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I Didn't Get Hired to Google (googleyasheck.com)
85 points by dominis 285 days ago | hide | past | web | 97 comments | favorite

He made an extensive repository of information on how to get hired at Google[1], gave talks on the subject[2], and studied full time for 8 months[3].

And it's not that he interviewed and didn't get the job...they didn't even let him interview, not even the phone screen. That's pretty rough.




I find quite interesting the trend of "preparing for an interview at company X". I think that, ideally, interviewing should be discovering if there's a match, not set up a challenge for someone to achieve.

Technical interviews should be more about doing due diligence over someone having the knowledge they say they have... not some sort of game people write books on how to train for it...

> Technical interviews should be more about doing due diligence over someone having the knowledge they say they have... not some sort of game people write books on how to train for it...

Yet they aren't, technical interviews are mostly bullshit CS questions which you barely use in day-to-day programming. And it isn't like CS knowledge is all you need to be a good programmer. Technical interviews are exactly what you say they are, a game.

And every game has rules that can be exploited. This guy's mistake was to try and completely break the game, which would have left Google with no alternative but to invent a different game.

I despise these games and people that pass them get all sorts of confirmation bias when they pass the tests.

I remember going through this process for internships and wondering how I was supposed to figure out all of these weird puzzles on the spot. Then I made a few friends and we all just traded questions with each other. We'd spend weeks on the problem and pretended we just figured it out.

I interview engineering candidates at Google, and the process we have is pretty good at letting us (interviewers) see how the candidate thinks, as well as assess their knowledge about algorithms, data structures, and distributed systems, and their programming hygiene, and software design skills. So I'm pretty happy about it.

Also the interviewers are separate from the people making the hiring decision, which I think is a good thing.

I'm not 100% acquainted with the questions Google asks, but in general "knowledge about algorithms, data structures" favours memorisation strongly. In fact, sometimes it is the only option. I think it would be quite a high bar to expect someone to come up with a complex algorithm from scratch in a 60 minute interview for which researchers have needed decades. (Edit: not to mention way harder and more unreliable that just learning it off by heart).

My programming hygiene and software design skills? You can see that more reliably from my Github work, but then recruiters and interviewers almost never take the time to look at that. Instead, we're stuck relying on a shitty test, not years and years of hard work and data, because it's easier for you to evaluate. Good job everybody.

Who has the time to look at you and other millions of candidates' Github repos? Recruiters wouldn't understand them anyway and engineers have more important work to do.

I mean, I can't even try to convince you that our method is good if you aren't acquainted with it but already found flaws in it :)

If you provide comprehensive information on the Google interviewing process, I would be very happy to respond with more certainty. I am only one person who may or may not have gone through the Google process at some stage. But I have (also?) interviewed at other companies, so I was generalising - which I pointed out.

You have quite elegantly avoided saying which parts I got right and which parts I got wrong. In fact, you haven't said anything specific, probably because you aren't allowed to?

If your complaints about the process were meant in a general way, about interviewing in general, I agree with them. I don't think they apply to how we do interviews. I wouldn't be happy about Google's process otherwise, as I want both the company to succeed and to work with great people.

I think I have a poor memory myself, yet I'd say I'm able to design efficient algorithms and evaluate their costs. Of course I wouldn't expect anybody to devise a publication-worthy algorithm within 45min. But most real world problems can be solved by standard algorithm-construction techniques, without any original research nor genius strike. It's part of the skill set of the trade, not something to learn by rote.

About recruiters and interviewers taking time to look at stuff, when I applied they even asked me for a list of all the college courses I had taken. Interviewers are encouraged to look at your past projects and enquire about their technical details.

I'm not convinced evaluating someone based on the quality of their code in GitHub is fair, though. The candidate might have improved their skills since writing that code. Or it could have been originally written by someone else for all I know. Also, not all candidates have been in a position to have code publicly available. Of course, we're not talking about evaluating Chris Lattner types here; that's not the level I interview anyway.

I can definitely see how preparing in such a public way would raise flags at the lower recruiter level.

