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Google interviewing process for software developer role in 2020 (habr.com)
490 points by atomlib 39 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 400 comments

I interviewed with Google last spring. My experience was different, but about as disappointing.

I applied for a job, and received an out-of-the-blue email from a recruiter about a different job a couple months later (my resume must have landed in some "recent" bucket). The position was in Google Cloud. I was frustrated by the "you'll talk to a team after you've passed 100 hurdles" nonsense.

I had one phone screen with my recruiter, which was positive. She said we'd be scheduling a phone interview. I got a call a few days later; she said we'd be skipping the phone interviews and going to an on-site at Sunnyvale. I thought this was a good sign! In hindsight, I think they just needed to fill a lot of positions quickly.

I did the onsite, which I thought went terribly, and I left feeling really discouraged. My recruiter said my packet wouldn't go the hiring committee, but that she thought the feedback was positive enough that I could find another role at the company. I got handed to another recruiter for a lesser role doing developer support. That recruiter reached out to me a few days later to tell me that he didn't actually have any roles for me.

The whole process took a couple months, and ultimately made me feel bad about my abilities. Everyone I met at the onsite was kind of an asshole. My "lunch interviewer" complained about the bureaucracy and said he was looking for another job after being there for ~18 months.

It's unfortunate that positions at FAANG are so beneficial to my resume, because I'd love to never go through that process again. I'm going through it right now with Amazon.

The only time I interviewed with Google involved a phone screen that apparently went very well and then dead silence for three months: my recruiter has apparently gone on vacation for 2+ months and was finally getting back to me. In the intervening period I had taken another job (that turned out to have been worth more than the google job would have been).

The recruiter was nonplussed when she called me out of the blue months later trying to schedule my on-site. She couldn’t believe I was not interested in continuing - how could I turn down Google??

This was when the google koolaid was far stronger - early/mid 2000s. To this day I consider it the most amazing example of a company being so entranced by its own narrative that it was genuinely incomprehensible to her and required spelling it out slowly.

To be fair, Google in the early-mid 2000s was actually a really good career option. If you played your cards right you could easily be comfortably retired today if you started at Google in, say, 2004. In fact I know someone who started at Google fresh out of college in 2005 and was in "FIRE" (Financial Independence, Retire Early) zone by 2017. They quit Google, didn't work for a couple of years, and then took a senior position at a San Francisco startup, where they work 35-hour weeks playing with shiny new hardware tech and couldn't care less whether they're laid off.

Google is still a great place to land as a new college grad, but these days I would consider many other options as an experienced professional. There are indicators that Google is starting to run into issues detailed in The Innovator's Dilemma, particularly with respect to its Cloud business.

Sure now it looks like it was a good option. But it's kind of survivorship bias. Were they smarter than anyone else working elsewhere, or just lucky to have had all their eggs in that particular basket for 15 years?

And if you say smart, what's the current smart choice? (I will be checking back in 15 years to follow up).

If I was hiring at a relatively tiny startup, a person who had only ever worked at Google and didn't need the job on top of it wouldn't be my first choice. Probably sounds good at meetings though.

Yeah, if "doesn't need the job" is in the top five things you'd say about them as a team member... you really want people who will tolerate or even attack with some zeal the grind that it is to get a business going.

> She couldn’t believe I was not interested in continuing - how could I turn down Google??

Lol. I had the exact same experience back in the late 90s, but with... IBM. Arrogant as heck, took three months to follow up and were shocked to know I was no longer interested. It was beautiful.

At one point Microsoft would refuse to interview you unless you were their first and only choice. If you ever hinted you were considering other companies---interview over.

Probably all the 900-pound gorilla companies go through that period of extreme arrogance when everyone's knocking on their door. Until they're not.

Earlier than that I went an initial interview at some IBM office - they went very cold when it turns out that I did not have a degree.

I also really don't get it. Obviously things like company compensation are really important in a job offer. But what matters for my day-to-day work satisfaction is the work I'm doing, my team-mates and my team's culture. I don't think I could get really excited about a new opportunity before I knew what I would be doing daily.

My "lunch interviewer" complained about the bureaucracy and said he was looking for another job after being there for ~18 months.

Actually (with that) he wasn't being an asshole; he was doing you a favor.

In revealing to you, quite candidly, just how disappointing the Google experience evidently is for a considerable portion of engineers.

Bias up front: I work at Google.

> evidently is for a considerable portion of engineers.

I only see evidence that the experience was disappointing for a single Googler, the lunch interviewer, not "a considerable portion" of them. The interviewer's data point is certainly valid, but it's not clear to me how much you can generalize it.

My experience matches other people here. 3/4 of the interviewers were good but that 1/4 ruins everything. My last round was this guy who was clearly not interested in conducting the interview. He asked me a question and just sat there. He didn't engage, was very cold to questions and I had no clue if I was on the right track.

As an interviewer myself and having interviewed for startups (which is a different beast due to the additional selling involved in converting candidates) I've learnt to break the ice, encourage the candidates, treat them as human and guide them towards the solution if they're off by a little. I do also cut short some interviews when I realise the candidate is an obvious mismatch. I do so politely and in the interest of saving both of us some time.

So, when the Airbnbs, Dropboxes and Googles don't extend the same courtesy - even though I know they have the upper hand - I lose any interest I have in joining them by the end of the interview. I have had really good experience with BrainTree & Pinterest & a few others. So I do know not all companies are bad and even within the company there are good and bad interviewers and it's just a matter of luck. Still, the doubts about self-worth are hard to squash.

Edit: I call out Braintree in particular because they conduct interviews in pairs. At least one person's job to listen at all times. IMHO, this makes all the difference. Any signs of bias, narrow perspectives and hostile behaviour should - at least to some degree - be reduced with this model.

> I've learnt to break the ice, encourage the candidates

I'm pretty sure that there is another "school of thought" that is exactly the opposite: start nonimpressed to make the candidate "fight for it". In some companies it's very plain how interviewers agreed a bad cop / good cop routine in advance.

I think it speaks really poorly of an org if they can't even find 6-8 people who they're certain are actually positive about the company to conduct interviews. Especially the lunch interviewer, who is there to get and give a personal perspective on the process.

> it speaks really poorly of an org if they can't even find 6-8 people who they're certain are actually positive about the company to conduct interviews.

My understanding is that this isn't a criterion for choosing interviewers, even lunch interviewers. The recruiters who line up interviewers with candidates aren't in a position know the views of the interviewers; I don't know any of them barely at all.

(Disclosure: I work at Google and have conducted many interviews, but I'm speaking only for myself.)

I only see evidence that the experience was disappointing for a single Googler, the lunch interviewer.

Obviously it is to be taken into account together with a whole slew of data points -- not just in the form of online postings, but from close acquaintances who have worked there over there years.

Evidently, the interviewee didn't meet just any Googler, he met the outlier, the only one unhappy there!

Humans don't work like that. That single data point and the experience he had allows quite some generalization.

Maybe this isn't how you build a ML model, but that ML model won't work very well when interacting with other people.

I guess I'd have to say that single data point only really allows for the generalization that some people are unhappy at Google. I think it's probably quite a few but that's just my suspicion, the single data point isn't enough to go on.

Unhappy enough to reveal it at an inappropriate time: during an interview.

If a person is that candid while interviewing someone that is definitely a huge red flag.

"I think you will like it here, me I'm bailing because I can't stand it"

> The interviewer's data point is certainly valid, but it's not clear to me how much you can generalize it.

The fact that someone in the interview chain is willing to tell you significant negative information dramatically raises the Bayesian prior.

An interview chain is normally extremely well vetted for people who are positive-only. The fact that this failed is a dramatic cause for concern.

For anyone who hasn't done interviews and are curious, the interview chain is not vetted in any way or form at most places. Typically in bigger companies there is a one or two hour session where you are told what you can and can't ask from a legal perspective. Sometimes there will also be a tech question bank you might be expected to ask questions from.

Having worked at four companies I have yet to see there being any serious discussions on merits of which questions to ask, the style of interview to be conducted, how to grade candidates reliably, or the amount of help and guidance to give candidates. In short as far as I can tell the whole tech interview process is generally a mess.

