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Want To Work At Google? 458

Posted by Zonk
from the bread-and-circuses dept.
ramboando writes "In an article on the ZDNet site 'chief culture officer' and HR boss Stacy Savides Sullivan describes the kind of traits that she's looking for in potential Google employees. If you're thinking about applying, she also goes over what kind of questions one might be asked in an interview, Google's 'happiness survey' and the best perks that makes employees tick and stay with the company (Google ski-trips or paid paternity leave, anyone?). 'I think one of the hardest things to do is ensure that we are hiring people who possess the kind of traits that we're looking for in a Google-y employee. Google-y is defined as somebody who is fairly flexible, adaptable and not focusing on titles and hierarchy, and just gets stuff done. So, we put a lot of focus in our hiring processes when we are interviewing to try to determine first and foremost does the person have the skill set and experience potential to do the job from a background standpoint in addition to academics and credentials.'"
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Want To Work At Google?

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  • "Fit Factor" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Architect_sasyr (938685) on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:31AM (#18925551)
    So they basically want a Google-y employee or, put another way, someone with the right fit factor. Does this mean that a highly qualified person, skilled and high standing in the community, but prefers to be quiet, in the dark and working alone won't make it?

    I ask because my own company puts so much store in the "fit factor" that they end up hiring people with less skills than the other candidates.

    Do I want to work at google? Well now, that's between me and HR ;)
    • Re:"Fit Factor" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rsmah (518909) <rmah@pQUOTEobox.com~ minus punct> on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:06AM (#18925741)
      Business is a team sport. The "fit" of an individual is as important as raw skill/talent.

      Cheers,
      Rob
    • I ask because my own company puts so much store in the "fit factor" that they end up hiring people with less skills than the other candidates.

      I've worked with guys who are reputed to be very very good at their specialty, but at the same time they tear apart the projects they work within. I'd much prefer to have people who are good but not great, than people who are great but don't fit. Obviously Google is looking for those rare individuals with the 3 magic qualities.... social skills, technical skills, and
    • Re:"Fit Factor" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:20AM (#18925809)
      She also doesn't mention that to Google, hiring is mathematically equivalent to Information Retrieval, except that they only care about "precision" not "recall".

      What that means to lay-people is that so long as they can maintain 10,000 applications coming through per-month, false negatives (passing on a suitable applicant) do not matter because there'll be another candidate along in a minute. False positives (hiring an unsuitable applicant) are all they need to focus on. The "fit factor" is effectively the search string of traits; however, with such a large candidate pool, they can focus their "hiring algorithm" entirely on rejecting candidates where it is even slightly difficult to ascertain whether they fit or not.

      So, their advertising blitz "aren't we a great place to work for" is a part of what lets them keep their hiring process easy. If they get bad PR and applications fall, then they'll need to worry about recall as well as precision.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      If your goth friend is skilled and manage to write complete documentations and occasionaly answer questions, he could very well make it. I doubt however that even a computer genius can do the same amount of work than a good working team of five average engineers.
  • by therufus (677843) on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:31AM (#18925553)
    What they mean to say is they don't want new employees using Google's internal internet bandwidth searching for another job.

    I for one, would love to work at Google. Don't they let you bring your pets to work?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomstdenis (446163)
      While it certainly seems like a "Free spirit" sort of place to work it's still a large megacorp (tm) which brings a lot of the downsides with it I imagine. Though the free meals/snacks does sound like a genius idea.

      Though after having worked for one megacorp (tm), I can honestly say I'd rather be working where I am for a smaller company. Sure I don't get free meals, but at the end of the day I'm not a drunk anymore :-) [ok I wasn't really a drunk back then either, but I did drink way too often for my comf
      • by e2d2 (115622) on Monday April 30, 2007 @10:54AM (#18927651)
        This is something I realized after 10+ years - smaller is better. I started out at a small shop and got my break doing everything and anything I could to help. I had to get along with 5 other people that were pretty much just like me.

        Then I "moved up" for more pay to a mid size company, not bad. Pretty good actually.

        Then eventually went to the largest privately owned company in the world. Benefits were great, but I was faceless. I was expected to do more work for less, but my heart wasn't in it. For some reason I couldn't help feeling used. Why? Because I felt detached from the company. Their goals were not my goals and they could have given a shit about my goals.

