We at Everyday Interview Tips try to bring you innovative tips and strategies to help you succeed at your job interview. Part of that involves actually understanding the inner workings of a job interview. We do this by sitting down with people that recently completed job interviews and seeing what their experiences were like.
Today we sit down with Ron M., an engineer that recently got a job with Google. Ron is an avid sports fan, and prides himself on his ability to eat 15 tacos in five minutes, having competed in a few contests in Mexico.
Why did you apply to Google?
It’s a large tech company with a good corporate culture, and it is easy to tell that the company itself is fundamentally sound with good growth potential and national recognition. Also, the employees are younger, which makes it more welcoming.
What types of interviews did you experience with Google?
I had two interviews. The first interview was with a project manager who was only a few years older than me. Then I went to the second interview and met with those underneath the project manager. It wasn’t a traditional second interview because they were looking specifically for a team member, instead of simply if I fit within Google itself. The people I interviewed with were young – some even younger than me.
Was there anything unique about your Google job interview that different from other job interviews you had in the past?
They asked me what my passions are with regard to technology. For example, they asked me if I was a gamer, and they asked me what types of technology products I used. They asked me what I liked about their platform (including criticisms). They’re very into the idea of open source, so that played a role in the job interview. They asked me my background as well, so I got to tell them about my experiences with China, among other places, which ends up playing a role in my work. It was pretty clear that they were interested in finding people passionate about technological growth.
How confident were you before and after your job interview?
Before the interview I was not very confident because my engineering experience was in business and construction, and this was going to be much more technical. For example, everything they use is Linux based, and I had little experience with non-Microsoft based platforms. Afterward though I was pretty confident because it was clear they considered training a big part of their program, and I was pretty sure I’d be able to utilize the technologies.
Can you think of any particularly difficult or interesting interview questions you were faced with?
I was pretty prepared going in because I had a good idea of what types of interview questions Google asks at their interviews. Most were non-traditional. They asked me technical questions, and since I hadn’t developed much in the past, I had to admit that I had little experience, but I did emphasize that I was a quick learner. Overall, I wouldn’t say there were any interview questions that were particularly difficult, since they were looking for more of a personality. I’ve heard of people going to Google job interviews for as long as six months with five or 6 interviews, but those are for more senior level positions.
As far as interesting questions go, they asked me “Do you have an iPhone?” and I didn’t have one, so they asked me “What would you rather be using?” I’m planning on adopting a Google Android phone eventually but I can see the reasoning behind getting an iPhone. I don’t know, that was one of the interesting ones for me.
Do you think you would have been punished for having an iPhone?
No, I don’t think so. They were just trying to get your thought process on how and why you have certain products and merchandizing. They want to see your thought process behind your technological choices. They also like to see if you take chances with your technology, if you pay attention, etc. They want to make sure you can defend your technology choices, not just follow technology like a sheep.
What did you do to prepare for your Google job interview?
I knew their culture was not the suit and tie one, so I went dressed in jeans, a button shirt, and a blazer even though it was clear that I was overdressed when I walked inside of the office. I actually brought a tie but then I took it off before I entered the building when I saw the employees leave. I tried to make sure I was prepared to explain everything I had done in my previous job and get ready to answer interesting questions. Really, since Google job interviews are based on questions being unexpected, I had to prepare for the unexpected.
I also read Fortune Magazine and researched their background, read interviews of Sergei and Larry (the founders) so that I could be knowledgeable of the corporation from the start, since the people that get hired for the positions shared a lot of the same beliefs as the founders.
Was there anything specifically interesting about your job interview?
They sat me down in this giant conference room that could have fit like 100 people, but it was just me and the interviewer. It was intimidating. They claimed they did not do it on purpose, and I sort of believe them now that I have seen other job interviews take place, but at the time I thought it was designed to be intimidating.
If there is any advice you have for people about to attend a Google job interview (or technical job interview, what would it be?
It’s not a suit and tie culture, but you should probably bring a tie, but be prepared to take it off and use it for something other than a tie. This is not your grandfather’s company. Don’t be surprised to see a project manager skateboard in, or start work your first day and have a coworker call you “Dude” all the time. It’s just a strange corporate culture now – a great corporate culture, but strange nonetheless. The best way to come prepared is to expect the unexpected. With Google, specifically, be prepared to defend all of your technology choices, even if you are an Apple fanboy. Google wants people that are innovative, and their questions reflect that.