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Defining Google 1024

Posted by michael
from the just-google-it dept.
pbaumgar writes "Did anyone catch the 60 Minutes piece on Google this evening? They mention their hiring process a bit in the story: 'For example, Google is hiring about 25 new people every week, and receives more than 1,000 resumes a day. But they're determined to stick to their rigorous screening process. Google uses aptitude tests, which it has even placed in technical magazines, hoping some really big brains would tackle the hardest problems. Score well on the test, and you might get a job interview. And then another and another. One recent hire had 14 interviews before getting the job - and that was in the public relations department.' As a person who recently interviewed with them this past summer (I didn't get the job), I was wondering what others' experiences were like who interview with Google. I had 4 interviews, and it was by far the longest and most interesting interviewing process I've been involved in. I'd love to hear others' experiences in their attempt to get hired."
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Defining Google

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  • Brin says he splurged on a new T-shirt. And he still drives a little Japanese car.

    For some reason I can't see 60 Seconds including a little passage about Brin's splurging action, mentioned in the quote.

  • by Hamster Of Death (413544) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:07AM (#11242494)
    Working at google is an easy gig to get. Just get on with the cleaning crew that does their office or something.

    Working FOR google is a whole different ball game.

    • by phiwum (319633) <jesse@phiwumbda.org> on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:01AM (#11242912) Homepage
      Working at google is an easy gig to get. Just get on with the cleaning crew that does their office or something.


      More ass-talking from the Slashdot crowd.

      My Google custodial job took 12 interviews, 6 aptitude tests, 5 references and a letter of commendation from the local Sanitation Department. Even then, I probably wouldn't have the job if not for my exceptional refuse-handling and my skills with a toilet brush.
  • I hate college (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mg2 (823681) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:08AM (#11242497)
    The insistency of some companies to require a batchelors degree often leaves otherwise qualified applicants out in the cold. Google is one of these companies (from my experience browsing the job postings), which sucks for college students looking for a job. Oh well.
    • by ari_j (90255) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:15AM (#11242519)
      ... require a batchelors degree ...

      My experience has been that those companies that require you to have an education to even apply to work for them do so to ensure that you have balance in your life. A real Bachelor of Science degree includes enough liberal arts, writing, and, in general, thinking in its attainment that companies know you'll be balanced enough to do things like bathe before work, read a good book after work to stay sane, and spell the name of the degree you have correctly. These are just examples - their expectations may be much higher, but the key thing they are looking for is balance.
      • Re:I hate college (Score:3, Informative)

        by Torham (544278)
        The sad thing is that I was easily able to name people at my work, with a BS, that can't even do these things. (No not me, I don't have a BS)
      • Re:I hate college (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CaptainFrito (599630)
        University degrees are about time, money, political connections, pedigree, government meddling (vote buying -- think medical schools here). But not "balance". Education has nothing to do with intelligence, creativity, wisdom (that is, applying knowledge in a benefical way to all, not just yourself), insight, integrity, morality, selflessness -- the things that truly give balance. My experience is that companies that require applicants to have a university degree are usually looking for someone else to sa
      • Re:I hate college (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Southpaw018 (793465) *
        What about those of us with a BA who work in the IT industry? We too bring a balanced, yet completely different view to the workplace - one of the reasons I was hired at my current job. Computer geek + history geek means a man who can do mental backflips.
      • Re:I hate college (Score:5, Insightful)

        by turk182x2001 (529188) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:35AM (#11242827)
        I would have to disagree.. I have had plenty of balance in my life. While having a college degree has a dignified place in our society there are many of us whom don't have one, and we do OK without one... What I missed out on by not following through with a higher education still somewhat escapes me (Other than witnessing a shoot of girls gone wild). I get paid well for the job I perform, my peers respect me, my manager(s) respect me and they all know I did not go college. Now when I consider that I may want to attend university I am usually looking at degree's that have nothing to do with the field I've somewhat mastered (in my own world of course) already...
        • Re:I hate college (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SydShamino (547793) on Monday January 03, 2005 @10:56AM (#11244235)
          Unless you are in a field where a college education is necessary (i.e. doctor, engineer in most cases), your college education tells your prospective employer one thing:

          This person can tolerate a certain level of bullshit to receive compensation.

          That's it. My wife's job has nothing to do with her degree (music degree for an IT job), but her company would not have hired her without it. For some employers, the fact that you can go through the crap that is some college classes, deal with university financial aid, stupid graduation requirements, idiotic nonsense policies, all to get a piece of paper at the end that qualifies you for some jobs, means that you'll go through the same level of muck at the job, and tolerate it, for your paycheck.

          Employers want people who will stick through the boring parts of work. A college degree can show that you will do this.
          • by borkus (179118) on Monday January 03, 2005 @12:50PM (#11245368) Homepage
            The one thing that was both thrilling and frightening about college was the degree of autonomy. In grade school, if you don't go to class, the teacher notes it, the administration gets on your back and the school can even send law enforcement after you. In college, if you don't go to class, you just deal with the consequences - bad grades. And I saw a good number of people who couldn't handle that autonomy - they could make grades in high school with teachers and parents on their case; in college, they couldn't handle the lack of structure. In short, college teaches you to manage the priority of work and how to meet various deadlines. That becomes a big differentiation in the the workplace. Generally, college educated people can work unsupervised and get it it done by a deadline. This isn't just a matter of motivation, but is an actual skill that not everyone has.

