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Why Working at Google Is Not My Dream Job Anymore (42gems.com)
216 points by chi42 on Aug 25, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 184 comments

Google is like a corporate supermodel. Their brand is legendary, like Apple or Facebook. They have so many guys to choose from, and they can afford to be very picky.

Fortunately for those of us who do not work for corporate supermodels, being married to the supermodel is not always the heaven one imagines. Maybe it has its upsides, but a lot of the allure is just image and marketing, and the reality is much less pleasant than the fantasy.

If working for Google or Facebook or Apple is important to someone, then they have to take whatever crap these companies dish out. But personally, I'd much rather work for the NEXT Google than the current one. And if I was going to work for the current Google, I'd much rather do so by way of them paying me millions of dollars to buy the amazing product I created, rather than by way of begging and hoping for a job. Guido van Rossum and Ken Thompson created amazing things, and because of that, Google hired them.

Therefore, instead of seeking a job at Google directly, a more profitable approach might be to immediately start creating whatever you really care about, and let the question of what company creates your W-2 take care of itself. This is no guarantee that you'll eventually work for Google, but it is the most likely path to eventually being legitimately in the company of the van Rossums and Thompsons of the world, and it will probably be a lot of fun getting there.

> a more profitable approach might be to immediately start creating whatever you really care about, and let the question of what company creates your W-2 take care of itself.

See, there's a fallacy in this way of thinking that many miss:

Creating something doesn't pay the bills. Getting a successful idea off the ground takes a lot of time (and connections). Hopefully everybody here does have a job, but if you don't, then I'm sorry, but I have to say this to you, please don't spend all your time working on your billion dollar app idea -- go get a real job. And then once you do have a paying job, if you really want to spend your remaining free time working on an idea, understand that will suck and be hard.

> I'd much rather work for the NEXT Google than the current one.

I agree with this.

I'm not saying you shouldn't work on your own ideas -- I certainly do -- I'm just saying you sound so idealistic -- do you have any idea the real world's a whole lot crueler.

BTW: Just got rejected from a big tech company after 2-3 months of interviewing. OP I know your pain.

Mieh, network, freelance and learn to love Montreal :-)

Now if only it were obvious what the next Google would be...

I agree with the spirit of this comment, and eventually left Google to pursue dreams of creating something from scratch. But it's usually not at all obvious what is worth working on or where to start. And for the 5 years or so that I didn't really know what I wanted to do and didn't quite have the courage (or foolhardiness) to drop something for nothing, Google was a pretty darn good place to hang out.

I still remember being in high school and reading about how amazing [...] their free cafeterias were, their company gyms, massage chairs, and on-site laundry machines

What computer science undergraduate didn't dream of working at Google? To work at the same company with brilliant minds like Guido van Rossum, Leonard Kleinrock, and Ken Thompson?

I think these reasons are likely to result in disappointment anyway. The first set are designed to keep you at work for as long as possible, and the latter will, sadly, have next to zero impact on your actual working life.

"The first set are designed to keep you at work for as long as possible..."

Jesus Christ, when will this meme die? Google doesn't provide those things "to keep you at work for as long as possible," they provide them because the company believes in the simple idea that: happy employees == productive employees.

I can't possibly understand why people think Googlers are overworked. I work between 25-30 hours a week. Most of peers work 30-35. Nobody I know works more than 40 here. (In NYC!)

There are plenty of faults to be found with this company, like any other, but this is absolutely not one of them.

After my experience at Google I'd recommend that any company of sufficient size provide tasty convenient lunch for free. It's a huge productivity boost. At other companies, I've seen people waste an hour and a half every day assembling people to go out for lunch, order, wait, figure out how to split up the bill, drive back. Much easier to just take that off people's minds.

Dinner and breakfast aren't as useful to provide and I don't think comparatively many Googlers take advantage of them (though breakfast is nice if you have a very long commute.) I did when I was young and single, but no longer. However, I'm virtually certain that providing lunch is a very cost effective way of getting more work done and is a win/win for everyone.

Unfortunately, morale isn't nearly as easy to measure as bottom line savings on hiring a sub-par food service.

It doesn't even have to be particularly special, just simple decent lunch.

Just remove having lunch as problem to be solved by people who have other things on their minds.

I seem to recall the budget at Google for food service was $15 per person per meal. And the snacks and drinks in the micro-kitchens cost something like $5 per day; they used to cost more, but they also used to be a lot better.

Of course, Google provides really elaborate meals. You could probably get the cost down to something like $5 per meal, but it would mean fast-food-grade meals.

> I seem to recall the budget at Google for food service > was $15 per person per meal ...You could probably get > the cost down to something like $5 per meal, but it > would mean fast-food-grade meals.

If the $15/meal figure is accurate and includes all expenses related to serving the meals (incl. paying kitchen staff and everything) then the food would only be a fraction of those costs. Going from serving fresh food to serving the cheapest possible garbage might only take the cost from $15 down to $10 or something like that.

