Background: I'm a hiring manager for sysadmins, tech support people, and the occasional front-line manager thereof, and have worked in and interviewed for those positions most of my career, except for a brief stint driving trains -- of which the interview phase was surprisingly valuable in giving me an alternate view of how interviewing can be done.
Whilst I have restructured my company's hiring practices (for the roles I'm involved in) to include MT-inspired behavioural questions, I firmly believe that they are not enough, on their own, to be able to sufficiently determine a candidate's suitability for the role. Historically, my company's interview process was centered around a written technical quiz, and I haven't removed it from the interview process (and I have no intention of ever doing so).
The problem is that the candidate gets to pick the stories they tell, and while you can (and must!) interject to get more information about the candidate's thought processes, if I'm getting a bunch of stories about tracking down performance problems, and I need my candidate to be able to fix performance problems *and* write some scripts, I can't tell if I'm getting a certain set of stories because they're the most appropriate ones or because they're the *only* ones.
My guess as to why you perhaps don't do a big "technical" interview (where I define that as "assessing the candidate's ability to recall and apply the industry-specific body-of-knowledge", rather than firm-specific "fit", or other "soft" skills) in the legal profession is that you've got to pass an (as I understand it) strong technical assessment (a bar exam or equivalent) before you can even hope to get a job *anywhere* in the industry. As such, you can be fairly sure that any candidate who comes to you having passed the bar exam will know the basics of the law.
No such qualifying exam exists in IT, and so we've essentially got to do the equivalent of a bar exam to every candidate who comes through the door, just to make sure they've got the slightest hope of being able to do the job. (Before you ask: no, a degree is *not* sufficient -- I taught some classes at a University, I know what goes on, and there are no shortage of graduates of "reputable" CS programs who I wouldn't trust to plug in my toaster, let alone administer systems). I suspect that the lack of a baseline industry-wide certification, and a very different focus on what makes a "good" employee, pretty much explains the difference in interview structure between the two professions.
As an aside, I've actually been through (and passed) the Google interview process - in many ways, it has elements of behavioural and roleplay interviewing as part of the lengthy technical interview you go through. The pre-qualifying phone screens were in effect "tech quizzes", or "bar exams", and the in-person interviews were, for all intents and purposes, role-plays of various aspects of the day-to-day work in the job I was interviewing for. There wasn't a formal "behavioural questioning" part, and no interviews with "the hiring manager" (I think you get assigned to a team after you join the company -- in my case, the team I was interviewing for hadn't been formed yet, and they didn't have a manager at all yet), and that might be hurting them a little bit, but it's not a million miles away from the spirit of what MT recommends, in my opinion.
I have an interview with Google senior management in London in the
following weeks and I was wondering what is the dress code on such an
interview at the most fancy company nowadays.
Please understand that the role I'm interviewing for is NOT a
development role so I can't afford to go in a mistake that only
It is a business role that is considered pretty senior as well within the company.
Tips ? Suggestions ?
Tomorrow at noon I’ll have my interview with Google. I went through a
great deal of effort to be as prepared for this interview as I could
be. I poured over my resume, I researched practice questions, I had
friends and family run me through mock interviews. Let me share some of
the things I learned, and tell you about some of the things I did.
I proofread my resume about a million times. When I printed it, I found
that I spelled “laptop” as “laptpo”. Ouch! Whatever, I made it this far
into the process with a typo, on my resume. On this plus side I did rig
up this resume custom just for Google. Just goes to show that you
cannot proofread or double check your work too many times.
I have a long document with all my skills in it, formatted the way I
wanted my resume to look. When I want to apply somewhere I copy this
document and delete out skills until it fits on one page. This only
leaves the skills that the prospective employer cares about most. This
is great because I can proofread the big document and benefit from it
on all the resume I create later. Each employer I deem worth an hour of
my time can get a custom version of my resume. It usually takes me
about 15 minutes to snip the chaff, then about 45 minutes to put in
company names and copiously proofread. I also made a generic PC
Technician and Software Engineer Resume, for businesses that aren’t
worth an hour of my time.
When printing my resume I always use some special kind of paper. I have
been told that this make it stick out in the pile from other resumes.
For this I purchased some 100% cotton 32# paper, it is thick, has a
rich color and feels sturdy. Then I just printed it on photo paper. The
photo paper is thicker, harder to rip, and this ink/paper combination
is completely waterproof. I do not know if this works, but it can’t
really hurt. I will post my interviewers reaction to a glossy
waterproof resume later.
Next, I wanted to brush up on Linux and PC hardware skills. Not that I
have let them lapse in any particular way, but I do not know
everything. I started looking into Comptia’s practice tests and their Certification Objectives.
I have taken countless A+ tests and passed them all, but judging by my
knowledge of the objectives I am a little surprised I scored as well as
I did. I studied the best I could in the few short days I had. Despite
the objectives list, I feel that my real world experience will pull me
through. For some scope on my experience, right now, in my house I have
four computers I am fixing for other people. I will diagnose them all
successfully, and suggest solutions to all the people who own them. I
guess actually fixing computers is the best kind of study I can do.
I also searched for A+ practice tests, even though there are plenty out
there I feel I came up empty handed. Most of what is out there is old
and not worth studying. I stuck with Comptia as my guide, they had
enough to fill my time well.
I asked three other people to ask me technical interview type
questions. There where tons of technical questions, and there were Crazy Google interview questions.
Many people have told me that an interviewer may throw crazy stuff at
you just to see how you react. If this is true I think the worst things
you can do is give up or say things like “I don’t know”.
I think the best way to respond to crazy questions is to give the kind
of answer they are looking for and a creative answer. If a question
relates to real world behavior then it may be wise to point out what
could be done better to improve teamwork or leadership or one of those
other key skills that all businesses are looking for. For example, on
the bridge crossing question couple question from the crazy interview
question page: I would start by explaining how I would carry the 10
minute guy because I would be the 2 minute guy or if he refused I would
toss him the flashlight once I crossed. Then I would explain the
‘Proper solution’ which involves the fast people ferrying the
flashlight back and forth so both the slowpokes can cross together to
save time. Then finally. I would state that if the bridge is so unsafe
that if a flashlight is mandatory to cross it and our flashlight has
exactly the amount of time that we we need it, then it would be safer
to wait until morning. My rationale is, if it is too dangerous to cross
without the flashlight then it is too dangerous to mount a rescue
mission when something goes wrong.
I will follow this up tomorrow with as much as I can say. I am sure
that there will be mistakes, highlights and an amazing story about how
I got my new job with Google.
If you’ve gotten through the first job interview and you’re moving on
toward the second one, the odds of being hired have just gone up. With
that in mind, you really want to be prepared for that second job
interview. The questions will be tougher and things will be more
complex in a second interview. Make sure that you dress appropriately
and that you are on time. You probably did that for the first
interview, too, but make sure you do it for the second one, since
that’s likely going to be where the final decision is made about hiring
you or hiring someone else who presented himself or herself better. If
you find that you’ll be late for your interview for any reason, call
ahead. Let someone know. That’s much more responsible than breezing in
the door fifteen minutes after your scheduled appointment time and
saying you’re sorry you’re late but traffic was bad, etc.
Another thing you should do is make sure you know about the company
before you go to that second interview. You can’t know everything, but
you can Google the company and read what is said about it. You can
visit its Website if it has one. You can also see if it has a Wikipedia
entry. If it’s a big company, it probably does - and some smaller
companies do, too. While it’s never wise to believe everything you read
on the Internet, this kind of information will give you a lot of
knowledge about the company overall, and you’ll notice things that
don’t match up properly. If you’ve done anything very important in
between a first and second interview, such as received an award or
completed your degree, be sure to update your resume and bring the new
one to your interview. There’s no shame in letting your potential
employer know that you’re still moving forward with your goals. It
shows your desire to work, and that’s important. Ultimately, relax and
be honest at a second interview. Think about what kind of salary you’re
really looking for, and know what’s common for that position. You might
be asked about it. Honest answers are very important for success.
This article was written by Tom Sangers on behalf of Martin Ward Anderson who offer recruitment services for finance jobs
Tags: tips |
Posted by Admin
12/4/2008 5:23 AM |
There are many stories about job interviews at Google. But the most interesting part of any story is the list of questions:
Zach had a phone interview in October 2005 and he was asked things like:
"Google gets queries from around the world. Write a function that will return a two character string representing a country code given an IP address as its input."
Here is the answer:
"Essentially, you have to create a tree structure with the country codes as the leaves at the very bottom. I chose to split the IP addresses by octets. So the top level would contain all of the starting and ending numbers corresponding to the first octet on the IP address. So this tree structure would be very wide but only 4 levels deep."
Pete Abilla was a little luckier and knew how to answer this question:
"You are at a party with a friend and 10 people are present including you and the friend. Your friend makes you a wager that for every person you find that has the same birthday as you, you get $1; for every person he finds that does not have the same birthday as you, he gets $2. Would you accept the wager?"
"The answer has to do with the number of days in the year and the probability the person’s birthday falls on the same day as mine (without replacement). I eventually solved it, but it took time learning how to apply probability with no replacement."
An interesting problem from Google's aptitude test:
Given a triangle ABC, how would you use only a compass and straight edge to find a point P such that triangles ABP, ACP, and BCP have equal perimeters? (Assume that ABC is constructed so that a solution does exist.)
The moderator of gamedev.net had a phone interview with rather odd questions:
Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
How many gas stations would you say there are in the United States?
You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
Niniane Wang, who works at Google, has some tips for a job interview:
Practice using the same medium (e.g. paper and pencil) and time limits (e.g. 30 minutes) as the real interview.
During the interview, don't obsess over little mistakes that happen.
Don't be rude to your interviewer.
Don't hijack the interview (if you really want to talk about a project, ask your interviewer).
When answering questions expecting a specific answer, give a high-level summary first.
So if you want to work at Google, get ready and good luck!
What should I expect from a phone interview with Google?
I have a phone interview which I never done this kind of interview by
phone. What should I expect? Learn? Prepare?
Any tip may help.
A: First of all, congratulations on having the opportunity to work at a top company...
You must have very attractive credentials on paper.
