Acing the Whiteboard Challenge
When I first practiced my first virtual whiteboard challenge, I freaked out. Luckily, my friend Sarah Joung, a fellow product designer, was the proctor and kind enough to give me feedback on her best tips and practices — which worked well in my favor for a real whiteboard challenge a few days later! I’ve laid out the solid process below:
- Ask the proctor for expectation of solution. How do they want to see the breakdown of the solution? What would be easiest for them?
- Ask the proctor if they’re acting in a collaborative or an observer role.
- Ask for a timestamp at halfway point so that you’re not rushing at the end.
- Write down on the board with a bullet list of expectations and a high-level or stages for the challenge: understand, brainstorm & design, reflect.
Understanding the Problem (50%)
- Ask questions that takes into consideration of the user, business, and the design.
- What kind of device should this design be for?
- What’s the goal of the design?
- What are the physical experiences I should consider?
- Are there multiple types of users that the company wants to target? If so, is there one that takes highest priority?
- What are the common use cases?
- What are their behaviors like?
- What are the common user flows?
- What does the typical user journey look like?
- What benefits should I provide?
- What are their motivations?
- What are their frustrations?
- What are the constraints? (time, budget, resources, etc)
- Who are the competitors?
- How does this product tie into the business’s goals?
- How is the business measuring success or KPIs?
Brainstorming & Designing (40%)
- Come up with 2–3 solutions.
- Make an impact vs. cost chart to choose a solution based on business needs.
- Write down the main steps of the story with one use case / user journey.
- Draw a few critical wireframe screens.
- User flow the wireframes.
- Leave 10 minutes to tie back to original scope on how you solved the problem and why you took that approach.
- Recap on points of interest or challenges that had a significant impact on your work.
- Speak on next steps (user testing, iterations, etc.) or what you would’ve done with more time.
- Be prepared on how you would iterate current wireframes or alternative use cases.
- Always think out loud your process and communicate every decision at each step.
- Efficiently organize your screen space so that it’s easy for the proctor to follow your process.
- Reword and state back all the facts to make sure you understand the problem.
- Iterate as you continue the challenge to show that you’re not stuck or tied down to one solution.
- When the interviewer asks a question about your design, listen and iterate based on the feedback. Defend your design only when needed.
- Always tie what you’re doing back to the expected outcome of the challenge and the problem being solved.
Well that’s it! This isn’t the only approach to doing a whiteboard challenge, but it is certainly a good one. Comment below if you think this process could be improved on.