re: Do whiteboard interviews still exist? 🤔 VIEW POST

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re: They are, I was interviewed that way when I got into my current job and I've been guilty of asking candidates to do it many times. Thanks to posts...
 

Thanks for sharing your experience Christian!

I can see that you aren't satisfied totally with the interview process at your company, so let me ask you some questions regarding that:

  • What other methods would you see applicable to your candidates? (home assignments, pseudo code tests maybe)
  • Why do you feel guilty about it? Has there been a particularly bad experience with a candidate who did the whiteboard interview?
 

What other methods would you see applicable to your candidates? (home assignments, pseudo code tests maybe)

Yeah, those are some of the options. But I don't think there's only one solution for interviewing.

Home Assignments

They have the benefits of giving the candidate some room to breath and take their time to really polish their code, since having someone "breathing" on your shoulder can make them too nervous. But it is not fair for those who have a kids, a second job, college, or just have other interests outside of work.

Pseudo Code Tests

They don't provide enough insight of a particular language feature or functionality. Things like:

  • Why did you choose to make this final or const?
  • Can you achieve the same results with a for or a while loop? If so, how? Then why did you prefer x over y in this scenario?

Giving him/her a laptop to code from scratch

It sounds better than having the candidate code on a whiteboard, but we still have the "breathing over your shoulder" issue.

But, this one can also help to test their debugging skills.

It would also require the company to dedicate resources into installing a wide range of tools like IDE/editors, so the candidate can feel somewhat comfortable.

Pair programming with the candidate

This is probably the one I'm most fan of. The interviewer can act as a guide for the candidate. As long as they provide a friendly approach to it. Instead of telling them what is wrong, the interviewer would have to say things like "this can be improved", "do you think we are missing something here?", etc.

Another big one for me is that I like to hear candidate's thought process. I ask them to speak out loud as much as they can so I can guide them through the process.

If the candidate turns out to make code that works but it might be missing some edge cases or could be cleaned up, I like to give them hints to see if they overlooked those details because they felt nervous or in a rush.


Why do you feel guilty about it? Has there been a particularly bad experience with a candidate who did the whiteboard interview?

Personally, I feel that one of the best skills to have is to not only to know the programming language, but also the tools at our disposal. Some may think that a developer who depends too much on their IDE is weak, but I actually consider them to be productive instead.

And I've noticed this with candidates: they get too nervous, they stop their thinking process because they care too much about ending each line with semicolons, every parenthesis, etc. And if they are used to various languages, it can be even worse.


Those are some of the ideas I've considered, but I think I might have missed some details, I guess you can have a general idea of what are the things I look out for :)

I only can agree with you on these topics. We tend to recruit potential candidates similar the way you've just described.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with me! 🙏

 

I thought I'd pitch in one of my favorite interviews I've experienced. It was a remote interview, for an on-site position. It started with a Skype call in which the interviewer gave me a coderpad, explained the problem I was to be solving, let me ask any clarifying questions, told me I had 30 minutes, and then, get this, he ended the call. I was free to code and Google to my heart's content unsupervised!

There was no panic when I mistyped, no awkwardness when I had to Google something simple. None of that.

At the end of my time, we started the call again and I explained my approach and answered a few questions about it. I really really liked this approach because it was so low stress, but also because I think it showed that I could take a spec and work relatively independently on it, which is more or less what the job usually is anyway.

However, I don't know if this alone is enough for an interview. You probably also want to know if you can work with someone amiably, and I don't know if this method accurately shows that.

It's all tradeoffs ('-')/

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