Tags: | Posted by Admin on 2/21/2007 3:15 AM | Comments (0)

This will be another short update--it's not the weekend, so not the time for my usual update. However, I know people will ask how my phone interview with Google went--so rather than dealing with those as they come up, I figured I'd beat people to the punch and just post a short entry about it. Unfortunately I haven't goaded them into revealing their "rumored" plans for Google mobile phones (a counter for Apple's iPhone), but I do have some notes about my experience to share.

Since they don't tell you over the phone (or at least they didn't tell me over the phone--and I've never had anything but an on site interview where they tell me whether or not I've advanced to the next round) how the interview went, this is all just pure conjecture. My thought was that I did considerably better on it then other phone interviews I've had in the past--the lack of technical questions, in terms of programming, (I don't care about big O notation) and the fact that I was chained down to a corded phone (so I couldn't pace) probably helped a lot with that.

As for the interview itself, it started out about as I'd expect--finding out about my familiarity with Google and Google products, why I want to work there, the fairly routine questions (warm-ups). After that, the majority of the interview was about me discussing my audio game project and most of the questions regarding that were ones I was prepared for--mostly things regarding my methods for the user study, why the first phase was done with sighted subjects (and what I need to keep in mind in relation to doing the study the visually impaired and blind from birth groups--I consider these questions fairly routine, since we went over our decisions quite a bit before finalizing on a user study plan; plus it's a question that comes up from almost everybody when I discuss the project). One item did, admittedly, trip me up though--the interviewer kept asking me about my use of the "think aloud protocol" for the study; which to me meant that there was clearly a potential problem with it that I hadn't thought of. I knew there was a potential problem in using it while doing the mapping of the levels, as a pilot subject had mentioned it made it difficult for her to remember the level--but I stated that we took that into account and asked subjects not to use that method for the mapping levels. I also mentioned how it could potentially be a problem where the audio from the user talking might distract them from the game's audio; however, none of the pilot (nor primary) subjects mentioned that as a distraction. When it came up again, I finally figured out the problem that was being implied--the "think aloud" method distracts from the primary task and since I was also recording the completion time of the levels, I ran a risk of skewing the timing results (particularly those of the audio only subjects). However, we only used the traditional "think aloud" method (where the user talks about all objects they encounter--what they think they are, where they think they are, etc.) during the training phase, which wasn't timed, and then used a modified version of it (where the subject only talks when they get stuck--such as being at a wall that's too high for them to jump over)--plus, we also implemented a pause feature that not only stops the game, but also stops the timing. She mentioned that it might have been better to run two groups--one for qualitative data collection where we focus on "think aloud" and one where we focus on collecting the quantitative data of the timing. In an ideal situation, we would have liked to do that, however, since the number of people with visual impairments we have access to is limited (and this is more or less an unfunded project) I mentioned how we felt running the two groups would be impractical since it would shrink our number of subjects too much--especially the birth blind subjects (which we'll already be lucky if we get enough of those for the study). She seemed pretty satisfied with my answers, so hopefully my blunder in not grasping the potential problem was faster won't count against me too much.

So, in general, I think it went fairly well and I'm really hoping I get invited to the next round of interviews as I really would like the opportunity to work at Google for an internship (it's hard to find a company that does a lot of usability studies and even harder to find one that's as dedicated to user experience research as Google--other companies I've interviewed/have worked at have made doing proper user experience work a chore since you normally have to convince management that testing is in their best interest, and sometimes you have to convince the programmers/engineers...) Hopefully it will all work out. I'll let everybody know what happens when I either get invited for the next interview or get a polite rejection letter (hopefully I get the invite...)

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