I have tried to push for discussions on all of the topics above and most engineers simply do not find the topic interesting enough to engage at length. There's a lot to discuss and everyone complains about the current state of the interview process across the whole field yet few do more than complain. Alas that is life.

As for vetting for "positive-only", I am not sure that's something that can even be done. Usually conducting interviews is part of your performance and you are expected to do them or it will reflect poorly on you as an employee. So every senior engineer or above typically will aim to do some amount of interviews and, let's say you are one of them and you are not very happy, when you get asked by your manager whether you are a positive employee, you are very unlikely to say no.

Also unhappiness is a pervasive quality regardless of title and you can very easily find high level managers and one year out of college engineers that are equally unhappy if you were to ask them candidly. This is a separate topic, but we as an industry have potential to make our workplaces incredibly engaging and rewarding but that potential somehow seems so very hard to achieve.

> Usually conducting interviews is part of your performance and you are expected to do them

Whoa! Really?!?!?!

That's a huge difference from any of the places I have worked. If you didn't want to be on the interview loop, nobody in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to command you to do so.

Normally people wanted to be on the interview loop simply so they had input on the people who might become their colleagues. But there were people who wanted nothing to do with the loop and that was okay, too. Maybe you simply had too many deadlines or just were an introverted personality.

But forcing people to do the interview loop? That's seems like a recipe for disaster.

It's the latest HR innovation from Googleplex: doing your job is no longer enough, every employee is required to show off some "citizenship contributions" at the threat of getting their performance review docked one rating lower.

Interviewing is apparently the most popular choice to fulfill this requirement, so get ready for a glut of disinterested people interviewing you at google.

This matches my experience completely. I've never even been offered a session on legalities. Almost universally, my only prep for interviews has been someone leaving the resume on my desk, usually the day-of.


Tons of people use the phrase "data point." I doubt most of them are from Google. https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...

Definitely -- gave me a much healthier perspective on this "tier" of tech job.

Ok, completely different take!

I also interviewed there last spring, but I thought it was super positive, even though I didn't get the job. I had to push myself really hard to get the onsite and I think that was beneficial to me. I have no computer science background at all and it forced me to prep intensively between interviews. So, I kind of went into it figuring I probably wouldn't get it but who knows and that it would just be good to have the experience of this super tough interview.

I learned some things! I started thinking about my job a bit differently, which is cool. Also, at the very least, the process made me better at interviews. Ha! There's always something you can take from a difficult experience (and it was for sure difficult.)

I don't think you should feel discouraged or feel bad about your abilities. It sounds like it was just a poor fit and you should be happy it didn't work out! Plus, now you've been through it once. You know what it's like. You can do it again somewhere else and it'll work out.

Good luck with Amazon!

My interview experience was so unbelievably amazing at Google that I accepted the job mostly because of that -- despite the fact that I had an offer two levels higher at another public software company.

It has not been a mistake.

As plenty of people have mentioned, more than a million people interview here every year. With that many interviews, I cannot imagine how bad some outlier horror stories can be.

In aggregate, something like 78% of people consider interviewing at Google a positive experience, despite the fact that only less than 2% of respondents actually go on to work here.

I dunno about every one else, but usually there's a high correlation with satisfaction and getting the job. The fact that hardly anyone ends up getting a job here, and the vast majority of people are satisfied seems like the process isn't terrible.

I doubt there's many companies with a better track record.

I hear nothing but good things about Microsoft recently, so I wouldn't be surprised if their numbers are better.

The post-interview survey is broken for some candidates who try to apply to jobs in multiple Google offices, which is apparently against Google policy. My experience of receiving a below-market 4-day exploding offer from Google in 2019 is not an experience I would rate highly, if I was allowed to take the survey.

Out of 100 people who interview onsite at google, 78 are happy about it even though only 2 get job offers???? Those are some crazy statistics. Maybe they are satisfied that the interview process convinced them they didn’t want to work at google anyways? Because I don’t see how that could work out otherwise.

First, I don't have the exact numbers. Second, yes, out of 100 people that apply, less than 1 get an offer, on average.

If 100 people apply, only a small subset move on to the phone-screen. And you need to at least take the phone screen to be given a chance to fill out the satisfaction survey. Otherwise, there's not much for you to be satisfied or not with.

I'm not sure what the percentage of people that make it to the phone screen and have a chance to fill out this survey. Let's say it's 20%. Of those 20%, only a subset actually fill out the survey. Let's say it's 33%.

So, with my napkin stats, if 100 people apply, 6.6 would fill out the survey. Of those 6.6 respondents, ~1 of them went on to work here, and is hopefully satisfied with his/her experience.

Another ~4 should be satisfied. And the other ~2.6 would be dissatisfied.

It's possible that the other ~13 people that didn't respond were all dissatisfied. But they didn't respond, so we don't know.

> First, I don't have the exact numbers. Second, yes, out of 100 people that apply, less than 1 get an offer, on average.

Hiring 1/100 applicants is not unusual for any company. Put up an ad on any job site and you'll get hundreds of resumes from across the planet. Given the low effort of putting in the initial application, the odds are not a big issue there. The interesting question is the number you seem to be guessing at, namely the odds of getting an offer after investing so much time and effort in the grueling interview process. If that's very low, then they are quite evil.

It's not. If you get an on-site interview -- recently -- you had over a 25% chance of getting an offer.

This sounds like something that is especially hard to get data on, there is the obvious selection bias that only those who want to fill out the survey are surveyed.

As for 2/100, I thought you meant onsite interviews, which would be especially crushing for those of us who are going to do a google onsite interview pretty soon. If its just applicants, I can’t imagine it being even that good since Google must get a lot of resumes and without a recommend your chance of being noticed isn’t that great. And with the recommend, it looks like you can skip the phone screen, further skewing the numbers.

> First, I don't have the exact numbers. Second, yes, out of 100 people that apply, less than 1 get an offer, on average.

1/100. I think that’s literally a lower acceptance rate than most top level military special forces units. People getting these offers from Google must be truly god-tier.

What was the job? I only hear about people with comp sci backgrounds getting hired there.

I did not study CompSci but microengineering (mix of things, including robotics and manufacturing) and I am now working there as a SRE. Some colleagues are mathematicians. So definitely not only CS background :)

So in interviews do they also test mathematicians and engineers on undergraduate courses?

Yes. It doesn't matter what field you were in, it matters how well you know the skills they are looking for.

Had exactly the same interviews as my colleagues from a CS background.

It was frontend. I did ok with some heavy studying, but I'm definitely more UI focused on a day to day basis. The problems I had to figure out during the interview were nothing at all like what I do daily.

I walked away feeling like if I really wanted to I could knuckle down and study for longer and get a job there, but I decided it wasn't really my thing and went in other directions. Like I said, I took the studying and the subject matter as a challenge and I feel pretty pleased with how far I got considering I have a painting degree.

> I think they just needed to fill a lot of positions quickly.

3 years ago i got that impression too. Google seems to be scrambling to get into cloud business believing that they are somehow entitled to success in what is a completely foreign business for them. Anyway, it was a surprise mirroring the experience of a couple acquaintances (who is in the same boat - long time enterprise software devs) - the interview wasn't a big deal and the result was an L5 with very low comp (not sure why they bothered at all offering below even regular companies not just FAANG), naturally didn't go for it. As far as i see Google runs the hiring as an academia/exec style appointment committees - those hiring/compensation committees - where one has to have the good looking on paper achievements to hit reasonably well, and the interview just gets you in the door.

Google is quickly becoming famous for lowball offers. Unless you have a competing offer with someone they think is on their level, they won't budge. They play hardball too, even with another offer.

How low comp?

> Everyone I met at the onsite was kind of an asshole.

that was my google onsite experience in 2013. I haven't been back and wouldn't try again.

The first time Google contacted me, I didn't make it (and was not happy with their process but thats another story). Thats when they let me know that they interview people on various things first and then decide the role. When they reached out to me the second time I politely refused citing that I don't want to interview if I don't know what I'll be working on; what if I don't want to work on a product area I am assigned to?

In contrast, my Amazon interviews were extremely efficiently done, and I loved their planning around it. Quick, no-nonsense, quick turnaround.

Have been inside google and have friends who have worked, work there. There’s some truth to the asshole thing. Though I think it’s more like snobbishness. That is, conditional super niceness if you demonstrate you’re googly.