I can see that...it's almost like corporate stalking. Personally, I don't get the company worship thing...there's plenty of interesting jobs outside of Google, Facebook, etc.

Not only that, if he got the job it would give him "proof" to say "look, my method works... now buy my book!" and a substantial side business.

Perhaps Google doesn't want to encourage this sort of behavior.

The interview's supposed to, in theory, hint at future performance as an employee - too many intensive study guides used by too many candidates, and it'll just end up reflecting how much cramming the candidate did for the interview.

I'm sorry for him, but I can't overlook the poetic justice of him losing a silly game (the Google interview system) that he was inadvertently enabling.

They get an absolutely insane amount of applicants on the few positions they are hiring for, so they don't have the resources to give everyone a fair chance. They need to eliminate a lot of people without spending too much time on them.

An applicant who is an expert on gaming their system is probably scary to allow into the system.

Kind of reinforces how much luck plays a part in recruitment at a scale such as Googles. Makes the "I don't hire unlucky people" trope a bit more relevant.

This seems like so much work for getting a job into one place.

pretty depressing

He instructed people on how to be hired at a company he was never hired at. I don't think I would ever hire someone making claim like that.

That's incorrect. He wrote a blog about what he was personally doing to get hired at Google... he wasn't claiming to teach people how to get hired.

"You can hear me talk about my journey to become a web developer, how I'm working on a career change, and what you need to know to interview at Google." [1]

"This is my multi-month study plan for going from web developer (self-taught, no CS degree) to Google software engineer." [2]

The author presents two conflicting pieces of information. In [1], it seems like he has accomplished this goal of being hired. In [2], he is working towards it and has not clue if anything presented will work.

[1]: https://googleyasheck.com/presenting-at-code-fellows/ [2]: https://github.com/jwasham/google-interview-university

Even a cursory glance at the blog shows that this is his attempt to journal his journey...nothing more. You are splitting hairs.

After poking around a bit more, I see why I incorrectly came to that conclusion. Visiting the About page [1] provides this quote: "I'm publishing this blog to chronicle my long journey to becoming a Google engineer."

Without reading this quote, each post makes it seem like he knows everything about how to get hired. With the quote, each post reads very differently.

[1]: https://googleyasheck.com/about/

Title says: "I Didn't Get Hired. Here's Why."

Body says: "Why didn't I get hired? I don't know why."

Real question to HN readers: Do you believe this type of inconsistency also affects writing code?

In other words... if a hiring manager notices this muddled writing in a blog post, is it fair to think the programming output will also be muddled? (e.g. function names, architecture, engineering the organization of microservices, code comments etc.?)

Or do you believe that the brain compartmentalizes and it's very easy to write disorganized prose simultaneously with organized code?

The current HN title "I Didn't Get Hired to Google" makes it sound like someone quitting a job because it turned out their job was just googling things. Perhaps it should be "I Didn't Get Hired By Google".

PS or even better "I didn't get hired by Google".

PPS or even better "I didn't even get a Google phone screen."

As someone who has done a limited amount of hiring, I'm inclined to think that the inconsistency is something to be wary of. It's worrying to open the blog page and be able to simultaneously see titles reading both "I Didn't Get Hired. Here's Why" and "Why didn't I get hired? I don't know why". It leads me to believe that the author does not bother checking their own work, and/or has trouble articulating simple thoughts (ie. whether or not they know why they weren't hired, a yes or no question).

To your question - would this affect the author's code quality? Maybe, maybe not. They could be an absent-minded-professor-type who can easily do genius technical work, but misses things like this. However - Google looks for more than code quality.

It's just a typical click-baity title. I don't think it has anything to do with ability to write code.

Its just how journalism / clickbait is today. You want someone who writes docs to contemporary style.

I admit I do not look forward to the future when manpages will be titled "Top five sprintf format string length modifiers they don't want you to know; the last will shock you"

I do wonder what the parallel equivalent of headline clickbait in code is. Functions with very few LOC? :P

    /* You won't believe the one weird trick this function uses to compute inverse square root */

>I do wonder what the parallel equivalent of headline clickbait in code is.

