You’ll likely face a coding abilities test when interviewing for a technology job related to programming or software development.
This test can come in many forms, and one of the most anxiety-inducing is the dreaded whiteboard exam. The key to making it through this trial-by-fire is understanding what to expect and good technical preparation.
How Can You Prepare for Your Tech Interview?
Know the Rules of the Road
First and foremost, getting a sense of expectations and guidelines is essential. Even if you think you know what’s expected, it always helps to ask questions about the nature of the test and each problem you are asked to solve. When asking questions, don’t be shy. An underappreciated part of a whiteboard exam is communication. Hiring managers want you to be engaging, and asking questions shows a sense of thoroughness. Even as you work through each problem, communicate your thinking process. If you don’t get something perfectly right, having the proper thought process can still score some points.
It takes a lot of work to talk your way through a whiteboard exam. It will rely on rote memorization and a working knowledge of key theoretical concepts. If you get stuck on a bit of code, never give up and say you don’t know the answer. Instead, use an annotation or symbol as a placeholder. This demonstrates that you understand what the code will do and how it functions within the greater context. Keep in mind: Developers often search for information during their actual job.
Embrace Online Code Resources
Especially during preliminary rounds, whiteboard interviewers will often use questions based on LeetCode. If you’re unfamiliar with LeetCode, it’s a platform that lets developers discover and talk about all sorts of coding challenges, including code examples and snippets. For experienced technologists, LeetCode questions tend to be too basic. However, some interviewers use the platform as a reference for questions. It’s not uncommon for whiteboard interviewers to pull questions verbatim from the platform.
Regardless of what position you’re interviewing for, be sure to review LeetCode. Ensure you can tackle problems associated with your area of expertise. Once you feel comfortable with LeetCode’s subject matter, you’ll be ready to show you know the fundamentals. It’s also a good idea to visit HackerRank and Codecademy, both of which offer coding challenges.
HackerNoon is another excellent whiteboard interview resource. This website offers breakdowns of common themes for whiteboard interviews, such as linked lists, sorting algorithms, tree algorithms, and manipulations for strings and arrays. HackerNoon is also a good source of advice on the more technical aspects of a whiteboard interview.
Remember that all the technical knowledge in the world will only get you so far. A good interviewer will also want to assess your potential fit with the existing team and overall company culture.
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