Not all FAANG is like that. Google is an outlier in terms of their devotion to a particular interview process. Amazon may not be far behind. The rest are significantly easier in terms of process (but not in terms of the hiring bar).

Man what a stark contrast to how my Netflix interview went. I was contacted directly by the hiring manager, three days later I was onsite for the phase one interview, three days later I was onsite for the second phase, and I had a verbal offer on my way out the door (for more than I asked for).

Came back a week later to sign the paperwork after I emailed with the recruiter a few times about offer details. Started a week after that. (And then went on a one week vacation after working for only two weeks and got paid for it, because it was already scheduled).

And this wasn't an outlier. Pretty much everyone we hired had a similar timeline. Sometimes the candidates made us wait for an answer because we were so quick that they hadn't even had their first round at Google.

Netflix is known for being speedy with hiring because they are also speedy with firing under performers.

So they see hiring as a relatively low risk proposition and will make decisions faster since the long term effects are greatly lessened.

This is absolutely true. It was just as easy to fire someone as it was to hire someone, so hiring was a lower risk activity.

But even so, most people did not get fired, contrary to popular belief. I don't remember the stats, but almost no one was fired within their first year for example.

Did you have any H1Bs at that time? I mean it would be a horrible experience for such persons - firing fast (and without any notice?) would most likely result in deporting her along with her family.

Also, interesting - if a person is a high performer for the first couple of years and then becomes a low performer - most likely something is wrong with the company and/or the particular project/team itself.

> Did you have any H1Bs at that time?

Yes, a bunch. They are some of the highest paid H1B workers in the country. [0]

> I mean it would be a horrible experience for such persons - firing fast (and without any notice?) would most likely result in deporting her along with her family.

That is true, but it was never with no notice. You didn't get put on an official plan, but when someone was fired it usually wasn't a surprise.

> Also, interesting - if a person is a high performer for the first couple of years and then becomes a low performer - most likely something is wrong with the company and/or the particular project/team itself.

Netflix had no issues letting people go who just weren't needed anymore. They might have been very good, just not needed.

For example when we moved from the datacenter to AWS, everyone who dealt with datacenter ops was given the option to learn AWS or get a generous severance package. Also, when we moved from relational databases to Key/Value, the DBAs were asked if they wanted to learn to managed Key/Value stores instead, or if they wanted to look for new jobs.

[0] https://h1bdata.info/index.php?em=netflix&job=&city=&year=20...

> highest paid H1B workers in the country

Interesting, looking at the data, besides a couple 350K-400K (which is a norm at Netflix), they seem to be underpaid compared to non-H1Bs (i.e. the norm). Also, considering that "all in cash, no benefits/bonuses" policy of Netflix, H1B base salary data is indeed a total payment.

Due to bad publicity, Netflix reverted that "fire fast"/"sports team, not a family" mentality, at least on the paper. Also, e.g. Google has a shorter average tenure.

That seems like a tremendous waste of time and resources for everyone involved.

How so? It took far less time than other interview process I’ve been involved with.

At least they're making good use of California being an at-will state.

Are there any states in the US that are not "at-will"? California is not a right to work state, and AFAIK, at will employment is an option in every US state.

All fifty states are at will states.

I thought Montana is an exception, but I don't remember where I read that.

Yeah but all the "people" in Montana are secretly bison.

"On the internet, nobody knows you're a bison."

You are a fairly well known dev. That certainly opens doors.

Sure, but like I said, I wasn't an outlier in that respect. Everyone got the same treatment. It always started with a hiring manager reaching out directly.

> Everyone got the same treatment.

Even those living 500+ miles away?

I got this treatment and I was living on the east coast when I was interviewed. Very fast, no nonsense process.

Ok fair. Usually those folks had their first couple interviews on the phone first and then we flew them in if the feedback was positive, and then compressed phase one and two into a single day. After phase one you got lunch and then either moved onto phase two or got told that it wasn't a good fit and got sent back to the hotel.

> it wasn't a good fit

Do you mean based on the short talk during lunch? That must be quite a stressful lunch I guess :)

No I mean based on the phase one interviews in the morning. Lunch was usually not part of the interview. Oftentimes we let the candidate have the hour alone if they wanted it, or we would keep them company. Whichever they preferred.

I was 1000+ miles away and the whole thing took less than a week start to finish. From my observations that wasn't an anomaly.

Isn't Netflix an outlier in how they hire/place anyway? They hire for specific positions versus the rest hiring generally then finding a place to put you. (Team matching coming at the end rather than first) I believe Apple works this way as well.

It would explain why I've never been contacted by either. I have no expert level skills in things they're interested in. (I've mostly worked at startups - breadth over depth)

The process starts with a hiring manager reaching out for a position they are trying to fill, but sometimes after the interview we realized someone was amazing but not a fit for our team, so we would refer them to another team.

But most companies hire for a specific position. The way Google does it is the outlier.

It maybe different from Facebook and Google, but is hiring for positions on teams that unique? That's how my employer does it. A lot of our public facing job ads are for specific teams. We have a few general public-facing job ads but I think team/group matching is done early in the process for those also.

That is how most companies actually hire.

On my team at Apple it worked this way at well - most teams were in charge of their own interviewing and job offerings were for a particular team.

I'm guessing this was 5+ years ago? Interviewing is a whole different world now.

Yeah 5+ years ago. How has it changed?

HN paints Netflix as an awesome place to work (for years). At least that is the image I get as somebody who doesn't live in states. If that's true - good job on their part

May I ask: roughly what year was that?

I was hired in 2011 and did hiring through 2014, but from what I understand it's not much different now.

Google is an enormous company. Well over 100,000 employees. The answer to any question in the vein of, "Does X happen at Google?", or "Does Google do X?" is almost surely yes: Somewhere at the company, some team is probably doing that.

Google's interview process is notoriously bad for some folks, and that is absolutely true and something Google tries to fix. And there are absolutely plenty of unhappy people. Even if the odds are very low that any particular person is unhappy (and they aren't), the total probability across the company is quite high.

On the other hand, you don't hold on thousands of workers--most of whom has many, many choices of place to work--if you aren't doing _something_ right.

So the experience is valid, but generalizing is tricky.

One thought that I had after reading the article was just how average his experience was. This is really the bog-standard "how my Google interview went" post and not some kind of outlier.

One complaint that I have seen over and over (even in this thread) is his frustrating moment #3: "Google doesn't respect your time". That's of course entirely subjective and many people may be ok with months of preparation, days of interviews and weeks of waiting for feedback (with recruiters occasionally going dark for months). But many folks are justifiably irked.

A problem with the long, drawn-out process is that often people are interviewing at multiple companies, and might have to make a choice between shutting the door on Google and accepting another offer now, or pushing through the murky, very-uncertain Google process, and possibly allowing other offers to expire (even if a reasonable company won't have an "expiring"/"exploding" offer, they're not going to wait forever for you to make up your mind).

I've interviewed with Google 3-4 times over the years. Every time they've contacted me, they've asserted they've changed and will respect my time.

Most recently was this past June and I have to say that while the process was protracted, they did do a pretty good job of keeping me informed along the way. Eventually, I accepted an offer elsewhere as it seemed like they intended to under-level me and the choosing the team after the fact really doesn't work for me.

I don't really understand how Google doesn't respect your time? Can you provide more specific? How much people decide to study is up to them, Google doesn't force anyone to study for months, nor do I really think you need to if you're generally good at problem solving and walking through a problem, which is the skills they are looking for.

Most people think you have to go in and regurgitate a solution you memorized, but really most interviewers are looking to see your process working through the problem.

They do an initial quick screener, and then a one day interview. Not really sure how much more they could do to respect your time.

Numbers on both sides. Just because they have thousands of employees out of billions of people means nothing special about their process/culture. There are likely to be thousands of people in the world who are fine with it.

If things were truly bad they can just go work for other FAANG. That is not the case. Since it's HN.."Google must be bad but people are just lazy"

You're missing the point. But that's OK.

Do you know how many people apply to Google ? There are clearly many many millions who would be happy to work here. Including many in this thread who claim to say otherwise.

Are you deliberately missing the point?

The point is that in this world of billions, there are enough who will like the way Google works to imply that Google is NOT doing anything special.