Tom Wolfe wrote an interesting passage about old-time food service at Intel (http://web.stanford.edu/class/e140/e140a/content/noyce.html):

"At Intel lunch had a different look to it. You could tell when it was noon at Intel, because at noon men in white aprons arrived at the front entrance gasping from the weight of the trays they were carrying. The trays were loaded down with deli sandwiches and waxed cups full of drinks with clear plastic tops, with globules of Sprite or Diet Shasta sliding around the tops on the inside. That was your lunch. You ate some sandwiches made of roast beef or chicken sliced into translucent rectangles by a machine in a processing plant and then reassembled on the bread in layers that gave off dank whiffs of hormones and chemicals, and you washed it down with Sprite or Diet Shasta, and you sat amid the particle-board partitions and metal desktops, and you kept your mind on your committee meeting. That was what Noyce did, and that was what everybody else did."

Surely well below $10 per person for that level of service. :-)

but it would mean fast-food-grade meals

Which would, of course, be completely counterintuitive to Google's goal of providing high-quality, nutritious, tasty meals to their employees.

Joel Spolsky over Fogcreek does it (I know because I see the photos they post on facebook of the lunches).


They always look absolutely amazing.

  > At other companies, I've seen people waste an hour and
  > a half every day assembling people to go out for lunch, 
  > order, wait, figure out how to split up the bill, drive 
  > back. Much easier to just take that off people's minds.
Yes. I've seen this so many times.

Even in an ideal, imaginary office where everybody's super-efficient about lunch choices... having a great lunch area + choices under one roof means everybody's more likely to eat together.

Good point. I wonder how much cognitive resources are wasted during that exercise. It probably adds to mental fatigue and harms mental clarity.

I really have a hard time believing that going out to lunch with coworkers "adds to mental fatigue and harms mental clarity".

That kind of depends on where you go...

Aim for the Balmer peak.

are you being serious?

Well, everyone could just bring lunch from home.

The point of employee-provided lunch is that your employees don't have to think about taking care of food. No packed lunches, no going out to eat. High quality, delicious food is at the office so that it's one less thing to take care of for your engineers.

I have no idea what the culture is like at Google NYC. For that matter, I have no idea what the culture is like at Google Mountain View right now. But 'round about 2006 or so, when, in my view, Google was at the very height of its reputation, my social circle included a fair number of Googlers. They seemed dazed and confused on the rare occasions that they left the campus. They socialized largely with other Googlers. They worked super long hours.

That's not scientific and who knows, maybe the people I knew weren't representative. But my strong impression at the time, based on Google people I knew, was that the campus was a gilded cage.

Fine, but every developer I know works long hours and is squeezed for productivity. Isn't that just the reality of the field? If the choice is a) drab cage or b) gilded cage, I'll take the one with the subsidized lunch and massage chairs, thanks.

> Isn't that just the reality of the field?

I'm a developer and I work 37.5 hours a week. Never in my professional life in the past 8 years have I been coerced to overwork (although, due to flexible worktime, I occassionally work on a few days a bit more, and on some, a bit less).

I would never describe my work environment as a "cage" of any sort.

Please, if you are overworked, do not expect it to be a good thing or an universal rule. Rather, I would suggest you approach it from an engineers perspective - "Ok, this time allocation thing is broken, I cannot seriously work this much, I want to have a life, how can I fix this".

This rule is often quite true in the workplace: You get what you are willing to accept. It is surprising how many things you can change (within limits) if you stop accepting things because they are, make up your mind about your limits (within agreed boundaries) and politely but firmly stick to them. Usually, if you explain your point of view politely, calmly and with confidence you can get pretty good results out of negotiations if you set realistic goals.

Of course, some people enjoy working long hours but in this case I would not describe their status as 'caged'.

I work at a great company now and the hours are very reasonable. But in the past six years, most of the companies I worked for pressured me in various ways to work (unpaid) overtime. Direct management pressure is only one kind of pressure, and was not the predominant one for me.

Was it a cage, gilded or otherwise? It was certainly unfair and unpleasant.

At some point in one of the companies I worked for, when the hours became truly insane, I just decided not to do it anymore. I was still working a lot, but just chose not to work 60+ hours a week. I would say this choice led to some discomfort at that company, and I might eventually have been fired if I had not moved on.

The point is you can't negotiate your way out of everything. Some places are just bad news, and your best option is to leave, if you can. My experience tells me this is fairly common, especially in a bad economy when employers think you have limited alternatives.

It's the reality if a person allows it to be. I suppose if one prioritizes his own personal life lower, or identifies himself by his commitments to his professional life or by the company he works for, then the negative connotation of "squeezed" doesn't really apply.

The reality, however, for the vast majority of programmers, is that like in every other industry there is a huge imbalance of power and more often than not employers (e.g., Google) are all too happy to exploit that imbalance, along with individual programmers' enthusiasm, to their own benefit.

Personal opinion, likely to be unpopular here: one of the reasons wages in our industry aren't higher is because of people who merely accept the "cage" as the status quo--but people who proudly enter the "gilded cage" of certain employers are the worst offenders. One need but look to the video game industry for a prime example of the above mentioned exploitation and depression of wages as an extreme example.