        Maybe it was a personal issue, but at 30+ years old you simply come to a point in your life you make a decision. You either buy in and ass kissing becomes your specialty or you have a "life crisis" and try to find some sanity somewhere else. I chose the later and now work for a small company again. I don't think I'll ever go back to a large company, it just feels inhuman and unnatural.

        But to each his own, some people don't have the same issues with authority that I have. More power to them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Really? The idea of wanting to go work for someone else seems strange to me. I work in my current job to pay the bills, at the end of the day. "Culture" is just a side benefit of that. Would I work at a place I didn't like? Not if I had a choice. Would I leave my job to go work for someone because their office seemed "fun"? No.

      I'm going to start my own company, personally.
  • Is this a job ad? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Timesprout (579035) on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:31AM (#18925559)
    Seems like quite a few people have been leaving [guardian.co.uk] Google lately
  • by niceone (992278) * on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:34AM (#18925577) Journal
    Would you fail if... you threw up at the first mention of the word "Google-y"? Ah, that's me out...
  • Best benefit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by marc_garcia (1095119) on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:37AM (#18925591) Homepage
    For me best benefit working at Google's headquarter are individual swimming pools... any other company has it?
  • by strobexii (601986) on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:40AM (#18925607)
    I'd translate it thus

    Google-y is defined as somebody who is fairly flexible,
    You'll be working long hours. Weekends, possibly holidays...

    adaptable
    Management will shuffle you around as it sees fit

    and not focusing on titles and hierarchy,
    Promotion?! Haha! Here's a compromise: you're getting a new boss.

    and just gets stuff done.
    Get to work and stop asking questions!

    But it's Google, so we know better. Or do we? Seriously, which side are we taking today?
    • by cyberkahn (398201) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:49AM (#18925963) Homepage
      The funny thing about comedy is that it is often true.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Parent's interpretation is closer to reality than most people might want to see. Even google cannot completely eliminate bureaucracy and politics in the workplace. After all, where there is money, there will be politicians. The best it can do is minimize the chance of conflicts and the impact to productivity thereof.

      Of course, parent's is a rather cynical viewpoint, but that doesn't make it any less true. But some of these issues are present in many other organizations, not just Google. That's probably why
  • School education (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:49AM (#18925643)
    School education has nothing to do with how skilled you are and how well you can get the job done.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drgonzo59 (747139)
      Oh how wrong. I have heard that phrase a countless number of time from every one who didn't to do well in school and just gave up and dropped out. You see, your GPA also shows how well you can get stuff done even if you are not terribly interested in it. It is not likely that everyone will enjoy Literature,Math, Biology, Psychology all at the same time, BUT if they can still get an 'A' in it that says a lot about that person's work ethic. Because in a work place not every single day and every single project
  • Too much spin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ushering05401 (1086795) on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:51AM (#18925657) Journal
    Not that Google is breaking down my door, but I wouldn't work there just based on this article.

    One of the top gripes I have with corporate culture is all the bullshit language that is employed. What is this 'Happiness Survey?' This smells of new-age rebranding. Aren't they talking about 'workplace satisfaction?' Don't most companies conduct workplace satisfaction surveys? The companies I have worked for do.

    What is this Culture Czar position? You take workplace issues to HR, who coordinates with all other departments to implement the corporate workplace vision. Some companies are better at it than others, but rebranding the position doesn't make Google any better at it.

    Google produces innovation based on incentive... which is basic capitalism. It's great that they want the incentives to be more than just cash, but this just feels like a while lot of cheerleading. These tactics don't strike me as being professional. It feels like more spin in an age of way-too-much-spin.

    Regards.
    • Re:Too much spin (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cyberianpan (975767) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:52AM (#18925987)

      What is this Culture Czar position? It feels like more spin in an age of way-too-much-spin
      Positive marketing works, people like Coke because of the brand which causes similar brain changes to drugs. A cheap way to make someone happy is nice corporate art, similarly internal company branding works. Google employees get a buzz from working in the company with the most valuable brand in the world [bbc.co.uk]. Having kooky titles like Culture Czar & Google-y reinforces the buzz about the place.