What a stupid point. Then there must be no special things in the world. Because if something truly is special, more people will like it. When it becomes popular enough you'd say "Oh it's just a numbers game". What a specious argument.

Don't get mad because it adequately explains the truth.

It's an asinine argument because it undermines any great thing in the world even when it may be great objectively.

Keep in mind we're talking about a company's culture. It's completely plausible that what I'm saying is a better explanation than it being "objectively great".

HN will never admit to Google being great at anything. Keep coming up with "plausible" theories.

Do you have a horse in this race, by any chance?

Do you have a bubble you're in by any chance ? Or hate Google because you didn't get in or don't like algo interviews ? Because many people on HN have openly said so.

FWIW, I "got in" to GOOG, MSFT and AMZN. Didn't take any of them.

Sounds like you're deep in the GOOG machinery. Good luck to you bro.

Yes didn't take offers and clearly grapes our sour. Best of luck at your edgy startup.

I work on my own and make ~$20K/week without a boss or investors. Don't need a big company or edgy startup.

I believe you big man / woman.

I'd be curious to know if this is typical. As someone that's never interviewed at Google but idly wondered at moments if I'd ever work there this sounds hellish. Not necessarily the exercises themselves (although they seem to have nothing to do with what any developer does day-to-day), but the sheer number of them and the amount of preparation required. I already have a full time job, I don't want to take on another part time job of "practicing for an interview at Google". Especially when I don't even know what I'd be working on (if anything) at the end of it all!

All I can figure is that's by design. The process selects for some combination of IQ and how bad you want it, basically. If you can't or don't want to put in 10-15hrs a week prepping, for a few months, on top of your actual job (god knows nothing I actually do at work as a programmer helps me be better prepared for this kind of shit), to then subject yourself to a crushing marathon of a day, they don't want you. They have enough people who are willing to go through that, so they don't need to cater to those who aren't.

Probably one inherent benefit of a process this shitty, in addition to whatever benefits of the criteria they're selecting for, is that selected candidates identify more strongly with their co-workers and with the company than they otherwise would (see: Cialdini's Persuasion on the benefits of hazing)

Between everything I've read about it and my own experiences, I get the sense that Google's interview process is by design a mirror of grad school. If you aren't willing to spend weeks to months prepping for the test so you can impress a committee (that you will hear from three months later), you just don't want it enough.

I'm not sure this is a great way to hire engineers, but at the same time I'm sure it feels pretty familiar to people fresh from grad school.

Sometimes the people that want it the most don't have other options. It's like a clingy date.

You and the parent have explained exactly what I've been running in my head when it comes to these interviews. I'm currently evaluating one of the FAANGs and with the amount of time and LC grinding I'd have to put in I'd rather learn a new technology.

nit: Cialdini's Influence: Science and Practice.

Yeah, that. That's what I get for not checking my shelf first. In my defense mine's the version that at least does contain the word "persuasion" somewhere in the title, though the proper short version is still Influence. I'll leave my original post as-is as a monument to my failure.

"I'll leave my original post as-is as a monument to my failure."

I don't think anyone cares and there is no reason to make them read the wrong title.

> I don't think anyone cares

Exactly. The only successes or failures we care about are our own. Very rarely do we even think of someone else's embarrassing moments. We are all pretty self-centered and that's liberating in a way.


"I was worried about what people think of me, but now I know they don't think about me at all."

A human smile is when you pull the sides of your head upward and back with the muscles under your skin.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Let's look at it from another perspective (and this holds true for most FAANGs): A month of serious work and preparation can land you one of the most paying jobs on the world which will make you a millionare in a few years if you play it right.

Most people (especially if they didn't win the birth lottery by being born in CA, USA) go to schools and colleges for YEARS and YEARS to come even a few steps towards what you can get at Google and FAANGS by working for a month or two to prepare for the interview.

Take a step back and consider just how damn pampered we are in this business when doing exercies for a few weeks before interview for a 250.000$+ job is too much for you.

Let's put it the other way though - there's an enormous amount of noise in the interviewing process, even the people responsible for the process admit this. So you can spend months preparing for a Google interview but you get put in the wrong role and get rejected for it, you can bump into an asshole in the interview process, you can simply screw up because of the pressure, or maybe they simply have some different set of skills they have in mind for that role. There's a thousand things that can go wrong.

So yeah, you can spend ages preparing for an interview, but remember you're probably topping your odds out. A genius well prepared might have a 90% success rate, if they don't prepare that's 0%. But not many of us are a genius and none of us are 0% prepared. So maybe you're actually boosting your odds from 40% to 50%.

Then finally, you've got your dream job! Oh but actually 3 things are possibly true. 1: You're surrounded by people who walked the interview in which case you are going to be sprinting to keep up and actually your job is going to be incredibly difficult. 2: You're surrounded by people who also had to desparately prep for the interview for months- so none of you are well suited to the job, actually google is interviewing for the wrong things and actually your life is going to be tough. And 3: Anyone who can't afford to spend months prepping for Google won't be working with you- anyone with any responsibility in their personal life probably won't be able to afford to do this stupid prep work and so they're simply never going to work there, so you're now in this homogenous leet code clique.

> will make you a millionare in a few years if you play it right.

This is a pretty steep exaggeration.

Ok let's say you make $300k/yr at a FAANG. Lose 40% to taxes and you're looking at $180k/yr.

Living in SV your expenses will roughly be at least $45k/yr.

So you save $135k/yr (180 - 45). That's great, but a far cry from being a millionaire in just a few years.

Of course as you get promoted your comp increases, hitting $500k gross at L5, but that takes more than a couple years to achieve.

I work at a FAANG-type company.

My effective tax rate is much closer to 30% than 40%, but I'm married so I get a bit of a break vs. being single since there's a big gap between my income and my wife's income.

Even so, $135k per year post-tax, post-expenses is a fantastic amount of savings.

This is much more than I made pre-tax, pre-expenses earlier in my career.

Just having access to $135k means you're more or less a millionaire if you invest it and never need to dip into your investments.

The S&P 500 has averaged around 10% or so over the last 90+ years. Over 30 years, at a 7% growth rate, you'd have $1 million in savings with no additional contributions, assuming I didn't screw up my math.

With such a high income sustained for just a few years, it'd be hard to screw up later in life so long as you avoid the hedonistic treadmill.

> Lose 40% to taxes and you're looking at $180k/yr.

Who's paying 40% taxes on $300k/year? Your math is wrong straight off the bat. Including 401k and match, this hypothetical person is making at least $200k after taxes. Even more if they're married or have a dependent or two.

And as others have noted, $135k/year will make you a millionaire in 7 years even if it's cash under your mattress. You'll make it there even faster if you invest it in an index fund like most people would do.

> Who's paying 40% taxes on $300k/year?

People in California.

> $135k/year will make you a millionaire in 7 years

Yea if you are a person who somehow has 0 expenses over the course of those 7 years. Again, all but impossible in California.

> People in California.

The only way you'll end up with a tax bill that large is if you contribute $0 to tax-advantaged retirement accounts. And that's taking into account state taxes, SSI/Medicare. You don't have to believe me, try it out yourself. https://smartasset.com/taxes/california-tax-calculator. Putting in $300k of income for a single person, it gave me $175k take-home pay + $19k in a 401k, which is an effective rate of 35%. Keep in mind, I'm not including the 401k match, which is pretty darned generous at the BigCos. If we assume the max allowed IRS match ($9.5k or thereabouts) the effective rate falls to 32% and this hypothetical person is banking $145k/year after living expenses.

Lots of people (especially young, healthy people) also opt for health plans with HSAs, which give you more deductions.

> a person who somehow has 0 expenses

Where did you get 0 expenses from? GP stated pretty clearly expenses of $45k/year - on the modest side (probably assumes living with a housemate, or not eating out too much). I was going with $60k/year expenses on $195k/year after taxes.

$45k/year is an absurd estimate of expenses especially in silicon valley.

$45k/yr is a little bit more than the mortgage principal and interest on a million dollar house, at today's interest rates assuming a normal 20% down payment. If you rent you a normal apartment you would spend less. If you rent a luxury apartment you'll spend more but you don't need to.