            While many people without college degrees can do organize their own work as well, they only pick it up over time. Many skilled trades such as plumbers and mechanics don't require that you prioritize work; most tradesmen just do one job (fix that sink, install that furnace), then move on to the next one. Even if they work without direct supervision, their priorities are short term and usually set by someone else - ie, go fix the sinks at these four addresses today.

            That reality hit one of the managers in my area. He originally managed only IT people, but recently inherited a customer service call group as well. While he adjusted to it, one of the differences was that he couldn't just tell the customer service employees to do something. He had to tell them to do it, make sure they understood what they were told, and then have someone check up that they're in fact doing what you told them.

            So, along with that tolerance for bullshit comes the motivation to deal with it without someone looking over your shoulder all the time.
        • by berck (60937) on Monday January 03, 2005 @12:07PM (#11244898) Homepage Journal
          ...there are many of us whom don't have one...

          who, not whom.

          ...usually looking at degree's...

          degrees, not degree's.
      • by Tet (2721) <[slashdot] [at] [astradyne.co.uk]> on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:24AM (#11242977) Homepage Journal
        A real Bachelor of Science degree includes enough liberal arts

        Only in the US. Everywhere else, when you take a degree in science, you study... science!

    • Collage isnt everything. I learnt to make money without a batchelors', and I do'nt need a job at google.

      U don't need an education to succeed. Google is ghey!
    • Re:I hate college (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Firedog (230345) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:26AM (#11242564)
      Of course, one does not imply the other.

      There are many people with degrees who are terrible workers, and plenty of people without degrees who are excellent workers. (Or spellers.) For what it's worth, I don't think using any sort of blanket disqualification is a good idea, either ethically or from a business perspective.

      The new Apprentice starts up in a few weeks, and it pits the "book smarts" against the "street smarts" (those with degrees vs. those without). Granted, it's just a TV show, but I'll still find it interesting.
    • Re:I hate college (Score:3, Informative)

      by BWJones (18351) *
      I am not going to hound you on your spelling or grammar, but I would like to suggest that you consider post-secondary education of some sort, or at least learn a trade. One of the reasons many companies require basic levels of competency (i.e. a bachelors degree or higher) is that college teaches you communication skills, problem solving skills and exposes you to alternative viewpoints and ways of thinking. These are all critical skills to have if a company wants to succeed.

    • Re:I hate college (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SerpentMage (13390)
      It is an interesting point you mention. Ok, having a degree in engineering tends me to think that Google is right. HOWEVER, it used to be back in the good old days that if you did not have a degree work experience did count for something.

      Frankly if Google does not interview somebody because of a degree they are being silly. Remember Bill Gates, the man without a degree! Exceptions exist all the time. However, this Google attitude does not surprise me. For example I still to this day cannot get a Goog
    • Re:I hate college (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tverbeek (457094) on Monday January 03, 2005 @09:08AM (#11243627) Homepage
      which sucks for college students looking for a job.

      A college student* shouldn't be looking for the kind of job that requires a degree. You probably can't handle both school and a job of that sort at the same time, and even if you manage to get by at it, it'll suck. You'll hate it, and your boss and profs won't like it much either.

      Instead college students should look for jobs that don't expect you to focus your mental energies on them, the kind you can completely forget about when you're in class or studying for an exam. College jobs are for A) money and B) work experience (i.e. showing up, following instructions, etc.) not to be confused with job experience (i.e. x years of Java.NET). If you can get it in an organization that does work in you intended field, all the better, but that's gravy.

      *Unless you're a current student looking for a job for after graduation, in which case you will have the degree, so the complaint is moot.

  • by Anonymous Crowhead (577505) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:09AM (#11242498)
    They told me they only hire the top 0.000000000000000001% of all programmers. Funny, every other company I interviewed at said the same thing, give or take a magnitude.
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:18AM (#11242526) Homepage Journal
    Especially if you already have a job and the current employer doesn't know you're in the market.

    14 interviews!? There are only so many flat tires and sick aunts one can come up with for missing a couple of hours of work.

    LK
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You could do 14 interviews in 3 afternoon rounds.

      So that's one flat tire, one sick aunt, and a dentist appointment.
  • This is a new trend (Score:5, Informative)

    by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@@@monkelectric...com> on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:20AM (#11242537)
    The forever interview is becoming a new staple of the hiring process.

    I had *10 hours* of interviews for a company that didn't end up hiring *ANYONE*, for a shity 50k a year entry position (yes, 50k a year is shitty in the area it was in when an apartment costs 1500/m).

    A friend of mine got hired for a company who wanted an expert in *3* non-related research fields (he has a PHD and luckily and experience in those fields). He flew up there and did several *days* of interviews, Then they called him back and said he would also have to be an expert in Unix and could he fly back up to meet their Unix team.

    We were able to maniupulate the test conditions and make him appear to be a unix expert. Hes been employed for a couple months now, and has worked entirely as a unix admin, which isnt even what hes hired for.