> Isn't that just the reality of the field?

Nope. I'm at a SF startup now, and work/life balance is extremely important in company culture. No one is squeezed for productivity.

Developers are generally paid pretty well. If you're being paid well, you have negotiating power.

If someone will pay you (say) $80k to work 40 hours a week, probably someone will pay you $40k to work 20 hours a week, or $75k to work 40 but have more vacation. You just need to make your desires clear during the job search process.

There is no reason that someone with high-vlue skills should be overworked and miserable. It's a choice.

You only get forced to work overtime if you can't stand up for yourself. NB: It took me a while to stand up for myself.

>>Fine, but every developer I know works long hours and is squeezed for productivity. Isn't that just the reality of the field?

I don't know any developers who work more than 50 hours a week. Most of them work 40 hours or less, and a lot of them don't even have their work hours tracked.

Well that's all dependent on the caged's perspective, right? I worked long hours when I first joined Google. I wasn't at all unhappy about it though.

I think that's fairly common. When I was young and single, when it was my first real job after university, I worked a lot too. I didn't have a lot of obligations, didn't know a lot of people in the bay area, the room for career growth was tremendous, and there was always that imposter syndrome in the back of my mind where I wasn't 100% sure if I would end up meeting expectations. But after a year with good performance reviews and maybe even getting promoted, all that tends to subside. Some people are really driven to climb the ladder or love their jobs and work more, but that's hardly unique to Google or even tech.

Frankly, I never found Google much different at all in that respect from other places that don't have the same perks. If anything, all the amenities make it more common and acceptable to spend time away from your desk, so I felt less pressure to be at my desk N hours per day to keep up the appearance of being hard-working than at other companies.

For all those people with anecdotes about their friends working insane hours at Google: How many of them had worked at other large companies previously? How many of them had families?

Apparently that simple idea was lost at the highest levels of management during the YEARS they wantonly colluded with other tech companies, including competitors to suppress wages and cross hiring of the most talented technologists, plundering BILLIONS from the very people they claim to hold in the highest regard. Not only is that conniving, backstabbing behavior reprehensible and the epitome of "being evil" in a modern civilized society, they managed to come off looking like weak, bumbling cowards in the process. And if their attempts to suppress explicit evidence clearly detailing their feudalistic aspirations wasn't proof enough, they come back with a blatantly laughable settlement offer to make it official. Don't be fooled by the propaganda - actions always speak louder than words and Google has made clear where they stand.

I've been working in investment banking technology for top tier firms for nearly a decade and can't recall any cases where trends of thousands of current and past employees laid a billion dollar class action lawsuit on their employers. And this in a sector which employs FAR more people and is regularly accused of working employees literally to death. You've got a lot of growing up to do, Google - and I can rightfully express that sentiment in the most condescending tone possible from the safety of my moral high ground.

NYC is very different, though. The offices are in the middle of Manhattan. Very different to the isolated Google campus.

Yes, when I was there (2010-2013), the people I knew at Google generally kept business hours or close to it. I suspect the company was a more intense place to work when it was younger and fighting to get to profitability. There are probably also newer units within Google that haven't made it yet and are pushing hard to get there. But the part I was in (ads) wasn't like that.

This (that the workplace is fair, hours are reasonable, and it's generally a great place to work IMHO) is true from personal experience.

I have first hand experience with the first set and agree. Companies that are paying for dry cleaning, gyms, food, etc. are often expecting to make up for that investment with free labor.

As pointed out again and again in this thread, it's not about "free labor." It's about making your talent happy.

Working with brilliant/accomplished people is an important consideration. It changes the whole tenor of the job and helps you rise to their level of skill.

That said, at Google's scale I agree with you. They can't help but dilute their brainpower to grow as large as they have.

Very much this. There's a huge difference between what people think working for Google is like, and what it is actually like.

If you get hired you will end up working on boring maintenance/refactoring tasks, or some non-fancy infrastructure crap.

Google is like a big frat house. The amount of unprofessional behavior got so out of control that Urs Hölzle himself had to write a 'No jerks' manifesto to teach Googlers how to behave in a work environment. Yes, it's that bad.

Engineers no longer make decisions, it's all done by PMs who only care about meeting their OKR's.

Is it woth working for Google? Absolutely. Is it better then most companies? I don't think so. You'll learn a lot, meet some amazing people and then you can move on and work for a company where arrogance and an overgrown sense of entitlement are not so widespread.

Disclaimer: I used to work for the arrogant Google jerks. I still do, but I used to, too.

"If you get hired you will end up working on boring maintenance/refactoring tasks, or some non-fancy infrastructure crap. "

So uh, you think everyone should be working on shiny stuff?

"Google is like a big frat house. The amount of unprofessional behavior got so out of control that Urs Hölzle himself had to write a 'No jerks' manifesto to teach Googlers how to behave in a work environment. Yes, it's that bad."

