Google interview process

What’s the best way to drive traffic to your blog these days? … Write an entry about your Google job interview. Recently I’ve found yet another one of those. This one is actually well written and quite interesting, so go read it first. Today, I wanted to focus on another issue, though – if you read comments for this article on Reddit, 90% of them seem to be from people complaining about the number of interviews he had to take. This is counterintuitive. You do NOT want to work for company that hires people after 30 minute chat, simply because there’ll be lots of bad apples there. Google’s process may seem long, but it’s not that bad actually (first you have phone interviews which take maybe 40-50 minutes max, then there’s an on-site visit, which takes one day and consists of several interviews).

(Sidenote: This is a first-hand experience, actually, I wasted my chance to pimp this blog and didn’t write a detailed report, but I had Google interviews as well some years ago… 2 days after the third one, I got hit by a car, self preservation instinct says I shouldn’t apply again).

Why is Google’s process so careful? Because they can. I’d love to have possibility of performing recruitment in similar fashion, but it just doesn’t seem possible in gamedev, not to this extent at least. Companies struggle to get experienced folks as it is. After 50 talks with people, who rate their C++ knowledge at 9, then fail to solve the most basic tasks, someone who actually coded a game before is a Godsend. Dragging him through 8 interviews and risking he’ll go somewhere else doesn’t sound smart. It’s my experience only, but it seems like interviews in mainstream companies are 2 leagues above anything you can encounter in gamedev. Google’s interview is hard, but also interesting and challenging, definitelly something different than the usual: “what have you done before? Oh, nice… Mmm, oh, right, what’s 101011 in decimal? Good. When can you start?”. Beggars cant be choosers. If you’ve more candidates than you can shake your stick at – it’s your right to be extra picky (see old Steve Yegge’s essay how it works for Google [yeah, again]). It mostly boils down to one simple factor: how many people want to work for your company and see it as a privilege, some kind of industry Holy Grail. There are probably GD companies in this kind of luxury situation, but it’s _very _rare. Ironically, in certain aspects, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re picky about your candidates and only employ the best of the best, word will get around and smart people will treat your company as some kind of a “benchmark” (“they only get super smart folks, so if I get there, I’m super smart as well”). Just having an interview, even when you’re not hired (well, especially if you’re not hired, it seems) will become something that’s worth writing a report about. Sure, it will take time and sacrifices, but may pay off in a long term.

Old comments

remigiusz 2008-11-26 13:56:16

Just as a sidenote: Did you ever come across this irrational hatred towards Google by some people who think its fashionable to hate big corporations that are leaders in their markets? (“day without Google” and so on)
I think that to make other people hate Google as well, they should publish a photo of some of Google’s nerds (sory - engineers), with their overweight and glasses and bad haircuts, eating Google’s free food and playing the damn volleyball or guitar hero or whatever in luxurious offices. And this should come with a footnote: “Do you want to pay for this?”.
After reading about this 8-step interview that you linked I’m quite sure that this company is a victim of it’s own success. It’s not a sign of how good Google is as a company - rather a sign of wasting resources and inability to make decisions, that passes unnoticed as long as the money keeps flowing in. Becuase even if they do hire really smart people, this “hire everybody who is smart enough” thing is still a crap of a business strategy.

google | 2008-11-27 14:15:05

[…] Google interview process Write an entry about your Google job interview. Recently Iâ??ve found yet another one of those. This one is actually well written and quite interesting, so go read it first. Today, I wanted to focus on another issue, though â?? if […] […]

raveman 2008-11-28 08:11:57

they have no respect for people’s time. if you cant judge how smart is someone in 1 interview can you do it in 8? i dont think so. so they have no idea what they are doing and just being a-holes, because they can. maybe they are looking for people that have no self-respect and will die for google?

nemanja 2008-11-28 08:20:11

I don’t get this Google fascination. Try to look at it on the other side - if you work for Google already and Google gets 10.000 job applications every month, how easily can you be replaced?
Snap! Just like that.
So it means, as long as you are brave little toaster and you work hard and don’t complain, its all good. If you try to fight for something more or if you ever get into any kind of seamless argument with somebody else, you are out my friend.
You are so easily replacable in a company that everyone wants to work for. In a less popular company, your position is more solid and they can’t get rid of you so easy.
Million dollar question: “do you want to be a servant in heaven or a king in hell?”

Adam 2008-11-28 21:34:14

I’m not exactly sure what “new information” you’re bringing to the table…it’s a simple supply v demand problem. 5 spots for 20,000 applicants? More questions provide more insight into who are the best five. It’s much harder for an applicant to get 100/100 questions right than it is for them to get 5/5 questions right. Is this new news to people?

dz 2008-11-28 21:34:55

It’s not about how brilliant you are! It’s about weeding out the money makers.
Companies that have a disproportionate number of foreign workers also have a lot of hoops to jump through to get employed. The reason is that the DOL (Department of Labor) has rules that companies have to follow in order to hire foreign workers. These rules include proving to a very small degree that they have looked at their fellow Americans and could not find a qualified worker.
Ever wonder why living in Timbuktu Oklahoma, you get calls from Amazon in Seattle every month wanting to interview you? Do they really need to go to Timbuktu, Oklahoma for developers, or are they just trying to satisfy the DOL so they can hire someone from India for half the cost.
Many of these companies (Microsoft, Amazon, Paypal, EBay, etc.) admit getting thousands of resumes for every job they post. Are they telling us that 1 in several thousand programmers (thatâ??s less than .001%) are good enough to work for them? And, if thatâ??s the case, why do these companies still put out heavily flawed software?
But, since that is what these companies they are telling us, it apparently takes a single graduating class from a major university to supply one worker for one company for one year. WOW!

dz 2008-11-28 21:42:35

And I have to ask: “What is with you software developers?”
>> 5 spots for 20,000 applicants?
Then why do we need so many foreign workers? Companies keep saying they can’t find workers in the U.S., U.K., Europe, etc. But they then turn around and tell us they get thousands of “applicants” for every position.

remigiusz 2009-02-24 12:16:08

Well, maybe those 8 interview steps aren’t enough for Google to hire right people :/ No gmail across Europe today :/

jhon 2009-06-25 06:25:27

I interviewed for the associate product manager position at google, you can read it up here

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