    The job market is nothing less then crazy

    • by wk633 (442820)
      Steve McConnel has a great line in 'Code Complete' about how one or two years is enough to learn any language. If you don't know it by then, you never will. I wish I could find the exact quote at the moment. I'm thinking of adding ot my resume for all those jobs that want '5 years exp in embeded C and Java UI design'.
    • by liangzai (837960) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:09AM (#11242736) Homepage
      Nah, it's been around for a decade, more or less. The only thing an interview proves is that the applicant is good at giving interviews, it doesn't say anything about his or her real skills or long-term endurance. It also shows that you are willing to suck a lot of dick and lick a lot of ass to get that particular job they're offering.
    • by standards (461431) on Monday January 03, 2005 @07:54AM (#11243407)
      I hire people, and my organization went through a period of putting people through many rounds of interviews.

      I put a stop to it - the problem was poor interviewing and poor decision making. Some interviewers were not skilled in asking good questions. And no one in the hiring process wanted to be the person to "veto" or "take the blame" when things go wrong.

      But the fact is, we all had a good idea after the first round of interviews once we thought out our interview process. Subsequent interview rounds were just there to make some individuals happier with decision making - or to do a better job interviewing.

      But I thought (and still think) subsequent interview rounds were simply abusive to the applicant.

      So our new hiring proces is streamlined: (1) telephone interview, and then if still good, (2) a single round of personal interviews with a manager and then a peer.

      If we don't know after this, then it's likely that there isn't a match, and the candidate is not hired.

      If we think there is a match after this process, we make an offer to the person (which is sometimes accepted, sometimes rejected).

      The candidate is initially hired with the caveat that it might not work out (in the USA it is very easy to release a new employee that isn't working out).

      We only had to fire a new employee once, and this problem happened simply because my boss overrode my hiring veto (they attended the same university). Sadly, I had to do the firing.
  • Article flaws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harmonica (29841) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:20AM (#11242538)
    When answering a search request, Google does not search the Internet. It searches its index.

    The index does not reflect the Internet, but the World Wide Web. And only a small part of it, with the Deep Web being much larger.

    Algorithms are not computer code.

    Please don't give us more of those regular media articles on Google. They mostly suck when it comes to the technical side. And we have all heard about the free food a gazillion times.
    • by supersat (639745) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:34AM (#11242820)
      If you're looking for a technical look at Google's inner workings, I highly suggest you view this talk [washington.edu] given by one of Google's Distinguished Engineers at the University of Washington. He talks about how Google stores all of its data (the Google File System), and how massive amounts of data are processed (MapReduce), among other things.
  • by PetoskeyGuy (648788) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:25AM (#11242557)
    The /. fortune for this article seems strangely relevant.

    To every Ph.D. there is an equal and opposite Ph.D. -- B. Duggan

    • Time to study up for my death doctorate. Really gonna be hard to uphold the oath to cause harm to everyone, I mean, there are only so many hours in a day people!
  • by MonkeyBot (545313) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:29AM (#11242582)
    I just finished up with a graduate e-Commerce class in which we did a large case study on Google. They tend to be super-cutting-edge in almost every aspect of their business from technology to revenue generation, so it should come as no surprise that they are extraordinarily innovative in their hiring practices. One of the key things I remember reading about is their extraordinarily high employee satisfaction ratings, so it follows that a whole lotta people would want to work there. So, with a stack of highly qualified resumes like that (they hire a ton of PhDs), you have to expect them to use some pretty unorthodox methods to choose the creme de la creme.
    I remember a few years ago they ran a contest to see who could come up with the best project presentation solving some big issue in search technology, and I think I remember hearing about them making the guy who won a big offer (can't remember what the project was on...I'll try to find a link in a minute).
    On the other hand, we have IBM, where I start my job this month. The job is in their Business Consulting Services division, and their interviewing process was totally on the other end of the spectrum. I had two rounds of non-technical behavioral interviews, and don't believe they ever even checked my references. Go figure. I would think that IBM would have a large amount of applicants as well and that they would want to be a bit more picky about their interviewing process, but I guess I'm not going to complain because at least I'll be getting a paycheck (I went back to grad school after getting laid off...don't look a gift horse in the mouth, I guess).
    • by Goonie (8651) <robert.merkel@TI ... ra.org minus cat> on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:03AM (#11242715) Homepage
      IBM is an enormous company that has been around since 1911 (or the 1890's if you count its predecessors). It continues to make solid profits, and has done more often than not. It has survived the introduction of the digital computer, the minicomputer, microcomputers, and the internet, and is still going strong. Maybe they're doing something right...

      Seriously, basing your business plan around hiring a bunch of geniuses is not automatically a smart idea. Geniuses can be lazy, they can be terribly hard to manage because think they know better than their managers, and the supply of grade-A ones is rather limited and competition for them will remain pretty hot. It may well be smarter if your business is set up in such a way that you didn't require all your employees to be geniuses, but through good training and good procedures equipped them to deliver the services that you wish to offer.

      Sure, maybe your business is going to be less flexible and adaptable this way. Maybe you're going to need more staff, and more intensive oversight, than the "hire geniuses" route. But the supply and cost of moderately competent, reliable staff is much, much more favourable than competing for geniuses.

      In 20 years time, when Google is a mature company trying to protect its patch, let's see whether people are chewing off their right arm to work there, and how the company copes then.

