Why is FAANG so Obsessed with Whiteboard Coding Interviews?

Feb 2, 2024
Coding Interview
Discover why big tech companies favor whiteboard interviews, focusing on standardized questions, command over language, and problem-solving skills.
Whiteboard interviews are not exactly popular within the dev community. Many feel intimidated by them and there is legitimate doubt if whiteboard interviews provide any value in assessing the candidate's programming capability.
Some people are even absolutely terrified just by the idea to be put between an interviewer and a whiteboard. Psychological Safety is the keyword here.
It's definitely not a perfect process for companies either. However, since it's so widely used, and FAANG companies are indeed full of smart people it seems to result in good hires. To let you see behind the curtain, I share some reasons why big tech companies are relying on whiteboard interviews and probably will continue to do so.

1. Standardized Questions

Most interview questions doesn't span more than 50 lines of code. By standardizing the questions also the solutions become somewhat standardized. That makes it easy for the interviewer to follow the implementation and evaluate the candidate's performance.

2. Command over language

Without an IDE, candidates are prone to syntax errors. Yes, companies expect you to have good command over the language. If you make many syntax errors without correcting them in the process, it's not a red flag but definitely raises concern.

3. Problem solving skills

While you code, there will be times, you'll need to change the design and hence the code. On whiteboard, the interviewer gets to see it in real time, how your code evolves in time.

4. Number of Lines guarantee

With whiteboard, we are guaranteed that the code cannot exceed the whiteboard space. Which means you won't be asked complicated questions. Complicated algorithms? Depends. Lengthy code? No.

5. Gatekeeping

No doubt whiteboard interviews are hard and most people need to spend a serious amount of effort to prepare for these interviews. Thereby, they also act as gatekeepers to only allow the smartest and most dedicated candidates to succeed.