Storytelling About Byteboard With Sargun Kaur

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast! Today we have Sargun Kaur from Byteboard and we’ll be talking about the use case of Byteboard, and why their customers continue to use them.

Byteboard is a project-based interview platform that assesses for skills that candidates would actually practice on the job, rather than just testing their knowledge. Co-founder and CEO Sargun Kaur explains that engineers often spend a lot of time mastering a separate skillset to do well in interviews, which doesn’t necessarily reflect what they will be doing in their roles.

Byteboard’s simulation and scenario-based assessments are bespoke to each company, job, and hiring manager. This provides a higher confidence level in making the right hire. The platform has received high candidate experience scores and helps employers assess for the right skills, rather than just trying to make the interview process more efficient.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 25 minutes

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Sargun Kaur
Co-Founder & CEO Byteboard Follow

Storytelling About Byteboard With Sargun Kaur

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we have Sargon on from Bite Board and we’ll be learning about the business case or the use case, or sometimes the folks who refer to it as the cost benefit analysis of why her prospects and customers choose bite board. Sargon, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself

Sargun Kaur: and bite board?

Yeah. Thanks for having me here. William Particularly the right audience to talk, be talking to Vior about. My name is Seg. I’m the co-founder and C of VI board. I started VI board now almost five years [00:01:00] ago. In some way a happen chance because I wanted a better solution. I was an engineer at Google at the time, had gone through a ton of interviews, studied a ton for my interviews, all to realize that once I got to the job, It didn’t reflect what I was, the skills I was practicing on the job and interviews were a completely separate skillset and it was something that you had to spend a lot of time mastering to be able to do well.

And so what Bite Board is, it’s a project based interview that actually reflects what engineers do on the job. It helps engineers and hiring managers get a much. Higher confidence in making sure they’re making the right hire because they’re assessing for the skills that candidates would be actually practicing on a job.

And it’s one of the interviews with the highest rated candidate experience scores because candidates don’t have someone looking over their back or controlling their environment. It’s very similar to, they like to solve problems. That’s why we become engineers and that’s what they get to demonstrate through the bite board interview today.

William Tincup: What’s what I love about this and [00:02:00] what you’ve built and where you’re taking this is, so many people focus on test, skills testing. Okay. So let’s say it’s a Java developer and we’re gonna teach ’em and find out, what’s their real skill level?

Because everybody has an idea of what their skill is. Until you take a test, you find out maybe I’m not as good at that as I thought I was, but that’s just testing. That’s, it can be good. I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna bash it. That’s, it’s important. But I believe what you’re, you’ve moved the over into kind of simulations and scenarios and situations that are bespoke to that particular company, that particular job, that particular hiring manager.

Do I have that about right?

Sargun Kaur: Exactly. Yeah. And so often when we come across interviews or interview tools, they often. There’s a very particular need around the efficiency side, right? You don’t have enough engineering bandwidth. You don’t have enough engineers that are interview trained, and so you’re looking to solutions to save you time.

And the question that we really asked is, do we put a [00:03:00] bandaid on a broken solution and try to just make the problem more, make the solution more efficient, but are we asking ourselves? Are we even interviewing the right way? Are we even assessing for the right skills? And so when we started Bite Board, I actually spent a lot of time talking to a ton of engineers across roles, across levels, across companies, across coasts, and ask them, not Hey, what was your favorite interview experience?

Or How do you interview? Ask them what they did on the job. Walk me through what you do day to day as an engineer. And lo and behold, it wasn’t like, I spent a lot of time on the whiteboard regurgitating algorithms back and forth with my teammate. Or like writing perfect code and really great handwriting.

That was not what was coming up. What was coming up was, asking the right questions, the ability and willingness to learn and deep dive into problems taking feedback doing code reviews, being able to read and write code. One of my biggest pet peeves with interviews is the fact that we.

Walk into this greenfield [00:04:00] space, whether that be a whiteboard or a digital whiteboard, or a coder pad or anything of that sort. And you’re just asked to write code and here’s a problem and start writing code. Like over 50% of my job while building Google photos, like I was on the goo on the Android team was.

Involved like reading other people’s code, understanding what does this code do and like how can I add this feature that I’m working on to work within it. And then the other part of my job involved Googling stuff and like looking up how to do things and oftentimes leaning over to Stack Overflow to understand if I’m like writing this Writing this statement correctly or not.