      • When Genius Failed (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jdigital (84195) on Monday January 03, 2005 @09:30AM (#11243710) Homepage
        Last night I finished reading 'When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long Term Capital Management' [amazon.com], by Roger Lowenstein. Apart from being a fantastic read, the book provides a great example of when a group of terrifically smart people can get things so wrong.

        The basic story is of a hedge fund [wikipedia.org] in the mid to late 1990's, and its dramatic rise and spectacular failure. The fund hired only the best of the best, and amongst its cadre of partners were 2 Nobel prize winners for economics. These people were bright. Their prime failing came down to two points.
        1. They had an unfailing belief in their Nobel prize winning understanding of how markets operate. After losing almost $4 billion in 3 months, these views were revised.
        2. With no management structure in place, everyone was afraid of stepping on eachothers toes, and timely decisions weren't made.

        Whilst on the topic of finance, long interviews here are no exception. I recently applied for an internship at a certain bank. The application process was completed on-line. After about 10 pages of copying from my resume and short essays, I clicked submit -- only to find out that I was now ready to complete the on-line math and communication skills tests. These took about an hour each, and were graded instantly. I made it past the first stage. If I do progress further, I am expecting a few days of interviews, as this is the norm even for internship positions.
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:59AM (#11243062)
      One of the key things I remember reading about is their extraordinarily high employee satisfaction ratings, so it follows that a whole lotta people would want to work there.

      It is standard human psychology to overvalue something that was dificult to obtain. That is one big reason that fraternities haze their pledges - the pledges that "survive" the hazing will usually overvalue their membership in the fraternity and behave accordingly.

      Similarly, an extremely difficult interview process will tend to make the employees that put up with it feel that their new job is something really special and unique, when if looked at from an objective point of view, it might not really be so.
  • i interviewed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:33AM (#11242599)
    I interviewed about 3 weeks ago at the hq. it was a pretty laborious process.

    first I got the e-mail, said it would be a 3-3.5 hour interview. this is apparently normal stuff for google interviewing procedure.

    so I show up about 20 minutes early dressed in business professional attire. they have a very cool lobby, lava lamps everywhere, soft sofa to sit on and read the paper, while one waits. there's an overhead display of the current searches on the website.

    I met with the woman, who was a contractor, who had e-mailed me. we spoke briefly about contrator positions at google. there's a test every 6 months for who will be let on as a permanent employee and who won't.

    the interview is in 3 one hour blocks, all water/soda/snacks/whatever, are on the house if offered. I opted for water. the first people I met with were two of the team members i'd be working with. we went over technical questions they ahd for me, is was a good time, all smiles and "that's good" comments. the position was more of a hardware ops type so it wasn't particularly unix admin type stuff, but we touched on that since it was more above and beyond the requirements, but below junior admin status for google. I figured I'd be ok for a hardware ops.
    hour one. very positive response ended on a good note. Grade A (my metric)

    the second two were the technical lead adn the supervisor of the team. very smart people, really put me in my place but in a friendly way with the admin stuff, and asked for an example of some shell code, I wrote some on the board stressing it may not be syntactically correct but it's as far as I know accurate. went well but I flopped on easy stuff like fping and reasoning for zone record trimming. another and I think a larger one was "waht do I look for in a leader" I answered in a bitter way as i'd been let down by most of my managers/directors/leaders at all palces i've worked for previously. (not too too important, but I view it as a demerit) still a positive experience. end of hour 2. Grade B

    bathroom break. they were really stressing that I be comfortable throughout the process. always stating clearly if I need anything, feel free. the bathroom is very clean and they allow the luxury of paper towels in the mens room. i was pleased.

    hour three were two people from another hardware group, I think NOC as they worked a 24x7 type position. one was a manager and another a technical person. at this point i think they were running out of questions. we went over some technical stuff. the difference between runlevel 0 and 6, =) other stuff of nebulous concern to hardware, I hate to toot my own horn but i'm really sharp on pc hardware and linux, so I really answered all the questions completely. after about 30 minutse we were just shootign the shix and I could see they were eager to cut it short, not due to myself but becasue they were out of things to ask. end of hour 3. Grade A

    i was escorted out and i haven't heard a word since.

    so evern getting the interview might be iffy. I think had I been better with the shell scripting, and perhaps less embittered by my previous employment experience i'd have been accepted.

    but honestly, it's a honor just to get nominated.
    • Re:i interviewed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nickco3 (220146) on Monday January 03, 2005 @07:04AM (#11243260)
      I answered in a bitter way as i'd been let down by most of my managers/directors/leaders at all palces i've worked for previously. (not too too important, but I view it as a demerit)

      I'm a technical manager that has recruited contractors and permanent staff. I have ruled out otherwise excellent candidates because they have bad-mouthed their previous employers. Don't do it.
  • by the angry liberal (825035) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:33AM (#11242600)
    I'd love to hear others' experiences in their attempt to get hired.

    I have not applied at Google, but here are my last two getting-hired experiences:

    Current job - 9 interviews
    Previous job - 12 interviews

    How is that number of interviews considered unique enough to bring up in the headline? I thought this was common practice for IT shops.

    The testing is a bit unusual, but if you guys wanted to even work at Wal-mart or Home Depot in the 80's you had to take a couple of tests. I even had to take a couple of lie detector and voice stress tests for minimum wage crap when a teenager.

