What I learned interviewing with Google
In the beginning
So, a few months ago I had a Google employee ask me if I was
interested in joining their team. As I said, I’m super happy with what
I’m doing at the moment but I didn’t want to turn down the chance to
interview or even work for Google. I happily passed along my resume and
that was the end of that for about 5-6 months.
Cut to about 3 weeks ago, I received an email from a Google recruiter asking if I was interested in a software engineer job down in Boston. I told her I was and we arranged a phone interview.
At this point I was really excited because its always been a bit of a dream of mine to work for Google but I have always assumed two things:
- Google only hires those with an educational background in Computer Science
- Google only hires people with a well versed background in many programming languages.
So, needless to say I wasn’t as well versed in some algorithms and big O as someone who spent 4 years in Comp Sci but I have a pretty good handle on the languages I do know.
The First Interview
The first interview was over the phone with a Google HR rep. It was a fairly quick 20 minute interview where I talked about what sort of projects I liked to work on, what langages were my favourite and my background in both employment and schooling. I also told her I’d be willing to move down to Boston but would love a spot at their Waterloo office (which is about a 1.5 hour drive from Toronto). She told me they primarily hire strong C++ and Java developers, something which I have very little experience with. After I talked about how much I enjoyed front end devleopment, she said that I would be a good fit for a spot in their waterloo office.
We arranged to do two interviews in one day in about a week and a half. The HR rep sent over an email with some guidelines and things to brush up on which included comp sci 101 things such as sorting algos, hash tables, binary trees and so on. I was familiar with a few things on the list, but I definitely had to do a lot of reading in the week and a half before my interview.
Meeting with Google engineers and coding on a whiteboard
I left after that feeling that I totally slam dunked parts of the interview and bombed other parts.
Whew, its over.
A few days later I got a call from the HR person at Google and she told me in the nicest way possible that I wasn’t a fit for the position. She said she would keep me in mind for future positions, which is nice whether they meant it or not
Coming out of this I’m not particularly bummed out, it was a fantastic experience to interview with Google, I’m honoured they had me come in and interview; its something I never would have thought would happen to me. I still have a really awesome job where I work on some really awesome projects and I have an incredible drive to keep learning more about web development. To sum it up what I learned in a few points:
- Even if you aren’t a leet C++ or Java dev, Google still takes interest
- Coding Chops > Comp Sci degree
- A Comp Sci degree is very helpful when trying to explain Hash tables, Vectors and Big O
- Always be hustlin’ A few years ago I would have never of though I would be interviewing at google just 9 months fresh out of school. Anything can happen.