I believe you live in Austria. I think Google is headquartered in Mountain View, CA with offices all over the world.
There are a couple reasons well run corporations conduct telephone interviews.
It provides them with a cost-effective way to screen you,
without having to pay to fly you to Milan, Zürich, or the US for an in
It offers the HR function the
opportunity to gather basic information about you and do a high level
corporate fit test. Be sure you are fluent in your strengths and
"weaknesses". Make yourself focused about where you want to be in 5
years...whether you are or not. Think of the 2-3 top things that you
bring to the table. Be sure they come out in the Q&A somehow.
And, prepare 3-5 good questions you want answered by them. You may
only get time to ask one. Make it a good one.
If you pass this first screen, you will be interviewed by someone in
the area/function in which you would be working. These interviews can
sometimes also be done by telephone, especially if the candidate who
looks attractive on paper lives far away.
Eventually, you will be brought in for face to face meetings, possibly supplemented by videoconference interviews.
I don’t know the type of job you are interviewing for--business?
engineering? staff? etc.? But, Google has a reputation for hiring the
best and the brightest.
On the phone, they have the ability to evaluate how well you
communicate and how you think. Depending upon how important the latter
is, they have the ability to give you "brainteasers" or cases to
solve. Typically, solving the problem is secondary to seeing how you
structure your solutions and go about problem solving.
Don’t be nervous. It will help you to prepare for the interview.
Show that you have done your research into the company and in
particular into the division in which you are hoping to work. Do what
you can to find out specifics about Google’s recruiting process from
other Google candidates who have gone through it successfully. Perhaps
there are alumni from your university employed there. Speak to them.
Hals und Beinbruch! (not literally, of course...) Viel Glück!
Sources: decades of interviewing experience on both sides of the desk
What is the protocol after a phone interview? Do I write a thank you note/email?
I know that after a regular job interview, one should write a thank you note. Should a thank you note be written after a phone interview? Also, is it acceptable to send an email thank you note if you do not have the person's work......
from Human Resources experience, something as small as a thank you will
make a huge impression. It's not much effort on your part, and it will
help solidify a phone conversation in the minds of the interviewers and
I myself would never do a formal letter after a phone interview or phone screen, but e-mail is perfect.
Also, keep it short and sweet. Thank them for the opportunity,
not the interview (this keeps it positive). If by some chance you can
put a quick sentance in that personalizes the thank you, do it . If you
spoke with the interviewer about something non-interview related,
making a light, one sentance comment about it is fine. Something you
would say to your grandmother or pastor/priest/reverend will be the
test on appropriateness.
Mr. Smith -
Thank you for the phone conversation and the opportunity, and
looking forward to the next step of the process. Hope that your Cubs
make it past this weekend!
One last thing: Stay away from animated e-mails, backgrounds, and
use a general font (Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica, etc.)
Do you care about A ‘Dream’ Come True?: US Approves The First Google Phone!
A ‘Dream’ Come True: US Approves The First Google Phone New York Times, United States - Aug 18, 2008 The new phone is an important step in Google’s plans to expand the company’s presence beyond the personal computer and into the mobile......
A: Google seems to be a company
that is determined in dominating the technology market.
I don't care about their phone, but I can imagine it giving a run for its money to Blackberry and iPhone.
I sat in the waiting room with one other applicant. He was older
than me by about ten years. Judging by our clothes, it was clear that
we were taking different approaches to this once-in-a-lifetime
He dressed professionally. Black suit, white shirt, striped tie. His
dress shoes were polished, and their shine matched well with that of
his belt buckle.
I dressed casually. Blue jeans. Sneakers. A brown collared sweater
that hid the geeky maroon “Computer Wizard” t-shirt that I was using as
I was trying to dress the part. I had heard that Google’s dress code
was simply “You must wear clothes,” so I wore something I might wear to
the office if I got the job. Sitting across from Mr. Business Suit, I
started wondering if I made a huge mistake.
For whatever reason, Mr. Business Suit hadn’t acknowledged my
presence since I arrived. He sat cross-legged with a magazine in his
lap, half-heartedly thumbing through it without looking up. He kept
this up until the Hiring Manager opened the door to the adjacent office
and called his name: “Don?”
Don set his magazine down and stood up.
“Good luck,” I said hopefully.
He nodded at me and followed the Hiring Manager out of the room. I
took pleasure noticing that the Hiring Manager wore sneakers and jeans.
Now that I was the only applicant left in the room, I started
reviewing the materials I brought with me to the interview. In my
“Portfolio” (a thin 3-ring binder) I had:
Loose copies of my resume
How-To Instructions and Screenshots from three of my Open Source Projects
Two Letters of Recommendation from previous Employers
A Thank You Card that I planned to mail immediately following the interview
I imagined that I had at least ten minutes until the Hiring Manager
asked for me. I was therefore surprised when a petite woman entered the
room and called my name: “Shaun?”
“I’m Stacy,” she said, extending her arm.
I stood up, tucked the Portfolio under my arm, and shook her hand.
“Shaun Boyd. How do you do?”
“Just fine, thanks. I have good news for you.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“Your application has been fast-tracked. I’ll be giving you a quick
tour of our facility, and then I’ll introduce you to the team that’s
interested in your background.”
“Oh my, that is good news,” I said through a huge smile. “How exciting!”
“Definitely. Follow me.”
As I followed her through the double doors and down the corridor,
Stacy filled me in on what being “fast-tracked” meant. She explained
that I still needed to be interviewed, but because my application was
unanimously selected by an existing project team I was exempt from the
first-tier “initial screening” interview. I would start at the
second-tier interview, which would be conducted by current members of
the team I might be working with. Stacy, a Senior Hiring Manager, would
sit in during this interview to see how I interacted with the team
members, and to answer any HR questions I might have about the position.
Stacy led me into her office and told me to have a seat. She typed
an instant message onto her screen, sent it, and then proceeded to copy
and paste the same message to four or five other people. She toggled
through the responses for a few minutes before speaking to me again.
“We have almost 30 minutes until the entire team will be available
to meet with you. Would you like to join me for some Free Lunch in the
“Absolutely,” I said.
The cafeteria was intimidating. Nearly every station had at least
half-a-dozen Google employees in line for their Free Lunch. Since they
were already familiar with the selection and ordering process, they
moved around the cafeteria with ease while I stood in place holding an
empty tray. Stacy pointed to the different stations, told me the type
of cuisine that was served there, and encouraged me to not be shy.
“Everything is always free, tasty, and nutritious,” she said, more
or less reciting everything I had heard about Google’s cafeteria
I got into the line for Chinese cuisine. I asked for a helping of
General Tso’s Chicken over white rice. The chef asked me if I’d like
some orange slices to go with my entree, and I said “Yes please!”
I joined Stacy at a round table in the center of the cafeteria. She
introduced me to Tom and Anu, two of the team members who would be
interviewing me once we finished our lunch. She then busted my chops a
little by telling them how I chose to get Free Lunch instead of a tour
of the facility, but they said I made the right choice. Anu scolded me
for not taking advantage of the Slurpee machine.
Tom asked about the Portfolio I was carrying. I paged through it
briefly, and explained that it was basically a detailed addendum to my
application. I said that I’d like to show it to the entire team during
the interview, if they’d be interested. He gave me the impression that
they would be.
Once we finished lunch, we returned our trays and left the
cafeteria. The four of us rode the elevator up together and got off on
the floor where the meeting with the entire team would take place. I
followed Stacy around a corner and through a large wooden door.
I stepped onto the boat and felt disoriented. I suddenly found
myself on a sailboat with my father, in the middle of the Atlantic
Ocean, rocking violently in a complete mess of a thunderstorm. My dad
was signaling for me to grab the lines near the bow, but before I could
grab a hold of them a giant wave crashed into the broad side of the
boat and knocked me overboard. Right before I hit the surface of the
water, I woke up.
I’m jobless in Michigan. For the past month, I’ve been relentlessly
applying to and interviewing for various local jobs with little to no
success. As of last night, the job hunting process has permeated my
subconscious mind to the point where I’m literally dreaming about it.
What I experienced in my dream was so vivid that I felt compelled to
share it above. No, it never happened. No, it’s not an accurate
representation of the application and interview process at Google. It
is, however, more interesting than my recent experiences in the real
If I misled you, I’m sorry. I just wanted to take a break from
writing cover letters to write something enjoyable. I hope some readers
will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
First, let's make it clear: I never worked at Google, but the following post is the result of my extensive research of google's interview process. This is my version of their interviewer guide, and I can't promise that it is totally accurate.
Google's interview process
is build around the idea that the candidate must never know or be able
to claim that he passed the interviews sucessfully, until they actually
hire him. The reason is that if Google will
end up rejecting a candidate that aced the interviews, he will be able
to sue them for discrimination with regard to his search history.
Since it is perfectly legal for them to look at it, and it is their
obligation to do it, the candidate does not have to show a proof that
they actually did that - it is obvious. They will obviously do not
admit that, or will say their opinion about his search history -
because it is something internal, a secret they hide from the candidate
(just like his previous employers opinion of him).
They hide it for the benefit of the candidate too, because to be
rejected because of a suspicion of a mental illness that is implied by
the search history is obviously endlessly embarassing.
Google uses the following techniques for this purpose:
1) They never give you feedback right after the interview.
2) There are many interviews, and Google says you have to be good in all of them in order to succeed.
3) There might be many interviews in a single day, so the candidate will probably not be at his best in some of them.
4) They ask you to code, ask you about your past projects, and all kinds of not too personal
questions - like what are your hobbies. It is very hard to know if they liked your answer.
5) They ask you really hard questions, and say it is because they are interested in your "thought process".
6) You see many different people from various backgrounds, some might be from abroad. The interview process usually includes flights to abroad.
7) They ask you questions about things that you are not supposed to know.
8) They might use body language readers in the interviews.
9) They ask for a references list, and call each person there.
10) There are interviews with multiple interviewers (they are all supposed to like you).
11) They tell you that they are interested in people with all kind of strange hobbies and unique personal traits.
12) They write everything you do during the interview, and submit it to Larry and Sergey.
