Intro to Whiteboarding
Welcome to the fun of whiteboarding! In this tutorial, we'll be going over:
- What whiteboarding is, in terms of interviewing
- Why whiteboarding is necessary
- How to be successful in whiteboarding interviews
The whiteboard: How does this four-sided, empty surface invoke fear for many a would-be interviewee?
The whiteboard should be familiar to most students in the program. Instructors will have used the whiteboard to display concepts, write out code, and maybe even draw some funny pictures.
A whiteboarding interview is usually (but not always) done after the applicant completes preliminary steps such as the phone interview and behavioral interview.
Whiteboards are used a bit differently for technical interviews than they are in the classroom. Instead of asking about certain concepts, an interviewer will ask the interviewee to solve a problem or a series of problems on the whiteboard. The problems might be more conceptual (less likely), or they might be more technically focused (more likely). The interview is generally conducted by a single senior engineer at the company but may involve more interviewers.
The following are two examples from actual coding job interviews.
Conceptual Question Example
From Glassdoor: "During an interview I was asked if one robot was chasing another on a round playing field with a circular hole in the middle, and you can fall into the hole or off the edge, what would the algorithm be like to hunt down the fleeing robot?"
Note that the question doesn't necessarily involve any kind of writing to solve the problem. Still, it's important to display and explain your thought process, even for non-code problems. We'll go over why later in the tutorial.
Technical Question Example
- From Glassdoor: "Describe and code an algorithm that returns the first duplicate character in a string."
- This is a more typical question asked in technical interviews. Later we'll show you how to solve for these types of problems.
Now that we've gone over what a whiteboarding interview is, you might be wondering why such an interview is necessary to determine one's development skills. We can help answer that question in the next section.