We often test sight reading skills, particularly in job interviews. In that highly-charged encounter, we test the applicant’s ability to think on her feet. That’s a great idea if the job involves a lot of feet thinking, but otherwise, you’re inspecting for the wrong thing, aren’t you? Same with a first date. Marketing yourself to a new person often involves being charismatic, clever and quick–but most jobs and most relationships are about being consistent, persistent and brave, no?
I can’t agree more with this. For a long while I’ve hated the gauntlet of interviewing. At Pixar I had to do a lot of white board code and database queries. It was pointless. I never did anything remotely like the exercises in the interview. They weren’t even close to exposing how I would end up working on projects at Pixar, and that’s a shame, it was essentially wasted time.
In my own interviewing of candidates over the last half a decade or so I’ve gone pretty far away from white board interviews. I did try it again with one recent candidate and realized what a folly it was and stopped. It was easier to talk to him, have a back and forth conversation, and be able to dig deeper into answers while he was comfortable and not sweating it out at a white board.
Single day interviews are too small of a glimpse into a person, but it’s mostly all we get. There has to be a better way and I know I’m still searching for it. The only way to build a good team of competent people is to hire those consistent, persistent, and brave individuals you find while weeding out those that need more training.