It shouldn’t be surprising when I say that I don’t like whiteboard interviews. I’m pretty sure nobody does. It’s a sentiment among developers as old as time. Whiteboard interviews are a coming of age experience for us. Given a complex word problem, select and implement the correct algorithm that you were expected to memorize before the interview.
Something about the mix of being put on the spot combined with the pressure of having to write code in front of someone else always gets to me. I generally do fine, I solve the problem, but not without a few embarrassing mistakes along the way.
I replay these interviews in my head hundreds of times afterwards, and I always keep coming back to one question: what do these interviewers think they’re learning about me? What new data points were they getting that couldn’t be found in my portfolio, LinkedIn, GitHub repositories, or simply by talking to me?
The specific traits that makes a talented developer are incredibly hard to define, and this ambiguity means that hiring is a really tough job. So I sympathize with them when they attempt to boil it all down to a question that they think is quantitative. My performance on an algorithmic question is easily compared to other candidates. But do I ever really need to recall the exact implementation of quick sort, or know…