13) The interviewers do not speak among themeselves, and they give the results of
the interviews to Larry and Sergey. This way they also make sure that
if they do look at your personal information, nobody but Larry and
Sergey, that make the final decision, knows about it (i.e. it is done
in the most discrete way possible).
There is obviously nothing evil about it, it's the only way they can
make sure that the candidate will never be left suspicious that the
reason they rejected him is his personal information (most people don't
know that it is legal for them to check it). The worst case scenario is
that a very naive candidate with mental problems (for example, he
searched for suicidal content) will approach them, and they will reject
him in a way that it will be clear to him that it is purely because of
his personal information. The entire interview process is built so as to prevent this.
Tags: books, tips |
Posted by Admin
9/11/2008 9:16 AM |
I have realized that I have a perfect recipe to passing a Google
interview. It's not easy, but if you do it, you have 95% or more chance
of success. The good thing is that the result is portable - you will be
equally employable by Microsoft, as well as most other good software
Here it is.
Read and do all exercises in the following books:
(1) Introduction to Algorithms
chapters on advanced data structures (including B-trees, binomial and
Fibonacci heaps, representing disjoint sets in data structures);
sorting networks; polynomials and the Fast Fourier Transformation (FFT))
(2) Computer Architecture, Fourth Edition: A Quantitative Approach
(3) Hacker's Delight
you do this and you're not hired (but you can prove that you've done
all the exercises and tried to pass the interview in good faith), I
will pay you $200 :-).
Among many IT professionals, working at Google is seen as a dream job.
And no wonder. The burgeoning company is a driving force in Internet development. Its Web-based word processing app, Writely,
sends a shiver of nervousness through Microsoft. Its Adsense program is
changing e-commerce. And its acquisition of YouTube earned grudging
admiration from Big Media.
Heck, the very word “google” has entered the language, earning a coveted spot in the august confines of Webster’s Dictionary.
Working for Google means working for an organization that’s
extraordinarily well funded – the words “layoff” and “Google” aren’t
likely to be paired anytime soon. It also means working alongside top
talent. With as many applications as Google receives, the company has
its pick of the best.
If that’s not enough, Google serves a free lunch – every day – to its
employees. (“Yummy, and made with love,” according to the company.)
The good news is that Google is hiring. A lot. The company is hoovering
up IT staffers like a Boy Scout at an all-you-can-eat. Its job board lists scads of openings, and with the company’s breathless growth it’s likely there’ll soon be more.
The bad news is that getting hired at Google isn’t easy. It requires a
unique set of characteristics to land a gig with the search giant. With
that in mind, Datamation spoke with Google’s Director of Staffing, Arnnon Geshuri, about the company’s hiring process.
Google, being Google, doesn’t just call its staffers “employees.” No,
that’s far too traditional. So what’s its special term of endearment
With a laugh, Geshuri spills the secret: “When they come on board, they become Googlers.”
However light-hearted, the term is revealing. It suggests a unique
corporate culture, especially in the tech world. (True, Microsoft
workers are called ‘Softies,’ but how many other big tech companies
give workers a nickname? After all, IBM staffers aren’t called
And what makes a Googler?
“We have a core belief that a Googler has certain aspects to
themselves,” Geshuri says. “They’re really motivated, enthusiastic,
The word that stands out in that otherwise generic description is entrepreneurial.
While working in the IT department of, say, a large manufacturing
facility might not require entrepreneurial spirit, working at Google
most certainly does. With the search giant’s rapid growth – and its
aggressive moves in arenas held by competitors – the need for staffers
to possess self-starting business smarts seems clear.
Does that mean that an IT pro needs strong business skills to get hired?
“It’s always a plus, but it’s not necessarily itself a deal breaker,”
Geshuri says. Google prefers it when, “from a business sense, you can
relate to the technical aspects and look at the mission-critical needs
to the company, and really understand some of the context around why
we’re building some of the infrastructure.”
In short, “It helps if the person can align the business needs to the technology.”
This may be more important at Google due to the company's innovative
“20 percent time” policy, in which IT staffers are free to pursue
projects they're passionate about on company time. It takes an
entrepreneurial (and disciplined) spirit to use this unstructured time
in ways that benefit the bottom line.
If you’re wondering if Google has an opening in your particular tech area, the answer is probably yes.
“The great thing is that we have almost every type of IT opening
available,” Geshuri says. “From networking to security to sysadmins. If
you look at our job board, we have tons and tons of amazing openings.”
He’s not exaggerating. The openings range from the data center, global
infrastructure, and security to video conferencing, telecommunications,
and Web site engineering.
The locations, too, are diverse. “It’s not necessarily centralized, so
it’s a broad set of roles in all the locations we have,” he says. The
company has facilities from Phoenix to New York to Dallas, not to
mention Egypt, the Ukraine, Latvia, Ireland, Azerbaijan, and many
(Azerbaijan? Does Google need outposts in every little corner of the world? Is it…planning on taking over the planet?)
“Not one location is hiring more than the other,” Geshuri explains. He
refers to the global growth of the company, how it’s always building
infrastructure, always trying something new, always innovating. “So
each location, we want them to be just as fully staffed as any other
location since we’re growing very rapidly.”
Google receives about 3,000 job applications per day, Geshuri says.
This number represents applications for all the company’s jobs, not
just tech positions.
However, “Because we’re always looking for great IT talent, a great portion of that [3,000 applications] is IT professionals.”
If your resume is one of those that attract attention, your phone will
ring. For IT job applicants, “It’s a phone screen first, with…a series
of folks internally,” he says.
“Once that occurs, the qualified candidates are invited to one of our
campuses to interview in that respective area.” If all goes well,
you’re on your way to becoming a Googler, and earning what Geshuri
refers to as “very competitive compensation and benefit packages.”
If you think you’re qualified, Geshuri stresses that Google is very
interested in hearing from you. “We are very open to new personnel and
new ways of doing things, and we’re always looking for the greatest
talent to come join the Google family," he says. “This is a wonderful
environment for someone to grow in.”
Before the interview
To obtain information about the company/position to see if you would like to continue with the interview process
To successfully answer the interview questions and prove that you are worthy of a face-to-face interview
To appropriately “close” the interview (express your interest and thank the interviewer)
Inquire about the rest of the interview process (timeline)
Pen and paper, a computer(with fast internet :) ), your calendar. The job description and the resume and cover letter which you submitted. A list of your accomplishments which relate to the job you are discussing. Research you have done on the company, a short list of questions about the job. Prepare three to five key statements about your strengths and successes (also a few statements on your limitations and difficult situations you’ve encountered).Make sure you have a space set aside that is free of distractions. If you are taking the call on a cell phone, make sure you have strong reception. Know your comfort zone. Plan where you are going to sit (at a desk, table or couch).
Prepare responses to typical interview questions
Tell me about yourself. Why do you want to work for our company? What are your leadership skills? Give an example. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Tell about a time where you and a group were given a task and successfully completed it. What was your role? What was the result? Describe a time where you were faced with a high pressure or stressful situation. How did you handle it? Describe one work related mistake that you’ve made and what would you do differently? Are you willing to relocate? Travel? What would you like to know about us?
During the Interview
Who calls who?
If you have been asked to call at a specific time, call precisely at that time. Too early makes you appear overly eager. Too late shows lack of interest - excuses won't be tolerated. If you can't get through (manager busy), leave a message with the receptionist to show that you called at the right time. If you have been told that the hiring manager will call you - do not
expect the same rules to apply. They will call you when they can.
If the call is a straightforward screening call, the caller will likely ask about your experience, availability and related skills. Your strategy is to provide facts that support your resume, with some context about your performance. Make every effort to sound professional but also personable. Your goal is to secure an in-person interview with the person who has the authority to hire. Approach the call with that attitude.
Things to remember:
• When you answer the phone say: “Good Morning, Ms. X”.
• Sound interested, energetic and enthusiastic. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
• Enforce a dress code. Dressing in at least business casual attire will positively impact your
ability to focus on the interview. If you wear earrings, remove them before the call.
• Relax and be ready. Be sure to take the time to prepare for the interview.
• Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your
• Don't use slang, jargon and don't swear.
• Avoid uh, er, um and like. This habit is especially noticeable on the telephone. It’s okay to
pause and take time to think - it’s better than saying empty “filler” words.
• Avoid simple yes or no answers.
• If you need time to think, say so.
• Focus on what you have to offer and can do. Be factual in your answers. Be prepared
to give a positive two minute summary of your professional career Rehearse this! Employers
hire people for what they can do for them.
• Be a good listener, don’t interrupt.
• Be careful of small talk.
• Take notes on long questions. This will help you remember all aspects you need to touch
on in your answer.
• Be comfortable with silence. The interviewer might be writing as you are speaking.
• After the interview, write down key words or interesting questions
This will help you prepare for the face-to-face interview
Ending the Interview
Closing the interview
Thank the interviewer (using their name) for their time and tell them that you are interested in the position (assuming that you are). Say you hope to be considered further and meet them in person. Ask about the next steps in the interview process as well as the hiring timetable. Follow up with a thank you note or email as soon as possible (for sure within one week).
If you are offered a face-to-face interview
Thank the interviewer and express your enthusiasm, and ask for details: When? Where? How to get there? (Are you responsible or will they pay for it?) With whom? What will the process be like?
Tags: tips |
Posted by Admin
9/2/2008 11:34 PM |
Attention, job hunters. Google is hiring. In fact, it’s having a problem finding enough people with the right talent and skills
to fill all its openings.
So what’s the best way to get your foot in the door? When you visit Google’s career page,
you’re greeted with the question: “Can one conversation change the
world?” To find out what that means, Associate Editor Richard Gincel
had a meaningful conversation with Judy Gilbert, staffing program
director at Google, who covered the bases for anyone interested in
working for a company that, according to its own description, “offers
the freedom of a startup with the stability of a large, profitable, and
InfoWorld: So, how do I get a job at Google?
The first thing is to figure out what kind of job you want. If you go
to our Web site, we’ve got all kinds of opportunities all over the
world, and they’re changing all the time. So whatever your area of
expertise is, there’s a good chance you’ll find an opening that fits
what it is you want to do.
IW: What kinds of cutting-edge work is Google doing to attract top talent?