I've lived in Silicon Valley my entire life, except for when I was in college, and I don't think my living expenses ever got close to $45k/yr until I bought a house, which was an entirely optional decision on my part.

I think my overall expenses are less than that and I spend an exorbitant sum on food (almost as much as I spend on rent). I just don't have crazy expensive hobbies.

There are people I know who live in the bay area on less than 45K/yr in wages, so no its not at all absurd.

I pretty clearly stated $60k/year. $45k/year was someone else's suggestion. But $45k/year isn't "absurd" at all if you live with a housemate.

Heck assume spending $70k/year on $205k/year after taxes and 401k + match. It's still $135k/year. I don't know why you're arguing against arithmetic.

You've read both of these things incorrectly. First off, 40% all in is too high for california (but not by a huge amount, it's like 38% but that matters). Secondly, they allowed for living expenses, the 135 was what was left after (from the 180 take home). Can argue about the amount, but they allowed for it.

Realistically you're going to do 401(k) and match so you're probably taking home a bit over 200k. Allow 50k/yr living expenses and you'll have another 150/yr or so. Quite plausible to bank 1 million in 5 or 6 years with these numbers.

So using your numbers it took roughly 7 years to be a millionaire. Damn crazy good to me.

That's not counting the actual compound interest on your money. Even if you don't re-invest the stock they give you, which is a significant part of your compensation, the stock at most of these companies goes up 20% YoY, so you will easily become a millionaire 5 years in with a little investing.

Yes, hence why I used "few" - doable in 7-10 years timeframe. Still something unthinkable for most professions.

I guess the contention here is the definition of the word "few". When I think of "a few years", I think 2-4, not 7-10.

If you're losing 40% to taxes you're doing it wrong.

Also, stock appreciation. A $500k grant last year is worth $640k this year.

Can you expand on that? How do you get out of paying taxes?

Good tax planning make best use of 401k and other tax advantaged plans there are these Roth planes for example.

A FANG developer in London has even more opportunities

Max out your pension (Tax relief at 40%) plus presumably an employer match around 5-8%

Put £20k a year into a Stocks and Shares ISA - which puts that beyond tax for income and CGT (apart from stamp duty on share purchases)

Put £30k into premium bonds and than start thinking about VCT's and EIS

This is ignoring any shares scheme you are in

I think the 40% number is the point of contention. The highest tax bracket for 2019 is 37%, and that's a marginal rate, so no one is going to be paying 37% of ALL of their income. More likely it'll be in the range of 20-25% of all income.

You forgot about state tax in addition to federal taxes.

right, but federal, state, and FICA is still less than 40%

Not really. That's about what I paid last year.

It's about 38% last year on that gross, as I noted elsewhere (including FICA and state). But assuming no 401(k) or match isn't realistic either so it's actually lower.

I'm not really sure why you keep pushing back on all of this. It's just how the math works.

The short version is, if you make $300k year if you are careful with the money you can have 1 million in savings in (conservatively) 6-8 years just by doing the obvious things, assuming reasonably similar market conditions.

I paid 20% federal (effective) and something like 6% state (effective).

On average, the top quintile of earners pay 22.9% effective federal rate [1]. Take a look at your effective rates for 2019, I bet you pay less as a percent than you think.

[1] https://www.pgpf.org/sites/default/files/All-income-groups-p...

Few is probably 6 at faang, if you're investing and budgeting and getting promoted. Even if you start at the bottom.

> (although they seem to have nothing to do with what any developer does day-to-day)

Depends on what you do at Google.

Google Guava is a data-structure/algorithms-heavy great Java library.

Dart and Golang are programming languages. I'd imagine you have to know how to write a compiler etc and the standard library definitely has sections for data-structure and algorithms.

They pay tons of money and prefer people to stick around and do different things within the company so I guess that's why they set the bar high for that specific section of skillset (algorithms and data structure).

Some people are willing to go through that for the Money, Prestige, and hopefully the experience. Some people don't. That's life.

> Depends on what you do at Google.

I imagine they have multiple PhDs working on those projects. For your bog standard SDE these interviews have very little to do with the day-to-day job.

In all honesty, there are not that many "bog standard SDEs" at Google. That's not what the company is hiring for: it wants engineers who are comfortable with complexity, whether measured in technical challenge (Tensorflow, Dart etc.), robustness (cloud, GSuite) or extreme scalability (Gmail, ads, search etc.) A PhD is clearly not the only path to that skillset, but it's not unusual either.

Separately, I'm sorry the original poster had a crappy experience: that does sound awful. It happens, unfortunately, and I'm glad they drew attention to it.

Disclosure: I work at Google.

> That's not what the company is hiring for: it wants engineers who are comfortable with complexity, whether measured in technical challenge (Tensorflow, Dart etc.), robustness (cloud, GSuite) or extreme scalability (Gmail, ads, search etc.)

How confident are you about that assertion?

A lot of Googlers are doing generic web/app work that happens elsewhere from those I've talked to. Not HQ tho so maybe it's different out there

A lot of the requirements around generic web development at Google requires deep knowledge of things. Not always algorithms specifically, but I've also never been slowed down because someone wasn't familiar with a concept I was working on (or able to catch up very quickly).

No no one is writing basic CRUD apps at Google. At that scale there are optimizations needed at every level. I know people who work on the cutsom kernel for the servers to front end people for apps.

Since we're on anecdotes: I've interviewed people who wanted to leave Google because they were bored of not having any interesting work to do.

If you truly believe that "no one is writing basic CRUD apps at Google", then their marketing has been incredibly effective and explains why their interview process remains the way it is

They definitely are, including internal tools and the like. My friend works on one like that.

This is like claiming nobody at Amazon or Facebook works on CRUD apps, lol.

I'm sure Amazon definitely has boring jobs.

What exactly is your deal here?

I think Facebook is known to have more interesting jobs.

> I think Facebook is known to have more interesting jobs.

If influencing democratic elections is your idea of interesting, sure.

This may have been true 15 years ago when they were a small company. Google now employs ~60K engineers and the majority of them are "Bog Standard".

Disclosure: I worked at Google twice.

May I ask: why did you work for Google a second time? Thanks.

The first time I was a new (post) grad and I didn't much like it and left for a startup within a year.

I figured I'd give it another go with more experience, so the second time I was hired at L5 (expected to be leading teams). Liked it even less the second time, but stuck around for about 2 years for logistical reasons.

In my experience at Google and other large companies, the team you join ends up dictating your experience. I would be open to a third stint at Google, but would be very careful about vetting the team (especially the leadership).

Having said that, I don't think I like the culture at Google. Especially the second time, it felt very mercenary and there was cutthroat competition. It didn't feel like I was working on a cohesive vision, but just moving protobufs around. I think I preferred Google when Eric was CEO, maybe because it was smaller, but it felt like Larry was running Google with too much emphasis on the bottom line and not enough on product or vision.

Thank you, that was pretty interesting.

I actually think this is a big issue for Google, and maybe why there is so much time burned on internal threads.

There aren’t enough good problems to go around and a lot of folks who were promised the world end up bored, working on just another mobile app or whatever else.

I stand corrected. But in all honesty, that smacks of privileged elitism. Do these pop quiz, brain teaser interviews really prove the person can be successful on the job at Google?

Besides not being related to day to day job a lot of these questions also select for a specific set of knowledge. If you've done that particular class of problems (graph, tree, dynamic programming etc), then you do well, if not then you don't. They also typically have a single or very limited number of solutions, so if you deviate early the chances of recovering is very low.

I see this style of interview questions pretty frequently and I really question their effectiveness, vs say something more open ended and fluid.

> I don't want to take on another part time job of "practicing for an interview at Google"

Problem is someone else will. And there's no easy fix.

If there was an easy way for a group of uncoordinated people (applicants) to coordinate against bullshit (stupid-long interviewing processes sometimes unrelated to the job and other stuff) we could solve many of this world's problems, don't you think?

I imagine there are industries where this is a lot more punishing. Personally I'm not prepared to go through that bullshit, so I just get a job somewhere else. But we're lucky that our industry is flush with jobs, I have to imagine other industries have similar requirements that are much less avoidable. And maybe there will be a downturn in tech one day, and I'll very much rue this day.

