My Google Interview

In early June I was contacted by a Google recruiter to ask if I was interested in applying for an engineering role at Google. She had found me based on my Stackoverflow profile. The position she was recruiting for was in Mountain View, California.

Reasons Not to Apply

I had never considered applying to Google for several reasons.

The first is that I’m not a US citizen and I don’t have a green card. This means I would need a visa. For most people, this means the employer needs to sponsor you for a H-1B visa, which anyone familiar with them will tell you is a huge pain. Most employers simply aren’t interested or at least that’s my perception. I guess the larger employers will have the scale and in-house counsel to make this viable.

Many US employers don’t actually know that it’s far, far easier to employ Australians than any other nationality. In fact it’s almost as easy as employing Canadians. Much like the TN (NAFTA) visa, Australians have the E-3 visa but most people don’t know this and employers tend to assume you need a H-1B. US Employers take note: the process for employing Australian nationals is easy.

The second reason I never considered applying to Google is perhaps another misperception on my part. My view was that Googlers seem to fit a particular profile. That profile is of being a graduate of a top school (think Stanford, UW or MIT), typically in their mid to late 20s. That’s not to say all fit this profile but your path is certainly a lot easier if this is you. Again, I’m not claiming this is the case but it certainly was my perception.

The third reason is that Google uses C++. They also use Python, Java and JavaScript but C++ is my particular point of contention. It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve used C++ in anger. Personally I consider it a horrible language. I will go so far as to call it an abomination.

Others have argued this far better than I could, most notably Linus Torvalds, addressing it in 2007 and 2010. Suffice it to say I find C to be a far more elegant and easy-to-understand language for low-level programming.

You could argue that Java and Python can be used by many (most?) Googlers and it’s a reasonable position but one that I don’t think is correct based on my limited experience. More on this later.

Reasons to Apply

The timing of being contacted was somewhat strange and somewhat timely.

In April, a story blew up on Hacker News, proggit and elsewhere concerning an employee leaving Mahalo for Yahoo. Jason Calacanis (CEO of Mahalo) said some perhaps rash things, which the employee foolishly posted to his blog (soon thereafter taken down but you can’t put the genie back in the bottle). More here.

Jason tweeted about this. Entrepreneur-turned-VC Mark Suster chimed in, most notably with Never Hire Job Hoppers. Never. They Make Terrible Employees. This predictably caused an uproar in all the usual places.

My view is Mark makes some good points but it’s too hardline. Let me give you some examples of why.

I started out doing contract (short term) work because that’s all I could get. This all began with doing Perl CGI programming for an ISP that I was a telephone support person for and quickly transitioned into doing full-time programming (elsewhere). This was in part due to the fact that I was studying for my undergraduate degree part-time (so didn’t qualify for graduate programs), partly due to my location (most Australian companies are headquartered in Sydney in Melbourne so programming employment opportunities are disproportionately low in population terms in Perth) and partly due to timing (the early to mid-90s were a still a post-recession period).

Little did I know that this would brand me to some extent a contractor for life. In many organization contractors are viewed as some combination of second-class citizen (eg I worked at one place that didn’t give internet access to contractors), necessary evil and disloyal mercenary. Most importantly, they are expendable and first to go in tough times. This last part of it I’m fine with because I viewed it as the ultimate meritocracy: you’d stay employed as long as you were valuable.

In 2001 I moved to London, England and found this anti-contractor sentiment to be even more prevalent, which surprised me no end. So the cycle continued.

Stays at various companies varied from 3 months to 3 years (on two occasions; one ending when the company fired all contractors and half the salaried staff due to financial woes and the other ending when the company was acquired and it became clear the software’s future was limited).

But in this time I’ve been screwed over more times than I can recount.

I’ve had a client threaten to sue and terminate a contract leaving months unpaid simply as a tactic to avoid paying. I’ve been denied payments by a recruitment agent I was entitled to simply because it was too expensive and time consuming (for me) to pursue legal action. I’ve been thrown under the bus in a political move by a manager who had a project going south and was looking for a scapegoat so his boss wouldn’t fire or replace him. I’ve had someone promise to pay only later realizing they were hiding behind an offshore shelter and never had any intention of paying. The list goes on.