JG: If you look at our labs page of new products and services, and updates to things we’ve already released, you’ll get a pretty good idea, though you’re
still only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of our R&D. We recently announced Google Apps for Your Domain. And that’s just one that was announced in the last three days. In a typical week around here, we may be doing three separate
IW: What skills and talents are most in demand at Google right now?
Well, we’re always looking for software engineers. But it really
varies. We look for folks that can work in groups -- that’s critical to
what we do in all departments, not just engineering. We want people who
can contribute on their own and, more than pull their own weight, enjoy
the collaborative process of making things better.
IW: Am I going to be working 50 or 60 hours a week?
We don’t have a culture where we have people burning the midnight oil
all the time. With that said, there are products to be shipped and time
lines [to be upheld]. Sometimes you stay late. But the joy in
delivering on time can make all the hard work worth it as you’re
sprinting toward the finish line. Then, you take a couple days off.
IW: What will make my résumé pop?
We look for people who have a track record of achievement; they’ve gone
above and beyond in some way. It might mean that they’ve worked on open
source projects, which shows that’s how they want to spend some of
their free time. Volunteer work is something that can show real
commitment. We’re looking for those who find ways to go above and
IW: What should my résumé omit?
JG: If people bother to call out that they’re familiar with word processing programs, we’ll be less impressed.
IW: Will Google fly me out to Mountain View to interview me?
JG: If we decide to move forward after a first-round phone interview, we’ll fly the candidate to whichever office is interviewing
IW: What are some qualities that almost all Google employees share?
JG: We look for people who take initiative and make things happen. You’re the one who says, “I have ideas how to fix this, so
who’s going to help me?” And then you go get the work done.
IW: What should I know about the culture at Google?
There’s a lot to like. There are pictures and things on our Web site
that are worth checking out. I guess the thing to understand is that
we’re always seeing interesting problems to solve and we want to put
smart people against them.
IW: What’s the average length of employment?
JG: I’m not sure. But we’re growing very quickly and have a very low attrition rate. The people who have been here a while tend
IW: What should I wear to the interview?
JG: You’re going to find people in all sorts of different outfits. Business casual is always good because it’s right down the
middle. Pair of pants and a shirt. Shoes are also recommended.
IW: How much should I know about the company before I come in?
If you’re going to spend the time to be out here, it helps a lot to ask
questions that pertain to how our business works. There’s a lot of info
out there about us. We don’t typically use pre-existing knowledge of
our own products as a way to screen out, but then again it’s a good
indicator that the candidate has done their homework. I’d recommend
opening up an AdWords account. Most of our products are free, so there are plenty of ways to get to know the company.
IW: Would it be wise to bring up Google’s competitors, let’s say Yahoo?
That could be an appropriate topic, especially if you’ve got something
insightful to offer. We don’t want anyone to disclose anything they’re
not supposed to, but comparing and contrasting products can be a great
way to get a discussion going.
IW: I think the interviews went great, but I haven’t heard back. How long should I wait until I follow up?
JG: It’s always fair game to reach out to your recruiter and check in on the process and get an ETA. It depends. Different groups
have different processes, so your best route is the recruiter.
Tags: tips |
Posted by Admin
9/2/2008 2:01 PM |
I found an interesting set of answers to interview questions.
I found the answers first, and sadly, I knew what the questions were.
If you haven’t seen the questions before, consider yourself lucky.
Very early in my career, I lost out on a job because of these two:
1. Why are manhole covers round?
2. There are three switches
in one room and one light bulb in another. How can you tell which
switch controls the bulb if you can only make one trip from the switch
room to the bulb room?
The goal of these questions is ostensibly to assess your problem solving skills.
Given that none of the people I hire will ever be working with
manholes, testing lights or studying angles on analog clocks, I take a
different approach in interviewing. There are two questions I ask
everyone I interview.
“What’s your favorite Internet product and why?”
To some extent, I don’t really care what your favorite product is. I
interviewed one woman whose favorite product I considered to be a dumb
product. I pushed her on all the reasons I thought it was stupid, and
she was able to defend her position. She thought the interview had gone
poorly, but I recommended we hire her. She turned out to be a great
I’m also looking to see what you look for in a product. If you
picked it because it’s blue and blue is a pretty color, that’s not very
The product someone picks can also tell me about how deep they’ve
dug into the Web. Bonus points for picking a relatively obscure or new
“How would you improve it?”
There are no perfect products (not even mine). Once we’ve
established your favorite product, I want to know how much you’ve
thought about it. Good product people are those who are thinking all
the time. They get annoyed when things don’t work right and think “if
only it did…”
If you’ve thought critically about it, you should be able to make
some solid suggestions. Suggesting improvements that already exist in
the product shows that you haven’t really explored it.
I’ve found these questions to be more effective than trite questions like “What’s your biggest weakness?”
My biggest weakness is that I don’t know how to use a manhole cover
to turn off lights in a room I can only visit when the hour and minute
hands are at a 7.5 degree angle.
Tags: tips |
Posted by Admin
9/2/2008 1:59 PM |
I recently noticed that a fellow Googler posted some thoughtful tips about interviewing at Google,
and -- now that I'm a bit more comfortable blogging about Work -- I
figured I'd contribute to the conversation a bit by offering my own,
Note the unofficial part. I work in Search Quality;
aside from occasionally being asked to interview candidates (like most
Googlers) -- I have nothing to do with our recruiting, recruiters,
etc., nor do I pretend to speak for the HR folks. The stuff below is
based on my own observations and opinions.
* * *
Application and interview tips
Broadly: be interesting, be humble, demonstrate outstanding
competence in your direct area, briefly highlight your well-roundedness
(academically, workwise, and personally), and clarify how you are an excellent
fit with both the position you're applying for and Google overall.
Admittedly, with an insane number of applications a year, it
is a bit of a numbers game. Some
outstanding people get rejected. And, though I haven't witnessed this
personally, I'm sure some jerks get offers. Luckily, Google's been
overhauling its hiring processes, and I'm optimistic that particularly the
percentage of great people getting overlooked (in relation to the number of
apps) will decrease.
Some specific tips and notes:
Write a decent cover letter
Write with a tone that's professional yet warm... not stiff or dry. Your (discernible) voice should come
Keep it to one page (max!) or less. Maybe even a lot less.
Convince Google of the fits described above -- that's critical!!!
Your resume can be in PDF, Word, HTML, or text formats (unless otherwise requested, of course!)
But note that it will be ultimately
printed out. This means that reasonable pagination can be helpful
and also suggests that a comprehensive 20 page document is perhaps not a
great idea. When you want your recruiter and interviewers to know
more about your background & interests, links are your friends.
Respectful persistence can be appropriate
If you genuinely have another offer on the table, let your recruiter know!
If the recruiter promised to get back with you in [x] days, and in [x+1 or
x+2] days you haven't heard back, politely e-mail them.
If you have a friend at Google who can articulately and sincerely vouch for
you, that can work in your favor.
Your association / relationship with that person matters. They'll be
asked how they know you and
how well they know you (and your
Passion matters and is skillfully perceived. You're probably wasting
your time unless you really are
excited about a particular position.
Getting turned down for one Google position does not mean you're ineligible
to apply for another position down the road.
General interview advice that probably applies for pretty much any company:
Ask thoughtful questions.
Allow time for traffic and parking and finding the right building.
Google -- at least the Mountain View campus -- is a big place!
Dress one or two steps better than you expect your interviewers to
be. Less than that, and people may wonder about your judgment.
More than that, and people may think you're clueless or arrogant.
The "right" dress at Google probably varies by department.
Engineering folks tend to be more informally dressed than sales
folks. If you're interviewing for a senior management position,
I'd probably dress a bit more formally than you would for an intern
interview. But the official advice also really makes sense
here: dress comfortably. If you feel comfortable and
confident, it'll show.
Get a good night's sleep the two
nights before. Sleep deficits are cumulative. If you have a
morning interview, make sure you're getting up early the two or three
mornings before to get yourself ready to be mentally and physically alert
during your interview time. On a similar health note, drink and eat
smartly the day of your interview. Hunger pangs are distracting.
Invest in a good pen to take to interviews. The heft and reliability
can be a real-even-if-small confidence booster. Taking occasional
notes can help you remember info or questions for later, and also might
indicate a sense of thoughtfulness and interest to your interviewer.
On the whole, think of interviews kind of like first dates. You
don't want to do all or even most of the talking. You're there to
impress, to learn, to help determine whether there's a good potential for
a relationship. First impressions are important. Show you are
caring and thoughtful by asking good questions. Avoid having spinach
in your teeth (floss beforehand!).
No Googler -- not even Larry or Sergey -- can singlehandedly extend an
employment offer to anyone. While candidates don't have to go through as
many interviews nowadays, most candidates -- regardless of level -- typically
interview with quite a few peers; team-fit is critical!
* * *
I expect to offer some more Google-thoughts in the future, but -- as a
reminder -- this is my personal blog, and as such, I expect to
generally blather on about anything I feel like discussing, ranting,
dissecting, punning, lamenting, etc... which is more likely than not to
be boring to the impatient sort.
Oh, and one last thing: please keep comments on-topic as a
courtesy not only to me, but to the cool folks reading my blog. Thanks!
Below is a short list of tips and
thoughts regarding the Google interview process that might be helpful
to anyone interested in interviewing with Google -- but (as LeVar Burton would say) you don't have to take my word for it -- I didn't get the job.
Know Someone (Networking): Like
I had mentioned, I believe the statistic was that 1 million resumes
were sent to Google but only 5000 people were actually hired last year.
From that perspective, that means if you apply to Google, you have a
.5% chance of actually getting hired. If you know a Googler who can
refer you, the recruiters will most likely consider you before they
consider a random applicant. Going through a referral will get you
noticed quickly. From the time I was referred to the time I was
contacted by the recruiter was a matter of days.
Dont let this be your first interview in a long time: I'm copying this word of advice from a current Google employee who wrote a blog entry
about interviewing and I can definitely agree. He said do not interview
with your dream job first. If you are a bit rusty, you may have trouble
interviewing at your 'dream job'. I think that was one mistake I made.
I think after interviewing with Google I became a bit more refined in
how I handle myself, what my career goals are, how I talk. Interview
with other companies, let your thoughts, opinions and skills really
sink in and then have a go at your dream job.