This was written about a particular situation where a large number of googlers were badmouthing their colleagues in one particular part of the company whose decisions they disagreed with voiciferously. Given what the vast majority of HN has written about those decisions, i'm not sure this was a solvable problem outside of someone up above saying "calm down".

"Engineers no longer make decisions, it's all done by PMs who only care about meeting their OKR's."

If you abdicated your authority to make decisions to product managers, in 99% of cases, you have no one to blame but yourself.

There is certainly an overgrown sense of entitlement. However, I strongly disagree with your conclusions.

"Google is like a big frat house. The amount of unprofessional behavior got so out of control that Urs Hölzle himself had to write a 'No jerks' manifesto to teach Googlers how to behave in a work environment. Yes, it's that bad."

I would think that says more about the openness of the culture and their simultaneous high standards for conduct than the company's professionalism.

There are plenty of companies that are open, but turn a blind eye to or even encourage excessive machoism. And there are plenty of companies that extremely stuffy where not being politically correct will quickly get you in trouble with HR, rather than being given a chance to self-correct.

"Engineers no longer make decisions, it's all done by PMs who only care about meeting their OKR's."

This is absolutely false in my experience. The people at the top of the food chain are mostly engineers, and engineers not only don't report to PMs, but they vastly outnumber them. I'd say that if any engineer feels left out of the decision making process they probably aren't doing enough to involve themselves. If anything it's the PMs who have to put more effort into persuading engineers than the other way around.

was the hiring process as dismal as talked about in the article?

I heard a rumor that I was a direct inspiration for Urs's "no asshole rule". Can you confirm or deny?

The truth is: maybe I was a bit brash but time has proven me right. Had I been listened to on that product, it would have succeeded.

Anyway, your account of Google is spot-on. They hire a lot of brilliant people and have no idea what to do with them, which turns these underemployed smart people into "jerks" because of the need to prove themselves.

I sympathize with you. My Google interview process took over 6 months, consisted of over a dozen interviews, including going to their campus twice, and resulted in a no-offer with no explanation.

This was the second time I was interviewed by Google.

They have some good people, but they have become bureaucratic and they really don't care that much about what you, as a potential recruit think.

I complained to some friends of mine that work at Google and they were furious at how I was treated. They talked to some people internally. They said they would fix things, but I think its just a huge problem.

They are hiring a lot, and their HR processes aren't very good.

They have some good teams though.

I had the same experience. They never told me that I didn't get the job. I ended up calling them a few weeks after my last interview and they actually lied and said, "Well, we left a message on your voicemail." No, they didn't. I checked my cell phone and there were no missed calls and no voicemails. I also have (a gmail) email account, and they didn't email me.

When asked why they weren't interested (so I could work on whatever was the problem), they wouldn't tell me. They said it was proprietary information. I can only guess that was because of my salary requirements, since nothing else makes any sense. But it was really crappy of them. Then they continued to call or email me every 3 months for the next 3 years asking me to come in for more interviews. No thanks!

I was also disappointed to see their offices. (I'm in SoCal.) Everyone had open cubes! Ack! Not even walls around their office space. Do not want!

It's extremely rare that a company will tell you why you failed, because it increases the risk of lawsuits. It might help you a little, and it might hurt them a lot, and so things play out from there.

It sucks balls, but it's unlikely to change.

This is an insidious myth, not supported by evidence.

Facebook gives candidates substantive feedback on each interview.

What is the actual reason that most big tech companies give no feedback? Is it just to avoid wasting time and having to deal with a potentially disgruntled candidate? I would be happy if they at least sent an email from a no-reply address giving a list of feedback and then ending the discussion there.

I went to their office in Venice on an unofficial tour thanks to a googler friend of mine (thank you!) and at the time also noted that I would not want to work there.

I know someone who made it through 8 interviews before being told no. I also know 2 others that were hired but have no idea how long it took them. I still wonder what it is that makes us want to give up so much of our own time for their interview process. Do they really treat employees that much better than other companies? I bet there are a lot of startups that would make me just as happy. Is it just for name recognition? Maybe they make the processes arbitrary difficult so that only those who really want to work for Google actually follow through?

A cynical viewpoint, but presented for balance. Think of the effect having worked for Google has on those outside the tech industry. Or even outside the top 10% of the tech industry.

Do a few years at Google, then The google brand can open doors for you. You may treat Google a bit like McKinsey is for business types.

I see that as a big reason people want to work for Google. Once Google vets you basically everyone else sees that as a big plus in your next job hunt.

"Maybe they make the processes arbitrary difficult so that only those who really want to work for Google actually follow through?"

I think it comes down to the attitude that they'd rather have a bunch of false negatives than one false positives. Since there is extremely high supply of qualified applicants they probably don't feel like their bizarre hiring process hurts them at all. Some people will get turned off by their hiring processes, but for everyone one of those 10 times as many will jump through those hoops.

Over time I think Google's hiring processes absolutely do hurt them. The best of the best in the Computer Science world have many, many opportunities and they simply don't have to put up with nonsense. If Google is one of 10 suitors for an exceptional candidate and they take 6-8 months to make a decision, that candidate may already be long gone, just like the OP.

