John: Hey, this is John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com.
So I’ve got another non-question video for you today. This time I thought I’d talk
about something that seems to come up quite a bit on my blog. It’s a topic that a lot
of people have very high emotions about in the programmer/developer community so don’t
get too crazy about this. I’ve been asked my opinion on this quite a bit, so I thought
I’d give it to you today. A lot of times whenever the subject of interviews
comes up, developer interviews inevitably someone brings into the idea of writing code
or especially writing code on a whiteboard, right? If you go and you interview for one
of these top tech companies like Microsoft or Google or Amazon or probably Apple, most
of the time they’re going to have you go in and write some code on a whiteboard. I
think a lot of people are split on this, right? There’s a lot of people that are really
upset that—this doesn’t prove what I know. This doesn’t make sense to me. When I code,
I go and I Google what I need to find out or I’m typing an IDE, why do I have to solve
these kinds of obscure problems on a whiteboard? I can see the point to this, right? I’m
actually on the other side of that, right? The thing is this. Well, just backing up a
little bit. Does it really matter what you or I think about the process? A lot of times
in life you have to take this approach, right? When you’re sitting in traffic you can get
all pissed off that you’re sitting at a light or that there’s a big traffic jam
but that doesn’t help your situation. The reality of the situation is you can deal with
that. You could be listening to an audio book instead of fuming. You know this is going
to happen all the time. You have to deal with the situation, with the reality. Becoming
good at identifying and dealing with reality is a really important life skill in general.
That’s where I fall into this. Now, I agree with a lot of you that say, “Oh,
this doesn’t really prove my skills as a developer. This isn’t like the work that
I do everyday.” It’s true. Granted, it is very true, but the reality of the situation
is if you want to get a job at Microsoft and this is how Microsoft interviews people, who
are you to fight that? You can try and fight that. You can go and you can call up Bill
Gates and send email campaigns and say, “You shouldn’t interview people like that.”
That’s fine. Maybe you’ll have some success with that, but if you actually want to get
the job today and you’re going to go for that interview you have to adapt to what they’re
doing. So with that said I’m for learning how to
do the whiteboard interviews, right? If you decide that you want to get a job at one of
these companies you need to go out there and you need to figure out how to do this. Go
and practice this. I just went to a code camp this weekend where someone did a great talk
on cracking the coding interview and he talked about—he’s actually a Microsoft employee
and he talked about how he interviewed for a job at Microsoft and how he interviews people
now and he said that he actually trained. He went on weekends and he spent 4 to 5 hours
training by writing on an actual whiteboard and trying to solve some of these difficult
brain teaser algorithm problems, the kind that we typically hate.
He got to the point where he did this over 3 months and he became good at it. He figured
out that there’s really just a handful of classes of problems that you would eventually
have and that if you could figure out how to solve these problems and you can get good
at doing this on a whiteboard then when you go into that interview you’re not sweating
and you’re not nervous and scared because you’re actually—in fact, he said, he said
you’re arrogant, but keep that arrogance inside which I totally agreed with him. You’re
super, super confident. Don’t project that arrogance projected as confidence but you
can get to the point where this is cake walk, right?
You can fight this, like I said, you can keep on fighting it. Heck, I’ll even agree with
you that sometimes these whiteboard interviews are ridiculous, but it’s reality. Are you
going to adapt to reality? Here’s another piece for this to take the other side of it.
How many people are willing to learn what it takes to be able to do one of these whiteboard
interviews and willing to do the training and practice? It kind of does set you aside.
If you’re willing to take those extra steps and that’s probably, I would have to guess,
if I had to guess why Microsoft and Google still do this even though they know it’s
not really a reflection of how the person’s going to work, it’s a reflection of their
persistence and their ability to do something really hard into practice and prepare for
that. Anyway, that’s my take on the whole issue.
I know it’s a big debated issue. If you’ve got some comments, if you’ve got some ideas
leave them below and I definitely will get back to you. If you’ve got a question or
a topic even that you’d like me to do a video on just email me at [email protected]
and I do most of the—I can’t promise I’ll do your video, but for the most part I get
to a lot of them especially if you have a good question or idea here. Thanks a lot.
Take care and I’ll see you next time.