Hammer down on the fundamentals:
The recruiter will probably tell you this, that at Google algorithms
and data structures are the 'bread and butter'. The interview will most
certainly center around problem solving using algorithms and data
structures. Given certain conditions, ie memory, environment, language,
etc, what would be the most efficient way to solve a problem. Know your
basics and be prepare for the twist. Old text books and even the AP
Computer Science book are actually a great resource because they do
just that. The chapter teaches about the topic but the question section
always puts a tweak and presents a unique problem.
Paper and pencil coding:
As I prepared for the interview, I tried to code out problems on paper
and pencil to mimic the actual interview process. I soon realized how
much I relied on the IDE to help me code. There are so many things the
IDE does for the coder that I was just kind of mentally screening out
such as certain syntax or structure. Do your best to code using paper
and pencil because that's definitely what I experienced.
Talk a lot:
I don't mean be annoying and just babbling, but speak your mind as you
grind down into an algorithm or a problem. This shows a thought process
and gives clues to the interviewer about your skills and personality. I
believe the interview is meant to be somewhat of an exchange between
the interviewer and interviewee. By keeping open, intelligent dialog, I
think I was able to get through my questions much easier and even get
help from the interviewer.
Be prepared for a long process:
I can't say this for sure (since my interview process ended rather
shortly) but from what I understand and what I was told, the process
lasts more than a month. With the myriad of interviews and reviews, the
length of time is no surprise. Fortunately it just gives the
interviewee more time to study and sharpen up.
The interview process isn't always an accurate representation of a person:
After having gone through what I have, I've been able to at appreciate
what Google is trying to do. They are trying to produce the most
effective interviewing process laden with tough questions meant to
bring in the best of candidates. It seems to work, but at the same time
an interview may not best represent a candidate. I know of interviewees
who are bright, capable, technically strong and interpersonally gifted
who did not get the job, but this just shows the arbitrary nature of
interviews, which brings me to my next point.
A bad hire is worst then screening out a good candidate:
Anyone who has ever worked knows just how much a bad hire sucks the
life out of an organization. A phone screen is named as such to show
that it is meant to 'screen' out people who aren't a good fit. This
interview process is so rigorous that bad hires presumably do not make
it through. Unfortunately at the same time, the rigorousness will
screen out some great people, but the ones who make it through all have
a strong chance at actually being great employees.
Contract to hire is good:
From what I understand, a lot of the new hires are being brought on as
a contractor before being hired full time. This is a really good idea
in keeping the integrity within the organization's engineers. The
probational period is just another screen to make sure candidates
really do meet the needs and requirements of the company. If you make
it far through the interview process, this may happen to you.
So I didn't get the job, I never got to experience the free world class
dining, the trip to Mountain View, or the subsidized massages, but
through it all I'd say it was a pretty wild yet short ride which I
enjoyed. If you are a software engineer and you are applying to Google,
there must be a part of you which is genuinely interested in challenges
and problems. There must be a part of you that gets geeky over these
kinds of things. Go into an interview and do your best to enjoy and
have fun in the moment. If you get it then great. If you don't then
hopefully you gained something from it and enjoyed the thrill whatever
the outcome -- I did.
This a follow-up to my previous post
about my interview process with Google. Once a post gets as long as
that one did, I’m sure to forget to say some things. Rather than
updating that post, I thought I had enough new to say to warrant a new
First is the picture I got of their development process. There are plenty of other places
on the Internet about their development process, so I won’t go into
detail about what they told me–it pretty much matches up with the
available information. It really sounds like they try to match the
amount of process required to the specific project at hand. Projects
with a huge public impact have lots of process (Google’s front page,
indexing, etc.), while those that are newer and much lower impact
(stuff in the Labs section, and
even graduates of the Labs) have a much more flexible, agile process,
designed to get improvements out the door very quickly. I like that–no
mandatory bureaucracy where it doesn’t make sense.
process, however, it seems that they are very intent on giving
developers an environment designed to help them succeed. From what I
understood, the company actively tries to remove stupid barriers to
productivity (needless paperwork, poor IT, bad workstations) and give
you whatever you need to do your job how you think best. Obviously,
there are rules and standards, but it just sounded more
flexible. It really sounded like an ideal development environment:
Obstacles removed, needs granted. Now, how much of that is the official
“show” they put on for all interviews, who knows, but Google is
obviously doing something right.
Bottom-line is that Google is a
company of engineers for engineers. They’re the ones in charge of what
the company does. That is a very nice place to be if you love coding.
I should mention that the Google Boston office is MUCH smaller than
their Mountain View headquarters. The way things are done, while it
will still be “Googly”, will most likely have a different feel and pace
than at headquarters. I had read many reports on the web about how
people worked late hours, on weekends, and basically sacrificed their
lives for the company. I did NOT get that impression in Boston. They
were definitely smart and very hard working, but it sounded more like
the company was flexible and if you got your work done, who cares?
(That’s the way things ought to be done for sufficiently self-motivated
employees). I did ask about inordinate over-time (mistake on my part?)
and work-life balance and I came away with a satisfactory impression.
Whether this means Boston is special, or the accounts I read on the
Internet were not representative, I don’t know. Probably a lot of the
latter, for sure.
I also wanted to address my final link in my
last post. I know it can be a little disappointing to read that kind of
post and realize it’s not talking about you, because you’re
interviewing for jobs. I wouldn’t take it too literally.
Maybe my link text is a little black and white. I think the principle
is definitely valid, though. The better you are, the more freedom you
have to choose where you work and what you work on and the less chance
your going to fall into a company’s hiring process. It’s really more
about statistics from a company’s point of view of finding the best,
not necessarily for individuals.
Hopefully, that’s all I have to
say on the subject, but if you have questions, just leave them in the
comments and I’ll try to answer them!
A few months ago I received an e-mail from a recruiter at Google
asking for an opportunity to talk to me about available development
positions. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. I’m fairly happy in
my current job, but–it’s GOOGLE. You don’t say no to an interview
opportunity at Google.
I’m writing this account in order to
contribute to the meager resources available on the Internet about the
Google interview experience. I signed an NDA, so I’m not going to say
what the specific questions were, but I think I can give a pretty good
idea of my experience. I apologize right now for the length.
traded a few e-mails with a recruiter in Mountain View. I had a phone
conversation with him, wherein he asked me general questions about my
skills, desired work locations (giving me a choice of Santa Monica,
Mountain View, and Boston). I have no desire to live in California, so
I chose Boston. I was then passed to another recruiter, who setup a
phone interview with an engineer in Mountain View. There was a false
start, when they couldn’t do the interview at the original time, so we
The phone interview went very quickly. He was very
nice and asked about my specific talents, things I enjoy doing, and
projects I’d worked on–especially those I listed on my resume.
He asked about the ray tracer I wrote in college, since he had an
interest in that. He also asked some general questions about the stuff
I do for work. Then he got into the technical question. It was an
interesting problem, and I asked follow-up questions, talked out loud,
wrote things down in front of me (and told him what I was writing and
why). I immediately thought of the naive solution–always a good place
to start. He was interested in the asymptotic complexity. I knew there
were better ways of doing it, so I started thinking of optimizations to
the algorithm, trying to come up with ways of caching information,
reusing previously-computed values, etc. He gave me some gentle
prodding, and I think I understood immediately where he was going. I
answered the question fairly well, I though.
And that was
it–just a single question. I was surprised. The entire thing lasted
less than 30 minutes. I was almost disappointed, and thought–”well,
that’s that–I won’t hear back.” I really wasn’t expecting any follow-up.
next week, I got an e-mail from my recruiter who said I had impressed
and was going to get the opportunity for an in-person interview in
Boston! They hooked me up to a travel coordinator, as well as the
recruiter in Boston.
Very exciting. I had a convenient time to
go, so I set that up, took time off from work and went up to Boston,
staying in the Cambridge Marriott. Very nice hotel. 40″ flat screen TV
in the room ( which I never turned on). All expenses paid for, of
I did have to pay for hotel and food up front, and save the receipts.
(And yes, I promptly received a reimbursement check from them a few
weeks after I sent them in.)
I arrived on Monday afternoon,
figured out Logan International (a very confusing airport, I thought),
and got myself to Cambridge, in the heart of MIT, an hour or so later.
I checked in, then went walking. I found the building Google is in on
the very next block from the hotel. They have a floor in a building
that MIT leases to startups, tech incubators, and the like. There are
plenty of news articles about the Google Boston office–just…you know, Google for them.
I walked past the ultimate geek bookstore–
Discount tech books. COOL. I would definitely have to stop there later.
Then I got some cheap, awful Chinese food at the food court
under the hotel. Why? When I could go out on Google’s dime? I think I
was just tired and wanted to get back to the hotel soon and start
I ate dinner in the room, took pictures of the wonderful view of the Boston skyline.
What did I study? I brought two books with me: Robert Sedgewick’s Algorithms in C++,
and a C++ reference manual. I went over advanced C++ topics, STL,
simple sorting and searching algorithms, properties of graphs, big-O,
and anything else that popped into my head.
By far the most
valuable thing I did was write out algorithms before-hand. I picked
something and wrote it out by hand in a notebook. It was hard going at
first, but I knew it was the best thing I could do to prepare. I did
selection and insertion sort in both array and list form. I did string
reversal, bit reversal, bit counting, and binary search. All by hand,
without looking in a book at all. As well you might know those simple
algorithms, it’s harder than it sounds.
I went to bed relatively
early–9:30, and woke up the next morning at about 6. I went to
breakfast in the hotel restaurant, got a rather large meal, and then
headed to my room to study more. I wrote more algorithms and redid some
I had done the previous night.
Oh, I also wrote down in my
notebook (beginning on the plane ride up) questions for Google, as well
as answers to questions they could ask me (standard interview
fare–projects, favorite project, languages, strengths, passions,
getting along with people).
My interview was scheduled for 10
am–I checked out at 9:30 and left with my bag (I had everything in a
single bag I could carry–it was very heavy) and sat in a little square
for a few minutes. At about 9:50, I went in, took the elevator, and was
greeted with ... google.