For now I think Google can get away with it but I feel like in a few years we're going to be seeing articles about Google's 'brain drain'.

It may already be happening... where if not on HN would you find a community with a bunch of the best of the best in software? And when was the last time we saw a post anywhere on here about somebody having a positive experience interviewing or working for Google? Or anywhere else on the internet for that matter?

I can see how it's difficult to screen out on the employer side when you're that big and prominent, but the first people who get screened out with this kind of stuff are the people with skills and self-respect.

I'm probably far from being a top-tier software person, but I'd like to think I've learned to respect myself. There are way too many good companies with competitive pay and sane hiring processes to put up with being jerked around by Google, especially when the result is probably to be just another cog in the Google machine. The benefits may be nice, but money will buy you all of the laptops and gourmet lunches you want. It won't buy you respect.

> "For now I think Google can get away with it but I feel like in a few years we're going to be seeing articles about Google's 'brain drain'."

I feel like we're already there. A few years ago everyone was trying to work for Google, but I rarely hear about them in conversations nowadays.

I'm not going to puff a lot of hot air about how awesome I am - but I do get a lot of interest whenever I'm on the market, and Google's process is simply too slow and too convoluted to interest me. Though Google pays well they, by a long shot, not the only players paying within their range.

The last time I was on the market I was able to line up phone screens within 2-3 days of first contact, and on-sites the same week or the week after. Companies would decide on an offer/no-offer/more-talk-needed disposition within a day or two of the on-site.

And all of these were companies paying at the top end of market, working on cool products with roles that would offer a lot of fulfillment.

I just don't see why I'd put up with months-long processes getting hopped from one recruiter to the next and having endless exhausting interviews.

I would think it's almost like a sunk cost situation. If you keep getting called back for interviews that is normally a good sign that you're on track to get the job. It's positive. The more you are called back the more positive it is. You keep doing it because you're so close. Of course, you don't know that in reality you're just being sloshed through some bureaucratic machine that isn't operating by the same logic.

In most places, you apply directly to the team you would be working for, and once they have decided they want you, it is in their interest to push the bureaucracy on your behalf, so things tend to move (at least somewhat) briskly.

But that's not how it works at Google. You apply to a broad category of jobs, and only after Google has decided they want you do they try to figure out what team gets you. During the screening process no one inside the company has a stake in you, so no one is pushing the bureaucracy, which means things move slowly.

If Google wanted to change all of this, they could, but I suspect not much will be done. Google has a lot of highly qualified applicants and even though their process is frustrating, the output of their hiring pipeline is a very fine set of engineers. So Google doesn't have much incentive to change.

Ditto over a dozen interviews, but at Facebook. It's not just Google.

When I interviewed at Google I was able to bypass the screening and hear back three days after the onsite. Everything from initial phone call to final decision took three weeks.

These were the steps I took.

1) Apply through internal referral. Ask multiple people to refer you. 2) Ask your friends to check up on the application process. Make sure they tell the recruiters you are further along with with Facebook, Twitter, or some other competitor. 3) When the recruiter contacts you. Thank them, tell them how much you want to work at Google, and then mention your tight deadline due to offers from other companies.

And I had a wonderful experience at Google because of two interviewers in particular.

1) I failed both questions from an interviewer. They were easy questions and I managed to crash and burn spectacularly. I don't understand how my interviewer managed to remain friendly and treated me with respect the whole time.

2) On the last round, I did well enough to score a 3/4. Yet during our chat, we talked about my other options and concluded that I should go join Redfin because developers can make a bigger impact at a smaller company. I appreciated his honesty.

You can generalize this:

Tips to outmaneuver any bureaucracy: know/bribe people on the inside to help you.

I understand this is a meta comment, but why is everyone (including the blogger) using the word bureaucracy? When did Google turn into a government?

"In modern parlance, bureaucracy refers to the administrative system governing any large institution."


Fair enough, it just felt weird in this context.

Governments are not the only bureaucracies. Any company as large and powerful as Google has to have acquired at least the trappings of one.

The second definition of bureaucracy at Websters is "a system of government or business that has many complicated rules and ways of doing things" which I think applies to this article.

I think a better definition would be "a system that is more concerned with how it runs rather than the results it generates".

I suppose any company of sufficient size and influence can be considered a form of government, albeit one which elects its citizens, rather than the other way around.

>On the last round, I did well enough to score a 3/4.

Is this your own assessment, or did the interviewer tell you your score?

I don't understand how my interviewer managed to remain friendly and treated me with respect the whole time.

I hope I never interview with you then!

I had plenty of interviewers end my interview half an hour early because they thought I was dumb. "I want to give you some time to ask questions about {insert company name}." I don't have excellent social skills but I can spot that line from a mile away.

Reading this reddit thread also lowered my expectation of the average google interviewer.


While at Google, only one person cut my interview short. I thought it was weird because I had answered her question correctly. But apparently they often write off a candidate for not using the right terminology or some other picky constraint.

> "I want to give you some time to ask questions about {insert company name}." I don't have excellent social skills but I can spot that line from a mile away.