A common example would be business logic code polluting the "View" of MVC.

code reviewer: "Why are you retrieving the sales tax jurisdiction from the database and computing sales tax in the gui form?"

programmer: "Well, the form has the TOTAL amount displayed to the customer so it made sense to me to put that db-dependent code there."

code reviewer: "No, that's what the "Model" code is for. That's the "M" in "MVC".

programmer: "Oh, the model source code is where I update the GUI progress bar because that's where the state variable that keeps track rows processed is stored. "

This one from Torvalds is close to clickbait, at least it made me want to find and read copy_page_range().

"Fork is rather simple, once you get the hang of it, but the memory management can be a bitch. See 'mm/memory.c': 'copy_page_range()'"


I'd say functions and methods with overly generic names, like "process" or "prepare". You won't believe what happens inside!

Yes. I think the skill of writing down exactly what you mean is common to both code and prose - in particular, the kind of careful thought required to figure out what you're trying to say, well before you start working out how to say it.

If the title was "Why didn't get hired? I don't know why". Most people including me wouldn't have bothered reading it. He's got journalism skills too

Posts of people crying so much about not getting hired by a company (usually Google) are top cringe.

It's like writing on Facebook that you feel miserable because a girl rejected you.

Just move on, kid.

This is exactly what I thought when I heard about this guy. He's undervaluing himself bigly. If you obsess over one company, or girl, or whatever else, you take all of your own power away and hand it over to chance. An interview or conversation could fall through for any reason at all. Meanwhile if you're intense enough to study algorithms for 8 months you can probably get a pretty good job at any number of places without wrecking your self-worth if you get rid of the tunnel vision.

I respect a lot of awesome work from Google. But this is just really bad press.

Not that Google initiated this kind of cult in the first place, the spontaneous worship is a little overwhelming TBH.

I don't even understand this kind of cult, Google is a shady company and most of the software from them I've ever used was of a substandard quality

Google is HUGE company, to the point, I won't assume people from Google actually sharing anything except the fact they are from Google. There are awesome people doing world changing stuff, also common programmers doing routine work. I think a lot of people just assume they join Google they will automatically be promoted to the first league, which is not true according to my observations.

This is bad press for the candidate, not Google. They dodged a bullet.

In this case it's interesting considering the back story.

Recruiter and resume writer here. I'm at least somewhat surprised, and I assume his resume had references to his PR campaign, and I'd think that in itself (along with the somewhat limited qualifications he seems to have) would at least warrant a phone screen. Even if that phone interview was to feel him out a bit.

I am genuinely curious to see his resume (I didn't see it on this site or his other blog). Again, I'd have to assume it was at least somewhat littered with references to his dream of working for Google (the GitHub repo gives that away, and maybe he linked to his blog).

His current LinkedIn profile starts with a Projects section (I'd have recommended a summary) and the first project listed is "Google Interview University", so I assume any recruiter vetting him would have immediately seen that, then noticed that his experience section starts with "in training for a software engineer interview, April 2016 - present", and then perhaps into the rabbit hole of all his posts.

This might be a case of someone "trying too hard/pandering" to one audience. If we take away the Google-related content on LinkedIn, we've got a guy who has 5 years of experience running what appears to be a light tech startup, ~ 15 years of demonstrated web dev experience, several Coursera courses, and an active GitHub.

If you only gave his GitHub 5 seconds (without opening any of the repos themselves), I'd think most recruiters would think he'd be worth at least a quick phone call. Maybe they dove in and didn't like what they saw.

More questions than answers on this one.

Two things:

He lists himself as an 'Autodidact', I wonder if he has a BSc and if not, if that contributed to not getting a phone screen. If it did, thats pretty rough since he also lists 15 years of experience.

Also I'm very curious about this comment on the post:

Honest question: who told you to make this blog? Email me john@techcrunch.com

Not quite sure what he's implying by 'who told you', anyone know?