  • Like Hazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Derling Whirvish (636322) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:34AM (#11242608) Journal
    I see it more as a fraternity hazing ritual than a real attempt to gauge aptitude or ability. Young companies are often like this for some reason.
  • by _dl_ (20841) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:37AM (#11242630) Homepage
    I tried twice to get to google, passed the phone screens twice, which I guess I should consider myself happy about, but 'failed' the in person interviews both times (that was before IPO, I would assume it is much easier to get it nowadays).

    My impression was that they value youth and brightness (as in, just out of school, being able to quickly recall or come up with stuff irrelevant to actual work) over actual experience... (but yes, this is obviously sour grapes !)
  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:37AM (#11242632) Homepage Journal
    I've mentioned this before: the interview process that Google uses selects only those people who can solve puzzles in real-time. While such people certainly are smart and possess insight and intuition, there's no correlation to being a good programmer.

    In my experience, such people are usually poor programmers. When faced with a problem, they may hack together a solution quickly, but the code they write is often poor from a readability, structural, and maintainability perspective because none of those things are "interesting" in their own right.

    Google is discarding many people who are very talented programmers, but who just aren't good at solving puzzles in real-time during an interview. Additionally, the added pressure of you getting hired riding on not only your answer but how quickly you can give it is enough to make a lot of people freeze up.

    Personally, when faced with a really hard problem, I often think of a solution when I'm not consiously thinking about the problem. Showering and that period between the time I get into bed and the time I actually fall asleep are two examples of such times. (I keep a notpad and pen next to my bed to write down stuff I think of just before falling asleep and often discover that the next morning when I try it it's the solution I was looking for.)

  • Didn't Last Long (Score:5, Informative)

    by bjtuna (70129) <brian&intercarve,net> on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:40AM (#11242637) Homepage
    I got a call from Google earlier this fall, saying they'd farmed my resume off the web and wanted to interview me for some kind of Unix-related position. I spoke on the phone a couple times with an HR person who asked me some general questions and setup a phone interview with a current Google employee.

    The phone interview with the employee, who was working at a position very similar to the one I was interviewing for, was rigorous. He asked questions that required me to speak code to him, on the fly. I ended up asking if I could take my time and write the code out before I read it to him, because I didn't want to screw up. I screwed up anyway. I was really nervous and even though the questions weren't very complex, they were things that I wasn't prepared to have to answer on the spot.

    I finally heard back from them almost a month later, with the (no surprise) rejection.

  • by dotslashdot (694478) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:43AM (#11242656)
    They kept asking me searching questions--it was like they were looking for something but couldn't find it. I would often respond with "Did you mean
    • what
    did I like about my last job?" When my answers were repetitive, I asked the interviewer if they wanted me to reiterate my answers. how strange.
    • by blcknight (705826)
      Rule #1: Never, Never ask an interviewer what they meant by their question. They meant it exactly like they asked it. Give concise answers, if you find yourself getting too repetitive, think about the question and try to give more detail in your answer.
  • by Solr_Flare (844465) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:49AM (#11242672)
    Although Google is a bit more on the extreme side hiring process wise, this is definitely very typical for the market today. Anyone planning on getting a job in the tech industry, here are the key things your employer is looking for:

    1) Ability to work well with others and in a team environment. This is pretty much critical in tech industry today.

    2) Ability to learn quickly and on your own. No one realistically expects you to know *everything*, there is just too much for most people to absorb. What they do expect you to do though, is to be able to teach yourself the things you need to know and learn quickly.

    3) Background experience. What companies analyze out of your background really varies from company to company. But, in the end all they are looking for is data that backs up point number 1 and 2. They want evidence that you are balanced, that you can learn well, that you can work well with others. Be it college background, work experience, tech demos you build yourself, etc, all that stuff really is just hard data to confirm your background.

    As for the aptitude tests, those are just a way for companies to narrow down the potential applicants. With so many people looking for a job, it helps to shrink the applicant pool any way you can. Trust me, your potential future employer knows you are going to BS on the aptitude test. In fact, they are pretty much expecting it. They just want to ween out the people who aren't serious enough about getting the job and who aren't smart enough or serious enough to BS the test based on what they feel the employeer is looking for.

    Honestly, aptitude tests are just a quick and easy filter to get the dumbest of dumb out of the way. What really and truly matters when you apply for a job is the interview(s). That is where your potential bosses can really judge you.

    80% of what matters in the hiring proces is all about the interviews. 10% is background, and the last 10% is your BS filter(aptitude tests, on the spot programming challenges, etc).
  • I interviewed in May (Score:5, Informative)

