Whiteboarding and Live Coding

What is whiteboarding?

Whiteboarding is the practice of asking a technical job interview applicant to write code to a pet problem, typically on a dry-erase whiteboard. While originally promoted as a way to inspire conversation about a candidates’ approach to a problem, the use and meaning of whiteboarding has morphed into “Implement Foo algorithm,” on the whiteboard. This is wrong because it assumes rote memorization of a given algorithm or the steps needed to solve a particular problem.

What is live-coding?

Live-coding is a practice very similar to whiteboarding. The difference is, a candidate may be able to use a computer. Whether or not they can compile / run their code depends heavily upon the environment provided to the candidate. Some companies just use a Google Doc. Others use purpose-built tooling such as Coderpad, Stypi, etc.

Why is whiteboarding and live-coding bad?

Whiteboarding and live-coding is a bad practice because these skills are discrete from those required for most software engineering positions. These interviews only measure a candidate’s interview skills, not their actual technical skills.

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