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Whiteboard Design Challenge Framework

The one common onsite interview round is a whiteboard challenge. Companies like Google had four whiteboard challenges on the day of the onsite interview which can take a toll on your thought process and have you brain-fried for the rest of the day.As extempore as it sounds, whiteboard challenges are best tackled when you have a game plan. This draws a parallel with how some of the best improvisational musicians or stand-up comedians did not make it magically, but through sheer rigorous practice.

What do they look for in a whiteboard exercise?

In the process of preparation for whiteboard challenges, I noticed that I was all over the place initially. I was designing good solutions, but on reflection, I noticed that my process did not have a direction. It did not seem like I knew where I was going with the design. In short, I was not in command. I was often told that a structure is not necessary for a design challenge, as design, in general, is not a structured process; it is rather messy. While I agree to it, it is important to know that, you — as an interview candidate — are there to show the interviewers your thought-process, your ability to take a stance with design conviction, and facilitate the conversation by making the exercise inclusive by letting the other team members participate in the process.The team is not evaluating your solution, but your ability to communicate your ideas, openness to receive critique, and spontaneity in tackling contrasting ideas from other team members.

Why a framework?
To get better at whiteboard challenges, I devised a framework from my design process that highlighted salient considerations to be made while designing. There are parameters like constraints, assumptions etc which exist in our design process which you consider subconsciously. You eventually handle these parameters, but in a time-sensitive environment you might jump the gun and get to designing solutions directly without these considerations.