Rock Your Next Whiteboard Test

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For more advice on technical interviews and step-by-step checklist for preparing for the big day, get our free ebook,The Ultimate Guide to Interviewing for Your First Tech Job.

Whiteboard interviews are not meant to be a silent matter. Interviewers want to know what you are thinking and how you approach challenging questions. Talking out loud may not come naturally to you, but thats okay. Try articulating your thought process as you complete your daily tasks, like your morning routine, with as much detail as possible. This will help you get used to what youre expected to do during the whiteboard interview.

Ries wrote that he learns a lot about potential employees by seeing what kind of solutions candidates think are good enough and when they decide theyre finished. This is how they find someone whos a right fit for the company.

A whiteboard interview is a portion of atech job interviewmeant to test your communication and problem solving skills. Youll be given a code problem or task and a whiteboard, of course, to work out your code and go over your solution.

Even if you feel like you may not have provided the best answer, make sure to stay positive, engage with the interviewers, and persevere to the end of the interview. You wont be judged only on the whiteboard portion of your interview, so even if you had a small hiccup, dont worry about it.

Everything you ever wanted to know to master the whiteboard test: via @skillcrush @justdebbb

After the details of the task are clear, be sure to talk out loud as you solve the question. The interviewer wants to know what is going on in your head and understand your approach to the task at hand, so being able to explain your thoughts is crucial. For this portion of your interview, often times, you will be judged on your thought process, regardless of whether youre able to provide a solid answer.

Keep in mind that even if you are unable to solve the problem, you want to be able to show that youve taken the logical steps to attempt to do so.

Now that you understand whiteboard interviews, from what they are, why they are conducted, and have the key resources to practice them, lets go over exactly how you can prep yourself for a successful interview.

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2. Have a list of practice questions

Although its difficult to predict what questions you will be asked the day of your interview, compiling a list of potential whiteboard questions is essential to helping you practice and gain confidence, as you would do for the non-technical portions of your interview. Make sure to list out different kinds of problems, because your interviewers will want to test your ability to solve on the spot. Variation is key.

Everything You Need to Know to Rock Your Next Whiteboard Test

But in a more entry-level interview you might be asked to do something like the popularFizzBuzz challengewith JavaScript or even just create something using HTML and CSS. Expect variations in the scenarios since the interviewers want to mix up the problems a little bit and see how you handle different complications.

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Still, if youre going to work with these people, then you might as well get to know them, right? What you have to keep in mind is that while it might be called a code or whiteboard test, it is not so much a test of your code as a test of your problem solving abilities.

Sometimes, during your whiteboard interview, it may be difficult to think of an answer when youre on the spot, but keeping your cool and staying confident in your abilities will always leave a good impression. Youve put in the time and effort to prepare yourself for your whiteboard interview, so trust your instincts and go with your gut.

Youve spent hours learning how to code, building projects for your portfolio, and you finally landed an interview for your dream job. Now theres another obstacle to overcome: the whiteboard interview.

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For a comprehensive guide on getting ready for a job interview in tech, download our free ebook,The Ultimate Guide to Interviewing for Your First Tech Job.

Sure, this may seem a bit intimidating, especially if youre new to techand thats okay. Like any other interview, with the proper preparations and practice, youll be able to waltz through it like a pro.

5. Train your brain: practice thinking out loud

When youre on the job, youre not going to operate in isolation. Hiring managers want to know how you think on the spot, how you collaborate with colleagues, and how you troubleshoot when you hit a roadblock. If theres a bug in your code or it doesnt pass quality-assurance testing, how do you make changes?

Practicing Hard Problems: Interactive:

Typically, interviewers will ask you to work out a solution on the spot by writing your code on a whiteboard while the interviewing team observes and peppers you with questions. The problem maytake up to an hour to solve, and the entire interview may last a day.

In other words, if youre stuck, ask questions. Or if youre having trouble making a decision, process it out loud. Dont worry about revealing a weakness or knowledge gap. Its better to show the interviewers how you can solve a problem when youre stuck than to pretend you know everything and fail.