And the important thing was I had my foundations. I knew how to ask the right questions. I knew how to adapt in that environment. And a lot of those skill sets we currently don’t assess for in traditional

William Tincup: interviews. Yeah, it’s interesting because specifically with coding, it’s there is a right and wrong.

The code works or it doesn’t like, so the, there’s functionally there’s that, but there’s many paths to get there. Yep. And some people narrate the code really well. Some people write.[00:05:00] And it’s a bit loaded. It may, might not be as efficient, but it still does the job. So it’s it can be subjective when you’re just looking at someone else’s code because you might have a, it might be a bias, you might have a preconceived idea of how you would write it, and you want them to write it like you.

That’s an actually. A hiring bias called like me Bias. But now we apply it to to coding. Some of this also starts even further back than what you’re talking about is job descriptions themselves. And the deep hatred that we all probably have of job descriptions, not reflecting the actual job, like what they actually do.

It’s almost a, it’s either a wishlist or it’s written by someone that doesn’t actually understand the job doesn’t understand what the hiring manager really wants. And so I think, fixing those. But you can’t fix everything. I do what you’re fixing in terms of, okay.

You want to, you wanna work at this company, they want you to work at this company. Now let’s put you in a scenario [00:06:00] where you can see how they work. You can then solve a problem, they can see how you solve the problem. And then it becomes a kind of a, it becomes a game. It becomes fun. And I think that’s important, or at least important for me because I know how much.

Or how much engineers hate taking tests. Yep. Took a pathway to, hell put it, put a test in front of a software engineer and say, Hey, by the way, just take 30 minutes outta your day. Take this quick test.

Sargun Kaur: Yeah. That’s, or have them memorize algorithms like that. That is not why I got into engineering.

And to your point around job description, right? It feels like so much of the technical hiring process is designed to screen people out, right? Starting from the job description. And it’s okay, if you don’t meet my wishlist, don’t even bother applying. And if you don’t pass this test with the right way or the right solution on how I expect you to code it, you get screened out.

So there’s so many. So many situations and so [00:07:00] many stages where folks get screened out. So many great folks get screened out. And particularly folks, I talk to the professor who teaches a two unit class every quarter on how to pass the technical interview. Brilliant course, thrilling curriculum.

But not everyone has that understanding of what does that look like, what that training looks like. If I’ve talked to students at Howard and they don’t often take an algorithms or a data structure class until like late junior year or early senior year, and it’s a critical course if you’re gonna try to game and pass.

The interviews for internships, which lead to full-time offers often case. So you start to take a look at a lot of these things and why they’re designed and who they’re actually keeping out and are you actually assessing and getting to the right behavior that you’re looking for with by board.

That, that was like the core problem we were also trying to solve. And with that what the interview allowed. A lot of companies like Lyft and Figma that were early users [00:08:00] allowed them to open up their top of funnel so they no longer were filtering out candidates, but actually allowing more candidates into their interview pipeline to take a shot at their interview process.

They weren’t bottlenecked by engineering time anymore because everyone got a bipo to interview and the bi board interview itself, it’s a, it’s, it starts with the design doc. You’re actually to your point where there’s no right or wrong answer. In the Viper interview itself, there’s so many ways in directions you could go and argue for option A or you can argue for option B.

We’ve had candidates say, None of these options make sense. You should really be doing and thinking about it this way, as long as you can back it up with your trade off, with your systems reasoning, with your understanding of like why this option in this case is better than another option. Those are the nuances and things that we’re able to determine and look for.

We actually assess for over 20. Different skills and knowledge bases, like systems reasoning, communication product sense, all relevant skills to the job, and then they move on to an [00:09:00] existing coding implementation exercise where it’s not you didn’t write the code how we expected to, so you automatically failed, right?

Or, oops. You didn’t pass our automated tests because you had a syntax error, you automatically failed. We can see the nuance of okay, you were almost there, but like your syntax was wrong, but like your thinking was right, and that sort of thing will show up in the report that we send back to the

William Tincup: hiring manager.

See. I’d rather know that, I’d rather know that they were thinking, now that, the thought process, the way that they processed the information was right. I can train personally, I can’t, cause I’m not a software. It can be trained in terms of how to get there and how to do it differently, but there’s, it’s hard to rewire someone’s thinking.