I'm not aware of another industry that has interviews as awful as FAANG and their copycats. There may be something out there but I've not seen it. Try describing what they do to non-tech folks and watch the reactions. Incredulity and/or astonishment are typical, in my experience.

But yes we do have tons of jobs and IME most places don't do this crap. So that's nice, compared with how other workers have it. Though you won't get anywhere remotely near FAANG comp without encountering those sorts of hazing, high-prep, high-variability interviews.

I went through the interview process with Square and their compensation is around that level and it was just a 3 round interview process no muss no fuss. Phone interview went well, completely crushed the coding interview (which was coderpad with one human talking through my thought process as I went) and we were about schedule the third round which would have just been an onsite with a bit of white boarding and what not when they had a last minute internal transfer (which they profusely apologized about and offered other positions I could go for but they were all in SF not NY) but it was a pretty healthy process compared to some of the other stuff I've done in interviews so not all high comp companies are insane. Would definitely recommend them as a place to work.

The downvote without a reply is a really unhealthy thing for a community especially one that only gives downvoting privileges to supposed long time contributors. I provided a perfectly reasonable counter example with a company that demonstrably has similar compensation to the FAANGs (check levels.fyi) without a crazy interview process.

I didn't downvote you but you describe a crazy interview process and then conclude with "demonstrably has similar compensation to the FAANGs (check levels.fyi) without a crazy interview process." I would consider a company that can't figure out which side of the US they want you to work in a crazy interview process

I think you misread what I posted.

I'm sure if they didn't have the interviews, they'd only select from Ivy League or top X school computer science graduate pools.

I bet investment bank or hedge fund jobs are/were just as tough for anyone to apply to and get.

There's a certain persona I associate strongly with folks I've known from that sort of school that I think they do select for. A little offputtingly probingly-aggressive in conversation (at least to my non-elite midwestern sensibilities), probably honed by the style & tone of class conversations at elite universities and, assuming it wasn't directly socialized into them at prep school, by their peers who had experienced a few years of Harkness method at Phillips Exeter or whatever. It's the only kind of personal affect I can imagine fitting well into these types of interviews and, if it comes naturally through long practice, not leaving one so worn down after the first couple hours that one falls apart for the rest of the day.

That's because other well paid industries have YEARS of this - called "college", "internships" and several other terms where you go through months and months of grueling hazing rituals to have a far shot of anything remotely as well paid as a FAANG job.

Get some perspective, c'mon :(

> Get some perspective, c'mon :(

This isn't very compelling. Qualifications are a different bar. Perspective indeed.

They're the same kind of prerequirement to get to the same kind of wage and benefits. And I agree they're less compelling. Hence.

> Problem is someone else will. And there's no easy fix.

I personally think that that's a feature, not a bug, we don't actually need that many bright people working for companies like Google given how much data they have available (the same goes for FB).

>> I don't want to take on another part time job of "practicing for an interview at Google"

> Problem is someone else will. And there's no easy fix.

Isn't that... eventually... Google's problem that their interview process is putting of substantial numbers of engineers?

Apparently no, they have more candidates than they can manage so they can afford it.

Likewise, even if you were to ignore the upfront preparation costs just the timeline (months with not much indication) makes it pretty tough sell.

EDIT: Just, in general, it would be pretty difficult to commit time to such a task when it's more fulfilling to work on personal side projects (and potentially leverage that for employment offers).

> it would be pretty difficult to commit time to such a task when it's more fulfilling to work on personal side projects

Or if you, I dunno... have a child. That's something that (as a relatively new parent) leaps out at me with interview requirements like this. It feels like you need to get a job at Google before becoming a parent, or you're going to need to wait until your kid is in high school.

Kids in high school age are especially vulnerable and need a lot of vigilance on parents' part. It is tempting to think we can take our foot off the gas a little bit but between finding the line between helicoptering and kids on autopilot, this stuff is almost a full-time job in itself.

Even without a kid, I think I would be lucky to have prepared half as well as this person did.

What kind of parenting do you do where you can't find one day in your life for an on-site interview? Most parents (including us) can find time to have hobbies and life besides parenting (which also includes days not being home), is that really such an overwhelming thing to go through for one of the best paid jobs in the world?!

Did you... read the thread? Or the post?

This isn't about going in for a one day interview. It's about the huge amount of time required for the interview preparation that comes long before an actual interview. As the post I replied to said:

> even if you were to ignore the upfront preparation costs just the timeline (months with not much indication)

And the fact that it isn't just one day of interviews, as the post details it's multiple interviews, some remote, some in person.

All of these things are an absolutely enormous time suck.

“You can pass every interview with A grades and still not get a job, because a senior Googler decides that you're the wrong person to be hired.”

Google doesn’t need you. They probably already have a clone of you. They have gobs of rank-and-file SWE effort on reserve should one of their key products fail.

The process is designed to entertain the hiring manager and certain key employees. They don’t want you for your productivity. They want you for the chance that you help surround one of their favorites with things they like so that this other guy doesn’t bounce elsewhere. This other Googler likely already has a competing offer— that’s how he got promoted last year.

At this stage, if Google hires you, you are almost certainly being used to aid in the retention of somebody else. You’re going straight for the bench.

Don’t prepare for months for just Google; prepare for your own future. Don’t let Google hijack your capacity for critical thinking.

This is ludicrously false and not at _all_ why Google hires people. They hire people because - big surprise - there are projects that need staffing.

"At this stage, if Google hires you, you are almost certainly being used to aid in the retention of somebody else. You’re going straight for the bench."

I mean, just wow. Do you really believe this? This is fantasy to an incredible degree.

What's ludicrous is the assertion of fantasy here. Some context:

* Google's current hiring process lag from first contact to start date is 4-6 months. That's based on reports in Blind and a couple of recent hires I know. That lag is double that of large competitors. Google wants to make candidates wait in order to appear more exclusive. "Projects need staffing"-- clearly not as much as Google needs to maintain its brand.

* "You're going straight to the bench." This is based on a variety of comments, some posted here, some from former Google PMs and SWEs I know. It takes more than a year to get a project that most people consider meaningful. Some have different expectations upon joining, though.

* "you are almost certainly being used to aid in the retention of somebody else." I used to work with an ex-Googler who had a large role in Google's Ads team. He couldn't code very well, and routinely struggled to have accurate assessment of senior engineers. It's questionable how he passed the SWE interview bar at Google. But he was "good looking" and "affable" (he once appeared in a vanity magazine in a shirtless photo shoot). He routinely claimed that his female Google superiors hit on him. Other ex-Googlers told me there where many people in the office who seemed to be "fluff" for everybody else.

The bottom line: Google prides itself (excessively) on having a uniform brand, yet is large enough today that the long tail of "out-of-brand people" is quite large. When you submit your resume to Google, you're feeding their index and ranking of all-of-SWE humanity (literally-- they heavily apply ML to their resume pool). Don't get brainwashed with the brand, and think critically before letting a _company_ have this sort of power over people.

Of course this is sarcasm.

But after all, most of the newer Google products really seem to be there just to entertain their own people and give them something to do. No one can tell me, for example, that there was a serious business case behind Google Allo.

Oy vey. Based on the voting and comments here, my post seems to be a bit of a rorschach test, with perhaps some correlation between readers who work at Google and those who don't. But definitely an interesting time-based correlation with voting.

No matter how you see the ink blot, everybody should be exercising their critical thinking skills, especially when it comes to the hiring process. Don't take things at face value; and don't take things too seriously. Don't let the brand or hype of any company disarm you of your ability to question the process, nor of your ability to invest yourself in your own passions.

I don't think GP is being sarcastic.

Disc: Googler.

> The process is designed to entertain the hiring manager

Hahaha no. Please talk to a hiring manager at Google, especially if they're trying to fill an even slightly niche role, about how tough it is to get anybody through the hiring process.

Also, for "generic" roles like SWE, the hiring manager has literally no input into the process: the hiring takes place first, and team allocation only happens afterwards.

They hire people they don’t need, to build products they’ll kill in a few quarters. Must be weird working in a company with one well-identified money fountain, and then endless side projects that don’t really matter at all

If you had one solid money fountain, isn't that what you'd also do, though? Throw a lot of other things at the wall which you expect would have a high chance of failure but high reward if they succeed. (Though Amazon seems to have managed something similar without randomly shutting down AWS services and such.)