All in all I’ve probably lost $50,000 to $100,000 over the years from this kind of thing so when Mark (or anyone) likens this to a lack of loyalty, it’s fair to say it pisses me off.

That’s not to say I’ve never done anything on reflection I probably shouldn’t have but hey we all make mistakes. I’ve never intentionally screwed anyone over this way.

Perhaps the most erudite and eloquent take on this issue came from one of my favourite bloggers, Giles Bowkett, in Job-Hopping:

Sorry, tangent. Point is, a job-hopper is like Larry King. Larry King's about to have his 8th divorce. He has all these women asking him to marry them, he marries them, it doesn't work out, he moves on to the next one. I don't know Larry King and I wish him the best, but to me, it sure looks like every time he gets married, he's settling. If that wasn't the way it was, he would have fought to keep at least oneof those marriages intact. And that's kinda what's going on if you're a job-hopper. It means the companies want you bad, but you could care less about the companies. I hate to side with the VCs here, but if they want you more than you want them, maybe it means you need to aim higher.

I’ve spent too many years writing bullshit business software, wading through pointless process (eg spending a day in meetings to remove a comma; no I’m not kidding) and doing other brain dead nonsense. I’m tired of it. I’ve had enough. I’ve reached the point that I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s time to make a change even though I’m not exactly sure what that change is yet. It’s reached the point where I’d rather work for nothing on something remotely interesting than do this one more day.

So this had been percolating in my brain. To bring this back to Google, that’s why I say the timing was strange. The project I’d been working on (which was turning into another that was running out of money) was on hiatus and I was looking to do something different.

So I said yes I would apply.

Telephone Interviews

Let me first say it was hard to speak to them on the phone. By some quirk of geography, Mountain View, California and Perth, Western Australia and 16 hours apart (Perth is 16 hours ahead), which really limited times when they were at work and I was awake.

The recruiter told me there would be a couple of phone interviews over the next couple of weeks. I had one the next week that went through a couple of questions.

Note: for this and the on-site interviews I’m not going to reveal the exact content. For the on-sites I signed an NDA but more importantly (at least to me) I said I wouldn’t.

All I’ll say is that Google’s position seems to be that they want to assess your knowledge of computer science fundamentals and problem solving ability. If you Google “google interview questions” you’ll find the kind of problem that require some kind of recursive or other divide-and-conquer type technique. This makes sense and this theme gelled with my experience overall.

I got through two questions even though I stumbled somewhat through the second. I was trying to visualize the solution and that was the problem. As soon as I took a piece of paper and drew a diagram the solution was obvious. That’s just me: I like to whiteboard/diagram rather than trying to mentally visualize.

It took until next week to hear back. I’d been expecting a second phone screen. As it turned out they wanted to arrange a series of on-site interviews at their office in Sydney. I took this as a good sign: apparently I didn’t require a second idiot test.


My field guide for this was Steve Yegge’s Get that job at Google. It’s good advice, not just for Google but for also being a well-rounded programmer.

Like I said, I’ve spent a lot of time writing bullshit business software. Frankly my day-to-day usage of graphs, dynamic programming and balanced trees is, well, almost nonexistent. So it was time to brush up. And brush up I did.

I did some thinking about Steve’s post being over two years old. The one thing missing from this is language theory (compilers, grammars, lexing/parsing and so on). Since Steve’s post Google has added:

  • V8: a Javascript engine;
  • Go: programming language; and
  • Unladen Swallow: an LLVM port of CPython aimed at hugely speeding it up.

So I concluded language theory is important but luckily I’d been doing that anyway as part of my (sadly stalled) Markdown project.

On-Site Interviews

A couple of weeks later I was flown to Sydney for 4 hours of back-to-back interviews. It’s been some years since I’ve been in Sydney so this was enjoyable anyway.

I am primarily a Java developer, more by circumstance than planning. I transitioned to Java in the late 90s from doing Perl, C and C++. Since then I’ve dabbled in many languages including Javascript, C#, Haskell, Ruby, Python, PHP and others.

The first problem I encountered was that at least two of my interviewers had only passing or no familiarity with Java. This made it particularly difficult as some concepts are unique to one language.