Actually, that's standard protocol at a lot of places and doesn't reflect how your interview is going. We specifically make a note of what candidates ask, because sometimes it can demonstrate real interest and passion.

Hell yes.

I did a bunch of interviews at my previous job, and now am tasked with doing pretty much all of the phone screens as we grow.

I note down every single question the candidate asks me. I try to jot down something about the context, and I also try to pick up on their tone of voice whenever possible.

By far the best interviews are those where we have had some time left over and ended up chatting about things that the candidate finds interesting. On those times I have learned two things, both of which have been valuable. One - what really makes the candidate tick. Job experience is one thing, knowledge of what they can not help learning about more is another. And two - every time the candidate is passionate about something I don't know about, I learn new stuff.

And for some reason, I actually like doing interviews. Strange.

I: "Why are you interested in working at this company in particular?"

C: "This company pays currency in exchange for the performance of services."


Yes it is standard protocol. I usually hear it with 10-15 minutes left, and it's my favorite part of the interview.

But when the interview round is supposed to have two technical questions then it becomes disheartening.

And so asking the candidate "do you have any questions?" becomes another question the candidate can fail.

I have a list of standard questions I now ask.

> "I want to give you some time to ask questions about {insert company name}." I don't have excellent social skills but I can spot that line from a mile away.

I'd agree that's often the case, but I actually also often ask this question up front, and then close out an interview by asking it again. By asking it up front, I'm taking some pressure of the candidate by taking 5-10 minutes to present information to them before I put them on the spot. Candidates are generally nervous and/or trying to quickly figure out the situation, and this gives them some warm up time as they learn more about their interviewer, the team, the product, the company, etc. Helps set the tone of a dialog rather than a grilling. Then I ask again at the end just to make sure they feel like they have enough information to make a decision. Disclaimer: I don't work for Google / perhaps some companies have a set interview format where this wouldn't work. I recall an interview I did at one name-brand tech company where the interviews were scheduled for 40 minutes, so there was no time for any kind of chit-chat.

Hmm -- when I interview candidates, I always ask that question and am very happy to answer any question they want about the company. In fact, I give out my personal email address and offer to answer any questions they have as honestly as I can. It's no good for either side to have buyer's remorse, and if I can help a candidate make a good decision, even if that decision isn't to work for me/us, it saves me time in the end.

(Gonna try to do the best I can here using only info that's been made public before)

"While at Google, only one person cut my interview short. I thought it was weird because I had answered her question correctly. But apparently they often write off a candidate for not using the right terminology or some other picky constraint."

I see the other side of the interviews (i sit on a large number of Google hiring committees, and have for about 7 years), and I certainly don't see this happen often. Mostly among newer interviewers. HC gives feedback when we see it, and that puts a stop to it. We either ignore or adjust our thoughts on the interview score to account for it.

Without knowing your exact case, i'll point out there is rarely a "correct" answer to the interview question. It's usually more about thought process and whether you can reason about how to improve upon solutions, etc. Hiring committees hate interview questions that rely on tricks or whatever in order to get good solution, and usually either ban the questions or at the very least, ask interviewers to change questions (and again, adjust our thinking to ignore or whatever the interview score)[1]

Hiring Committees certainly try to make sense of interviews, and we are, after all, people. It's not like we look at interview scores, go "welp, they are 0.1 points below the average hiring score, so that's a no". We are also very good about spotting inconsistencies between interviews, etc.

I'm not going to claim it's perfect, but it's definitely not what reddit claims, where "They look at it for 3-5 minutes and decide whether you are hired or not. In exceptional cases, they decided that they don’t have enough information, and ask you to do more interviews. "

I spend a large number of hours a week at night reading candidate interview packets, writing up what i thought of each interview and how it affected my thoughts on hiring the candidate, etc. I then spend an hour in each committee discussing candidates.

It may be that in committee, it takes 3-5 minutes to make a decision, but that is because committees tend to end up with very consistent decisions between members (and we don't see each others initial decision or reasoning until the meeting starts). If the decision from everyone was "no, we shouldn't hire", or "yes, we should hire", then there is nothing really to discuss.

If there is dissent one way or the other, long discussions over candidates often break out, and we keep going till we come to a consensus about hiring or not hiring. Usually we don't need to ask for more interviews, there are rare cases where we just don't have enough signal in the interviews.

[1] I believe it was Rob Pike who said that it is very easy to come up with questions where if the person does badly, you don't want to hire them, but very hard to come up with questions where if they do well, you do want to hire them. Questions that have "tricks" in them basically never fall into the latter category.

>> 'Questions that have "tricks" in them basically never fall into the latter category.'

They also leave a bad impression for the candidates: You feel bad for not getting the answer, or you feel the interviewer was trying to trick you, or that he's trying to show off.

I'm firmly with the original post - I have been jerked around by the Google interview process twice now, and I'm just not interested any more. Your process sucks.

This is a bold statement without knowing the entire process.

So what would you do to improve it, exactly?