I was a bit curious there too, but I chalked it up to ambulance chasing from a techcrunch reporter.

I just recently spoke with a former Google recruiter who said they (personally) rejected applicants with no formal education. I've heard the opposite from other recruiters hiring for the same thing at the same company, so there's really no way to tell since there is no strictly followed rubric.

"This is my multi-month study plan for going from web developer (self-taught, no CS degree) to Google software engineer."

From: https://github.com/jwasham/google-interview-university

That caught me off guard as well. First thought was maybe Google hired him to do the blog for some developer PR, but not sure how much sense that makes.

I wondered the same. I'm betting that there is more to the story.

I don't understand why people get DEAD set on just one company - that's never a good way to do things, especially when the application process is so fickle, and especially if that company is literally the most applied for company (or one of them at least). It's not like university applications, where they're at least obligated to reply back.

This whole journey has been so weird. Why does this guy care so much about Google? Did Google turn him down for prom? Was "Google" the last word of his dying grandfather? He's been on a years-long vision quest to... be an employee of a place.

I have to assume that they didn't want someone who was so fanatically and excessively eager and ambitious. He broadcasted that he studied full-time for eight months for the interview. They want people who can walk in and own the interview, with minimal interview-specific preparation.

The entire blog just reeks of desperation and lack of confidence (or worse, misplaced confidence). I think that they flagged him before he ever applied.

I doubt that is true. The recruiter probably had no idea that he was preparing for eight months.

Titling the piece “I Didn't Get Hired. Here's Why.”, and then after one paragraph clarifying “Why didn't I get hired? I don't know why.” …is confusing, to say the least.

No surprise. You can learn a lot in a year, but you can't level up your computer science knowledge in a year. Some people might be offended or disappointed by this comment, but don't. Just keep your heads down, learn a lot, expose yourself to lots of different things and the experience will come with that.

With that said, I'm not surprised that he didn't get a phone interview. Even if Google knew about him, they might want to let people know that their interview process can't be gamed. If I was hiring, I might be concerned that someone who put in that much effort, might stall once they get hired. I want someone who has put that kind of effort not leading up to the interview, but over the years due to genuine curiosity due to love of computing and not because they want to get a job.

> You can learn a lot in a year, but you can't level up your computer science knowledge in a year.

This makes no sense? Level up to what? CS degree level? Because correct me if I'm wrong, but the majority of interview questions are based on CS 101 (or the equivalent). So literally the first year. Guess it depends what kind of depth of knowledge you want/need. Again, if you're only doing it for interviews and not to go into CS research, don't think you need too much depth.

> Because correct me if I'm wrong, but the majority of interview questions are based on CS 101

AFAIK, they actually send out a prep-sheet which recommends experience with not only big-O and simple algorithms, but knowing how search algorithms compare, dijkstra's algorithm, A*, graphs, trees, networks, http, combinatorics, etc.

I'm not sure which CS 101 you took, but to me that's not 101 stuff. They definitely expect a candidate to know nearly all of what you'd learn in an entire typical CS program.

Depends very much on where you're interviewing, I think.

(Not that I support the use of "how do you reverse a linked list using only one pointer?" type questions at all. It only encourages "cramming for the exam" vs. actually have a broad understanding of "why would I even need to do that?" and "what is the cost of stack space and could we allocate more?", etc.)

Why not? I went through half of CLRS in three months, don't see why someone would be unable to ramp up their CS knowledge in a year.

Knowledge - yes it can be gained in a year.

Experience - nope nope nope nope nope!

I'm sure everyone here can relate too - What you learnt in university was not as useful as real life experience (even when working on your own side projects).

While he spent his time (a lot of it too) on learning how to game Google's interview process, he didn't seem to consider experience at all :S (I mean, 8 months learning algorithms but not even a month working on some kind of portfolio showing off your work?)

I am not saying EVERY dev out there needs a portfolio, but he said he didn't have CS background/experience and this was his way of getting into Google, but without actual experience (note: NOT work experience, just experience in general), how does Google know he's up for it?