But everyone knew C++. I’ve read about this before. This combined with my own experience now leads me to believe that C++ isn’t optional for any Google applicant. Not because you need to use it to work there. I have no direct experience of this. But because of “interviewer lottery”. Some at Google (it seems) do nothing but C++. You might be interviewed by one of these people.

I had to write several code segments on a whiteboard. This I expected and was fine with. I realize this is necessary (see Why Can't Programmers.. Program? and The Non-Programming Programmer) and have no problem with it but it depends on what kind of problem you ask. Simple is usually best.

Two of the problems I had were extremely finnicky to solve. In one I think the interviewer was understanding and simply wanted to determine if I understand the relevant contract and I could see what the issues were more than coding a completely correct solution (which I appreciated). Another interview got caught short before an efficient solution could be developed and I really don’t think it’s the kind of problem that lends itself to writing a code solution in 40 minute. By this I mean I believe it would be more valuable to speak about the algorithms and problems involved as the code for an efficient solution would be quite complex.

The theme of problem solving and analyzing thought processes remained constant throughout.

For some reason I had expected there would be a lunch break (10-2). There wasn’t. By the end I was mentally exhausted, 3pm (it ran over time) and I hadn’t eaten since the day before. The next day I returned home.


I was told the results would be reviewed and I would hear from them in two weeks.

Two weeks rolled around. A time for a phone call was organized. That phone call was rather short: “strong but not strong enough for this particular position” was the crux of it.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. I’d actually gone into the whole thing fairly neutral to begin with in that I wasn’t mad keen on working for Google but was open to the possibility. But as time went on and I spoke to a few Googlers, I got more excited about it. I started to hope it would work out.

I actually thought the on-sites went quite well and I did expect it to progress to the next level (whatever that would’ve been I’m not sure) but my hopes were dashed.

The recruiter told me no specific feedback would be given (since I asked on what the weaknesses were). The one outright bizarre thing I was told was I was “too Microsoft-centric” (direct quote). Apart from dabbling in C# I haven’t programmed for Windows since Visual Studio 6 in 2000. It made me wonder if they were looking at the right candidate. And if I’m too Microsoft-centric, what is Jon Skeet?


I have obviously been supervised in the workplace, I’ve supervised other developers, I’ve done recruiting for companies and obviously been recruited. An important theme through all of these is the need for feedback. People need to know what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong.

In high school in Western Australia we have (had?) a thing called the TEE (Tertiary Entrance Exams). In year 12 (the last year of high school) you have a set of exames. Your coursework for the year and that exam result is added up with equal weighting (so 50-50), massaged through a bewildering array of scaling formulae and comes out as a score that is used for university admission. In Australia we don’t have the same system as the US of application essays, admissions committees looking at your extracurricular interests and so on. It’s all about that number.

Anyway to prepare for our TEE exams in all my subjects we went through old exam papers. For Maths I did the exam papers for the previous ten years. Our teacher would go through the problems and we could see what we did right and what we did wrong. This was incredibly valuable. Exams may test knowledge but taking exams is also a skill. If you’ve seen how to solve 50 problems and gone through the process of doing so you’re much more likely to be able to apply that knowledge to future problems. There are only so many ways you can state an integral calculus problem on an exam paper.

The Soviet Union dominated the chess world for much of the twentieth century. The Russian approach was to teach students Chess through old games.

When I got to university this all changed. You couldn’t keep the exam paper. Previous exam papers were never examined. Your exam was never given back to you so you could see what you got right and what you got wrong. The exam problems were never solved in class so you could see the right and wrong ways to go about it. This was probably so lecturers could reuse papers year after year rather than writing new papers but ultimately I considered it then (and still consider it) a failing.

Recently I did a Masters degree (in quantitative finance) and found it to be even worse: there were deliberate holes in your lecture notes about applying that knowledge to particular problems and you could bet those would be what shows up in the exam.

Why I consider this a failing is that if you’re truly meant to learn something you should concentrate on (and be told) what you don’t know, what you got wrong.

This is what I mean by feedback.