Not as the person who prompted you to ask this, but let me (rudely) interject and give my own answer, if you'll forgive me;

1. CLARITY is very important. Your workflow and process aside, it's the person on the phone who we interact with and get any barometer into, and this is something I've found very painful in my own experiences with Google interviews, either...

A. They ask a question, or respond to a question in a way that is very difficult to not get thrown by. In my own experience, this was being asked to implement an RB tree on the fly (when I've told my friends inside the big G that I was asked this they always go "wait what", but my hand to god, this happened.), and when I responded with "I'm sorry, that datastructure relies very heavily on getting some very precise rotations right that I simply don't have memorized. Can I look them up and try going from there?" I was met with "Hm, no, let's move on, I would normally just expect my interviewee to just know the answer", a response which, to put it VERY lightly, added insult to injury. Or...

B: Accent. I realize this is probably a sensitive subject, and I don't mean this in a "everyone should speak English flawlessly", but if you're communicating over a more lossy medium like phone, you have to be aware that a heavy accent only contributes to the difficulty in shared understanding, which contributes to feeling stressed and confused, which... etc, back and forth. Multiple Google interviews I was a part of occurred with interviewers I could barely understand, and regularly had to ask to repeat themselves, which I'm sure on some level to the interviewer didn't help impress me to them.

2. Feedback and culture. Despite the above, I had the opportunity to intern at Google. I was always somewhat proud (I promise I'm not trying to dick-wave in this, bear with me :) ) that my feedback from my manager reported me as at or above expectations, however, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not a good culture fit (Admittedly, I was 'young', and needed a good smack on the head, but it really bites that perception is valued more than contribution, especially when you're not given actionable ways to improve), and never received a single atom of feedback, either in my tenure there or during the interviews ("you could have perhaps solved that like X", sort of things) to put me at ease or give me any sense that there was room for personal improvement. I realize the potential legal ramifications in this, but, it's a problem, it needs to be improved, I refuse to accept that with all the smart people at G a solution can't be found :)

Sorry for the rant, this has been a subject that's been itching at me for a few years now, and the chance to braindump at someone who might actually have visibility into the why/how of all of this is very welcome.

Hi Danny, thank you for providing more insight into the hiring committee and for correcting inconsistent behavior.

I absolutely agree with you there is no correct solution. Maybe I missed an obvious edge case or didn't articulate my thoughts, but I thought I was doing well enough to at least make it to the second question.

Google was my 5th-7th onsite that month and I had gotten decent at interacting with and reading my interviewers. Usually when a interviewer decides to reject me I can see it coming. But with her...it happened suddenly and I was very confused.

Does anyone have a cite for that Pike statement? It rings very true to me; I'd love to see the original somewhere, since I'm also a fan of Pike's.

I'm curious -- does Google ever circle back on no-offer candidates to discuss the interview process?

ITT I see a lot of people who sound like they fell through the cracks of the process. Google has surely lost talent because their interview process hurt the candidate who otherwise would have been an asset.

Then there's the indirect effects -- I probably will never apply to Google because of the long interview (initiation) process. And there are lots of people, I think, who are soured on the idea of not getting a notice one way or another in a timely manner.

"I'm curious -- does Google ever circle back on no-offer candidates to discuss the interview process?"

Yes. They do this quite often, actually.

Remember that not everybody does a tech-quiz heavy interview. When I interview people I tend to end the programming questions part about halfway through regardless of how well they do.

People often ask why Google's hiring process is so Byzantine. It's a company that likes to innovate, measure statistics, and treat their employees well, so why do they harass people they might want to hire?

Here's my theory: it may have grown by chance, but it's still there by intention.

Google can't put you through twelve weeks of basic training to break you down and form you into their image. Instead, they give everyone a shared hard experience, at the end of which the successful ones have been welcomed to the ranks of the elect, and the chaff discarded. Since the process produced you, the new Googler, and clearly that's good, then the process is good, even though it was hard.

Now, everybody who stops to think about it rather than feel it will come to the conclusion that there must have been plenty of the could-be elect among the chaff. But if you aren't asked to focus on a question, you probably won't think much about it.

I think that ascribes too much intent to the situation. Maybe they're just bad at hiring.

Fundamentally, they do this because they can. If all candidates were like "who are these clowns", after the first month of the process, then Google would have to change the process.

This is a more lucid explanation of my pithy "the more people you reject, the better your candidates are" aphorism.

Most people that interview at Google don't have the OPs experience. It's just that those who do are more likely to get noticed.

Your theory is wrong.

I've heard the gist of what OP experienced enough times (including from people I know personally in addition to the ones who blogged about it) that it can't be that rare, though I'll grant it still might not be the norm.

My own unsubstantiated theory is that Google is okay with primarily hiring through acquisition and views direct hires as a secondary stream of potential employees, only greasing the byzantine wheels they've stuck on direct hires when someone inside with a significant amount of internal political capital makes a direct recommendation.

