Surviving the Whiteboard Interview: A Developer's Guide to Using Soft Skills to Get Hired

Surviving the Whiteboard Interview: A Developer's Guide to Using Soft Skills to Get Hired

by William Gant

Paperback(1st ed.)

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The industry standard whiteboard interview can be daunting for developers. Let’s face it: it combines the worst aspects of a typical interview, on-the-spot public speaking, a quiz show, and a dinner party full of strangers judging you—all at once. Brilliant developers can let their nerves get the best of them and completely bomb a whiteboard interview, while inexperienced developers who excel in soft skills can breeze through them.

In Surviving the Whiteboard Interview, author William Gant uses his real-world knowledge and expertise to guide you through the psychological roadblocks of a coding test while also providing you with a sample coding challenge. With enough preparation, information, and assured confidence, you can survive a whiteboard interview at any organization. In addition to the benefits listed above, Gant helps you explore how you can create a good soft skills impression that will last beyond the whiteboard test by showing your work ethic, positive attitude, and ability to take and implement criticism effectively. These assets will unequivocally serve other parts of your life outside of an interview context, as well.

While Gant does not promise that you will ever truly enjoy interviewing, he does promise to arm you with the proper preparation techniques and knowledge needed to tame the common fears and dread that come along with it. Maximize your career potential and get inspired with Surviving the Whiteboard Interview. The steps to your dream role just might be closer than you think.

What You Will Learn

  • Practice both hard and soft skills required to succeed at a whiteboard interview, covering coding tests as well as psychological preparation
  • Learn how to make other aspects of your interview stronger, so you can create a great impression
  • Master solving common whiteboard problems in different programming languages

Who This Book is For

This book is primarily for aspiring software developers who are looking for a job in the field. However, it will also be helpful for more seasoned developers who find interviewing painful and want to improve their skills.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781484250068
Publisher: Apress
Publication date: 08/02/2019
Edition description: 1st ed.
Pages: 130
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

William Gant is a software developer who has been working in the industry since 1998. He has worked with dozens of different programming languages in a wide variety of programming environments, as both an employee and as a consultant. In addition, he has owned his own business, been heavily involved in several startups and is currently half of the Complete Developer Podcast, among numerous other things in the development space. He's been through the school of hard knocks in software development and has a passion for showing others how to do the same.

Table of Contents


Chapter Goal: This chapter just explains why I’m writing this, so that the reader understands that I’m a grizzled old programming veteran instead of the programming equivalent of the 22-year-old life coach.

Chapter 1, Why You Hate Whiteboard Interviews

Chapter Goal: Explaining the physiological responses that make whiteboard interviews unpleasant as well as how to recast those responses so that it is less unpleasant (and maybe even fun).

· Physiological responses

· It’s in your head

· Get Your Stuff Together

Chapter 2, Hiring Is Broken

Chapter Goal: Explaining how software development interviews ended up in a messed up state. More than just a prehistory of the dreaded whiteboard interview, this chapter intends to explain what interviewers were trying to achieve with previous interviewing styles and how that explains a lot of what goes on in whiteboard interviews today. This will help the reader make sure they answer the implicit questions that the interviewer may not even know they are asking.

· The Problem of Evaluation

· Busted Problems; Busted Solutions

· Whiteboard interviews

Chapter 3, Whiteboard Interviews Are Bad For You

Chapter Goal: In this chapter, we get more in depth about the physiological and psychological responses an interviewee experiences when being subjected to a challenging interview. We also discuss some ways that you can mitigate these problems. This is a chapter about keeping the interview from going sideways.

· Code on a board doesn’t compile

· Your nerves are against you

· It’s a personality test

Chapter 4, Preparing

Chapter Goal: In this chapter, we go over some things that developers should be doing to prepare themselves for software interviews in general. These include some simple, daily exercises that developers can do to sharpen their skills for general development as well as how to practice for whiteboard interviews in a group. I think the piece about practicing in a group is extremely valuable, as doing this stuff in a safe environment first makes it less nerve-wracking when doing it for real.

· First, Google

· FizzBuzz

· Code Katas

· Practice Whiteboarding With Friends

Chapter 5, The Actual Interview

Chapter Goal: Now that the prerequisites are in place, I get in to discussing what a developer should remember to do during the interview itself. These are things that they should be practicing during the whiteboarding practice as well but keeping these things in mind will let the interviewer see things about the interviewee that will make them stand out of the crowd.

· The Personality Test

· Body Language Hacks

· Posture and Nervousness

· At the board

· Make the interviewer participate

· Accepting Feedback

Chapter 6, Additional Resources

Chapter Goal: Other stuff that aspiring developers should look into if they are looking into this content. These things are more generally helpful with the overall job search and interviewing process as well as the early part of the job itself.

· Complete Developer Podcast

· Junior Developer Toolbox

· Developer Launchpad

· Cracking the Coding Interview - Gayle Laakman McDowell

· John Sonmez and SimpleProgrammer

· Interview Cake

· CodeNewbie


· Companies that don’t do whiteboards

Chapter 7, Understanding Fizzbuzz

Chapter Goal: Explain a simple programming problem that is frequently used in whiteboard interviews to give the reader a taste of how to work through the whiteboard problem. I cover the same problem in a number of languages so that readers can see various approaches.

· C

· C++


· Ruby

· Javascript

· Python

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