An interview with Google

A few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to start writing my blog again.  I have not done a good job because in the last month.  I have written exactly zero posts.  Here goes my second attempt of starting up the blog this year.

Today I had a job interview with Google.  I do not have a lot of interview experience in fact this was my fourth real job interview I have ever had, so I was excited.

As some background information about the Google interview process (as much as I know).  There are usually 1-2 technical interviews over the phone.  The phone interviews last for 45 minutes where the interviewer asks between one and three questions.  If the interviewer(s) like you enough, they send you out to the GooglePlex to have some hardcore interviews.

The interview that I had was a 45-minute technical interview over the phone.  I will start by saying that I do not feel that I did exceptionally good in the interview.  I do not feel as if I really did good or bad.  I mean, I did both, but neither was overwhelming.

I was extremely anxious when the interview started.  In fact, I felt anxious for the preceding 27 hours as well, starting at about 8:00 AM the day before.  I am not sure why I was so nervous, because I felt very confident about my knowledge.  Anyway, my nervousness was apparent at the start of the interview.  We started our discussion with me introducing myself and explaining what I like about Google and why I want to work there.  I feel that because I was nervous, I rambled a little bit during this phase.  My answers were along the lines of me liking google because they have the ability to help many people and they were the first person to challenge Microsoft and try to make the entirety of computing a better place.  I also explained that one of the ways they had done this was with the Google Apps / Google Docs services making collaboration so much easier than it has ever been.

After my ramble, my interviewer asked me my first technical question.  I am not going to say exactly what it was, because Google has asked me not to.  The question was pretty simple recursion with the only requirement that I could only write one method.  I felt very confident and said I understood what was asked.  I received some method stubs told that I should just expect to work and told which method to start writing code in.  I started down the path of recursing with a Stack and explaining what I was thinking.  After about 5 minutes my interviewer said, “You don’t need to use that Stack, I said you could write one additional method”.

Crap.  I had misunderstood the question.  I thought that I could write only the one method that was stubbed out…  I wasted six or seven minutes coding up a simple problem because I was dumb, then worse (I think now) I deleted my work and did it the other way.  Unfortunately for me, my research has taught me that one of the most important things to do in a Google interview is to ask for clarification and not code until you understand.  I changed the way I was writing my code and finished up the problem.

When my interviewer was satisfied, he asked me about debugging some different things and what additional code I would add to a problem to make it traceable.  I felt like I gave some reasonable answers and talked out my reasoning.

When I was finished with the debugging, the interviewer told me that I was done with his questions and that there was only about 14 minutes left and we did not have time for any more questions.  I was bummed because I felt like I could have turned the interview around with one more question.  We spent the next 10 minutes chatting about culture and company life at Google before my time was up.


The takeaway: I feel like this interview was good for me.  I do not think that they will call me back this time but I did learn a lot.  I learned that there is NO reason to be nervous.  I wanted to succeed.  The interviewer wanted me to succeed.  The recruiter that emailed me earlier wanted me to succeed.  EVERYBODY wants me to succeed.  I now have another job interview under my belt and I will take this experience with me for the next time Google lets me try and any other company that will give me a shot.


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