How to Use Whiteboard Interviews the Right Way

whiteboard interview

Despite the fact that candidates despise them, many companies (including tech giants) prefer using them. Whiteboard interviews are certainly one of these dreaded techniques.

What is a whiteboard interview and why are they disliked

A whiteboard interview is basically a tech quiz where candidates are asked to invert binary trees on a whiteboard or remember algorithms by heart. This is an ineffective way of testing a candidates coding ability because it boils down to whether they can remember solutions or not.

These types of interviews are not realistic. Not only this, but the can be very stressful for the candidate, causing them to perform at a lower standard than usual. Even the creator of Ruby on rails admitted that he would fail such a test. It is standard practice for developers to look on code online.

Software developers don’t need whiteboards, they need computers and reference material. If we lived in a world with no computers or the Internet then it might be necessary to memorize codes- but we don’t. On top of this, whiteboard interviews often lead to homogenous teams as they underrepresented are further discriminated against.

What is the objective of a technical interview?

Technical interviews offer a lot of insight into the potential hire. On the one hand, they can evaluate problem-solving skills while using specific tasks related to your company’s projects. On the other hand, you get the chance to see if the candidate is a good cultural fit for your office and existing team.

For candidates, they can have their skills assessed in an objective way. They have the chance to get a feel of the office environment while meeting some of the team.

If you carry out your technical interview in the right way, you will be able to reduce the number of candidates by up to 65%. This means that you will have filtered out those who don’t possess the right skills. The fewer people that need to come in for an interview, the more time you can save.

Are developers in favor of being tested?

The overall opinion is that it is not a problem to have one’s skills tested. The problem lies in how the technical interviews are carried out. 98% of coders completed real-life testing.

There is also a high percentage (91,9%) of people who complete the test. So they aren’t opposed to being tested, rather the way they are tested doesn’t provide an opportunity for their skill to shine.

Alternatives to whiteboard interviews

It is important to make sure your recruitment process is structure. Here is an ideal setup:

  1. Sourcing
  2. Screening with automated solutions
  3. Soft skill and technical interviews
  4. Offer
  5. Contract

With an automated screening test you can reduce the number of face to face interviews you will need t carry out by filtering those who are ‘weak’. By not interviewing candidates face to face, you are saving time, reducing frustration, and you are able to concentrate on other important aspects of your business.

After the technical screening, the next step is, to begin with, the soft skill screening. During this type of interview, you will focus on be behavioral questions. Generally speaking, these questions require longer answers such as, tell me about a time when…

Technical interviews involve tasks that will:

  • Authenticate work samples
  • Show candidates examples of the resources that are normally available to them
  • Provide tasks that are similar to those that are carried out by your business

In Conclusion

It is essential to test candidates on their coding skills, not whether they can use a whiteboard. If you really feel the need to get them in front of a whiteboard, ask them to map out the idea they have for an app or tool.