More on Google interview

This a follow-up to my previous post about my interview process with Google. Once a post gets as long as that one did, I’m sure to forget to say some things. Rather than updating that post, I thought I had enough new to say to warrant a new post.

First is the picture I got of their development process. There are plenty of other places on the Internet about their development process, so I won’t go into detail about what they told me–it pretty much matches up with the available information. It really sounds like they try to match the amount of process required to the specific project at hand. Projects with a huge public impact have lots of process (Google’s front page, indexing, etc.), while those that are newer and much lower impact (stuff in the Labs section, and even graduates of the Labs) have a much more flexible, agile process, designed to get improvements out the door very quickly. I like that–no mandatory bureaucracy where it doesn’t make sense.

Aside from process, however, it seems that they are very intent on giving developers an environment designed to help them succeed. From what I understood, the company actively tries to remove stupid barriers to productivity (needless paperwork, poor IT, bad workstations) and give you whatever you need to do your job how you think best. Obviously, there are rules and standards, but it just sounded more flexible. It really sounded like an ideal development environment: Obstacles removed, needs granted. Now, how much of that is the official “show” they put on for all interviews, who knows, but Google is obviously doing something right.

Bottom-line is that Google is a company of engineers for engineers. They’re the ones in charge of what the company does. That is a very nice place to be if you love coding.

Also, I should mention that the Google Boston office is MUCH smaller than their Mountain View headquarters. The way things are done, while it will still be “Googly”, will most likely have a different feel and pace than at headquarters. I had read many reports on the web about how people worked late hours, on weekends, and basically sacrificed their lives for the company. I did NOT get that impression in Boston. They were definitely smart and very hard working, but it sounded more like the company was flexible and if you got your work done, who cares? (That’s the way things ought to be done for sufficiently self-motivated employees). I did ask about inordinate over-time (mistake on my part?) and work-life balance and I came away with a satisfactory impression. Whether this means Boston is special, or the accounts I read on the Internet were not representative, I don’t know. Probably a lot of the latter, for sure.

I also wanted to address my final link in my last post. I know it can be a little disappointing to read that kind of post and realize it’s not talking about you, because you’re interviewing for jobs. I wouldn’t take it too literally. Maybe my link text is a little black and white. I think the principle is definitely valid, though. The better you are, the more freedom you have to choose where you work and what you work on and the less chance your going to fall into a company’s hiring process. It’s really more about statistics from a company’s point of view of finding the best, not necessarily for individuals.

Hopefully, that’s all I have to say on the subject, but if you have questions, just leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!

15 thoughts on “More on Google interview

  1. Pingback: Philosophical Geek » My interview experience with Google

  2. OD

    I just had an interview there myself at their NYC office and came out with a similar impression. I haven’t heard from them since then, though. It’s been a week and I am sure Thanksgiving holidays aren’t helping. I too am reasonably happy with my current job and didn’t even expect to pass the phone interview with Google and decided to interview with them out of curiousity. But now I feel if they made me an offer I’d seriously consider it, given that it seemed like a very nice place for a technologist to be in.

    How long did you wait before they got back to you ?

  3. OD

    Ah… just spoke to them. My interview went the same way as yours, more or less, and they ended up rejecting me. They said “Don’t hesitate to apply again in the future, but at this time we are going to pass.”

    Oh, well.

  4. pepethecow Post author

    Ken, no I was not asked any of those questions or anything like them (with the possible exception of #4–which is technical, and I did study it, but was not asked).

    Nearly all the questions were coding/problem-solving specific problems. I think I used the white board for all of them.

    That list you pointed to seems like a compilation of random well-known brain teasers from the Internet–I think I’ve seen all of them at some point. I was asked no brain teasers (not to say someone else won’t be, though)

  5. Pingback: My Interview Experience at Microsoft | Philosophical Geek

  6. Kevin

    I will go for the on-site interview in Google Mountain View soon. And, I am really nervous…When I finished the phone interview, they just told me I passed the phone interview after about 1 hour later!

    After reading your article, I think you’re really well prepared! God, I did not prepare anything! That’s terrible!

    Did they really ask many algorithm related questions and request you to write codes during on-site interview? Did all interviewers ask coding questions?

  7. Ben Post author

    Kevin, to answer your questions: yes and yes. It’s been so long that I’ve kind of forgotten. If I didn’t have to write code exactly, I at least had to come up with pseudo code or algorithms or even just describe an approach. Expect it to be very technical. Good luck!

  8. Kirsten

    We live in Brisbane, Australia. My son is nearly finished school and wants to do programming next year. He’s only 16 so I really would like him to hang around a bit longer before he travels to study, but what institutions are the most respected in the programming world. We know nothing about this industry. Would you have any suggestions for someone his age starting out? He is doing the best he can in our neck of the woods but it would be great if he had some direction to how to get the bigger picture on where he might study in the future.

  9. Ben Post author

    Kirsten, congrats on an ambitious son! I don’t think I have enough space or time to give a very thorough answer, but I’ll try to give a few tips. I don’t think that institutional prestige is the most important thing when it comes to computer programming, at least in my experience. I have a guy on my team who doesn’t have a college degree at all, but no one would deny he really knows his stuff. Some that I know of that are that the top of the field are: Stanford, Carnegi Mellon, MIT. But I didn’t go to any of those and I’ve done just fabulously for myself.

    I think the best thing to do for someone at that age is to jump in and learn as much as he can on his own. Companies are going to look for self-starters, ambitious, smart, able to learn, think on their feet. And, of course, top notch programming skill. Get some good books, find some mentors, but most of all just dive in and learn and DO as much as you can.

  10. vipul

    hello sir
    i am student and learning languages in c,c++,java ,oracle and .net.plz tell me whethe thse are enough to be selected in big companies like google and microsoft.plz tell me name of any book from which i get advantages and other related useful stuff
    thank u

  11. Maris

    what about technical interview for Hardware Engineer at google ?Is it important to learn programming language for hardware Engineers

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