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Google rescinds candidate verbal offer due to low GPA (reddit.com)
128 points by Puer on Dec 1, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 89 comments

I just read this post and thought it was a really shitty move on Google's part. For those that don't know, as part of Google's initial application you have to submit an "unofficial" transcript. This means that Google had this person's transcript through the entirety of the interview process from beginning to end, but only after extending them a verbal offer did they decide to inform them they can't hire because of their low GPA.

The coding challenges and whiteboard interviews are ridiculous enough as is. It makes me sad to see such a lack of courtesy, though. If the GPA was going to be the barrier they should have just rejected the candidate outright from the beginning and not wasted their time.

By making the candidate go through the whole process even though they knew in advance they would reject the candidate, Google afforded themselves the opportunity to crib any bright ideas the candidate may have had in order to patent them [0].

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18566929

I thought this worry was completely ridiculous until I read that link. Huh.

This. Why put them through the whole interview gauntlet? Sheer arrogance

Yup. I have a horrible GPA due to a bunch of personal and disability stuff but they never look at it due to experience. If they did, I wouldn't want to work somewhere that favors GPA and/or nonsense certifications. In fact when I hire, I measure candidates inversely proportionate to their list of certs.

That's an equally bad heuristic for rejecting someone.

An "inversely" bad heuristic lol

While I can't agree on the whole inversely proportional thing, I do find myself asking questions when a candidate looks to be "too academic" or when they have no qualifications.

The roles I hire for aren't typically cutting edge research etc, there much more mundane development, integration, operations and so on - highly academic people might not truly understand the role, and I want to make sure there's a good fit in terms of expectations.

What I'm getting at is, don't let a list of, or absence of, qualifications bother you - instead match people as best you can to the roles you have. Sometimes, you're going to mess up. It happens. I know I've lost good candidates because I didn't think they would be a fit and it turned out - they were.

I think we're missing a big part of the story here.

>[I] was asked to write a statement justifying my lower than usual gpa (2.6) and a week later i was informed that the offer committee was unable to give me an offer.

What if it wasn't the gpa that turned them off, but the statement he wrote? I'm imagining something along the lines of "Well my GPA was bad because my professors weren't very good and I also partied too hard, but I've come to know better now.". It sounds like they really wanted to give him a chance, but he blew that statement.

> "Was adjusting moving across the continent for school in fields I were not familiar with in highschool. Balancing real life responsibilities and focused on a lot of extra curriculars. Grades within my major were good and it has been upward trending."

> "I have rarely gotten Cs actually for some reason, especially not my major classes. Either way, i don't see how this disqualifies me from the job as it was not in the job description to have a high GPA, and I passed my interviews reasonably well."

Of course it's possible that the OP isn't telling the complete truth, but he's been a regular poster in that sub throughout the process so I doubt he's making much up. Also, if it really is based on your explanation that's just encouraging dishonesty and is a shitty hiring metric. If you're going to hire on something as arbitrary as GPA then the reason behind the number shouldn't be a factor. "We're sorry, we only accept candidates with low GPA if both parents died, but as only one of yours did during your undergrad we can't move on with your app."

Good counterpoint - I wasn't willing to read through all of the replies to find this info.

If someone has a 2.6 gpa then can it be actually be that C's were rare? It seems like he'd likely have ~40% of his grades be C's right?

Mostly A’s and B’s with a few scattered F’s can really drag a GPA down. At some universities, the cutoff for deciding to drop a course can happen only a few weeks into the semester... sometimes F’s happen :(

Mine the cutoff was 2 class days.

That's one possible interpretation, but it's both highly speculative and very generous to Google. Why do you focus on that one so strongly?

He was rejected before they even asked for a statement justifying his GPA.

The statement (or just asking for it) gives the company a written proof to explain why this candidate is being rejected and allows them to defend their decision in a potential discrimination lawsuit.

Given Google's hiring process, this is unlikely. It's almost certain he was denied at the executive review stage, after getting a yes everywhere else.


"Google doesn't even ask for GPA or test scores from candidates anymore, unless someone's a year or two out of school, because they don't correlate at all with success at the company. Even for new grads, the correlation is slight, the company has found."