Disc: Googler

Since you are comparing to AWS, do you have any source for apparently lots of products that were killed in Google Cloud?

True, my analogy wasn't great. But when comparing Amazon as a whole and Google as a whole, the only thing Amazon killed that comes to mind is the Fire Phone (maybe there's more I'm not aware of), while there's a laundry list of things that come to mind for Google.

Also not totally fair because Google has provided a ton of free web apps and Amazon hasn't, but I think it feels more personal when Google removes something that provides a daily quality of life improvement for many people.

How many Amazon apps do you use other than Amazon.com, Kindle, Echo? How is it still a fair comparison?

Yeah it's still not really a fair comparison (though one could easily imagine Amazon shuttering Fresh, or certain Kindle or Echo features).

I could compare it to a company like Cloudflare, who do offer lots of different public, free services (even if their market is different) and don't seem to have shut anything down.

Maybe not the best analogy either, but the problem is no other company has the kind of breadth of free public consumer-facing services that Google has, so no analogy would work. On one hand that could be a defense, by saying what Google's doing is unique and risky so sudden cancellations are to be expected. But on the other hand who knows how another company might handle a similar situation; we have no way of knowing.

Well one has a way of knowing by looking at the type of services by their not so short track record instead of going on with their bias or intuition.

They have been doing this since before Alphabet. Now the future of that strategy seems uncertain and it doesn’t seem like it will be in their future strategy.

I guess you've never worked for a company that A/B tests products?

> This other Googler likely already has a competing offer— that’s how he got promoted last year.

Source? I'm very skeptical this is true. I am not a huge fan of Google's promotion process but it isn't that bad.

I have two friends who told me they were trying to get competing offers so that they could use it in their promo packet. One was in the ads team, extremely sharp guy, trying to make Staff level in his 3rd year there.

Joe Beda, one of the creators of Kubernetes, had a giant competing offering from Facebook. Turned it down to stay at Google, got some more freedom, and now we have Kubernetes (!).

If you look on Blind, there is plenty of discussion of using counter offers to force the promo process to work.

I worked at Google for nearly a decade, and as a manager for most of it, and I strongly believe there's a misunderstanding here. Google does negotiate pay of high L5+ performers against outside offers, but promos are simply off the table. Google is really conservative about diluting it's leveling bar, and would much rather give well-above-band counter offers than a promotion.

Moreover, promo decisions are made by a committee of engineers who don't work with you -- they have no incentive to even care about your outside offer.

I've literally never seen mention of this on blind. I see jokes about leaving and then returning at L+1, but never "forcing promo" via a competing offer.

I know someone who did it, but that was a few years ago during the peak of talent competition with Facebook. And the person was clearly qualified for the promo anyway.

It's unlikely the promo was because of the competing offer. During that time with Facebook they gave generous retention grants though.

The promo process is fairly opaque, so there's no way someone would know if the committee or manager took a competing offer into account or if they "forced it".

It seems more likely they were qualified and the timing was coincidental with the competing offer.

> Joe Beda, one of the creators of Kubernetes, had a giant competing offering from Facebook. Turned it down to stay at Google, got some more freedom, and now we have Kubernetes (!).

Is this public knowledge? Otherwise, I think it is uncool to talk about other people's situations on a public forum without their approval.

It's just an example, and not very far fetched. Ultimately, the reason folks get formally promoted is to retain them.

you nailed it: "They don’t want you for your productivity. They want you for the chance that you help surround one of their favorites with things they like"


Sounds like an unnecessary personal attack.

Bias alert: I work for Google.

I enjoyed the write-up but I have a small correction to make about "Frustrating moment #2. You can pass every interview with A grades and still not get a job, because a senior Googler decides that you're the wrong person to be hired."

The author is referring to hiring committees, whose job it is to take the feedback from every interview and make a hire/no-hire decision based on the blended results. I've done hundreds of interviews at Google and I've never seen universally positive interview feedback result in a no-hire decision.

The problem is that most feedback is not universally positive (or negative). So the hiring committee has to dissect the feedback and try to figure out if the identified negatives are (1) credible and (2) sufficient to be disqualifying. That can be pretty difficult (especially if the feedback is contradictory) and why a committee does it rather than the recruiter or hiring manager.

I greatly enjoy the absurdity of this: Xoogler rejected own packet (while at msft, presumably)


he and his entire hiring committee reviewed all of their packets from when they, each individual member of thebhiring committee, were interviewing at Google.... the recruiter was just making a point that they were being too picky

The hiring committee is not the last step, you need to get accepted by the SVP of your org and the site lead as well, both of them are single persons who can torpedo your application alone.

Yep, I made it through the hiring committee and got denied at the SVP level. Was fun getting a literal congrats from the recruiter, then meeting my future team that gave me the thumbs up, then getting a call that it wasn’t going to happen... rough rollercoaster

I interviewed at Google for an SRE:Systems role around a month ago; I can share my anecdotes.

The first interview put me in contact with a recruiter who would basically be my guide throughout the process, at first he asked me some basic questions to feel out where I was weak and then told me to prepare those weaknesses for the next round.

The next round was 2 phone interviews, lasting about an hour each and over different days, one focused on my programming skills (of which, I have little because sysadmins don't typically do anything relating to data structures) and the second one was surrounding linux internals and debugging (which I was very strong on).

I spent roughly 2 working days worth of time preparing for them.

Preparing for the on-site was pleasant, I was put in touch with another google recruiter who ensured I knew where I was going and what I was doing, they told me that I'd be there the whole day and while they couldn't tell me what I would be asked/who I would meet/what to prepare; they gave me an approximation of the _kind_ of questions, very broadly.

I spent roughly 18 working days preparing in my weak areas, including leetcode/data structures and reading comp-sci papers (paxos and ilk).

On the day, I went through about 5, 1-hour long interviews that focused on various aspects of SRE (one of them being 'googliness'), some were about distributed systems (where the interviewer got hung up on the fact that I said I would use postgres instead of making my own database) and others were heavily programmer focused (linux internals was more about knowing the implementation of 'ls', scripting was all about the kinds of questions you get on leetcode).

I'm not going to lie, it was gruelling, and I'm typically pretty comfortable interviewing;

I thought I'd be fine with these interviews because I'm considered to be "shit hot" in sysadmin/writing glue by my peers, but I guess not, as I'm not a Google-SRE. :)

(sidenote: everything in TFA rings true, including the tips, google recruiters are quite transparent about your process. But they also said that the last stage is not the interview, it's roughly 5 hiring committees that are looking at your application "package" through different lenses)

To be really good at those interviews you have to practice to be really good at those interviews. It takes a tremendous amount of time to get good enough that you can't possibly fail (especially for people like me, who are incapable of thinking clearly when they're asked to perform in front of others).

My brother hires for a consulting firm and he was talking about how there really is a shortage of talent out there. That's true, but in an earlier era, companies would hire a bunch of people out of college and spend resources training them. I know there are a lot of intelligent people out there who would be more than capable of performing if the entry bar wasn't set so high. Unfortunately, I guess that model doesn't work in the era of job hopping.

> My brother hires for a consulting firm and he was talking about how there really is a shortage of talent out there.

Exceptional talent is rare. There's only a shortage if you're unreasonable. Lots of employers are some combination of apathetic, unreasonable, or plain ol' lazy. It costs them nothing to fish for talent for 6-12 months, accept hundreds of applications, and then complain when a unicorn didn't come along who was willing to take at or below market rate.

Anytime somebody complains that there is a “shortage of talent” you need to immediately ask them 1. What level of talent they are looking for and 2. What level of compensation they are offering. Often the answers are 1. Top 25 percentile and 2. Bottom 25 percentile, so it’s no wonder they can’t find anyone.

I take your point, and it might not cost them anything to leave a position unfilled for a year, but I'm sure weeding through hundreds or thousands of applications costs them money. The amazing part about it is that they're OK with wasting time and money knowing they're not going to find anyone for the job.

On the contrary that sounds quite expensive

You'd be surprised how many businesses survive in spite of themselves.

I would never dare to suggest writing a new database in a professional context, even less during an interview. Probably as a joke at the coffee machine because it's ridiculous but otherwise no.

It's so many distributed databases around there, no one is better than one good PostgreSQL for the majority of uses cases.