I don’t even know what position I was applying for. I don’t know what the requirements were. I don’t know what my perceived strengths and weaknesses were. So while I enjoyed much of the actual process it did require a significant time investment and the value proposition for me, as a candidate, is very low. I’ve been told that my application may be reevaluated in a year. The recruiter told me they’d like to keep me on file. I don’t know if this means anything but I’m assuming not simply because it’s the kind of “let’s still be friends” lip service companies tend to offer candidates.

One person asked if I would reapply. My inclination at this point is to say “no”. This might still be the disappointment talking (and I am disappointed) but a year is a long time. The timing worked out well this time around but the likelihood of it doing so a year from now are, well, unlikely. Taking a few days off to interview again for a low value proposition from the process may very well be hard to justify. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I tend to be free as I am now by choice rather than circumstance. It’s simply a question of finding something that doesn’t bore me shitless.


This has been a long post (now over 3,000 words), worthy of the best of Steve Yegge in length if not content.

My view of Google has changed. I don’t have the same view of Google being a Mecca for Ivy-shrouded twentysomethings. It does seem like they really are interested in talent in many forms.

But the process does seem to be a lottery to some extent. I don’t know what the selection criteria is but it wouldn’t surprise me if 4 (or even all 5) of your 5 interviewers need to give you a thumbs up for you to go on. This may represent the “anarchic” (even haphazard) culture of Google itself. I really don’t know.

I do get the impression that references from Googlers count for a lot.

I’ve read that Google receives some 1,500 CVs a day and they do on-site interviews for less than 1% of these so perhaps I should be flattered and should just take the experience for what it was. To some extent I do. I’m simply not sure I feel the need to repeat it next year.


Tim Cederman said...

That sounds about par for the course. Apparently you get scored by each interviewer, and it's your aggregate score that takes you to the next stage. Even then you're not in the clear though as you've got to go through hiring committee and executive hiring committee.

Google gets a lot of stick for this process, but it's practiced on a slightly more informal basis by a lot of top tier companies. I completely agree that they could do a lot better with their feedback and expectations.

Anonymous said...

It's a big process designed to stroke egos of Googlers and convince them that they are the top minuscule percentile of programmers out there. Sure, some of the top coders are at Google, but overall they fare no better than say, Microsoft.

Gayle Laakmann said...

So I'm an ex-Google engineer, was on their hiring committee, author of "Cracking the Coding Interview" and now advise people on getting jobs at tech companies via my business

I worked with Steve Yegge at Google (same hiring committee actually) and we agreed and disagreed on a lot of interviewing / hiring things. A lot of his advice in that blog post is good, but a lot of it is, well, a distraction.

Dijkstra, A*, AVL trees, NP completeness? Please... Never seen it asked. Never. Even if it *were* asked by some silly interviewer, the hiring committee would likely disregard the interviewer's feedback.

If you come from a strong CS background (and you probably do, if you have any shot of a google offer), there probably aren't very many specific topics you need to really study. What you need is practice.

Go through sample interview questions for Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other companies (really - any of them work - they all ask very similar if not the same questions). CareerCup has thousands of these questions (shameless, plus I know :)).

Practice writing code on paper (NOT on a computer) and type in exactly as-is into a computer.

Then, if you need to refresh your memory on specific topics, by all means, do that.

There are a ton more tips I could give on this, but don't have time to regurgitate an entire book. :)

Gayle Laakmann said...

To respond to some specific comments:

1) Totally sucks that Google doesn't give feedback when someone doesn't get an offer. I agree. It's basically the policy at every major tech company in my experience, but I too think it's stupid.

2) As far as the comment that you're too "too Microsoft-centric", I wouldn't read too much into that. After all, Google hires a ton of Microsoft devs. More likely, it was probably one offhanded comment that one person in the HC (hiring committee) made, that the recruiter just happened to jot down. I find it very unlikely that that had anything to do with not getting hired.

3) I think Google uses more Java than C++. At least that was what I saw.

4) @Tim There's no one score that takes you to the next round. Each interviewer score is used as a way of assessing what their words really mean. Example:
* Mary says: "Candidate was decent, but struggled in some areas."
* Bob says: "Candidate was pretty good but made some mistakes."
Who liked the candidate more? Who knows! "Pretty good" implies better than "decent", but then people use different language.