      Google produces innovation based on incentive... It's great that they want the incentives to be more than just cash
      People actually only need so much money, the article clearly talks about the reward of a stimulating environment that is more campus like than other employers:

      'Happiness Survey?' This smells of new-age rebranding. Aren't they talking about
      'workplace satisfaction?
      Maybe, maybe not. Workplace satisfaction points towards the colour of the walls, the taste of the food... the focus "sounds" narrow. Work is where we spend about say 50% of our quality time so it is a major part of our lives. Google with its ski trips, for example, is acknowledging the blur between work & personal life. Thus with a hapiness survey they take a wider interest/responsibility than with a workplace satisfaction survey.

      Personally whilst I find this blurring interesting it's also a little disturbing- many of the people I know who work at Google have an incredible personal loyalty to the firm, they socialise together, ski trips, voluntary charity events... somewhat cultlike.
  • by sethstorm (512897) * on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:53AM (#18925667) Homepage
    Google-y is defined as somebody who is fairly flexible, adaptable and not focusing on titles and hierarchy, and just gets stuff done
    Odd for an organization that prides itself on the contrary through their bit on favoring exclusivist universities and the concepts that go with them. They would do well to take a few pages from the concept of Jante Law to have an honest effort at meeting those concepts. That includes doing away with everything that connects them to Stanford in terms of exclusivity as well, as that hasn't helped in that effort as well.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      It is just possible that exclusive universities produce good people, and part of google's success is the fact that they do expects a decent degree or spectacular experience in it's stead.

      The "computer industry" has been so anti-degree of late it's not surprising this offends people. But, honestly, every other industry places value on a good degree, so why should we be special in this regard?

      Is it just possible that the top 10% of students, after spending 4-5 years studying a field, might actually be more q
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I don't think they produce good people as much as they select good people. Why go to the trouble of perfecting your own interview process when top-tier universities already have it down to a science?

        Not having a good degree doesn't necessarily mean you're not qualified. But having a good degree virtually guarantees that you are.
  • by Ricin (236107) on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:53AM (#18925669)
    "I found your contact information on the Internet. I am interested to know
    your openness to new job opportunities and find out more about your past
    work experience." ... etc

    A few months ago I got a few like these (not copies of the same text). A bit spammish but with restrain. I remember being surprised and wondering how many people were getting these. I wouldn't want to relocate to another country so I never replied. I'm also not a big Google fan personally (call me paranoid). Especially the cultivated "kool-aid factor" (aka PR) ticks me off.

    Anyone else been contacted this way?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mlk (18543)
      I have as well (a year ago). I was very tempted to reply, asking how they actually got my details.

      Have they recently opened, or about to open a new office? I got mine shortly before they opened the London office, apparently they were having problems filling posts due to the very long and round-about process they had in place (involving multiple trips to the US).
      • by Ricin (236107)
        That's possible, London and various US locations mentioned, but also IIRC in Switzerland. That might have been a new office.
    • by CrazyTalk (662055)
      Yep, I got one too - around the time they were opening the Pittsburgh (where I live) office. I'm sure they just do a keyword search on monster and other job boards (Doesn't even require a "Sophisticated" search engine like google) and contact every resume they find in the proper geographic area.
  • by Albanach (527650) on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:55AM (#18925675) Homepage

    Google-y is defined as somebody who is fairly flexible, adaptable and not focusing on titles and hierarchy
    This is from their Chief Culture Officer. Do as I say, not as I do?
  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte AT drunksnipers DOT com> on Monday April 30, 2007 @06:56AM (#18925679) Homepage
    All google needs is your unique google id and your name and they can find the rest themselves. Saves both parties a lot of time.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have been job hunting in the US and the thing that has stuck me most is the cavalier rudness of recruiters, including those at Google.

    When I applied for a job in the UK my application went in at 11pm one evening and I received a phone call the next day at 9am. With US companies they never seem to bother to reply unless they want something.

    Perhaps they don't realise the bad feeling this creates, but when I have gone out of the way to prepare an application, tailor my resume and cover letter and get referen
  • by skurk (78980) * on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:07AM (#18925745) Homepage Journal
    A bit OT, but could be helpful to others applying for a job at Google:

    I had an interview with Google a few weeks ago. I didn't really know what I was getting into, as I applied just for fun.

    After the initial emails and phone calls, I was contacted by a local Google employee (developer) for a detailed phone interview. He wanted to ask me "some technical questions" I was told.

    Great, shouldn't be a problem? I got ready for C/C++/UNIX specific questions.

