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re: Do whiteboard interviews still exist? 🤔 VIEW POST

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re: One thing that often gets lost in the whiteboard communications process is that a lot of programmers are introverts and are less than comfortable w...
 

Yes, one of the really important things I learned early on is that each shop has their own culture and vocabulary. And as an INTP I also have a lot of empathy for introverts. So it's really important not only to establish a rapport with the other person, but also make sure your using the same words to mean the same thing.

Case in point. I was graduating from university many years ago. I had lined up some interviews with various consulting firms and I went into an interview with a recruiter from Arthur Anderson. I was going to be fresh out of college and getting my first "real" job in my field of study, Computer Information Systems.

I forget how exactly we led into the question, but the basics of it was:

AAR: "What is a tuple?"
ME: "A what?"
AAR: "A tuple, come on...surely you know this?"
ME: "..."
AAR: "You don't? What are they teaching you here?"
ME: "..."
AAR: "If you can't answer something this simple, I think we're done here."
ME:

Now, years later I realize that this was probably some junior level peon off on a power trip. He probably did this as some big ego stroke about how he knew fancy terms compared to us wet-behind-the-ear college grads. OR maybe he just had a sheet of definitions he was reading from with all the answers printed out. Or maybe it was some weird test of personality that I failed miserably at. I like to think they missed out on a really good hire because of it.

In any case, instead of tuple, if the recruiter had asked me: "So tell me about compound keys, records and relational databases?" I could have talked his ear off for 15 minutes about record sets, one-to-many relationships, cascading updates and deletes, acceptable values and lookup tables.

BTW: Tuple really just means a row or record in a table.

Because of those painful scars I always want to make sure that when I do interviews it's never a black and white Q & A, that we always get into discussions and clarifications so we're both on the same page (which is just as important to demonstrate their own communication skills as well as arriving at the technical answers), and that the "shape" of the answer is the most important thing, not the label we learned to call it by.

And yes, it may be petty, but I still smile and chuckle to myself when I think about where Arthur Anderson is today...

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