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do employers really expect candidates to right syntax accurate code on a whiteboard? I just always assumed that pseudo-code was appropriate. There are a lot of key strokes that my fingers know but my brain doesn't. It's very easy to get confused and thrown off your game.



do employers really expect candidates to right syntax accurate code on a whiteboard?

Yes they do. I've still got my Google 'Hire Squad' t-shirt somewhere (when you get trained on how to do interviews at Google you used to get a t-shirt) And they expect the interviewer to transcribe what you write on the white board into your feedback so that the hiring committee can read your notes and know what you're talking about.

You see the part you've missed here is that at Google, the person doing the interviewing has nothing at all with the person deciding if you should be hired. They interview you, using the techniques they were trained to use, they transcribe the whole thing like a court reporter, adding what color they can and a float between 0 and 4 (0 is 'run way', 4 is 'walks on water') And the then that goes into a 'packet' which gets sent to a hiring commitee where a different bunch of people read it (and the notes of everyone else) and they they decide if you are going to move forward in the process.

Writing syntax accurate code on the white board is always a plus. Although one candidate on seeing the dozen different color markers, wrote both syntax accurate and colorized code. That was good for a chuckle (and strangely I think it got them points in the committee).

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And the then that goes into a 'packet' which gets sent to a hiring commitee where a different bunch of people read it (and the notes of everyone else) and they they decide if you are going to move forward in the process.

Doesn't most of the personality of the person get lost in this setup? I mean, hiring people purely on technical merits may sound fine, but I'm not sure if that makes for a very pleasant working environment.

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Compatibility with Google culture is something that the interviewers are trained to look for. You can't do an interview until you've worked at Google for more than 6 months, for this reason.

I think the whole hiring committee removes a lot of biases that people may have and the end result, in my opinion, is a workplace that's a lot more diverse than any other I've been at.

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I don't necessarily expect candidates to have perfect syntax for a given language. (there's a presumption that they would be able to look up correct syntax in practice) At the same time, if you're unable to express your ideas in something close to real code, it is a signal that you're not sufficiently familiar with the language you chose.

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Excepting declaring funky things like arrays of pointers to functions in C, what competent developer doesn't know the syntax to his or her own best 2 or 3 languages?

There is a difference between forgetting to put a semicolon at the end of a line (totally harmless on a whiteboard interview), and not knowing that semicolons end statements in C.

Of course, not knowing say, part of the standard library, say the semantics of rand(), without a man page or Google search is much more excusable.

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OR you can hand the applicants a laptop and allow them to write code, which is what they are going to be doing on the job presumably. or does Google develop their applications on whiteboards now? I'm thinking a Minority Report-esque digital screen that programmers drag/drop with voice activation to "code".

In all seriousness, I really don't get whiteboarding in interviews.

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For whiteboard coding, I've always given interviewees their choice of programming language and have said, "Don't worry about syntax." For me it's more about how you approach the problem than whether you can spell correctly.

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This is the most sensible reply here.

I code in a variety of languages and every time I use .indexOf(), I can't remember if it's (needle, haystack) or (haystack, needle). Of course, my IDE shows me the correct way and I go with it in 0.3 seconds.

On a whiteboard, if I were marked down for getting that the "wrong", I don't think I'd like to work for those kind of people anyway. I have no interest in memorizing the exact syntax of every standard library call in every language. When I can look it up almost instantaneously, my mental efforts are best spent elsewhere.

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I think there is a difference between if you know the API the language provides and if you know the syntax of the language.

I don't care if they can't remember order of parameters, or really even the name of the methods. But if you can't write syntactically correct code without an IDE, it seems like a problem.

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Probably depends on the employer. I've always asked people to write actual code, rather than pseudo-code, because I've found that a lot of pseudo-code I've gotten doesn't make sense or majorly glosses over things. (Think "and then a miracle occurs".)

But I personally wouldn't dock a person if they screwed up the syntax on a whiteboard coding interview - I really use it more as a way to extend the conversation. I do have the bad habit of correcting syntax, though, because I find it too distracting once I see it.

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