    He called and we did some minor chit-chat before beginning the interview. But, to my surprise, here's what he asked:

    The first question:
    "Imagine you have two marbles and a 100-story building. You are told that the marbles will break if they are dropped from a certain floor. Figure out a way, as effectivly as possible, how high you can drop the marbles before they break. Remember, it could be the 1st floor, it could be the 99th."

    Second question:
    "Let's say you have a computer with 2M RAM. This computer has a hard drive (with lots of free space) and a 100M file which you should sort. Let me know how you, as effectivly as possible, sort the file."

    Third question:
    "We take the computer from the previous question and replace the hard drive with a network adapter. You have no local storage but the RAM. You will receive one million eight-digit phone numbers through a TCP stream which you shall sort in RAM. You are now allowed to send any data before all the numbers have been sorted. How would you solve this?"

    Needless to say, the interview didn't go very well and ended with him saying "Well.. I've heard enough. Buh-bye."
    • first question: Find the density of the marble, then calculuate the ... oh what do I know.

      Second question: Radix sort on disk.

      Third question: Binary weighted tree in memory.

      BTW I hate job interviews like this. I did one for RIM (in like 2002 ish) and at one point after answering like 5 different "puzzles" I turned around and asked the interview "here are two 1024-bit numbers, multiply them quickly." To which he replied "I'm asking the questions." I just got up and left. I don't want to work somewhere where I have to sit pretty and beg all the time just to get paid. I'm sure had I taken the job with RIM I'd be one of those "middle name" people (mass murderer) types eventually. Sure I have to please my boss by finishing my work, but I certainly don't kiss ass.

      Next time you have an interview like that, just stump the interviewer, see how they like pressure. :-)

      In all honesty, if you don't have prior job experience and/or a portfolio of projects, they can't really tell what you're capable of anyways. High pressure interview questions do not reflect the job scenario in the slightest.

      Tom
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        first question: Find the density of the marble, then calculuate the ... oh what do I know.

        Here's one possibility:

        With the first marble, drop it from floor one, then ascend, doubling the floor each time. When it breaks (unless it's the first floor or the top floor), start with the second marble, working up sequentially from the last known good floor. Is that an elevator sort, or something?
      • by Speare (84249)
        First question: boolean search. You'll need up to seven marbles.
      • by glwtta (532858)
        Third question: Binary weighted tree in memory.

        If only it was 40,000,000 numbers and 6MB RAM - then it'd be count sort; but it's never count sort...

        I wonder what they were getting at with the requirement that you can't send any data until you are done sorting - seems kind of implicit in the whole "sort the numbers" requirement.
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Needless to say, the interview didn't go very well and ended with him saying "Well.. I've heard enough. Buh-bye."

      I actually don't see why it's "needless to say" how it went from there - did you just find the questions too wanky? (but then, I hear lots of large companies rely on even wankier questions).

      The first one is annoyingly vague (what the hell does "effective" even mean in this context?), but the second two are straight out of the second chapter of any algorithms book (ie "Sorting"); from the "v
    • by ps236 (965675) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:34AM (#18925885)
      Woah! You had to answer those questions on the phone whilst he was talking to you?

      Unless this is the sort of thing you've been doing before, it's unlikely you'd be able to do that - I'd have expected you'd need some time to work out the answers. I know I would, and I've been programming for 25+ years.

      The first question is quite easy to answer -ish. I guess they meant 'as efficiently as possible' - not as 'effectively as possible' (in which case, as long as you got the right answer you'd meet the requirements). To get the basic concept isn't hard, but to get it "as efficiently as possible" you'd need some thought, which would be hard on the phone. (You go up in steps (eg 10 floors at a time) until the first marble breaks, then go back a step and go up one floor at a time until the second marble breaks - the "hard" bit is knowing what size steps to use for the first part to be most efficient)

      BTW - the second question there was a bit meaningless - how can you 'sort a 100MB file'? Do they want the file in byte order (all the 0 bytes first, then all the 1 bytes) If so, then you could do that with 256 bytes of data RAM... Maybe they want it in BIT order - that would only need 8 bytes :) If this isn't what they want, then it would help to know WHAT you are sorting - eg a radix sort could be good here, but it might depend on the type of data

      Were you allowed to ask how much memory was taken up by the OS, network stack and what programming language you were using to guess how much memory was taken up by the program?