I've repeatedly heard statements from people at Google contradicting what Bock says about the process. Here's one public response from Gayle Laakmann McDowell (author of Cracking the Coding interview): https://www.quora.com/Why-doesn%E2%80%99t-Google-care-about-...

Also Eric Schmidt said as much in a recent Conversations With Tyler [1]:

> The recruiting started off as informal, but it ultimately became very, very structured. We were famously focused on the school you went to and your GPA and not your experience.

[1] https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler/eric-schmidt-tyl...

Things have changed a few times since Lazslo left, FWIW.

Google explicitly said on their application advice page last year to include your GPA on your resume.

Well then, someone is lying here, because these two sides of the story seem to be in direct conflict with each other; at least one side’s claim must be false.

FWIW, an anecdote from my experience: Of all the companies I’ve ever applied to, Google is the only one that required unofficial course transcripts and GPA.

P.S. Starting a comment with “Ummm?” doesn’t really add much value to the discussion.

I understood what was meant by "Ummm?" In fact, I thought it was a nice way of conveying tone and introducing the upcoming quote.

I was asked for a copy of my transcript, which includes my GPA, a few months ago.

It might not correlate much with an employee's "success at the company" but that doesn't mean it has nothing to do with success of the company.

I also made it all the way through "hiring committee" at Google but failed at "final hiring committee" ostensibly due to my low GPA (well in my case, decent overall GPA but a couple of shockingly low grades).

Main difference in my case is no verbal offer. My recruiter made it clear that the team wanted to hire me, but that I had to be approved by "final hiring committee" as the last step.

For this Reddit poster, it seems like the recruiter really messed up / broke protocol by making a verbal offer. (That, or the protocol has changed; my experience was 7 years ago).

Verbal offer could meany anything. For all we know he got a "it looks very likely we'll move forward" and got way too excited.

It’s college. You’re a kid. You do stupid crap. Then you get to the real world and you realize life isn’t college and you have to hustle. You get a GitHub account and you self teach. You get internships or junior positions. You give everything. You build up a good network and a body of work that is compelling. The FANG companies even relax the requirements for college degrees if one has a lot of experience and drive — and then the this. Goes to show some companies are very willing to miss out on great candidates in order to be extra careful not to hire the one slacker. What a shame.

I recently went through the hiring process at google and after the two pre-interview calls with HR, one full day of interviews and 4 follow up calls for team matching (matched with a team) as well as additional calls with hr to discuss compensation (where I was pressured to divulge competing offers) I didn’t pass the hiring committee. I think their process in general is not very considerate. Most of my interviewers barely introduced themselves, talked about what they do, or asked me anything about my experience. I also found out the day of my interview I was being considered for “l3” which is entry-level despite my 4 years of industry experience and was told it’s too late to change that and to be considered for a higher level I’d need to re-interview.

FWIW, I had a very similar interview process with google. First time I interviewed I didn't make it through committee. They called me back a year later and said that it was because all of the positions had filled (which seems suspect to me).

In general, no one that I interacted with is someone who I would have wanted to work with.

I was talking to a Facebook rep at my schools career fair recently. He told me that they will interview anyone with a GPA over 2 provided that think the person will pass the difficult interviews. I'm not keen to work at Facebook, but it was a nice attitude to hear.

Thought experiment:

1. Candidate interviews and gets to the final rung of the ladder.

2. Name of candidate gets input into Google's "Final Rung" algorithm.

3. The "Final Rung" algorithm cross checks the candidate's name against all of that candidate's data from the Googleverse.

4. What the algorithm checks for is a black box to the hiring team. Only "1" or "0" is output.

5. Google then either accepts the candidate or goes back through the application looking for "clues" for why the algo output a "0".

What is the argument for Google not doing what I just described above?

The argument is Google should put said "Final Rung" algorithm up at step 0 (which would be entirely possible for a GPA issue). Alternatively, Google should not give a verbal offer until the "Final Rung" algorithm returns a 1.

Initial rung would be too noticeable.

You don't have to point out that it's about GPA. You ask for resume + references + transcript and just reject the initial application. The resume screen stage is extremely noisy, it wouldn't be obvious.