So yep. I like the fact that you’re looking, that you give the hiring manager and the recruiter the ability to see, okay, this is the whole candidate, this is the whole experience. While they might not have gotten this part right, here’s actually what they did get right. Which to me is more important.

I did wanna [00:10:00] ask you a question in terms of who you work with because it seems like you could work directly with hiring managers or you could work with recruiters and then also work with hiring managers. How’s that? How’s it played out for you so far?

Sargun Kaur: Yeah, it’s definitely, as you talk about bigger and bigger companies that we work with the talent teams are the ones that are at the forefront connecting with candidates, really understanding, what is the process looking like for them? What are their what are their challenges or asks through the interview process. So we work very closely with a lot of talent teams that are involved in. In communicating back to the candidates, helping them understand what to expect at the bite board interview stage, and then all the way through the report that we send we share back with hiring managers and recruiters.

The report is easily readable and understandable. Even if you don’t have a technical background, you can go in and be like, these are the skills that the candidate was really strong and. These are skills I understand to be a requirement for this role. And so I’m gonna move this candidate forward.

They received a strong, or [00:11:00] we’ve also seen in a, in addition to that, for technical hiring managers, they’ll use the by board report because it is so holistic and pretty dense with a lot of information broken out. They’ll use that during their hiring committee reviews as an, as a piece of as an asset to inform their ultimate hiring decision as well.


William Tincup: love that. So the, what is the candidate? I want to say, and this might be assumptive of me, but what I’ve seen with background screening and background checks has always been pre-hire and it’s always been a one and done kind of a business. They’ve moved into.

The Publix and some of the smaller ones have moved into the employee doing more of a constant monitoring, but they’ve also done something really important is they give the credit, they give the screen back to the candidate. So historically that wasn’t the way, like you just took a background check or they just did a background check.

You, you authorized them to do a background check on you, or you didn’t either way, and they did one on you and you just didn’t give you the information. [00:12:00] But a lot of them, the first advantages and accurates and all the, all of those, they’re now moving to a model where the candidates, it’s just as important to give them that data back as it is to give the employer that data. Yeah. So with that being the backdrop. What do you, what does the candidate get out of working with Bite Board? What do they get anything I should say?

Sargun Kaur: Oh, I’ll mention a couple things that we offer to candidates. One, just through the bi board interview experience, we’ve had so many candidates come back and be like, regardless of the results, I know what my strengths are and weaknesses are Walking out of this interview and how to be a better engineer.

So often candidates will get rejected from a job, but still will still state that they had a really positive experience through the by board interview. I actually failed my first round of Google interviews and I remember distinctly walking out of my five rounds of onsites at the Google Mountain of the office and being like, yep, I forgot to memorize the Bitwise operations.

It was this chapter of the book and I, if I [00:13:00] just memorized it, I would’ve been like, past the interview. I didn’t walk away saying This is how I was gonna be a better engineer, or these are the things I really need to learn to become a better engineer. That was not my takeaway from my interview, it was like, oh, I forgot to memorize something.

When candidates walk away from a bite board interview, they’re actually like, oh, like I need to be able to do technical reasoning better because I was working through this design doc and really trying to figure it out. And I didn’t know how to like, reason about this particular nuance in building a technical solution.

But in terms of an artifact itself we send, like I mentioned, that full report back to companies with a summary of what those skills what the highlights and and basically things that they need the candidate needs to work on in terms of skills are, and allow companies to share that summary back to candidates so that they have like objective.

Things that they can point back to of like why they moved forward with a person or didn’t move forward with a person that gives.

William Tincup: And the last thing that gives them a great kind of template or [00:14:00] architecture for their feedback, positive, whatever it is they now have something they can refer to and go, Hey, listen.

You scored well. Here’s some of the things that we saw. That was what was awesome. Here’s some things that you need to work on, and whether or not they move forward in the process or not, there’s something they don’t have to create themselves. Yeah. That’s something I like and I think it holds a lot of recruiters and and hiring managers back from giving feedback is, it’s a blank screen.

Yep. And so often it doesn’t start as a

Sargun Kaur: blank screen. Sorry. No. It’s so often we talk to companies that are like, oh, we have an interview that we use internally. I was like, okay do you have a rubric associated with it? We do thumbs up, thumbs down, or our engineer review the code.

And see if it looks good.

William Tincup: I saw you do air quotes overlooks looks good.