      For the 3rd question I'd have difficulty. AFAICS you'd have to use some form of compression to be able to do it (you have to hold 8M characters in 2M RAM - you could convert the phone numbers to 'real' numbers, but that'd still be 4MB in 2MB RAM). I reckon I'd be able to do it, but I'd guess it would take at least several hours to work out the nitty gritty - which sounds dumb for a phone interview.. (There's a cool way I can think of that would sort up to 10 million 7 digit numbers in 2MB RAM - but it would need 12MB to sort any number of 8 digit numbers - and this would rely on the numbers being unique, which isn't specified)

      Could I offer to donate £50 from my first pay cheque to buy Google some more RAM? ;)

      • by glwtta (532858)
        BTW - the second question there was a bit meaningless - how can you 'sort a 100MB file'?

        I think that was the whole point of these questions - get the general gist without getting bogged down in the details. In this case the reasonable assumption is that the files contains some kind of comparable records (what's most likely to happen in the real world), and the size is much larger than your RAM, so you know you have to go to disk, so you know it's some variant of radix sort.

        There's a cool way I can th
      • by skurk (78980) * on Monday April 30, 2007 @08:46AM (#18926425) Homepage Journal
        Woah! You had to answer those questions on the phone whilst he was talking to you?

        Yup, on the phone. I have 22+ years of programming on my back, and I applied for a position named "system developer". If I knew they were looking for some search engine optimizing guru, I wouldn't even bother contacting them in the first place.

        BTW - the second question there was a bit meaningless - how can you 'sort a 100MB file'? Do they want the file in byte order (..)

        Ah, yes. Sorry, I thought that was obvious.

        IIRC, the correct answers (according to Google) were:

        1st question: Start on the 14th floor. If it breaks, start with the second marble on the 1st floor and increase until it breaks. If it doesn't, go to the 14+13th floor, then 14+13+12th, etc. That gives you a maximum of 14 attempts.

        2nd question: Split the file into 2M segments on disk, sort them (for example with quicksort) then use mergesort to get everything back together.

        3rd question: Sort everything in RAM using bit vectors.

        If you disagree with the answers, contact Google. :-)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Viv (54519)

          1st question: Start on the 14th floor. If it breaks, start with the second marble on the 1st floor and increase until it breaks. If it doesn't, go to the 14+13th floor, then 14+13+12th, etc. That gives you a maximum of 14 attempts.

          Of course, Google would be wrong about that. You don't have to test above the floor at which terminal velocity can be reached.

          Do some back of the envelope calculations, take into account that the terminal velocity of a marble-sized hailstone is 45 ft/s, and you'll estimate that terminal velocity occurs within 15 floors.

          Drop it at 7, and do a linear search on either side of that depending on whether it breaks or not. That yields less than 14.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Xentor (600436)
          In regards to #2... Wait a second, they just want it sorted by BYTES? Wow...

          1) Make 256-element array
          2) Iterate through file, incrementing array elements to count occurrences of each byte value
          3) Iterate through array, outputting desired number of each value.

          Total storage required: 256 x 4 bytes, supporting file sizes up to 4GB, working in O(n) time.

          Of course they probably meant the file contained a list of strings or numbers, but then it's their fault for being too vague...

          (I applied on their website, and
    • "Imagine you have two marbles and a 100-story building. You are told that the marbles will break if they are dropped from a certain floor. Figure out a way, as effectivly as possible, how high you can drop the marbles before they break. Remember, it could be the 1st floor, it could be the 99th."



      "Minimize maximum search time, minimize minimum search time, or minimize average search time ?" ;)

    • Second question: "Let's say you have a computer with 2M RAM. This computer has a hard drive (with lots of free space) and a 100M file which you should sort. Let me know how you, as effectivly as possible, sort the file."

      Easy. Plug a 1 GB SDRAM in that puppy. Isn't that a core part of Google's approach to scaling their search anyway (i.e., acres of commodity grey market boxes)?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'll second this.

      Within the first 2 minutes of my phone interview, I was asked to solve a simple story problem that hinged on recognizing the use of a logarithm on a very large number. I told the interviewer the (correct) answer as an equation, and was immediately challenged with the most absurd question I've ever experienced in an interview: "so...how would you calculate that?"