Now let's say Mary gave the candidate a 3.3 / 4.0 and Bob gave the candidate a 3.1 / 4.0. We still don't know who liked the candidate more.

But, let's say that these were their more recent scores:
Mary: 2.1, 2.3, 3.0, 3.2, 3.2, 3.4, 3.5
Bob: 1.9, 2.2, 2.3, 2.3, 2.9, 3.0, 3.0

Now, we have a pretty good feeling for who liked the candidate more: Bob (he's just a harder grader).

This is all the score is really used for. It's not a sole measure - it's just used as a way to interpret your words by comparing it against your other candidates.

5) About the whole "but I'm a contractor not a job hopper", I don't think people are considering contractors job hoppers. Totally different things.

Anyway, glad to see that you didn't have too negative of an experience interviewing with Google. There's a lot of misconceptions floating around, and really, the interview process and questions aren't much different from what you see at Microsoft, Amazon or similar companies.

R Sutaria said...

Two years ago, I had been contacted by a Google recruiter and was asked to interview with them for a PSO position. I did two rounds of interviews on phone and was then asked to come in for an on-site at their MV office on Amphitheater Parkway.

The ending of my story was not very different from what you experienced. It was the classical "we'll be keeping your resume on-file".

Recently, I had come across this blog post:

and honestly, what cdixon says makes complete sense to me. I have worked independently for one year and it was super productive for me.

Paul G has also written a seminal article on joining large companies:

Once the concept behind this thinking is internalized, I doubt if any engineer would ever fret over not being able to get into a large technology company.

Anonymous said...

For the record, when they say they'd like to keep you on file, they probably mean it. It's been a number years since my first interview cycle and I just got invited back for a second cycle earlier this week. Coincidentally, I did much better on my stage 1 screening and was a lot more realistic with my 1-to-10 self-rating.

Anonymous said...

Although I have an Android phone, Fuck google.

Unknown said...

What did you mean by UW as a top school?

William Shields said...

My impression (which may be incorrect) is that UW is highly regarded for computer science. Perhaps this is an artifact of the 90s when joining Microsoft was so highly sought after and may no longer be the case.

I do see UW pop up a lot on the CVs of high-profile programmers however.

Gayle Laakmann said...

Not sure I'd throw UW (University of Washington) in with Stanford and MIT, but it's certainly a top 10 school for CS. The most highly regarded schools are probably Stanford, MIT, CMU and UIUC, that order (MIT and Stanford might be swapped).

Unknown said...

Ah. I am a BCS undergrad at University of Waterloo. I was hoping you were talking about that UW. From what I understand it is the best CS school in Canada but maybe its weak globally.

Anonymous said...

I also got an email this week, if I don't want to reapply. I have my own company now.

I skipped the telephone interviews the first time, but failed to some jerk onsite. The first question he was asking me at the end was if I would be joining google because of the money. That was 3 years ago, just after finishing university. I guess it takes some luck to get accepted. I was told at that time that I could reapply, like 1 month later. As if I would apply every month.

Anonymous said...

Replying to myself just above. That doesn't mean I will never reapply in the future. There are still problems you can tackle at google you can do nowhere else, that's what makes it so interesting to work for them. (And I don't talk about gmail, chrome, etc..)

Michael Clark said...

Thanks for this article. It resonates with me as I was kept on hold by Google for about three months during the interview process. Everything appeared to be going brilliantly then there was a space of two weeks where I heard nothing.

I called my recruiter and all she said was "I'm sorry but we won't be offering you this position". Obviously they had found someone better suited to the role but I feel, like you, that they could provide feedback so that I can improve on whatever aspect they found detrimental to my application.

This leaves you worrying about all aspects of yourself. I found the experience strengthened me as a person but, if you do not have confidence in yourself as a programmer, the uninformed rejection could be devastating to your career. If I find myself in a hiring position I will try to provide detailed feedback to each candidate (probably using a unit tested Java programming task as a first level of screening to reduce the candidates to those I care about).

All the best and thanks again for this excellent account.

Anonymous said...

Which WA Uni did you go to? I went to Curtin and the library had all the previous exam papers available as well as giving us our marked exam papers back to us. I'm just wondering which Uni you are talking about.

