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Whiteboard Tests

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Hi there, I realize that a lot of interviewers check out these forums etc, and obviously the questions change all the time.. but I was just hoping someone could answer the following for me with regard to whiteboard questions in an interview: - what kind of level are the questions, like could they be solved with a simple nested loop, do they need recursion or do they get really complicated.... I heard that they need to be solved in 15 lines or less, how accurate is that? - what is the likely hood they let you use any language you want? Thanks for the help :)

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Original post by silentassassin2010
- what is the likely hood they let you use any language you want?

Turning the question around, what do you think the likelihood is that they'd be wowed and offer you a job if you used a deprecated language to solve the problem, even if you did so elegantly?

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fair enough... It's just that you may forget or be unsure of the libraries or syntax in the language which in all honesty you could double check on the web in a min, and which is probably what most people do... so I just wouldn't want to be penalized for a simple thing like forgetting how to use strstr when lets say I could do the equivalent in Java.

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Original post by silentassassin2010
fair enough... It's just that you may forget or be unsure of the libraries or syntax in the language which in all honesty you could double check on the web in a min, and which is probably what most people do... so I just wouldn't want to be penalized for a simple thing like forgetting how to use strstr when lets say I could do the equivalent in Java.


From what I've seen, most companies will let you know what programming language they use in their job applications. Even if they language isn't deprecated, a company that uses C++ almost exclusively for most development probably won't want you to answer a question they have in java.

You have to think that someone else will be applying for every position that can answer it just as elegantly in the right language. You want to remove as many of those points against you as possible.

As most jr. level positions aren't advertised, if you get an interview with a company look at what sr/mid level positions they have for hints on what programming language you should brush up on.

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Yes, generally if the job is heavy in one language, they'll expect the answer to be in that language. I've had a few places that didn't specify, so I asked and got 'whatever you like'. Implementation details are just that.

The most common whiteboard question I've gotten is 'reverse a string, assume no library function already exists to do that'. (sometimes followed up by variations on 'now recursively/iteratively', 'now without a temporary', 'now without a temporary or recursion'). Its a poor way to judge if a candidate knows recursion, which in turn is a poor judge of a candidate's quality. It sucks, but thems the breaks.

Let's see what else...

I've been asked to design a schema to handle job scheduling and dispatch, the Fibonacci sequence, double each element in a binary tree, factorials... A bunch of different little things, all of the ~5 line variety. I've had 3 places give written tests, and two actually sit me at a machine (write a pathfinding algorithm, wire up a unix signal to alternate between two functions, reverse the contents of a file (by line), find the biggest number in an array).

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wow thanks for that! I guess I'm just pretty nervous.. I hit a blank sometimes when I'm on the spot like that, but I'm a pretty decent programmer, I've made a couple of 3D games with my own shaders etc but I'm prone to silly mistakes on the spot, I tend to over complicate things :/ o well time will tell

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All interview questions boil down to two concerns:

1> Will you do the job well?
2> Will you fit in?

All the questions an interviewer asks are based around those two concerns.

People giving interviews have been on the candidate's side before. They're experienced. They're not out for blood. They're not expecting perfection. They're not expecting a graduate thesis.

All they want is some assurance that you can do the job, and that you will fit in.






Since you want to get in the quiz mindset:

Pretend you are an interviewer at game studio that is using mostly C++. You ask three different candidates to reverse a string on a whiteboard.

* One candidate writes a typical c style in-place reversal using pointers, but forgets a semicolon.
* Another candidate writes: return std::string(in.rbegin(), in.rend());
* The third candidate asks if they can write the code in Eiffel, and then does so. At least, you think they do, because you don't know Eiffel.

How much evidence did each candidate give to the two concerns mentioned above?

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