Dr. Seuss land! Yes,
that was my first thought. I think the door was green, the reception
area was very colorful. The receptionist was very nice and asked me to
sign in on a computer, which printed a name badge for me. They had some
research papers by Google employees on a wall, so I grabbed a couple
(their hard drive failure study, and map/reduce).
After a few minutes, my Boston recruiter came out and greeted me,
offered me a drink from their free fridge, and took me to a small
conference room, furnished, it appears, from Ikea. It was simple,
clean, and very nice. There was a white board. I would get to know that
whiteboard very well.
My first interviewer came in and we got
started. I talked about my projects for a bit, they answered my
questions, and then we got to the problem. Each interviewer asked me to
solve a single problem (could be some sub-problems involved), and I had
to do it on paper or on the board. I wrote C/C++ code. They take note
of what you write and ask you further questions, especially if your
first solution isn’t optimal.
I tried to take extra care with my
code and not let stupid mistakes creep through. I used good
variable/function names, made sure my braces matched, and I ran through
the algorithm on the board once I had written it.
interview was one of the toughest. I was more nervous. I think I made
more mistakes–I didn’t see things as quickly as I did later.
had three interviews before lunch. They then handed me off to someone
else who would not be evaluating me, but would just be an escort for
lunch. The Google cafeterias in Mountain View are legendary, but the
Boston office is far too small to warrant such lavishness. Instead,
they have a catered lunch every day. It was wonderful. They also have
all the free drinks and candy you could want, available all the time. I
spent much of the time asking my escort questions about Google, what he
was working on (couldn’t tell me), the area, the office, the commute.
We were also joined by the head of the office, who didn’t realize I was
an interviewee, and we had a nice conversation as well.
was an hour, and then I was back in the conference room. I had two more
interviews. Then the recruiter came back in at about 3:15 or so and
debriefed me–asked me my impressions, how I felt. I reiterated what I
had told him on the phone previously, and that morning before we
started: that I was trying to take this as easy and nonchalantly as
possible, to have fun, and learn, and let it be a good experience. I
had a job that I enjoyed, and didn’t NEED this one, but I think I would
do well there and enjoy it very much. They came to me, after all.
think by the end of the day, I was really pulling that off well. Once I
got over my nervousness in the first interview, I really did have fun
and enjoy it.
They didn’t ask me any
stupid questions. None of this “what’s your biggest weakness?” garbage.
Not even the recruiter asked me anything like that. Nothing silly at
all. They also didn’t ask me easy technical questions. They got right
into the problems and the code. I had to describe an algorithm for
something and write code for it. It was serious, they were all nice–I
met people with serious reputations online. I felt like they were
respecting me as a fellow programmer–almost. I wasn’t one of them, but
they really wanted to see if I could become one of them.
receive prompts to get through certain problems, but not overly so. I
answered every question they asked. Some I answered better than others,
but the ones I didn’t get right away, I had alternate solutions, and I
understood where they were going as soon as they started talking about
Why I didn’t get the job
Well, companies these days
won’t tell you why. I think they fear it opens them up to lawsuits. I
think that’s silly. It prevents those of who really do want to learn
and improve from knowing what we’re deficient in. Oh well. They told me
that they thought I would do well at Google, but that it wasn’t a good
fit at the time, and I should apply again in the future. (Of course, I
didn’t apply in the first place.)
My suspicions, however, are
that I lean too much towards Microsoft technologies. I do a lot of work
in .Net. That’s where more and more of my experience is. I do consider
myself very good in C++, but I’m doing more and more C# work. I’ve
always been a Microsoft Windows developer.
I also am not really
interested in web-centric technologies, and I told them so. I’m more
interested in client apps on the desktop, and server apps.
course, it’s very possible I just didn’t answer the questions to their
satisfaction–that I needed more prompting than I should have. Oh well.
could also be that my GPA wasn’t what they wanted. I goofed off my
freshman year of undergraduate work. I really hurt my grades. I came
back, though, and got straight A’s for my last few years where I took
the hard CS classes. I also got straight A’s in my Master’s program
while I was working full time. I don’t think this was the issue, but
Having your own web-site is a no-brainer. Do it. Update and maintain it.
personal projects. You must be passionate, you must love programming.
You must be good at it. Not average. You must aspire to excellence and
be working towards that.
Know what you’re talking about it. Don’t show off–just display your knowledge as it applies to what they asked you.
Use an interview with them as a learning opportunity and ensure you have a good experience regardless of the outcome.
take the interview too seriously. Make sure that not everything rides
on the outcome. You must be comfortable, confident. You must try for
success in every possible way, but yet be completely prepared to
fail–and have that be ok. This is a hard balance to achieve, but I
think it can really make you have a healthy outlook and have a good
time while still showing your best self.
If you don’t get an
offer, realize that even being selected for an on-site interview by
Google puts you above the ranks of the average-good programmers. Google
gets 1,500 resumes a day. You’re already in the <>
code by hand in a notebook. This helped more than I can express. Do
stuff that’s hard that you don’t know how to do immediately. Time
yourself. Make the problem more challenging. If you can’t stretch
yourself, they will and you’ll probably break. They did not ask me to
do any of the specific questions I had practiced–but the experience
writing out and the THINKING is what helped.
Be able to explain your background (90% technical / 10% personal) in a few words. At some point you’ll be asked.
a lot of questions for people. You’re interviewing them too. Make sure
they’re good questions. Asking about salary is not a good question
before you’ve been made an offer.
I let the interview build my
own self-confidence. I have no doubt that I could walk into an
interview anywhere else and it would be laughably easy.
Don’t ignore obvious, simple solutions. Sometimes a table lookup is better than an O(n) algorithm.
a good, FUN book for the plane ride back. On the way, I focused on the
interview, but on the way home I wanted to do anything but, so I had my
current novel (Dickens’ Bleak House–very good book, by the way).
you do all of those steps, it actually doesn’t really matter if you
apply to Google or any other great/famous company–you’ll probably get
the job you want for the pay you want anyway. Somebody, sooner or
later, will come across you and give you the opportunity.
Great programmers will rarely, if ever, need to look for jobs.
hope this long, rambling essay is helpful to some. I make no claim that
my experience is typical or that I’m being completely objective. In
other words, YMMV.
Tags: tips |
Posted by Admin
7/28/2007 12:45 PM |
Many factors are weighed in during an interview. Technical proficiency
and problem solving skills are usually pretty high up there. The
ability to communicate and interact with people is also a must. Those
factors pretty much sum up a huge portion of the hiring criteria. One
smaller, but sometimes important factor is style of dress. What is
acceptable dress for an interview at Google?
Shirt, tie, slacks
honestly don't think you can go wrong with this combination. It is
dressy, yet you aren't wearing a jacket, so its right there in the
middle. you don't want to look like you're coming off the street, nor
do you want to look way too formal. Tread the middle.
Ask the HR person
is actually a very easy solution. HR is usually pretty personal and
easy to talk to. They can give you a recommendation of what the normal
interview attire is, especially what's acceptable, what's too dressed,
Tags: tips |
Posted by Admin
5/18/2007 1:32 PM |
Saw on in my feed stream today a post by an ex-Plaxo, Adam Lasnik. He’s now at Google and posted up a few tips about interviewing there, prompted by another Googler (I think his name is Mike Knell according to his Flickr account?) who posted up some thoughts as well.
I used to get e-mail by a ton of people looking for Google
interviewing tips; I still get a few requests now and then. I probably
should’ve just posted my answers a long time ago and linked people to
it, but oh well. Their recommendations are all good ones, maybe I can
just link over there in the future.
Hope this doesn’t get them fired ;)
Here’s what I can remember from my interview process. I went through two interview loops: one for a software engineer position and one for the product managment position I eventually accepted.
For the software engineering position, they asked me mostly
technical and coding questions. The coding questions were of equal
difficulty with any other top-tier tech company (Microsoft, Amazon, Yahoo,
etc.). They were mostly dealing with manipulating data in data
structures; the one I remember was: given a binary tree structure,
write an algorithm that returns all the items at a given depth from the
root in order from left to right.
I was also asked some really random questions: what’s the seek time
on your computer’s hard drive? what’s the access time on a stick of
DRAM? Not sure why they asked these questions… maybe to test my
geekiness? Fortunately, I’ve built my own computers for years, so it
was no problem, but I know plenty of awesome software engineers that
don’t know info like that.
For the product management position, I interviewed with about four
1st year APMs, one experienced full PM, and a technical manager (David Jeske, formerly of eGroups/Yahoo! groups). The 1st year APMs were fresh out of college, pretty much all from Stanford or MIT,
and were very smart, although not very well versed in how to actually
ship software in the real world. They were mostly technical or
semi-technical (CS or CS related degrees like HCI or symbolic systems)
and they all asked me the same questions: “Name a product you like. Why
do you like it? What would you improve about it?” Interesting the first
time, not so much for the subsequent 3 interviews ;)
The experienced PM had worked at other companies before Google
and asked me more about shipping software, driving teams, and
designing products. A solid interview.
My interview with David was pretty fun. He had me create a simple DB
table, write a SQL statement and then we talked about optimizing it a
little bit (add indicies and etc.). Not sure if they told him that I
went through another interview loop already with pretty heavy
coding questions or maybe he took it easy on me since I was
interviewing for Product Management.
Overall, the interview process took a few months. I did 2-3 phone
screens for each interview loop and did a day of interviews (5-6) for
each. In my opinion, the interviews were pretty easy, but I guess
interviewing to get into Google wasn’t the hard part for me, more like,
staying there :D
Tags: tips |
Posted by Admin
5/18/2007 1:24 PM |
A reader asks:
to go through the google interview process... was curious if there were
any resources that you thought *did* help - lots of sites purport to
have sample interview questions, but I was curious if one had better
info that the others..."
Before my two interviews, the
recruiter had e-mailed the name of the Googler who would be
interviewing me. What's in a name? In this age of Google spying, it
could be helpful in preparing for an interview, to know your
interviewer before you even meet. I actually did Google up my
interviewers but only ended up finding out about one of them.
Interestingly enough, he was a contributer to an Open Source library
that I had used before at work. Is it ethical to Google people up? I
don't know, but with every Google search I did, I was presumably
helping him keep his job anyway. My main point though, is that Google
is a good tool in the interview process.