Also, thankyou very much for the good overview of the rigmarole a Perthican can expect if being interviewed by Google.

Tom said...

Regarding ... ""For the record, when they say they'd like to keep you on file, they probably mean it.""

It is a *legal* requirement for companies to keep applications/resumes on file for a set period of time. When they say "we'd like to keep you on file" what they really mean is "we're legally required to keep you on file, but we're going to pretend we're doing it because of something related to you as a person or prospect."

They don't choose to keep records, they are required to.

Anonymous said...

@Tom that said, they weren't legally obligated to circle back with me three years later on a lark.

Chris said...

I like that you pointed out that they don't even tell you what team/job/app you are being looked at for. To me, that kills it right off (I ran into this same thing when I first started talking to Google, and between that and no telecommuting, I told them no). Maybe it's ok if you're fresh out of school and all you care about is "getting to work for Google", but for those of us who've had a few jobs (or more), I think we realize how important it is to know the other team members, what product it is, etc. For me, I want to be excited about the product I'm working on - I don't just want to be a cog putting in hours. I also want to be sure I mesh with the team (and I would have thought they would want this as well).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the 3k words... good stuff. And while not in the habit of touting my UW undergrad in the company of Stanford-MIT-CMU-ites I did have to chime in and say, Go Dawgs.

William Shields said...

@Anonymous I went to UWA originally. Well, started at least. :) Ended up finishing at RMIT but that's another story...

@Chris as for not telling you the team, I think to appreciate that you have to understand a little of how Google works. At least this is the picture I gathered. Those that work(ed) there can confirm or deny it.

Basically it is somewhat up to the new employee to "find their way" and gravitate to what they want to work on and are qualified to work on. This can be very different to blue chip programming work.

That's not to say you can work on whatever you like but there is a lot more latitude than you might expect from working elsewhere.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post William.

I could relate to it in so many ways. Starting from the non-U.S citizenship, the non-Ivy league CS school and the contracting gigs.

I've interviewed with a few companies in the valley and have had similiar experiences. A few years ago, I published a book for one of the big tech publishers. I thought this would make it easier to get a 'permanent job'. No such thing. Phone screens, interviews. I simply went on 'WTF mode' when they said 'they'd keep me on record for future positions'. Damn I thought, landing a job in the valley was next to impossible without 'connections'.

Also read Mark's post on job hopping and needless to say his words on independent contract consultants also pissed me off. These type of people that demand loyalty and track records are EXACTLY the same people that will throw you 'under the train' to save a few pennies

I've also been burned doing contract in the ways you mention. But I've come to a point where I'm pretty sure doing contract work has shaped in such a form that it will be very difficult to transition into a 'permanent job', where politics, manuvering and management are even more demanding.

Anyways, if you've survived contracting for this long, you should in great shape.

Gayle Laakmann said...

@William and @Chris: I agree with William. It's not that you're stuck on an awful team after you join. It's more like you get the freedom to pick whatever you want to do. In terms of your goals of working with people you enjoy and on a project you enjoy, it's actually much easier to get this at Google. At Google, you'll truly know what you're getting yourself into because you can interact with them (and ask other people) outside of the interview process. At other companies, you meet your team only while interviewing, which may not be a truthful reflection of their personalities.

Anonymous said...

At what point did you actually have to sit down next to someone and code? Oh right you didn't. Google does not do this and most companies don't and that is why they mis-hire.

Programming on paper or on the whiteboard is no substitution for sitting down and actually pair-programming for 4-6 hours. You can't memorize your way out of that you either have to put up or shut-up. I would never trust a company to be hiring the right talent if they do not do this.

Florian said...

You could consider breaking out of that fixed lifetime/skill vs. money job formula and choose to make better use of your resources (skill, time, wealth, assets etc.)

Where there's a chance you might accrue wealth and collect interest on what you build up, instead of helping somebody else do that for himself by making you work for him.

Tarandeep Singh said...

> I don’t know what the selection criteria is but it wouldn’t surprise me if 4 (or even all 5) of your 5 interviewers need to give you a thumbs up for you to go on.