Reading this, it sounds like they got shot down by SVP (passed HC, got match). Of course, I have no idea of that was the case here for sure. But it does happen.

Recruiter should not have given verbal offer before there was actually a contract sent though, that is a really bad look.

Verbal offer is worth the paper it's written on.

Depends on the party making the offer.

A verbal agreement from an honest businessperson can be as good as gold. And when someone reneges on a verbal agreement it's generally a clue that they wouldn't be great to work with.

But this is surprising from Google. Most likely a one-off mistake

Not in America. If you ever trust a US businessman without a signed paper you'll get badly screwed as soon as situation changes slightly or gets advised by his lawyer and/or accountant.

A verbal agreement from an honest businessperson can be as good as gold.

I agree with you there, but I would never trust my ability to judge whether a businessperson is honest enough to take that leap of faith. Also, Google is notorious for making unforced errors in their hiring process.

Is it? I was given to understated that, legally, contracts can be binding with only verbal agreement.

In the US, even a written job offer is generally not considered to be a binding contract.


A law is worth its enforcement; otherwise it's just a nice idea.

They are (with caveats), the problem is proving it.

Two witnesses agreeing each other are usual standard for verbal contract disputes.

Yall remember this from less than a month ago? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18374938

That article struck me (and the Googlers I sent it to) be incredibly naive and condescending, fwiw.

If I was going to invest $$$$$ in someone, I'd like an explanation for a poor GPA. For example, these are all good:

1. had a health crisis

2. the grades started out poor, but steadily rose and was getting A's by senior year

3. took the toughest classes in the school, not the easy A's

4. had a full time job to pay the tuition

Some not so good answers:

1. whatever, dunno

2. trust me, I'm good

I wouldn't want to invest in someone who would pay about as much attention to their work as they did to their grades.

After all, if it was your money, would you?

I think this slightly misses the point though. It's not really that they check GPA, it's that they really messed this guys plans by taking his transcript at the beginning but not checking it until after giving him a verbal offer.

I myself have had negative experiences with the Google recruiting and offer process. I have friends and know people who have had Google recruiting horror stories. Everything from recruiters being over 30 mins late for final interview rounds (which throws off everything), to people being promised one office location but actually be given another after they sign, to the pressure "interns" with non-guaranteed host-matching offers go through. That host-matching system in which students might get a Google internship offer "but not really, cause we'll see if there's a team for you" is honestly not only demeaning, but outright cruel to college students who have to turn down other offers and add that huge weight into the already excruciating stress of school.

Overall I got the sense that Google simply knows it has the leverage and the desirability-- which is true for a lot of SV companies-- but they actually leverage that in their favour by playing the candidate in the way that best suits their needs.

I honestly hope any Google employees reading this raise the issue internally. Once you're out of college it's easy to forget, but stuff like this is very stressing and a huge downer for college kids. And it can be better-- I honestly haven't heard of a company that has so many "recruiting errors" as Google.

I'm neither defending nor criticizing Google's procedures, just what I'd do if evaluating with a candidate with a marginal GPA, and it was my money on the line.

You'd miss out on a heck of a lot of promising candidates that way. Had a mechanical engineering friend who did FSAE as if it was his religion. He could run circles around the high GPA types. But if you asked him why he had a low GPA, you'd for sure get a "whatevs" in response.

I'd miss out on some, sure. But I doubt a heck of a lot. In my experience the list of crackerjack engineers who drifted through college is rather short.

When you're interviewing candidates, you can never be sure. You're always playing the odds, and hiring a bad candidate can be very expensive.

I won't claim that a high GPA guarantees a good hire, it certainly does not. But it improves the odds.

If by FSAE you mean the Formula SAE racing competition, some engineers have excellent intuitive feelings about machines that is independent of academics. But other kinds of ME require the math to get the job done, and for those you need an ME that can do the math.

> You're always playing the odds, and hiring a bad candidate can be very expensive.

Whenever I see one of these numerous HN articles about interviewing and hiring ("stupid whiteboard problems!", "stupid GPA snobbery!", "stupid brain teasers!") I feel that people really miss this point. With software I have definitely come to the position that I'd rather potentially miss out on a great dev than hire a sub-par one. In fact, the absolute worst hires to make IMO are mediocre-to-poor hires, as downright bad hires are relatively easy to fire, while mediocre hires (i.e. "well, he can usually do the work, it just takes twice as long") are much more difficult to get rid of and at the very least take a much longer, drawn-out process.