Debbie Chew loves writing about topics that help those who want to become a web developer or just learn to code. Shes also Head of Operations atCodementor.io, a platform for live 1-on-1 help with coding. During her free time, she enjoys watching Korean dramas and walking her dog.

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The great question to ask yourself when faced with a whiteboard is: Why am I doing this? What does this exercise show the company that isnt already on my resume? It turns out its less about your ability to get the right answer, and its ALL about your problem-solving skills. Thats why people like Ries dont mind revealing the problem beforehand: Knowing what you have to solve doesnt necessarily give you an advantage.

Dont worry too much, but interviewers arent just looking at what you write on the board. Theyll assess whether you ask for feedback during the process or prefer to keep it all in your head until the end. Your reaction under pressure is also a key part of these interviews, according totech consultant Scott Hanselman. If you feel challenged, then dont take it personally. Its better to respond by showing your thoughtfulness and collaboration skills.

Keep in mind that being on the right track will always be better than giving up halfway. Think of this portion of your technical interview as a way for the company to evaluate how you would handle difficult situations, so be yourself and trust me, youll get through it!

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Yes, thats rightgo to your nearest office supplies store, buy yourself a whiteboard and some EXPO markers to go with it. Prepare to get your hands dirty, because having a real whiteboard to write on will help you get a grip of what it feels like to scribble out your thoughts. Plus, writing on a whiteboard is much different from pen and paper, so being familiar with the whole process will make it easier over time.

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One of the most harmful things to do the night before your big interview is to pull an all-nighter, so be sure to set your alarm (or multiple alarms) and get sufficient rest so you can wake up energized and recharged. Also, plan to arrive at least 30 minutes to an hourbeforeyour interview. This helps ensure that you do not show up late and will give you some time to do a last-minute prep before you begin the interview.

To take it further, you want to also practice your speaking and presentation skills. Being able to properly communicate your thoughts in a calm and effective manner is key. Dont forget that the whiteboard interview is, in some ways, a hybrid of a technical test of the depth of your knowledge and also a social exercise.

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Theres no better way to get a feel for what the whiteboard interview would be like than having a mock interview with someone who has done it before. If you dont know someone who is readily available,Codementorhas thousands of expert developers who can help you prepare and practice for your interview. You can even schedule a mock interview with experienced technical interviewers and hiring managers to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses so you can properly prepare for the real thing.

The whiteboard interview also forces you to code without your preferred tools. Using your own laptop, where youve got presets and tools that provide auto-suggest, can give you a crutch. Not to mention using a whiteboard requires less equipment set up for the interview. Youre bound to make mistakes, and thats expected. The key is how you handle it.

There is an abundance of resources to help guide you on the whiteboard interview as well as the technical interview as a whole. Here are a few resources to help you ace your next whiteboard interview, from mock interviews to YouTube videos and more:

A whiteboard interview is your chance to demonstrate your technical knowledge when presented with a coding problem. Whiteboard interviews are common at many levels, so even if youre applying for your very first job as afrontend developer, you might need to demonstrate your coding chops live.

Everyone learns differently, so watching someone else demo a whiteboard interview is an eye-opening experience as you prepare for yours. Dont only watch thoughbe sure to carefully listen and ask questions. If youre unable to find someone, there are plenty of informative videos and examples to watch so you can better understand what to expect.

The kinds of problems they give you should feel familiar and doable. In other words, if you believe you are an ideal applicant for the job, then the whiteboard test should be something you can totally handle.Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, asks candidates to come up with an algorithm for drawing a circle on a pixel grid. Another example is designing an algorithm to find the longest palindrome in a string, courtesy of software engineer andauthor Gayle Laakmann McDowell.

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Once you are are given a question, take a deep breath and a momentbut not too longto assess the problem before you begin. If something is not clear or you feel like you need additional information before you can continue, be sure to ask your interviewer for clarification with a few follow-up questions to eliminate any ambiguity.

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