Google optimizes for new grads. To a certain extent, experience can actually make the interview process harder (because they will expect more of an experience candidate than a new grad).

The two times I applied at Google after being recommended by friends already in charge went quite badly. The recrutor asked for my CV thrice the first time (rejecting my application between each request, until I stopped answering), and the second time I had to wait three weeks between the first coding interview and the actual results. Apparently, my hiring manager took some vacations, and her replacement had no idea about my file.

I applied only once at Facebook, and the whole process was a bliss. Constant flow of communication with my recruiter, very interesting interviews, and a relatively short time between the start of the process and the final result. It was really weird to see such a big difference between two big tech companies.

Applied and hired?

I know a few guys who did GSoC a few times, hired full-time, left for a start-up, rehired, left again for a start-up, rehired into Google X, left again for a start-up, and now has Google begging for him to come back again.

Google can identify talent, and will bend over backwards to retain that talent over time. This guy wasn't talent.

No, I didn't pass the Google hiring process. Things went much better with Facebook, tho :)

I also would not hire such a freaky. Can you imagine how much headache he could create (in terms of office politics), in case of a situation that would affect his employment at Google? He is even not professional I think.

You didnt get hired at google because you have no life, no sense of self. Your entire blog is about how you make yourself hireable by google. Who cares what google wants. What do you want?

Some people have more than one blog, and this chap appears to be one of them. This blog is about getting hired by Google, so it's natural that it would have posts about getting hired by Google. Not something I'd personally write about, but it doesn't mean he's devoted his whole live to the task.

If you look at the about page, you'll see that he considers his main blog to be: https://startupnextdoor.com/

Surely you can communicate that sentiment without wording it quite so harshly?

This strikes me quite a bit as stuff mentioned in the "No More Mr Nice Guy" book. Im not sure how to word it softer. What would you have done?

>After all this work and enthusiasm, I didn't even get a chance to prove myself.

Is this his first time applying for a job or, you know, interacting with the world in any way?

This post makes me want to know what John Biggs wants. In the comments, "Honest question: who told you to make this blog? Email me john@techcrunch.com"

Maybe the entire thing is an orchestrated PR stunt by a hiring competitor. Or, maybe this is a guy who isn't lacking: 1) hubris and 2) cash flow, who wanted to give Google a go. Along the way, he compiled a massive amount of information and found another way to be successful - a techco interview consultant.

A successful interview consultant for Google who failed at Google? Ah, the irony!

Maybe it's because he was trying to openly game the system (as it seems)?

Maybe they didn't want the method of "create an interview study guide and write a popular blog about studying for it" seen as being one of the ways to get hired at Google, and having a flood of imitators try to do the same thing.

> Recruiters look at hundreds of resumes every day, and they are highly tuned to detecting quality candidates and rejecting those who don't match up with their model. For some reason, I just didn't fit the profile. They probably are doing me a favor.

They would be doing you a favour if they would tell you why you were rejected and give you advice moving forward. In this case they are just doing themselves a favour by not bothering to give you anything meaningful.

> but if you're good enough for Google, you'll eventually get in.

If you don't get in the first time, you might want to ask yourself: is Google good enough for you?

> Recruiters know what works, and what doesn't. So respect their decision and be polite.

A lot of recruiters are incredibly incompetent, they don't always know what works and what doesn't and they can just reject you due to their own incompetence. You should always be polite, because being rude rarely earns you any favours, not because the recruiters are always right, and you should feel sorry for them.

> There are a lot of places where I can strive for greatness and have that effort rewarded.

This is why you should never be hung up on one person from one big company rejecting you.

Apply directly to YouTube. They have super-friendly, involved recruiters that do a fantastic job.

This rejection is symbolic of a large problem emerging in the tech talent pool, similar to the "not-an-MBA" that we've seen ruin the management culture.