      I've never been asked to be a human calculator in an interview before, so it took a few seconds to realize that I was actually be
      • I've never been asked to be a human calculator in an interview before, so it took a few seconds to realize that I was actually being quizzed on my ability to do math in my head.

        Nope. That wasn't a question of doing math in your head, it was a question on how to calculate a logarithm using only basic math. It's fairly simple actually in a 10-base system and trivial (requires only subtraction and bit-shifting) in 2-base, but you have no chance of figuring it out yourself if you've not heard of it before.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tomalpha (746163) *
      I've been asked all of these questions at (fairly) recent interviews. They're definite favourites at City (of London) type institutions.

      The first question can actually end up using a little calculus - you need to advance by square-root of the number of floors IIRC.

      Two I can't remember my answer for, but think there were a couple of variations.

      Three requires you to realise that the numbers are unique, within a finite range, and you have sufficient *bits* for a radix sort.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by khakipuce (625944)
      Stop being so literal and read the article. The point of the questions is not necessarily to get the correct answer, they are interested in your though processes.

      Over the years I have had more than my fair share of jobs and many of them I got even though I failed to answer the technical questions. What I did was explain my thinking, even on multiple choice tests, I write my thinking along side. You are never ever going to have to solve the marble problem, but they want to know if you have heard of things li
    • by CrazyTalk (662055)
      Great first question - and a chance for candidates to show off their knowledge of search algorithms. Do you just try dropping from the first floor and continue linearaly until you find the floor that the marble breaks? Do you do every other floor? Implement some kind of binary search or more sophisticated technique? And the fact that you only have two marbles means that you are only allowed one "Failure" of the marble drop to make a determination. I bet there are plenty of hard-core programmers that mig
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CopaceticOpus (965603)
      1. I'm too valuable to spend time dropping marbles from buildings. Give an intern one of the marbles, and tell him to start on floor number one and work his way up. Keep the second marble as a toy on my desk.

      2. Email the file to my Gmail (TM) account. Open the file as a spreadsheet in Google Docs & Speadsheets (TM). Choose "Sort" from the application menu.

      3. Chew out the idiot who removed the hard drive, get it back, and reinstall it in the machine. Save TCP stream to a text file. Repeat answer #2.
  • What? (Score:4, Funny)

    by glwtta (532858) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:07AM (#18925747) Homepage
    You mean there are still people who don't work at Google?

    From the sheer number of articles about or relating to the Google hiring process and corporate culture I just assumed that they would have hired the entire qualified workforce by now.

    (though they do have some really nice sounding quality of life type perks...)
  • by evilviper (135110) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:09AM (#18925753) Journal

    "In an article on the ZDNet site 'chief culture officer' and HR boss Stacy Savides Sullivan describes the kind of traits that she's looking for in potential Google employees.

    Do those traits include reading Slashdot at 03:24AM, Monday morning?

    *crosses fingers*
  • by boyfaceddog (788041) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:11AM (#18925759) Journal
    "Google-y is defined as somebody who is fairly flexible, adaptable and not focusing on titles and hierarchy, and just gets stuff done."

    In my experience, this translates into a dead-end grunt job.

    Fairly flexable = Willing to do anything from sweep floors to fetch coffee.
    Adaptable = Doesn't need to be shown how to sweep floors or fetch coffee.
    Not focusing on titles or hierarchy = No promotions and everyone is your boss.
    Just gets stuff done = This would be the stuff no one else wants to do.

    Translation: Paid Intern
  • Paternity leave (Score:4, Interesting)

    by heffrey (229704) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:12AM (#18925761)
    It just shows the difference in cultures between the USA and western Europe that paternity leave of a "couple of weeks off" can be viewed as a perk. Sadly as a Brit we are much closer to the USA than the rest of Europe (especially Scandinavia and Finland).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Want To Work At Google?
     