    by waffffffle (740489) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:57AM (#11242696)
    I flew out to Google in May for an interview. I had first interviewed on campus (I actually thought I bombed that interview). They flew me out to California for an interview (the only person from my school that interviewed for that position). I was interviewing for an Associate Product Marketing Manager position. My day consisted of about six half-hour interviews, all in the same small conference room, with a break for lunch. The process was very different in comparison to Microsoft (I had just flown out to Microsoft two weeks earlier). While Microsoft moves you from building to building, room to room, so you get sufficiently lost and disoriented (while the different interviewers talk about you behind your back) at Google the interviewers come to you and they don't know anything about you until you meet them (so they claim). Google's questions seemed significantly easier than Microsoft's, but I was interviewing for a Program Manager position at Microsoft, so the focus of the questions was pretty different. Microsoft gives you brain teasers, tells you to write code on the board (even though it was a non-coding position), and even gave me an ethics question. Google gave me a lot of estimation questions (number of pizzas sold at college in a year), which I don't really understand since I don't see how being a good estimator makes you good at anything else. Regardless, I was really proud of all of my estimations (I prepared myself with a bunch of dumb facts, like the number of Wal-Mart stores in the US, to use as references, which worked well. At the end of my day of interviews (which I thought went really well) I was talking with an HR guy (not my HR guy, strangely) and he asked me what time I was coming back the next day. I told him that I wasn't coming back since my flight home was the next morning (this was set up by the Google travel people, I had no choice in this matter). He told me that I needed to meet with two more people and he went back upstairs to see if they were free to meet with me that afternoon. It took him a long time to come back and tell me that they were too busy, so I was sent home, pretty much knowing that I wouldn't be getting a job since I couldn't complete the interview process. I was an east-coaster, and unlike all the Stanford kids that they seemed to move in by the busload for interviews, I had to go home. It took them a long time to get back to me about their decision. The HR guy kept telling me that the meeting to discuss my interviews kept getting postponed. Then one day he told me that I needed to set aside two hours for a timed essay. I took the essay, which was the "final step" in the interview process, according to the Word doc they sent me (I was expecting some high-tech web form that prevents me from missing the deadline, but instead I just got the email at the time specified and had to email it back within two hours). I got an email about a week later telling me I didn't get the job. My essay kicked ass. I should post it online. Oh well. I've got a lot of other observations about the differences between the Google and Microsoft interview processes if anyone cares.
  • Hiring attempt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cbdavis (114685) on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:58AM (#11242699)
    My X tried to get job there, twice. She has a Phd (physics), 2 masters degrees and teaches C/C++/Python and OOP(college level and business level). Also, has experience writing large software projects on Linux. She has developed software for IBM that was marketed and made a bundle. She has a special interest in algorithms and their application to tough software problems. She couldnt get an interview. I was astonished - she is probably the best programmer/designer Ive ever met. Google, you goofed not hiring her.
  • ...there are a lot of people who do *not* test well, yet blossom under the right conditions.

    With rigorous testing, you'll get a lot of smart people...smart at passing tests anyways.

    Work ethic and love for ones occupation should far exceed aptitude in any hiring criteria.

    So if you have any handicap(s), you can forget ever working at Google?

    Seems like Google has already become severed from reality using that filter.
    Too bad. :-(
    I did have high hopes.

  • by jsse (254124) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:02AM (#11242709) Homepage Journal
    Google uses aptitude tests, which it has even placed in technical magazines, hoping some really big brains would tackle the hardest problems

    Almost all hightech companies look for big brains. Typical questions would look like this:

    five pirates have 100 gold coins. they have to divide up the loot. in order of seniority (suppose pirate 5 is most senior, pirate 1 is least senior), the most senior pirate proposes a distribution of the loot. they vote and if at least 50% accept the proposal, the loot is divided as proposed. otherwise the most senior pirate is executed, and they start over again with the next senior pirate. what solution does the most senior pirate propose? assume they are very intelligent and extremely greedy (and that they would prefer not to die).

    The answer is in the no. 63 of techInterview [techinterview.org]. Don't feel depress when you couldn't come up with the right answer, and don't bother memorizing all those answers before going to interview. They probably wouldn't reuse any of them anyway. If you don't have extremely high IQ, you probably want to learn techniques to solve those problems.

    As a matter of fact, questions as such are mostly problems in Game Theory [gametheory.net](Yes, Game Theory as in the movie A Beautiful Mind [abeautifulmind.com]). Pirates problem above is a typical game that can be solved by backward induction on an extended subgame. I've actually seen this question in a final examination of Game Theory in my prograduate Economics studies.
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:10AM (#11242737)
    Life Engine.

    oh wait...
  • by IcarusMoth (631872) on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:35AM (#11242825)
    It was like
    Me: "What Up?"
    Them: "What Up?"
    then I pulled down my pants and they were like:
    "You're Hired!!"
    then I'm like "Respect."
  • by paranoidia (472028) on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:43AM (#11243014)
    So I was just hired by Google right out of college, I'm graduating from Carnegie Mellon Univ in May. Google came to our school to run interviews around October. Here's a summary of the process:

    Google set up shop at one of our job fairs with about 120 other companies. Anyone could walk up to the booth and give them their resume and talk to the people there. If they liked you, they e-mailed you later for an interview

    There are then 2 on campus interviews. The first on one day, and if the interviewer likes you, then you get called back to the next day. If that interviewer likes you, you get flown out to their head quarters by San Fransisco. For my trip, there were 8 kids from CMU, and about 25 total from 7 other schools.

    Out in their headquarters, you have 3 interviews with different sets of people. One of my interviews had 2 people each asking questions. They also feed you though and give tours of the campus. They definitly treated the applicants very well out there, great hotel, very nice all around.

    Finally a week later people found out if they had offers or not. I heard rumors that in interviews with Google, each interviewer has 'veto' power, so if just one person didn't like you, no luck.

