. Knowing your worth empowers you to confidently negotiate your salary during the interview process.

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