March 28, 2022
whiteboard testing alternatives

Convoluted interview processes can kill your gaming company’s chance of hiring the talent you want. As talent acquisition firm AccruePartners reports, things that can disengage job candidates include:

  • Too many interview steps
  • Interview process delays
  • Lack of feedback

There’s an additional unique hiring element gaming companies often require: testing. The testing phase can be drawn-out, require time-consuming preparation, and unfairly favor those who have traditional educational backgrounds. All these factors can deter candidates from continuing to interview with a company or cause them to accept another job offer elsewhere.

Technical whiteboard testing has also raised discrimination claims. Technical tests are typically designed to be challenging and weed out “unqualified” candidates when they fail the test, even when the candidate seriously qualifies for the job.

A North Carolina State University and Microsoft November 2020 research paper found whiteboard coding sessions are similar to stress-inducing tests. Consequently, they can cause performance anxiety and put otherwise-qualified candidates at a disadvantage.

While testing can provide insights into the talent of your candidates, gaming employers must also ensure the process is streamlined and efficient to maintain candidate attention. The following are some alternative options for traditional technical testing in your hiring process that still convey the talent of a candidate.

Work Portfolio

A gaming portfolio provides hiring engineers with evidence of a candidate’s skills and capabilities. A portfolio also gives hiring managers the opportunity to dive deeper into a candidate’s experience and passion. The portfolio can serve as a talking point in a job interview, enabling the candidate to explain their work behind the project and how the skills they used can apply to the job they’re interviewing for.

Hiring managers can also research coding experience online, in places like GitHub, Stack Overflow or, a popular game jam website. Hirers can look to see if the applicant creates “current and clean code” and see how a candidate has contributed to projects like game jams.

Private Evaluation

The North Carolina University/Microsoft study found compared to a private evaluation, subjects in a traditional technical interview exhibited higher stress levels and lower scores. This was especially true for women who were studied, since evidence suggests women experience disproportionately more negative effects from performance anxiety in observed testing settings. While no women successfully solved the studied problem in the public setting, all women solved it correctly in private.

If you’re going to require testing, consider a private evaluation to decrease anxiety and level the playing field. The GDC State of the Game Industry 2022, a survey of more than 2,700 game developers, found only 28% of respondents cited their studio’s attempts at inclusion and diversity as at least “very successful”. Private evaluations are a way to fairly evaluate job candidates’ skills and successfully hire more women programmers.

Programming Problem

Forrest Trepte, a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft, suggests as a testing alternative to present job candidates with a programming problem that’s similar to what the candidate would encounter at work. The candidate can take time before the interview to create and submit their solution, then discuss it with the hiring manager during the interview.

One benefit of this approach is that it gives interviewers the chance to hear the candidate’s reasoning behind their solution. This scenario also enables the candidate to demonstrate communication, problem-solving and analysis skills, which are all in-demand soft skills that are valuable to a workforce. Some companies even pay applicants for their work on take-home assignments, since they can be time-consuming but can reveal so much about an applicant.

Another option is pair programming, where two programmers share the same computer. One programmer types, while the other programmer directs the program. This is another testing alternative that clues you in to job candidates’ communication skills, as well as their collaboration potential.

The Anti-Testing Community Is Growing

Many gaming professionals have become more outspoken against whiteboard testing in recent years. There’s a growing GitHub list of companies that hire without whiteboard testing and other websites that expose companies for these types of tests. Companies that fail to offer alternatives for inclusive hiring don’t just risk losing out on top talent. They also risk negative sentiment online in the gaming and programming community.

Even if your company retains a whiteboard test, the results don’t have to be the only factor determining a candidate’s worth. Work portfolios, examples of coding online, participation in game jams and take-home or private evaluations can help you understand a gaming candidate’s skills, talent and potential.

Contact our team today to learn how we can help your company find your next gaming hire.