Sargun Kaur: Exactly like you’re moving so fast. You’re building companies so quickly. You often that becomes a secondary thought, but it comes to really bite you because. You don’t have a good candidate experience. You might be, you most certainly are potentially [00:15:00] leaving out great candidates out of the process because you don’t have a defined objective way to be able to give feedback and also assess the performance of candidates.

One last thing I was gonna mention for candidates that we’ve really seen be really powerful is my sister’s an engineer too. She’s actually applying for jobs right now, and I watch her apply and it’s like over and over again having to fill out, having her through the interview process.

Multiple companies is just like the same thing that they’re really looking for, especially at those initial rounds of interviews and with the bite board interview process, we have a effectively an opt-in solution for candidates that if they get invited to take a by board interview. By multiple companies.

They only have to take that interview once and we’ll calibrate, we’ll customize the report and send that performance. We’ve got back to each company based on what they’re like, what the company’s looking for, but the candidate doesn’t have to keep taking the interview over and over again. So that’s helped expedite a tremendous number of candidates through companies [00:16:00] that use by board.

William Tincup: I love that. Okay, let’s do a quick pivot to some buy side things. First is three questions. So first question is, what’s your favorite part of the demo? When you get to show people whiteboard for the very first time, what’s your favorite part?

Sargun Kaur: I absolutely love the no explanation like that goes up.

Especially when I’m talking to hiring managers who’ve seen every solution in a book and they’re like, oh, like you don’t need to explain this. I get it. It’s very different than any other interview out there. They’ve been through the interviews themselves often and they’re like, Ty, typically lead code style, or like having to study for algorithms and having come from a candidate perspective myself and gone through a ton of engineering interviews myself Every time I can pinpoint that like sheer aha moment particularly with hiring managers or talent professionals that have worked really closely with their hiring managers and candidates of understanding why this is different.[00:17:00]

Then you get through all the negotiation and all the other fun stuff. But that moment in particular is one of my favorite.

William Tincup: Love it. Questions you think buyers should ask your team, your, you bite board buying questions, like what should they be asking? Because this is different. They might have been using I won’t name the names, but some testing, technical testing types of platforms, et cetera, which is great, but this is different.

And so what’s the questions that you would love for them to be asking you?

Sargun Kaur: I would really love for them to be thinking holistically about their candidate experience being like, okay, if I, how does BI board play into their interview process? Once you add BI board, you don’t actually have to go oftentimes.

What we’ve seen with a ton of our companies, including Figma, Arcadia Betterment, is they’re actually reducing the number of technical interviews they’re doing with a candidate because they’re getting such a deep signal with a single by board interview. You’re not having to be like, okay, can you [00:18:00] prove to me that you can code again?

Can you prove to me you can code again? In, three different interviews. Every interview should build off of the last one in terms of skills that you’re looking to identify. And so we work really closely with our clients of okay, you start off with a bi board interview, you get a say, you get a really strong candidate, come through your next interview’s.

Probably gonna, A lot of times what we’ll they’ll do is. For example, Glowforge comes to mind. They’ll use that work sample, that candidate as created through the by board interview, which includes a design doc and trade offs. They’ve written and communicated along with a pretty cumbersome technical code that’s written.

And they’ll go, okay, like, why did you make this decision? Let’s talk it out live. So they’ll do a little bit of a systems review, design interview and then during their onsites, and then they’ll do a culture match interview. And then potentially one additional interview that’s more towards niche skills that company’s using.

And that full interview process, while short will get you a lot more signal than going [00:19:00] through, say, five rounds of coding interviews that I’ve often done with a lot of companies, including, one to two screeners upfront. So really thinking about. Your candidate experience, your interview process and pipeline, and what skills are you really assessing for is really important.

And then the other question I would ask is, what does your what does your onsite to offer rate look like? Industry average, even with a lot of tools in the market, is 20 to 24%. Four outta five candidates that you’re bringing to your onsite are not getting an offer at the end of the day. That’s time spent by engineers, by recruiters, by the candidate itself.

That’s ultimately not resulting in a positive outcome. With board. Our onsite offer rate is 55%. There’s no goal of getting to a hundred. We’re not trying to assess for everything out the bat, but can we get you high quality candidates to be spending more time with that? You feel confident that at least one in two of them you’re actually giving offers out too, and [00:20:00] that reduces your time to offer.

