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What is whiteboarding?

Whiteboarding is where you write on a board (in real life or online) to demonstrate your problem-solving skills without actually running code. You’ll be working live in front of a technical interviewer. These engineers want to learn about how you think, how you communicate, and your process for tackling difficult problems.

The purpose of this style of interview isn’t to make sure that your code is running perfectly (I can’t run code that’s hand-written on a whiteboard, right?) Instead, the engineers are focused on your problem-solving skills and approach. They want to learn how you think when you’re faced with difficult situations or new problems.

Here are our recommended steps to follow in your whiteboarding interview, regardless of the challenge type.

  1. Repeat the question. Make sure you do understand the problem.
  2. Ask clarifying questions to ensure you’re on the right track in solving the problem
  3. Come up with your approach to the problem. Usually, you can use brute force first.
  4. Think out loud - share your process.

There are 2 major types of challenges you might do during a whiteboarding interview - algorithms or system design.


You might get asked Leetcode-style algorithm questions and then have to solve them on an actual whiteboard by hand-writing code.

Here are some helpful tips that you should add to the recommended steps above.

  1. Get insights by writing out examples. Make a 2-column table with the input on the left and the output on the right.
  2. Write a code outline using pseudocode to demonstrate your approach.
  3. Make sure your code accounts for the example cases you came up with above.
  4. Optimize the (time & space) complexities of your algorithm.

On-site vs Virtual

Whiteboarding interviews have changed a lot over the past few years, so let’s go over the two different types you might run into.

  1. The on-site whiteboarding interview

This is where you’re actually in the room with a couple of engineers from the company that you’re interviewing for.

  1. The virtual whiteboarding interview

During the pandemic, lots of companies have moved away from on-site interviews in favor of remote. As a result, whiteboarding interviews have changed quite a bit.

  • Physical whiteboards have been replaced by text editors with live screen sharing (like Google Doc, HackerRank, etc.)
  • The free-form space of a canvas is often replaced with constrained text editors, and so you’ll have to express yourself more through text than through hand-drawn diagrams.
  • In-person meetings have been replaced with video calls. (Refer to the “Remote Interview Checklist” module from Week 1 for tips on how to make a good impression on a video call.)

Find out which tools you'll be using for your interview ahead of time. If you need to use a tool like Miro, you'll want to have created an account to log in and try making charts and writing text.


There are lots of great videos on Youtube about whiteboarding interviews. Google freely to learn and absorb the internet wisdom! And here are a few great links to start with.