Google was a very good
resource in picking up information and tidbits about the interview
process. Sorting through the mess was difficult though but I found the
best resources were not 'job websites' but blogs either about the
interview process or blogs written by Googlers. These personal insights
came straight from the source and will give you an idea of what to look
out for. You will be able to get a decent idea about the questions
being asked and learn a lot about the company culture and be able to
talk about it. Here are a couple of blogs which were good reads:
very detailed, well-written piece about the experience, including good
pictures and commentary. Don't forget to read the epilogue either.
guy, in short, seems like a pretty brilliant guy. The topics they got
into were way over my head -- "I’ve had lengthy conversations about OO
design patterns, database design, computational linguistics, naive
Bayesian classification, agglomerative clustering, time-series data
analytics, hash effectiveness evaluation, search algorithms, partial
sorting, concept-mapping in n-dimensional vector space, and state-graph
redundancy elimination." This account really shows how exhaustive and
mind draining the interview can be.
account, which kind of turns out to be a little bit of a horror story,
with an apparently 'rude' interviewer. In the end of his post he gives
some very relevant tips to get through the interview.
A success story. He even got the following question:
are at a party with a friend and 10 people are present including you
and the friend. Your friend makes you a wager that for every person you
find that has the same birthday as you, you get $1; for every person he
finds that does not have the same birthday as you, he gets $2. Would
you accept the wager?"
answer has to do with the number of days in the year and the
probability the person’s birthday falls on the same day as mine
(without replacement). I eventually solved it, but it took time
learning how to apply probability with no replacement."
Looks like Google won the round in this interview process, but he does write about specific questions he was asked.
are a few blogs written by well known Googlers. Company culture,
technical insights, and just plain-old good reading can be found here:
was one of the first blogs I read written by an actual Googler. From
what I understand she was part of the Google Desktop team. For the most
part the blog isn't even about Google, but its pretty interesting
nonetheless. Scan through the posts and you'll find random tidbits
about the company. She is the author of a pretty popular write up on Preparing For a Software Engineering Interview
ex-Amazon employee turned Googler. I absolutely would not want to
interview with him, but take a read of this and be challenged. His
actual blog can be found here - there's nice account of the experience of a new hire.
had provided a link of this post before, but here it is again. This guy
has a great entry called "How To Pass a Silicon Valley Software
Here are a few formal articles that were written that might help
A look into the Google job algorithm
An interview with a staffing director at Google.
aren't a definitive list of links or blogs for sure, but its a decent
start and some good reading. If you have any links you think are great
and I missed, let me know, I can post it up.
Here is a really comprehensive look at official Google blogs and Google employee blogs: http://www.essistme.com/2007/05/16/list-of-official-google-blogs-some-unofficial/
Tags: tips |
Posted by Admin
6/2/2006 11:27 PM |
You've used your killer resume to land
an interview with a great company. Now how should you go about preparing?
Of the 300+ software engineers I interviewed for Google (and previously
Microsoft), some of them really shone, and others seemed ill-prepared.
Many of the ill-prepared ones still got offers because they're obviously
stars, but it's safer and less stressful to prepare yourself beforehand. Below
are some tips that I've gathered over time:
Practice using the same medium (e.g. paper and pencil) and time limits
(e.g. 30 minutes) as the real interview.
Google and Microsoft both use whiteboard coding questions, yet often candidates
practice by coding alone at home on a computer with a compiler.
During the actual interview, they stand at the whiteboard and forget how to
initialize an array, without their trusty syntax highlighter. Or they are so
nervous having another person watch them that they panic and can't think
In real life, if you plan to swim the English Channel, would you limit your
practice to laps at the local swimming pool? No, you would go test out the
ocean waves, the salt water. Do the same here.
Ask your recruiter the format of the interview and any coding questions.
If the company gives the candidates an hour alone in a room
with an editor and no compiler, practice that at home. If the
company does whiteboard questions with an interviewer watching you, ask an
engineer friend to be your mock interviewer.
It's fine if the friend is a less experienced engineer than you -- they'll
still bring out your nervousness about making mistakes in front of others,
so you can practice getting used to that.
If you know me in real life and want me to do a mock interview for you, my
going rate is dinner at Fuki Sushi
if you're in industry, or at Pizza My
Heart if you're a strapped-for-money student.
During the interview, don't obsess over little mistakes that happen.
On more than one occasion, when I gave a star candidate a coding
question, he zeroed in on the most optimally performant solution, identified
the boundary cases, and began writing well-designed code. Midway through
the problem, he makes a little error -- getting the order of operations wrong
on the first try, or having an off-by-1 error, or forgetting to declare a
When I point it out, the candidate responds with horror and then becomes
so nervous that it impacts his performance during the rest of the interview.
The fear is unfounded. An awesome candidate making a little error is like
a concert violinist playing a challenging Brahms concerto and hitting two
wrong notes. Sure, the audience could tell that he made mistakes, but they
don't get confused as to whether he's actually at Twinkle-Twinkle-Little-Star
Even if you completely bomb one question, many interviewers ask you multiple
questions and will forgive a single mishap. Even bombing an entire interview
is recoverable if the other interviews go well.
Recently one of my coworkers (a tech lead for another project) interviewed a
candidate and was very curt because he found the candidate's
communication style irritating.
The candidate proved himself during the interview, and the tech lead
ended up being the strongest proponent for this candidate. He advocated
harder for that candidate than he has for anyone else in a year.
When things don't go well, just keep at it and don't give up hope.
Don't be rude to your interviewer.
This should be obvious, but I have been surprised. One engineering candidate
said to me, "Wow, I can't believe you're really my interviewer! You look so
young!! I thought you were 18! Once you told me your credentials, I
understand now, but at first I thought, 'This person is interviewing me?!?!'"
That wasn't so smart.
Other things that I recommend against saying:
"Wow, you're really my interviewer? You look so old!"
"Wow, you're really my interviewer? You look so fat!"
Another time, the candidate's cell phone rang 15 minutes into the interview.
She let it go, and we were both distracted by it ringing for the next 20
seconds. 5 minutes later, it happened again. Another 5 minutes later, it
rang for a third time.
She finally reached for her purse and fumbled inside it for the phone.
"It's about time", I thought, "she should've turned it off before
coming in here." She dug the phone out of the purse and then proceeded
to take the phone call right there in the middle of the interview.
The only justification is if there is a family emergency, and in that case,
warn your interviewer explicitly at the start of the interview.
Don't hijack the interview.
I've had a couple of candidates who came into the interview with the mindset
that they MUST tell me all about their recent project Zoolander.
the interview and they break in with, "I want to tell you about Zoolander.
10 years ago, this project started as a side feature..." and then go on for 5
minutes without taking a breath.
Sometimes they decide that they must tell every interviewer about Zoolander,
repeating the same description over and over during the day.
Your interviewer has specific questions that they need to get through. If
you hijack the interview, they may not have enough data from their own
questions to be able to endorse your hiring. They may also think that you
would be difficult to work with.
If you really want to talk about a project, ask your interviewer, "I
think project Zoolander really shows off my abilities. Can you or another
interviewer fit in 10 minutes for me to explain it?" The interviewer can
then refit their plan for the interview, instead of suddenly having
their schedule be shanghaied.
When answering questions expecting a specific answer, give a high-level
Sometimes I ask a question expecting a short answer, "How many people worked
with you on project Zoolander?" The candidate then gives me an
audiobook, "Well, there was Jimmy -- he did the UI and I had
to mentor him quite a bit on it. Then there was Mary who ran the backend
servers. She worked remotely from Pennsylvania. Two years later, we got
another backend person David..."
Three minutes later, the candidate is still talking, and I still don't know the
answer of how many people worked on the project.
Give an answer first, and then expound. "There were 3 when I joined, and 12
when I left. First there was Jimmy ..."
Better yet, give the answer and offer to expound. "There were 3 when
I joined, and 12 when I left. Would you like me to tell you what each one
(Not as important) Wear something comfortable to your interview.
Business casual is the most typical.
People sometimes wonder how they should dress. The most important thing
is that you feel comfortable. If you still want a recommendation, I
say a button-down shirt or even a T-shirt. A suit can come
off as too formal in some companies (e.g. Google).
This point is not as important, because people won't really care. You should
ask your recruiter about what to wear, since this differs by country and
East Coast / West Coast. A company like Google is more casual,
so if you come in a three-piece suit, your interviewers may raise an eyebrow.
If you've got the goods in terms of engineering skills, it's not a dealbreaker
though. One candidate came to an interview wearing a gothic mesh shirt with
holes through which his nipples were clearly visible. He still got the job.
(I don't recommend taking this risk.)
A final story
I'd like to leave you with a story of an unfortunate interview. Draw hope
that no matter how your interview goes, you will likely be more lucky than
At Microsoft, we always offered drinks to our candidates, and one candidate
"Jeff" took a pepsi. We got into my office, and he set it down on the desk.
We started discussing his experiences and then launched into the whiteboard
coding question, and he didn't get around to opening his pepsi.
We stood at the whiteboard, and Jeff started to write a line of code. He
stopped to think about the overall algorithm, and absentmindedly took a step
back in order to see the entire whiteboard. In doing so, he inadvertently
knocked against the desk, and the pepsi fell off the edge.
This pepsi was still unopened. Thus, when it hit the ground, it exploded on
Pepsi sprayed in foamy gusts in all directions from the can. It was a
slow-motion moment as beige spots of soda splashed onto my white walls, my
bookshelf, my keyboard. We both stood there frozen, our hands halfway out
(too slow to catch the pepsi), looking at the dripping liquid coating the
entire inside of my office.
We took a 5-minute break to get paper towels and mop up the mess. (Though
my books always stuck together after that day, and my walls were never the same
We then returned to the whiteboard question. Jeff was nervous by this time
(do you blame him?). He wrote some code, erased it, wrote more. He erased
using his fingers against the board instead of using the eraser. Then sweat
formed on his forehead, and he wiped it off using the same hand. By the end
of the interview, his face was covered in streaks of red, green, and blue
I said, "I think you have some marker on your hands. I'll show you the
restroom." and let the bathroom mirror show him the problem.