That also gets you a really high quality candidate throughput throughout the, through your pipeline. It helps you hire and build your teams faster ultimately as well. Yeah.

William Tincup: And it also morale, some of this is, like you said, with the engineers that come in, the hiring managers when we’re using, they have other jobs.

Yep. When we’re using their time and we’re, not using their time the most efficiently they become frustrated with recruiting, with TA in particular. And so the more we can get to a 50% hit rate, The more their morale and perception of recruiting changes.

Okay, they actually know what they’re doing. They’re bringing solid candidates. Like I said, a hundred percent is not attainable, shouldn’t be the goal. The whole idea is to get them closer and not waste their time. I love that. Last question, and it’s not a hard question. It’s more of a.

Your favorite customer story or most recent favorite customer story? Without names, no, you don’t need you to tell me the company or anything, but Yeah. How they went into and used by board [00:21:00] and it just kinda changed everything for them.

Sargun Kaur: Yeah. I have a customer story. I remember going in And getting an intro to a company because one of the engineering directors was part of the group that I was, and so I pitched by board and was like and she mentioned that their head of ta was the one that really looked over these tools and so made an introduction to him at that point of time.

And I remember very distinctly, it was actually a Monday morning when When we chatted and he was like, I’m taking this call because our engineering director told me I’m forced. I have to you.

I’ve tried every tool, every year some other someone will come in and try to pitch me on these tools and it, I’ve not seen anything work and I’ve been industry. I might

William Tincup: know this person by the way. They’re, I’m jaded. I’ve tried everything. Nothing works. Yeah, it all, and everybody says there’s the silver bullet.

I don’t believe in any of it yet. Yep. I actually [00:22:00] literally,

Sargun Kaur: literally word for word precisely what was happening. And I had 30 minutes with this person, and obviously me, I’m like, really trying to get this deal to happen. And they were particularly focused that their university season was coming up.

And their biggest takeaways was like, everyone will tell me like, onsite to offer gets better or candidate experience gets better. But to the, to your previous question too, It’s the recruiters and talent the talent side of the teams that are such big champions for candidates, and they’ll give them all these prep material and be like have to help them and support them to like really feel trapped for the interviews, which, as these candidates who are applying for these jobs, like if they’re great software engineers, they shouldn’t have to feel like they need to prep, but Right. So often recruiters know that it’s.

It’s really important to motivate these candidates to like really encourage them to understand what’s happening in the process because it looks so different than their day-to-day roles. And then coming back to this recruiter is I’ve worked so closely with our candidates. We have such a drop-off issue with every tool I use and was just [00:23:00] like not buying into it at all.

And ultimately I was like, just we’ll do a sweetheart deal, give me a chance. He’s okay. We are about to go interview Waterloo students in particular. And Waterloo students go through a co-op system, so they’re like really well trained in terms of doing a ton of internships.

So he said that if we were able to see a positive candidate experience through the Waterloo students and able to help them determine the strong candidates from there We’ll talk. And I basically took that and ran and that pilot ended up going really successfully. We ended up meeting with the hiring managers afterwards, and one of the big things that came up was the questions they asked themselves is, was this candidate.

Worth my time to interview further when it comes to the onsite stage, and so often not in a mean way, it’s just Hey, like we should have understood this candidate wasn’t a good fit much earlier on in the process. And with Bite Board, they said every candidate they interviewed through Waterloo was worth their time to interview [00:24:00] further.

Not every candidate get an offer, but over at that point, over 60% of them got offers. And so we were able to convert that pilot to a full deal, and that remains one of my favorite stories because.

William Tincup: The fact that they liked every candidate. Again, not everyone and every candidate’s gonna get an offer.

You might have 10 candidates for the one position. So there’s nine people that you liked. Yeah. That, that were competent and for the job and just, you picked one over the other nine that fantastic story, and hopefully that grew into a much larger business. Yeah. For you. And more importantly, you turned a naysayer.

Around to someone that’s a believer that there is actually technology out there that makes their lives better. Thank you so much for your time. This is wonderful. I absolutely love what you’ve built and are building. It’s just wonderful.

Sargun Kaur: Appreciate it and hopefully I will see you where it transform next week.

William Tincup: Absolutely. You will. We will. We’ll see you next week. We’ll have some we’ll have some time together. Okay. And thanks again. And thanks for everyone listening. Until next time.[00:25:00]

The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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