Google's requirements differ. Also if the interview question was about distributed systems, "I'll just use Postgres" is not super constructive

Google has good in-house database software that fit their requirements. I wouldn't say that I can do better in an interview.

Yes but that in-house database software did not fall from sky. Google developers wrote it. Remember their interview process is generalised. Even for candidates not expected to implement databases, they test for the awareness of tradeoffs posed by distributed databases: read-after-write/eventual consistency, linearizability, how many masters /quorum/leader election, etc. "Just use Postgres" does not demonstrate any of that, it's not what the interviewer was after.

That's true. We don't know how was the interview, perhaps it was about implementing a distributed database from scratch, perhaps it was about storing as many personal data as you can.

I would hope the answer to "how would you write a distributed database from scratch" isn't "I'd use PostgreSQL."

Actually, I'd probably do the same.

> (where the interviewer got hung up on the fact that I said I would use postgres instead of making my own database

Huh? Google thinks it's valuable for their SREs to be hand-writing databases in place of industry standards? SREs specifically?

They were probably looking for something non-relational, not suggesting you write your own.

The exact message I got back was "Attempted to use magic software solution", so I believe they intended for me to say "some kind of relational" or "some kind of non-relational" database and maybe some key criterion about what kind of access pattern instead of me internalising the problem and pulling out a ready-made solution.

When I worked on the infrastructure parts of Google I worked on systems with millions of QPS, does PostgreSQL really handle that kind of load gracefully?

Postgres was just one part; I was describing a sharding solution that was using Postgres as long term storage underneath with a memory-based distributed message queue for ingestion and sharded cache layer for egress.

Sure, PostgreSQL scales relatively nicely on single nodes but I chose it because it has a write-ahead log, strong transaction isolation and b-tree indexing, which would have been useful given the question I had.

Did you put all the data in a single postgres? Since a million queries per second is more than postgres can handle. And if you don't put them all in one database then what is the point of postgres features like transactions or indexing? At least on the teams I saw people did these things in code, or they used a solution some other engineer at Google had written, I don't think there are any public databases which handles these things nicely without costing ridiculous amounts to run. So yes, writing a database is a part of the responsibilities a SWE at Google could be expected to handle. And this isn't some kind of special role, the people working on these things were normal L3-L5 engineers.

Edit: Note that there were SRE's working on these things as well, infrastructure teams are often mixes of SWE's and SRE's and their roles overlap somewhat, sometimes SRE's builds entire things themselves because they understand the production environment better.

No I did not put all my data into a single postgres, even if the TX/s would have scaled (they wouldn't have) the data volume would have exceeded the limits of what a single server can provide.

My solution was dependent on splitting the data into sub-categories; for the bulk of the data I was going to use idempotent sharding based on a unique key, I said I would have implemented it as a SHA1 of a userID modulus'd by 512, with 512 being the upper bound on the number of shards/machines, (or a multiple of that; at the scale I was given it would have worked).

I then went into detail about how much a single machine would need to ingest and my own experience with postgresql performance, I also spoke at length about what the maximum theoretical volume of data was for a single DC (however, that was "not important" the recruiter indicated I had a magic datacenter that did not have problems with cross-connecting many, many hundreds of GB/s in a mesh).

Frankly, I already build global solutions in my day job, sure they're not google scale, but they're built to order, quite cost effective and what's more important: they function very well and are engineered to the point where we know beyond reasonable doubt that they will perform as needed on day 1. (I work with always-online video games, the first day is the worst day, scalability wise)

> the recruiter indicated I had a magic datacenter that did not have problems with cross-connecting many, many hundreds of GB/s in a mesh

Well, then this is different than your original description, I'd need to get more details about the problem but he is right that machine to machine connections in a data center doesn't scale very well. This might not be a problem at the scales you are used to but it is a problem at Google scale. This is a very common problem that is not obvious at first when you work with data centers, I guess he just assumed that you would know this. Knowing your background you would probably adapt to it quickly on the job, but I guess they just asked the same question to every experienced SRE they got?

Edit: Another problem with your solution is that you used a static sharding strategy and didn't consider that increasing demand in the future would force you to reshard the database. Downtime might be accepted in the video game industry, and there you most likely wont even get much more demand than day 1, but using sharding strategies which lets you reshard in real time without downtime is more or less a must on the projects I worked on.

I had previously asked about load and the interviewer said that it would not grow. However that was a very real drawback in my design.

Ok, then I guess he just kept quiet about the intra datacenter bandwidth issue during the interview. Personally I'd have told you and discussed it, worst case I'd recommend down leveling stating that you don't have enough experience with systems at this scale but could be a good candidate otherwise, but I probably wouldn't have rejected you outright due to it. But hey, not every interviewer can be reasonable.

I don’t believe the interviewer wasn’t reasonable. I gathered as many requirements as I could and gathered as much info about my constraints as I could and thought up a solution on the spot. It wasn’t perfect and I was rushing through calculus that I would normally spend a lot of time validating.

The interviewer probably saw my use of technology as a cop-out and wanted to challenge it. When I told him why I chose it he probably just took it as unwillingness to change my position.

It is very possible that I poorly communicated the fact that my position was completely mutable.

EDIT: the magic datacenter was the interviewer removing that as a constraint. I did not indicate that _I_ had a magic datacenter and I kept challenging the limits of networking, which was handwaved away.

The same things, but in august 2019. I spent about a month to prepare for the on-site. The sections time-limit was about 45 minutes(not the 1hour) Failed on one coding section and on Googliness. HR coordinator said that I've slightly below the acceptable hiring level. Also, the free seminars for NALSD finished the two weeks before my interview.

Also, I heard that I have only two remaining attempts of on-site at Google

> I have only two remaining attempts of on-site at Google


This is a good enough reason for me to stay away tbh. I did not hear this from my recruiter.

It was said "unofficially"

I interviewed at Google and some other big tech companies in late 2015. From all the big ones Google's process was the most terrible. After the initial screening I had to deal with obviously terribly placed engineers who had an "ah I need to take another interview with a non-Googler - what do they know?" kind of attitude. Arrogant, dismissive, and actually a waste of time.

In contrast, Microsoft was much more professional and a real pleasure to interview at. They have been really interested and all the engineers I talked to have been great.

Disclosure: Did not decide for any of these - went for a smaller company as it was overall what seemed best for me. Did not regret my choice even though the Microsoft offer is something I'd love to try out in a parallel universe.

That's funny, I just had a bad experience with Microsoft. I applied for a job on their site that had several locations listed, one of which was of interest to me.

A recruiter sent me a bunch of questionnaires to fill out and then connected me with a Tech Lead for the initial phone interview. The Tech Lead introduced himself and the position, said the position was available in 2 locations (neither of which were my preferred location), and that was that.

I followed up with the recruiter and she expressed surprise, since she saw the same job posting I did.

A couple days later, Microsoft's site tells me I was not chosen for the job, no further information.

But of course, that's just one experience, and it's a large company, and all that. Maybe I'll apply for something else there.

Guys, as with all interviews, YMMV.

Microsoft and Google interview thousands and thousands of engineers monthly, do not try to generalize the interview experience for everyone based on your one anecdotal experience (or that of a few friends) and naively assume it's that same way for everyone else.

Google just loves to waste your time. A close friend of mine interviewed there, was flown out to Mountain View, and one interviewer showed up to the interview over 30 minutes late, with only about 5-10 minutes to spare. He didn't get the job.

Seems like a lot of engineers there get the job after many months of (unpaid) preparation and years of interviewing many times. I can understand doing this for one's dream job, but my issue with the whole thing is that you don't even know what group you'll be placed in, which is in stark contrast with the interviews at most other companies. I'm not spending months practicing Leetcode questions and going through some hazing interview process only to potentially be placed in some boring group working on something super specific and uninteresting.

So because "A close friend of mine interviewed there" and the interviewer showed up late, you have concluded that the entire company, Google, "just loves to waste your time"? And every one of the tens of thousands of interviews Google does each year, all start late?

Did I say that? Also, did you read the article?

> I'm not spending months practicing

However, 10,000 other people are ready to.

It's just a game of supply and demand.

>some hazing interview process

I'm sorry, but this made me laugh quite a bit

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