October 28, 2017

Google: The Interview

Original post from November 2014

WARNING: The following post refers to anonymous persons and companies. We have changed the names to protect the innocent. Real names have been replaced with just random data*

In Hiring 2.1 - the Agile Way, I said that interviews takes too long.

Google takes longer. I had 7 interviews over 5 months.

The timeline was something like this:

  • 2010: Applied for a Sales Engineer post when Google opened an office in SA
  • 24 February 2011: contacted by a Google HR person from London. I had to complete an evaluation form, where you rate yourself on programming languages, systems, experience in specific industried. In Google style, a rating of 10 applies only if you have written a book on that subject.
  • 2 March 2011: 30 minutes telephonic interview with HR person. He had a list of multiple choice questions. It included things like "what is the command to rename a file on Linux" and some other Java and TCP/IP questions
  • 9 March: 1 hour telephonic interview with a Technical Account Manager from the UK. This was a standard type of interview. Interesting questions were stuff like "what do you think of Android" and "what can Google do in Africa". I think one of the questions, either in this interview, or one of the other ones, was "what happens when I type a website name into the navigation bar and click enter" - this entails a talk about DNS, IP, HTTP, etc. Read this for the answer
  • 26 May: four sets of interviews at the Google Johannesburg office. At the last minute, they asked me to do it over video conference from home, as their conferencing system was down. I used Google Talk (now Hangouts) with each of the interviewers, with video and Google Docs sharing.

The last part was interesting. I was interviewed by 4 people, one at a time, 45 mins each, over video conference:

  • Technical Account Manager) based in London
  • (Tech Lead Manager) based in London (Technical Interview)
  • (Sales Engineer/Technical Account Manager) based in London
  • (Business Development Manager) based in Lagos (HR/Client facing skills interview)

There were a few of the typical Google/Microsoft brain teasers:

  • How much will a Art Restorer earn - this went on for about 15 minutes
  • How much will Google pay Dell to pre-install the Google Toolbar on new Dell PCs - this went on for about 20 to 30 mins
  • What is the angle between the hour and minute hand at 3:15

The question where I really struggled was where I was asked to implement atoi (array to integer converter) in pseudo code. I had not coded for a few years, so this really threw me. I had to type the code in a shared Google Doc - he commented on the code as a struggled along.

This article talks about how Google have been proven the above questions to be a waste of time.