    Eh? No.
  • by dummkopf (538393) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:27AM (#18925835) Homepage
    Passed the first stage with HR, then had the interview with one of the engineers. The guy asked the mandatory question "tell me what you do" but after two minutes cut me off as it was clear he was not interested in optimization problems in physics. It was clear from the start that we spoke "different languages" and that lunchtime was looming in Mountain View, i.e., he was in a rush. Then he asked me some test questions. For example: "Suppose I give you a phonebook and ask you for a name, how long would that take?" As you can see, the question and answer are wide open. I told him that if the book had N pages, it would take me worst case N lookups. He was not pleased and asked for a faster solution. Hence I said, OK, I throw it into a hash and then the lookup is O(1). Then he complained that there would be too much preprocessing (although I would expect google to hash things...). He wanted "something in between". Hence I said, OK, let's sort the book and then partition to the name wanted, i.e., O(log(N)). Then the guy asked what log that was. I said that it does NOT matter since, in the O-notation prefactors are irrelevant and as you might know, you can always transform a log from one base to another by just a multiplicative factor. That was not a pleasing answer and he kept asking me to what base. Eventually I told him base 2, if he really had to know, but it did not matter. I admit I did not well in the interview, but the guy at the other end did NO effort in leading a good interview. The next question was (since I do some distributed computing) if I have many clients and they want to upload data to a server, what is the best way to do that. Again waaaaay open. I said, well, the client sends a request and when the server is free it answers and gets the data. Not good. Might overwhelm the server. Of course he would not tell me what he wanted to hear so I poked around a bit to realize that he wanted that the server floods the network with a "I am free signal" and then clients can upload the data. So what about reaching the limit of the network? "Well, that is not an issue here". Aha, I thought, I see, an issue is only what the guy deems to be an issue. At that point it was noon in Mountain View and he suddenly wanted to hang up. No "do you have any other questions?" or anything that shows good manners from an interviewer. Hence I decided to stop him cold and said "I have some questions for you". You could feel how pissed he was about this -- after all lunch is looming around the corner -- and he gave me the probably shortest answers you could think. For questions which I had gathered from whitepapers published by google (and there are only FEW out there) he would always say "I cannot talk about that".

    So... You really want to work there? Yes, you get lots of money, yes you get brainwashed it seems and rather arrogant after a while. Granted, this was one guy only, but letting him onto candidates which are not necessarily computer scientists. Hm... Needless to mention, Ihad a negative email the net day. Note that I did NOT apply for a job at google. One day I had an email from a HR person in mymailbox with the Subject "Hello from Google",and that's when this story started...
    • by Shados (741919) on Monday April 30, 2007 @07:56AM (#18926019)
      Actually, it seems obvious to me what the guy that interviewed you wanted to know: if you could convert what you learned in school in the real world. "Worse case scenario" (aka: O) isn't something you can blindly follow, as in many, many cases its irrelevent (thus why the 2 others). I can't talk for them, but in the place of a google engineer, I'd be MUCH more interested in "the most likely scenario" than in the worse case, since when you deal with a large amount of customers, the only thing that really matters is what happens day to day, and if the "worse case" happens, you add an extra server, be it at google, be it at your average corporation (not that simple, but you get the idea)

      On top of that, google interviews are fairly known for seeing how you -react- to challenges, not your answers to them, thus the open ended questions. You could have answered all the questions wrong and they would take you anyway, if you showed your only weakness was experience, but they probably have seen too many people worrie about which sorting algorythm is the best when having to sort a 10 item dropdown menu...

      Oh well, I'm sure your skillset will be more appreciated elsewhere, so no big loss to you :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What's the big problem with open questions? A good interviewer will give you some space to show your knowledge. One way of doing that is to ask open questions and see where the interviewee goes. Real life isn't like an exam question, with nice clean solutions from section xx.y of the syllabus.
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Wow, I know interview questions can be annoying, but you were being kind of a dick about it. I mean, it would've taken about 2 seconds to just tell the guy what he wanted to hear.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wass (72082)
      So... You really want to work there? Yes, you get lots of money, yes you get brainwashed it seems and rather arrogant after a while.

      Interesting, from your story it appears he wasn't the arrogant one.

      When you were describing your physics optimization, you really shouldn't expect him to want to listen more than a few minutes anyway. You say you spoke 'different languages'. Communication is a key skill, and perhaps you weren't explaining your research project in a way comprehensible to an outsider of the fie
  • I would be more impressed if were somebody at a suppervisory level, speaking off the record. All you will get from zdnet HR piece is stupid hype.
  • Google (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Beatlebum (213957)
    They want young, smart people. Forget it if you are old (>30) and smart, you won't even make it to the interview.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kindbud (90044)
      If you're old and smart, you have no interest in perks designed to make your stay at work more comfortable and enjoyable, and you don't like people who enjoy them and stay at work for 18 hours a day. Makes us look bad. That's why we old farts run around adjusting the a/c or heat to make the place insufferable so you people will go home at a quitting time.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have gone through interviewing at Google not a long ago, and when I reached the on-site interview stage, these guys were surprised that I didn't fill anything in the academic background section. Their forms are not even suitable for not having an academic background.