Large companies where you can learn a ton, and work with smart and motivated people, are filtering based on not entirely relevant CS trivia. They still have many viable candidates as anyone coming out of a university has four years where their job is explicitly to learn this stuff.

The stuff ends up being so esoteric, that rarely will these trainees actually be able to use this knowledge for their own programs (i'm open to counterexamples here). But the reward of going to work for say Google is so immense - both monetarily and in experience and connections, that students accept the cost of learning the wrong stuff for the future benefit, the job where you "actually start learning valuable knowledge"

The next level up in a career is looking for engineers with a proven history of being able to scale. Guess who that is: last year's hires, who got brought into an already working system.

This is the pattern we see in management of Fortune-500's and prestige banks. This has created a culture where you have to buy your way in the door with years of what a lot of people who actually do it, will admit is largely B.S. Again, this is not irrational though, because there is often a dramatic drop-off in quality of opportunities if you don't buy into the game.

So since everyone else is convinced (perhaps rightly so) that the real value doesn't come until you've been in an elite position, the effect is to erode all value in acquiring knowledge, skills and experience, in anything that doesn't neatly fit the filtering game.

>The stuff ends up being so esoteric, that rarely will these trainees actually be able to use this knowledge for their own programs (i'm open to counterexamples here).

In my own work I have to use the hyperloglog[1] algorithm pretty often. If I didn't know CS basics it would be a complete blackbox to me.

Or say someone is building a database and needs to make sure that chances of personally identifiable information getting released is minimized. He'll probably have to use some sort of differential privacy[2] algorithm. If someone has never encountered probability how would he even understand the requirements?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HyperLogLog

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_privacy#Formal_de...

Thanks, interesting examples.

Could we drill into hyperloglog and how you use it? Is it a bioinformatics app? Otherwise why are you using this approximation technique on modern hardware?

Standard algorithms and data structures stuff are not that esoteric. I think companies are absolutely right in insisting that candidates know such basic topics like big O notation or various sorting algorithms. Nobody is asking them to go major in CS, it's perfectly possible to learn these things on one's own.

As we know in math intense subjects, being familiar with != performs well on a contrived question, for example you'd probably fail your calculusII exam if you took it right now, at least I would. Even though you might have a better intuitive understanding of integration after having worked in the real world and forgotten the exact rules. Same for big-O factoids.

I bet there are other companies who would be happy to have you in!

I wonder if his lack of CV (of any kind), no matter how much he studied was what made recruiters discard him right away.

You can learn a lot in a year, but you can't create a CV containing a career that may look attractive.

(Google process is pretty much optimised to quickly discard applications)

The guy has an awesome CV and 15+ years experience as a self-employed developer/entrepreneur...

And applying for an entry-level development position. He is not lacking in hubris, so imagine the managerial nightmare he'd likely impose for a collection of non-managers.

I've checked his CV in LinkedIn and he certainly has an interesting CV, but not necessarily a strong one for a software engineer in a big company.

I have no idea about how recruiters select profiles in Google, but maybe having an strong background as entrepreneur is a red flag ("he'll leave the company for his own project!"); or maybe the lack of bachelor degree... (or maybe pure ageism)

I can't say I agree, clearly spending that much time shows a lot of passion, but Google tends to have pretty harsh and silly selection process, where a silly small thing or mistake gets you rejected.

Does anyone know if rejection letters from Google pre-phonecall-phase are normal? I mean, I've applied a couple of times (I might look faded compared to other brilliant people that apply and I had nowhere this guy's drive and level of involvement but thought that it is worth a shot) and every time I didn't hear anything back. I though they just contact you in case of a positive.

He got a referral, and with those you hear back within a week.

It is more likely if some Googler referred you like this guy. If you just apply by yourself you may not get any reply.

The people who read these books, and the companies who come up with these contrived interviews deserve each other.

> "This is my multi-month study plan for going from web developer (self-taught, no CS degree)..."

No CS degree and no CS background. I wonder why he wasn't chosen (and why HN dismiss Google interviews as silly games...).

Their loss.

He's not missing much. It's just a big squabbling company.

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