Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Google Interviews Part I- Questions and more

This is a summary of my own experience on interviewing in Google. The process went quite well and lasted for about 40 days. I had 4 phone interviews and then they flew me to the Google Site I had applied to. I had 5 on-site interviews, quite stressful and lengthy to finally reach the bitter end 3 days later, when I was informed that I had the potentials but not matched to the exact expectations of the position.

Either you are into computers, or you are having your own interviews with Google or other major software company or you are just curious, you might find this topic to be at least interesting. Later I will reveal many of the questions they asked me but for what follows I will give my own summary view of this process.

I am sure you have heard for 'weird puzzles' or 'crazy questions' during the interviews (for example how many golf balls fit into a school bus? or how many piano tuners are there in the world?). Well, all these are total nonsense. Google is all about algorithms (Well at least the searhing-Google). If you are planning of preparing for interviews some textbooks on the subject might be a good start. Another good advice would be to check out the data structures and algorithms library available in the programming language of your choice (for example Java Collections Framework or .NET Collections package)

But don't be scared. Googlers are not creatures with extra-terrestrial intelligence. You will talk to people that are great scientists but also to people that are not. You will talk to engineers that honor their title but also to others that are merely mediocre programmers. Google is now a big company and this is inevitable. You will understand what I mean if you keep on reading the next blog posts.

So, a few quick tips would be:
1. Have a strong understanding of algorithms
2. Have a mastery on programming and especially the libraries available (collections)
3. Be calm and inspire confidence
4. Goto 1

These 4 advices are fairly general. You can customize it further for the Google case. For example since Google is a search company you should consider fair questions regarding Regular Expressions.

In summary, it has been a really unique experience. Google is really a great company and probably the best place for software engineers (too bad I couldn't see it my self). During the on-site interviews I had the chance to launch at the in-Google restaurant, which was really amazing, providing dishes literally for any kind of diet. You will also talk to interesting people and if lucky you will meet some of them and talk about subjects you are keen on. It is a challenge worth taking and be prepared to deal with all possible outcomes.

In later blog posts I will give out the entire set of questions they asked me during the interviews. You can find the 1st Google Interview here.I have recorded more than 20 questions but unfortunately I am not free to disclose the questions I was asked on site (I am bound to an NDA-Non Disclosure Agreement) Till then, enjoy your holidays!