    As for interview topics, there was a large range. Most were data structure concepts and problem solving. One interview was very unique though, the guy had a sheet of general software eng questions ranging over topics such as application design and testing, server-client software design, internet concepts. He would ask you just to describe a general topic, and see how much you could explain about it. For instance, one question was like "If you wanted to improve one of your programs, what would you do?" So you had to talk about testing, bottle-necks, better hardware, etc, just about everything.

    As for coding questions, some people have complained in this thread that they don't display if you are a good coder, and I quite disagree. The purpose of those questions are to find out how you think, not how you code. They look for if you can logically lay out a problem in entirety and solve it one step at a time. Yes it's under a stress you would normally not have, but I think the stress helps sometimes. The part that all my interviewers spent the most time with was if I could improve my current solution. To see if you could do it with less memory, less cpu. The hardest part is just not knowing if there's something obvious that you should see. But a hint, start with the worst solution, then 'think up' a better solution while you're writting out the first. Do not try writting out the optimal solution from scratch from your head. They want to first see that you can solve it, but then to make sure that you don't settle for that solution and instead cringe at every line to make sure it's perfect.

    Other tips I would suggest, spice up your resume with team projects. Also, the breadth of experience you have, not depth. As for positions at Google, I was hired as a Software Eng, which means I can work on just about any project, so they wanted people with skills in many areas. Lastly, don't be afraid of saying 'I don't know' to a question. I did this a few times for 'quiz' questions where I knew I could just go look up the answer (for instance, one question was 'list and define all the different type casts in c++'). But just don't wait time trying to make up something or giving a wrong answer.

    After that babble, I also wanted to mention that every interviewer seemed to love their job there, like some people in the thread have said.

    I hope this might give some insight into the process, although it's specific for college grads. But the general idea I got was that Google was looking for genearally bright people with decent experience and good team skills.
  • by alphanumwheel (845798) on Monday January 03, 2005 @05:57AM (#11243056)
    So I'm a programmer at Amazon.com - I do a good bit of recruiting/interviewing.

    Google/Amazon/Microsoft all do it pretty much the same way, with a few variations. Everybody's looking for the same super-awesome programmers, and so you have basically a gauntlet of programmer-led technical interviews. Google's aptitude tests, advertisements are just it's way of leting the super-awesome programmers know that Google Wants You!

    The main difference between places is how exactly they define "super-awesome". Here's my take on the companies I know about:

    1. Google will hire really hardcore theroetical people into pretty applied positions. Raw intelligence seems to be job #1 at google, so they hire people without a solid pratical track record.

    2. Amazon will hire hardcore hackers, even if they don't have perfect academic credentials. Stuff like sucess in Open Source project is way up there at Amazon.

    3. Microsoft will hire people who have decent (but not awesome) coding skills and social skills and give them a Project Manager job. Because they have so many Project Managers, I think that also frees them to hire programmers with even fewer social skills.[pmjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjn
  • Google and Others (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CrankyFool (680025) on Monday January 03, 2005 @08:56AM (#11243570)
    First, the others:

    Back in August, on a Tuesday (you'll see the days matter in a second) I did a phone interview with a hiring manager; I did well enough that toward the end of the interview she asked me when I could come in; I said Thursday would be earliest (I was unemployed). After shouting over to some people, Thursday turned out to be OK. Lets call this Day 0

    Day 0+2: I came in on Thursday and was interviewed for about three hours. Four teams, two singletons and two pairs. Oh, and I hate pair interviews. I remember distinctly that I managed to establish an amazing rapport with the hiring manager fairly early on and had an interview that left me feeling like a million bucks (this is probably the only interview where I've ever said, in response to a salary question, "you can't pay me what I'm worth" and meant it :) ).

    Day 0+3: On Friday, I was contacted by another company and told they wanted to bring me in. We arranged the interview to occur Tuesday (so a week after the first phone interview).

    Day 0+4: Company A calls me and wants to hire me. I tell them I've got to check out Company B and we negotiate to have me give them an answer by Thursday (0+9, or 5 days hence). Due to the sensitivity of the project, I agree to come in for a meeting at work on Wednesday (0+8) so I can be up to speed if I take the job (this also let me see what kind of work environment they've got).

    Day 0+7: I interview at company B. Process is also about three hours. They're aware of my situation, and so the last person to talk to me is the hiring manager, with an offer in hand. I tell him I'll let them know by Thursday.

    Day 0+8: I come in for a meeting at company A and fall in love with the company culture -- remember, this isn't "let's tell the interviewee what the culture's like," but rather a real business meeting I'm attending, so it allows me the sort of inside intelligence that's often lacking in our decisions. It also allows me to see that, e.g., everyone dislikes the company-provided laptops, which allows me to ...

    Day 0+9: I call company B and politely decline, I call company A to enthusiastically accept and negotiate a better laptop (the 'negotiation' process wasn't exactly lengthy -- "I'd like a laptop, but your standards suck. What can we do about this?" "Yeah, we're not happy with the standard. Can you work with the IT Director to come up with something better?").

    As for the Google process ... I probably got in due to the fact I was an internal reference. I had a phone interview that was actually pretty cool -- my interviewer felt engaged, asked intelligent questions, and seemed really interested in me. It was a back-and-forth process, and I really liked it. I also did well enough, apparently, to qualify for a face-to-face interview.