    So, is it true that absolutely *no* collage dropout can be considered a genius these days?
    The fact I've been a self taught workaholic software engineer since an early age doesn't count at all?
    Is it my fault for starting a career and making mon
  • seems I'm not alone (Score:4, Informative)

    by jilles (20976) on Monday April 30, 2007 @08:35AM (#18926309) Homepage
    Google has basically been approaching lots of people more or less randomly. Including me. Twice so far. I wouldn't actually mind working for a company like Google but I'm not likely to respond positively to random recruiting attemtps.

    So why does it not work with people like me? Well very simple. I don't do job interviews. I get invited to discuss specific, custom job descriptions matching my CV & ambition level. We discuss the proposal and then I either accept it or not. I suspect it is like that for most people with a decent level of competence in our business. If you want to hire me, you will need to convince me that you are any good and that it is a substantial improvement over my current job.

    If you are going to contact me about a job offer, it had better be specific & well aligned with my interests otherwise I'm not likely to be very enthusiastic about the whole thing. Also I prefer to not deal with HR other than discussing technical details on contracts. If you want to hire me, make sure I talk to the right person right away and don't waste my time with people not capable of telling me anything useful.

    Both times I was approached by Google, the person in question hadn't read my CV (on my website); was not aware of my research career (likewise) and did not have a specific job in mind. On the contrary, the first time I talked with a Google HR person, the person projected a months long process with lots of interviews after which I should count myself lucky to be allowed an unspecified job at an unspecified location for an unspecified amount of money. Needless to say I politely declined because if they didn't have anything specific to talk about, our conversation was quite pointless & definitely over.
  • by assantisz (881107) on Monday April 30, 2007 @09:42AM (#18926927)
    If you really want to work for an employer that gives great benefits you should look into education or the public sector. I work for a private university in NYC and the benefits I get are unbeatable. Sure, I don't get paid a bonus (and we don't get free food with the exception of certain kinds of meetings) but free education for the entire family, a retirement plan that requires me to put in 5% of my gross while they match 10% of my gross, up to six weeks of paid maternity/paternity leave, ability to get whatever gadget I'd like to "get my job done", and job security make it well worth it. The salary is not that bad either (a little over average for a Sr UNIX system admin in the metro area). Anyway, the random e-mails that Google's recruiters send out are a little off-putting. Also, isn't it a little weird that when you are about to reach your fifth year of your employment with Google just when your stock options are abot to vest HR will be bothering you about how happy you are etc. etc. If you really have to try so much something is not quite right. Happiness test? Please!
  • by minotaurcomputing (775084) on Monday April 30, 2007 @09:42AM (#18926933) Homepage Journal
    I also interviewed with Google... did the 3 phone interviews, wacky questions, flying out to CA at odd hours, and ultimately got rejected. However, I think it was overall a great experience for me. I do not feel bitter about the process and in fact feel that it probably helped motivate me to become a better computer scientist. The impression that I got from its employees is that they are truly in love with computer science and I would do well for myself to take a similar approach to my craft.

    In fact, I was asked soon after my Google experience to help interview a group of candidates at my current company, and I decided to take the Google approach. While there were very few people who were able to ace the battery of questions, there was an interesting effect. That is, you learn very quickly by asking those types of questions the kinds of people that YOU would want to work with. There are those people who simple brush those questions off by saying, "I don't know that... I've never needed to know that..." and there are those who try to work through the problems and seem enthusiastic about learning the solution. Which of those two would you rather interact with on a daily basis?

    -m
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 30, 2007 @01:58PM (#18930129) Homepage
    What Google wants are people who won't ask questions like this:
    • How can you justify a P/E of 47 when your basic business, search, is a mature industry?
    • Is there still a separation between editorial and advertising at Google?
    • Is revenue per employee going up or down?
    • Is any product line other than search making money?
    • Is the capital investment in new data centers really paying off?
    • Do you think the DoubleClick merger violates the Clayton Act? Why or why not?
    • The building we're in used to be occupied by SGI. What did they do wrong?

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