Thus, when I'm playing the probabiliy game for hiring, I fully understand I may miss out on some candidates that may be great but have big black marks on their resumes or interviews, but at the end of the day I'm going to look for qualities that are correlated with success.

I might ask the question if I had big doubts. That said, if somebody walked the gauntlet of typical Google interviewing successfully, I'd be inclined to weight the GPA as being not very important.

More than anything I would think the GPA would be a filter at the beginning of the interview process, not the end of it.

No, GPA is not uniform and seems like essentially a courtesy score - a way for teachers to rank how easy you made it for them to grade your work.

I would hire based off metrics related to depth of knowledge in the field, experience, and creativity.

I really don't understand the 'investing money into someone' mindset, companies (in my experience) rarely put in much of anything besides a few perks and benefits. Honestly if google wants to get the best of the best why try to hire them? Create them, make programming, IT, etc work apprentice based and let under performing apprentices get drudge work until they gain the knowledge/drive to do the more important work.

> I really don't understand the 'investing money into someone' mindset,

Consider that the benefits package is usually worth something like 40% of salary. So for a $150K salary, you've got $210K invested in the person, plus whatever it costs to provide office space, support, etc.

If he doesn't work out, you've lost a big chunk of change. Worse, you've lost the time and what a better hire might have produced.

It's an investment any way you look at it.

Benefits like that usually have a TTL period. Apprentice an employee at a lower wage, IIRC some European countries already do this.

What if the ask to back the claims up? They can see if the classes are easy or not but you should have pay stubs /hospital. If you lie you are certainly screwed, if not, you may have a chance.

Sometimes people get carried in the college atmosphere and study enough to pass. Still, I doubt they'd hold geography or painting against you. Maybe Google has an unwritten gpa minimum, unless the candidate is a genius.

There are so many interesting courses to take in university, I can't see taking a class one does not care about, unless forced to.

Did they say it was GPA related or was that purely speculation? There's a bunch of stuff that can sink an offer and nowhere that I've done interviews has GPA been the reason that late

100% GPA related.

> Repost from yesterday's daily chat thread.

> Hi guys, kinda a big issue rnow.

> Got matched with a host for SWE Internship with Big G this summer. Had the match interview and it was a match, recruiter told me last monday that i should receive my offer within 2 days.

> Didn't hear anything until yesterday, when she emailed me asking me to write a statement justifying my lower than usual GPA. (2.6)

> I am pretty nervous about this. I turned down two jobs this summer because I thought I had already been matched. I can't find much online abotu this situation. What happens now?


Wait wait wait a moment.

This isn't for a job, this is for an internship. These are different things and internships are clearly scholastically linked.

A significant amount of so-so candidates gets rejected at the executive review, which happens after hiring committee and host matching. When the executive rejects a candidate the recruiter often appeals the decision. That appeal can result in extra interviews or other ways to get more information. In this case it seems like the extra information was an explanation for the low grades and the explanation was not enough. Most likely the candidate would have just gotten the offer if the candidate did better at their interviews.

what if this person was 4.0 on all the tech topics, a brilliant person indeed, but has no patience or interest in history, religious studdies, English etc etc. This sounds like what Oracle would do. You dodged a bullet, onwards and upwards...

As a googler I agree that passing on a "4.0 on all the tech topics, a brilliant person indeed, but has no patience or interest in history, religious studdies, English etc etc." is indeed google dodging a bullet.

Ah, liberal arts, consume - not create - fits. These tech people come later to the arts, they are the heart of our engineering and scientific achievements - the Teslas. It is all well and good to create well socialized kids who grow up into rounders but these people create little except harmony - bees or ants fits...

Dick move.

Don't be evil is definitely dead and buried at google

"My gpa was high for two years, then I fell in love and realized that I was young and missing out on life too much. I'm very good at prioritizing the essentials and following through on my promises."

Very similar thing happened to me.