    The face-to-face happened about 15 days later. It was about 3-3.5 hours (fairly standardized for Google, apparently). I was lucky enough (ref internal referral) to eat at the Google cafeteria ahead of time, which definitely rocked.

    _That_ interview process was ... a little disappointing (can you tell I didn't get the job? :) ). It felt very one-sided. Forgive the fuzzy wording here -- I tend to be one of the more fuzzy, Myers-Briggs EIFPish, geeks out there.

    I think it's natural, really -- Google goes through so many of these interviews that the first step is by necessity an emotionally disengaged "show us you're worthy of breathing Google Air[tm]" process. One of the things missing from the interview, for example, was any sort of discussion of the Google side of things, or what the job or work relationships or technology are like.

    I left the interview drained. I'm actually pretty pleased with my performance -- I'd probably want to change two or three things, but overall I'd say I probably performed at about 85% or better of my optimal capacity.

    About ten days later I got a phone call fr
  • by justinstreufert (459931) on Monday January 03, 2005 @10:27AM (#11244030) Homepage
    Two years ago when I was desperate for a job, I sent resumes to almost everywhere imaginable. In desperation I even checked the Google jobs site, despite the fact that I live nowhere near them. Lo and behold, they had a sys admin position available here on the east coast. Holy crap! Of course, I immediately sent them a resume. I had no hope that they would contact me, since (as you already know if you read the post) they receive over 1,000 resumes a day.

    Maybe a week later, I get an e-mail from Google! O, frabjous day. They want to do a quick interview over the phone. I immediately agree, and the interviewer calls me at the appointed time. He asks me some standard HR-ish questions about who I am and where I want to be, and then the real interview starts.

    "Now for this part, you can't use a computer or a calculator." Uh oh. He starts asking me networking questions. Geeky ones. Hard ones. He had me list off the port numbers for various services, calculate netmasks in my head and troubleshoot hypothetical problems. I trip up only a little bit on the mathy parts, and he informs me right on the phone that I seem good enough, and that I could be scheduled for a real live interview.

    Then comes the rub: He's explaining about the job (basically live in their east coast datacenter and maintain their server farm) and in the process tells me how much they're paying. Ouch... True, it's sort of a low-level job, but with my mortgage and family, there's no way I could live on it. :(

    He tells me that in a few years, I could move up in the company, were I willing to pack up and ship off to California. Could this really be a backdoor into a coveted position in the Engineering department for those of us without Ph.Ds? I can tell you that if I were single and commitment-free, I'd have taken that job in a second. IMO, roughing it for a few years would be worth it to work for Google.

    But it was not to be. I have an excellent (and far higher-paying) job now, and I didn't even have to move to California for it. ;) Still, just this small contact with Google, where even the HR suits are geeks, was inspiring.
  • by master_p (608214) on Monday January 03, 2005 @10:35AM (#11244074)
    In order to get a decent job these days, you have to be extra-smart, extra-informed, always on the edge of your field both theoritically and practically. ...but is life about that? why should it all be about competition? is it good progress if our society clusters all good minds together for a single purpose? is profit the only reason we live? is the everything-for-profit mentality good for the environment? will this competition-crazy society of today be able to evolve, or will it be self-destroyed?

    Should we really be anxious because we went for interview at Google and someone asked us to solve a puzzle that we couldn't? does that make us less worthy of living a good life than those that have answered that question? should we be judged for the environment that we were brought up (and that we did not have a choice about, but it really shaped us)?

    One would say that it is social darwinism that causes progress. But what is progress? is it only technological? how about social progress? spiritual progress? emotional progress? how about balance? how can one keep balance inside with such a competitive environment haunting him/her? What about the stress this environment creates? how will these people, that are such heavy competition, so much stress, be relaxed to create and raise a family? low birthrate is a significant problem for the western countries, and people working in such a heavily competitive environment are too stressed out to think of creating a family.

    Do we, as people, still enjoy the sunset? do we still dream about the magic moment when we hold hands with our dearest under a full moon on a beach, or our minds is on profit-profit-profit only?

    There are thousands of questions that are far more important than those silly Google puzzles. I couldn't care less if there are 5 or 100 C++ cast types. Life has much more important issues.

    It is a great disappoinment when our society's only purpose is to gain more profit. It means we have failed as a society. We've lost our touch with what makes us humans...one day, when AI will be an everyday reality, what will become of all these clever people Google have hired? they will starve to death, along with all the millions of poor people working at McDonalds, because the Google of that era will not need them!

    It is also a great disappoinment when our society continues to use sub-optimal tools to do a job, and all the brains are just used to create more profit, where they could have been used to improve and optimize the tools we work on.

    If you now think I am bitter because Google rejected me, let me tell you that I don't live in USA, and I am employed, and very much respected, admired and even envied in my job. After all these years working in a corporate environment, I really haven't figured out the 'why' behind all we do: we spend so much time trying to develop new weapons, so much time trying to outrun and outsmart our competitors, so much time trying to cover our wrong-doings...but we have failed miserably to be warm, sincere and offer a big smile to others from inside our hearts on a day-by-day basis! we have failed in LOVE...

    (I apologise for the bitterness and the long post.)

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