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Discussion on: What’s with thinking out loud in technical interviews?

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jasperhorn profile image
JasperHorn

I remember in high school when many test questions would ask for the answer and an explanation of that answer. The idea is that if you only have an answer that wasn't the teacher's answer, it's either right or wrong, but there is no measure of insight. When you do explain, rather than just see if the answer matches the one on the scoresheet, they could actually grade how well you demonstrated your understanding of the subject.

(As an interesting anecdote, I once had a test where they had forgotten to add the "and explanation" bit on many questions. The result was that the only way the teacher was able to grade the test led to pretty low grades. My grade, though, wasn't affected, because I didn't need the instruction to write down an explanation to realize that I should write down an explanation...)

I think this is similar: the point isn't to test how well you communicate, it's about being able to judge your skill a lot better than when there is only your code.

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rvprasad profile image
Venkatesh-Prasad Ranganath Author

In your analogy, does the solver think thru the solution and then write the solution+explanation? Or does the solver think thru the solution while writing the solution+explanation? I think it is the former, and that is the crux of my post (not " let's do away with explanation").

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jasperhorn profile image
JasperHorn

I did not mean to imply the two processes are the same - they couldn't be since one is a written piece and the other is an in-person meeting. I wasn't even defending the use of the use of thinking out loud.

All I meant to say was that I think you're missing an important part of why people want you to "think out loud".

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rvprasad profile image
Venkatesh-Prasad Ranganath Author

"Thinking out loud" means "to verbalize one's thoughts", and I am open to explanations about how such verbalization can be useful in a technical interview.

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