This was about 15 years ago, and I had joined a startup while I was in college. I had started off with a 3.7 GPA my first 2 years, but eventually work became more important to me than school, so I did everything I could to just get a diploma as quickly as I could. I took a bunch of classes pass/fail, got my advisor to help push forward credit for "independent studies," and eked by with some Cs. (I graduated a 4 year program in 3 years.)

Despite the GPA slip, the Ivy League school I went to was quite happy with my story and sent a reporter out to interview me for the graduation edition of the paper calling me "one of their best and brightest" -- I was grouped in with about 10 other students in a class of 4k+. They cited the fact that I paid my own way through school by working for a startup as something they felt was impressive.

Fast forward a year. We sold the company, and I applied for a job at Google. Did a few rounds, they went well, and people liked my story about working while in school. I got flown out for interviews, they well -- got through the questions about how many ping-pong balls would fit in an oil tanker, how to divide loot on a pirate ship, and how many times a day do clock hands overlap... And I got a verbal offer! The job was a little entry-level for me, but I was pretty happy. I told the other places I was applying to that I was going to Google.

Then I got a random call from someone who said, "Hey can you send us your official transcript?" Since they had my unofficial transcript, and I had already gotten the verbal offer, I didn't see what the harm was... figured it was just a formality -- mostly because they said it was just a formality and not to worry about it.

Anyway a week later I get an email, "We're sorry but we are passing on you... blah blah." I called the guy who gave me the verbal offer... and was told, "We can't hire anyone who has a sub-3.0 GPA." I had a 2.9 GPA.

So 15 years+ later, I'm still a bit bitter about that. Look, companies can hire whomever they want, but as I get older I see very clearly that GPA is just a conformity metric. It doesn't tell you how smart someone is, or how talented or driven they are. A high GPA just tells you that someone knows how to submit to authority, and put academics ahead of networking. (And a good school typically just means a kid had wealthy parents.)

I think I'm doing OK without Google, but yeah... sucks that in a place that prides itself on being amazingly intelligent that they still have red-tape around what metrics can be used to define intelligence. Bezos said it well, paraphrased: smart minds are flexible minds. Shame Google is still being rigid on this sort of methodology.

* There's one clear sign Jeff Bezos looks for to gauge how smart people are | Business Insider || https://www.businessinsider.com.au/jeff-bezos-sign-of-intell...

Someone jumped the gun and thought a verbal offer meant something. Is this really worth discussing? Its not like we'll get the truth of what actually happened or why.

If I were to guess it's because this was for Google EP, which focuses more on academics as a part of the interview process than the algorithm portion.

This same thing happened to me from a large financial company on the east coast, except I had received a written offer via email.

Google doesn't want the guy in their "cool kids" club because he doesn't have the right number.

Weren’t they boasting about not looking at GPAs anymore?

I see what he’s saying, but come on 2.6?!?

It's possible at some schools to have 89s through most of your classes which equals a B (3.0) and have a few Cs and thus have a 2.6 GPA.

He said they had his transcript from the beginning, this is definitely a bad move from Google, or the hiring process is not communicated clearly across teams.

or maybe 2.6 was 'probably ok' but his justification for it made it 'not ok'

IIRC the average Engineering GPA at the University of Michigan was around 2.9 when I was there a few years ago. 2.6 would not have been horrible, but still pretty disappointing.

Lots of classes were curved to a B or B-. With a setup like that, it's not possible for everyone to have 3.5+ GPAs...

A GPA of 2.6 at Waterloo is considered strong

You realize GPA is a relative, not absolute, metric, right (i.e., a 2.6 is considered ok for engineering students at top universities)?

> 2.6 is considered ok for engineering students at top universities

I don't know anywhere this is considered "ok". At my school my GPA was considered just "Ok" at 3.9+.

Grade inflation, look it up. If 3.9 is "OK" your class's grades have compressed to the point of meaninglessness.

I think we had ~150 CS grads, and about 15 valedictorians with perfect 4.0's.

Either your promotion is made of geniuses or as @sk5t said your GPA is indeed meaningless.

I've never met a company that simultaneously cared about GPA, but also had the bar low enough where 2.6 would be passable, and recruited from a top university.

"Don't Be Evil"

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