I`ll answer this: All 5 need to show you a green signal. Green signal means every1 agrees that your are "good or great". Here's my google Interview experience:

Hussein Baghdadi said...

Excellent post William, thanks for sharing.
In the past two years, Google interviewed me twice (the second one was in the last month) and I have been rejected twice.
What is really upsetting me is they don't tell you why you have been rejected.
I don't hold M.S or PhD degree (with exceptional academic achievement as they stated).
If I don't match their criteria, why they contacted me twice?!

Gayle Laakmann said...

@Tarandeep All 5 of your interviewers do NOT need to give you a thumbs up (there is no actual "thumbs up" / green signal, but moving on...). Many people get hired with one person disliking them.

@Hussein Most of Google has only a bacehelor's degree. It sounds like you match their criteria, but you aren't doing well enough in their interviews.

And again, as much as people love talking about the oh-my-god-scary Google interviews, they're no different than Microsoft or Amazon's. Read Debunking the Google Interview Myth:

Or, compare Microsoft and Google interview questions on Same stuff.

Hussein Baghdadi said...

The first interview was on the phone accompanying a Google doc sheet and a problem to solve, I could did it wrong, no argument here.
But in the last month interview, Google just send to me that they are interested in me and they asked three questions (not technical questions).
After two weeks Google send to me their ready to use rejection template (they don't have position that is a strong match with my qualification).
It was just annoying ...

Chief Editor said...

William, thanks for sharing your experience, worthy reading.
@Gayle: Thanks for sharing your insights/thoughts, much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

As a Noogler, I had nearly the same experience with you. After my on-site interviews, there was a 3-month space before I was required to provide stuffs to continue the hiring process.

Anonymous said...

The no feedback policy is pretty standard for most US companies as they are afraid of litigation. There are numerous cases where the feedback given after an interview process has been the basis for the applicant to sue the company that didn't hire him/her. You should complain to those people as they have spoiled it for you as opposed to the Googles of this world.

William Shields said...

I've heard this story about "afraid of being sued" several times. What I'd like to hear is an actual case brought against a company (not an educational institution or government department) for post-interview feedback.

The problem I think is that lawyers get involved. When you involve lawyers you can't do anything. I would really like to know if these fears are in any way founded.

Sam152 said...

Small world! I live in WA too. I'm pretty proud that #4 on SO lives in the same State as me.

Anonymous said...

This was very interesting to read; thank you so much for writing!

Personally I think that you should shrug it off and apply again.

You are clearly remarkably intelligent and talented. Good luck.

Sparks said...

I’ve gone through the interview process twice now with Google (once in 2007 and once in 2010), and since the more information out there for those undergoing pre-Google-Interview stress, the better, I wrote it up:

Anonymous said...

Is the markdown project stalled and not dead? If so, any hope of you coming back to it? Because it was interesting to follow.

Frank said...

Small world, it's been 5 years since I left Perth contracting world. Moved to London. In hindsight, working in Perth is real hard work due to the small market and low pay. Everyone looks to the Australian "lifestyle", but the reality at DOJ was unpaid overtime and long hours. Wouldn't go back easily.. Best

Anonymous said...

At least you guys get an answer, albeit a No. Mine's been 6 months with no answer. Despite the "Your interview result came back very solid" confirmation and "I'll get back to you soon".

Somehow, it always takes at least a month and 3 follow-up emails, to get a one-liner reply from HR. After which, she'd disappeared again for another 2 months and I had to send 3 follow-up emails again. Always like that every time.

Does Google not train their HR to not treat people like dirt?

Anonymous said...

Help ! Does anyone know how long Google takes to revert back with a Go or a No Go decision. I interviewed @ Google for a non-technical role. I had about 6 interviews and 1 final interview about 4 weeks back. I still have not heard back from them (I sent reminders to the HR twice). Should I begin to get worried ?

Anonymous said...

I would call them directly if possible. I had to e-mail/call my HR contact several times before getting an e-mail pertaining to my interview that was promised a week back. They appear to be pretty busy.

Unknown said...

Interesting read. Stackoverflow rocks :)

Alex said...

"I work for Google in New York City."

Looks like you got a job with them after all :)


Unknown said...


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