12/20/2006 Update: You might be interested in this ajaxy, draggable timeline of acquisitions completed by Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Enjoy!
8/23/2006 Update: I capitalize now — have been for
several months. Enough readers gave me crap that I decided to
capitalize. Also, the position was originally a full-time, well-paying
position. I don’t think I made that clear enough. Google, then, offered
me a contractual position and asked me to give up my well-paying,
04/26/2006 Update: yes, i recited that brain teaser
from memory, so i’m sure i shared it incorrectly. the approach, though,
is this: thinking now of probability without replacement,
(364/365) * (363/365) . . .
this is the approach to the problem. given this, would i take the wager? no; it’s a bad bet.
regarding CapITALizATION: in business memos, reports, papers, and
dissertations — yes. on my blog, i find it easier to just write and not
worry about capitalization. no big deal; just a preference.
google contacted me about a position with the print team. i was well
paid and was doing well at the company i was with at the time, but i
agreed to interview with google anyway. the head of global print
operations was under a lot of pressure due to the lawsuits, etc. yet,
he needed headcount. the job was for a permanent position — why else
would they go through a grueling 2 days of interviews for a
contractor? but when i pressed him on salary and asked him to match
what i was making and i anchored at an amount, he buckled and made it
contractual instead. he waffled, so i said “no thanks”.
the people i met were nice, very bright, and focused on their work.
several of them complained to me about their frustrations. i thought
that was interesting. i declined because of the iffy-ness of a
contractual job (though the cash would be very good); the high cost of
the bay area wasn’t appealing to me; and, the future of the print
effort seemed unsure to me. those were my reasons. now, back to the
google interview below…
back in october 2005, i interviewed with google, for a position with
google print. my interview was over 2 days, on 10/12/2005 and
10/13/2005. i didn’t do much to prepare for the interview, except
read-up on all the google print controversy regarding the n lawsuits
against google print. unlike most companies that fly their candidates
out for an onsite interview, google’s policy was for me to pay for my
flight, hotel, and food, but that they would reimburse me later. i
thought that was lame and unprofessional; after all, they are the ones
that contacted me for an interview and i never applied for a job with
them. luckily, i was going to be in that area anyway for business, so i
just scheduled my business trip for that week.
day 1, 4 interviews
in the lobby reception desk, i typed my name on this little widget
and signed the dotted line. then, this little widget prints a
self-adhesive name tag with my name, google, and my location. i gladly
took that self-adhesive and put in on my shirt breast. then, i met with
the hr people, both of whom were very nice. they were very, very late,
but i had fun hanging out in the lobby of 1625 charleston road,
building #44. in the lobby were 4 refrigerators full of odwalla drinks;
i helped myself to a couple. on the wall was a large flat monitor that
showed, in real time, the current google searches. this was really
amusing. i remember the following searches:
size d bra
how to make a bomb
italian mob + hbo
this was really cool. finally, the hr folks were ready and brought
me into a room next to the korean and chinese speaking engineers. my
first interviewer came in late and was really sweaty. he had just
ridden his bike to work. he was sorry he was late. he was super nice
and his questions were easy. the next person was a little tougher; she
had been with sun microsystems for several years and was in charge of
their warehouse and distribution side. she asked some tough questions,
was very open about her frustrations with google, but ended up very
nice to me. the next person came in had a background in library science
and an mba from michigan. he was really nice too and asked fluffy
questions. he wasn’t an engineer and i don’t think he knew what to ask
me, so he asked me lame conversational-type questions. i don’t think it
was a fit interview either; i think he was just clueless. the next
person i interviewed with was sharp; he was a stanford mba and had been
in the print industry for a while. he wasn’t quantitative at all, but
was nice. he asked me hypothetical questions about potential problems
that they face in the print group. the problems were very interesting.
there is true innovation going on at google, for sure.
that was it for day 1. there was no lunch, but i was free to raid
the fully-stocked kitchen whenever i wanted to; i helped myself to a
healthy dose of mountain dew and stopped by the cafeteria for a veggie
sandwich. the atmosphere there is very cool and i felt energy and could
visually see the innovation going on. very cool.
that evening, i went to my hotel and did some work for the company i was with at the time.
day 2, 7 interviews
i did the whole self-adhesive, name tag thing again. got an odwalla
(2 of them), then waited. eventually, the hr people came and got me.
this day was much tougher than day 1. my first interview was with a
former nasa scientist-turned googler. my interview with him was fun and
interesting; he proposed several real case studies and problems that
they face in the print team. my second interview was with another
engineer; he asked me basic questions and one brain teaser. the brain
teaser goes something like this, if i remember it right:
you are at a party with a friend and 10 people are
present including you and the friend. your friend makes you a wager
that for every person you find that has the same birthday as you, you
get $1; for every person he finds that does not have the same birthday
as you, he gets $2. would you accept the wager?
i had fun trying to solve this one. the answer has to do with the
number of days in the year and the probability the person’s birthday
falls on the same day as mine (without replacement). i eventually
solved it, but it took time learning how to apply probability with no
replacement. i tried using 10! (factorial), for some reason, but that
was totally the wrong approach. we ended the interview; i didn’t feel
as good about that one, because i struggled a little bit through that
my next interviewer asked a lot of algorithm questions. he made me
write pseudo-code for a binary search; he had me uml a system; he made
me explain cron, diff, the permission system in unix, and had me write
a bunch sql queries. this guy was a scientist at epson, the printer
company. he was sharp; quantitative but warm. i liked that interview.
my next interview was with a nice lady who had been with google for a
few years. she was cold, but not mean; observant, but not expressive. i
felt that i answered her questions fine and our interview was done.
my next couple of interviews were with people that i had interviewed
with the previous day, in day 1. those went fine and uneventful. but,
by this time of day, i was getting really tired, physically and just
tired of interviewing.
alas, the last interviewer came, the head of global operations for
the google print team. he was very nice, open, and direct. that
interview went fine and he openly shared his strong interest in my
background and said that i’d be a great addition to the team. he also
shared how living in the bay area is so nice and seemed to be trying to
sell the location and the company. i saw this as a good sign. our time
ended; i left, but before i walked out the bulding, i managed to steal
a few more of those odwalla drinks.
i drove to the san jose airport, caught my flight, and went home.
weeks later. . .
the hr guy called and gave me an offer! but, it wasn’t what i was
expecting. i was excited for the google stock units (gsu) and the phat
salary that would barely keep me alive with the bay area cost of
living, but that’s not what i got. instead, google offered me a
contractual position, with a very high hourly rate. of course, because
it was contractual, there would be no benefits or google stock units.
on the phone, on the spot, i declined the job offer. moving to the bay
area wasn’t that appealing to me, especially if the job didn’t have
google stock units and benefits. the cash was good, but my family
needed more than that.
all in all, the experience was okay. there is certainly more hype
about google than i believe it really merits. true, they hire sharp —
really sharp people; i felt a lot of energy and could see the
innovation happening there. but, the people i interviewed with didn’t
seem happy to me. they looked tired and grumpy. i didn’t get a feeling
that google treats their people very well. i’m glad for my decision not
to join google. but, i’ll always wish i had free reign on those odwalla
Articles on Ethnography and Design:
People Remember Experiences, Not Features
Simplify The Product
Ask Aza Raskin
Aza Raskin on Poka-Yoke & The Humane Interface
Aza Raskin on Quasimodal Design and The ATM
Aza on Feature-Bloat and Site Clutter
Aza on Google Search Results Page
Aza on Cooperation and Team Size
Design Thinking in Medicine
On Designing a Watering Can for Little Hands
Queueing Theory and Visual Management
An Interview with the Inventor of “Clocky”
Bad Breath but Good Design
What is Ethnography
Please find originally-written articles on Queueing Theory below:
Queueing Theory: Part 1
Queueing Theory: Part 2
Queueing Theory: Part 3
Queueing Theory: Part 4
What is Waste?
On Time-Traps and Waste
Call Centers as Queueing Systems
Travel Time & Waste
Little’s Law for Product Development
YouTube’s Queueing Properties
Psychology of Queueing and Disneyland
Queueing, Disneyland, and FastPass
Multi-Tasking Leads to Lower Productivity
Queueing Theory and Terrorism
On Queueing Theory and Elevator Mirrors
Queueing Psychology at the Gas Pump
Psychology of Queueing, Haunted Houses, and Halloween
The Variability Tree
For a few articles on Operations, lean and six sigma, please visit the links below:
The Gemba is the Dojo
Order Pipeline of Events
On Game Theory
Series on Queueing Theory
Applied Regression Analysis
Kanban Sizing and “Pull”
Lean at Krispy Kreme
Theory of Constraints and Camping
Lean for Software Development
Don’t Waste the Customer’s Time
Featuritis and the Focus on the Customer
Although I have not succeeded with the getting-hired-at-Google thing I have had my crack at it a few times and have survived to write about it.
I occasionally hear from others about to try it, and they want to know
if I have any advice. Here’s my modest wisdom on the subject of
interviewing well at Google.
Question: I have an interview for an ops
position at Google tomorrow, and I found your web page about
interviewing at Google, can you give me any advice?
Answer: Really, just be at your best. Maybe brush up on
some fundamentals the night before. They like to see that you know how
things work at a low level, so like when they ask “tell me what happens
when you type www.google.com into a web browser” and you get on to
explaining that DNS operates via UDP, port 53, and so forth …
Take it like you would an exam. Get some sleep the night before, and
otherwise do whatever helps clear your head for good questions. The
initial screens aren’t all that hard, really, if you’re good. I swear I
screwed up my last phone interview because I had a cold, and wasn’t
feeling so great, and that made me nervous …
Also, don’t bother cheating. Google employees spend a lot of time
interviewing people, and they know that when they hear “uhh ….
*clickety clackety clickety clack* … the answer is … uhhh …” and you
read something off a web page, that you are a no-hire. If you don’t
know something, admit it. They may try to explain it to you, and if you
can pick up an understanding pretty quickly, and use that to solve the
next problem, then that shows you are honest, and a quick learner.
At any rate, I wish you the best of luck. By all accounts, working at Google is pretty sweet. :)