In any case, I'd say the luster of Google jobs has worn off in the minds of a lot of people and it isn't really seen as much different than working for any other big tech company these days. There are some teams within the company (just like there are some teams within Microsoft) that people would love to work for, but the idea of just "working for Google" on its own is no longer particularly desirable, IMO.

The vast majority of Google's hires are not through acquisition.

Your unsubstantiated theory is wrong too.

My experience talking to Google wasn't tremendously positive; I did have to do a more-than-usual followup to move my candidacy forward. I don't know that I'd get too grumpy about it though; I had another experience with a major US tech firm at the same time which easily was 4x as long and required a great deal of pushyness to come to a resolution. Google came off as an "eh", but not "ugh clearly not a viable employer".

Remarkably, Microsoft was one of the fastest turnarounds I've ever had (only beaten by my current employer). I didn't expect it and I'm still impressed.

I had the same experience - but with Shopify.

I knew someone who was hired, given a letter of offer and attended his first few weeks of training. They walked up to him two weeks later and said we don't actually need your position right now but would you mind waiting until we call to set something up? On top of that, they bungled his pay.

An outlier I thought.

Then I went through the hiring process, nobody knew what anyone was going. I showed up to shadow for a day, nobody knew I was coming despite planning it all out and scheduling the day with a number of different people. I suddenly realized I was overqualified for the job, telling the guy I was shadowing what he needed to do, despite my limited familiarity with the interface.

A few weeks later, after another 3 interviews, they told me I wasn't what they were looking for because I told them I wanted to get out of my current job (one that had broken some promises to me)

Another person I went through the hiring process with was never actually onboarded. Like my other friend, she was given a letter of offer, and everything sort of fell apart at the end of the day.

Sorry to hear that. Went through similar crap with them. Was not impressed since I had worked with a few of the people they did hire for other roles.

There's a really interesting presumption in some of the comments on this post. Namely, that getting the job after an interview is the default outcome, and that any other represents an exceptional condition.

In every place that I have worked, making an offer (and landing the candidate) is the exceptional condition. Each step through the recruiting process (resume submission, one or more phone screens, one or more rounds of interviews, extension of an offer, and negotiation around terms and conditions) results in fewer and fewer candidates. I have no idea what the pass rate for each stage is at a typical high-tech company, but I would guess that it could be between 10% and 15% at best.

In other words, odds are that you are not going to get the job.

Separately, there's no reasonable and legally defensible way to provide official feedback if the interview process results in a no-hire decision. The interview is your chance to put your best foot (brain?) forward. If you got post-interview feedback that said "Your linked-list implementation was O(N3) and we wanted O(N)," or "Several of your responses were not in harmony with the way that we like to build systems" how would you respond, and how would hiring companies and managers handle the situation with any degree of efficiency? You had your chance (the interview) to make the case.

I think the thing in the OP's article that many folks can identify with is the "chain yanking" that goes on in many interview processes.

I don't think we'd be having this much discussion if the original article went along the lines of:

"I interviewed at Google recently. I had a phone screen and then several technical interviews on-site. Everybody was nice and I thought I did well, but they communicated to me a few days after I returned home that I did not get the job".

I totally agree, that is the norm. Getting a clear signal about someone in an interview setting is difficult, and most of the time if interviewers are on the fence they may just pass.

What gets me is places where there is a lack of communication, lots of foot dragging, and/or lots of time wasted by the candidate. I've not interviewed at Google, but I've gotten this treatment elsewhere coming out of college. Being on the other side of the fence now doing interviews for a few years I just don't see the reasoning for letting this happen, it's unprofessional.

> making an offer (and landing the candidate) is the exceptional condition

> In other words, odds are that you are not going to get the job.

The first is true but it doesn't really imply the second:

In my area, the active jobseeker population for development jobs mostly consists of a gigantic, persistent mass of sub-competent developers (you know if you aren't one) and people who are always on the lookout for something better. Anyone else gets picked up pretty damn quickly. If you're in the latter group, odds are you are going to get an offer (of which you will reject the majority). I suspect companies that think they're being more selective at the hiring stage are probably just being capricious; it's not easy to judge the quality of your own hiring process.

"If you're not getting hired, obviously you're just not qualified to work and earn a living." Sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy isn't it?

I heard the pass rate for Google was about 0.05%, i.e. 1 in 2000. That was back in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, though, when the media reported they were in hiring freeze.

I interviewed about 20 people and made about a dozen referrals during my tenure there, though, and the only people who made it through were 2 intern conversions who had already passed the intern hiring process. I had coworkers who interviewed 100 without a hire. So the numbers are still pretty low.

I had a similar experience with Microsoft - 8 interviews over a period of 6 months. Two things that were different from the Google experience is that I was kept informed of progress and how it all works, and I did land the job (a better job, so not the one I initially applied for).

All that said, I think it important to have a Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft or Amazon on your résumé. It's definitely not critical, but 5 years at one of these (or similar) gives you credibility out of the gate that you might otherwise need to demonstrate through other means. It greases wheels.

You are also older, and maybe realize the free food, stupid chairs, and on site laundry are gimmicks intended to keep you at work as long as possible. It really boils down to salary and tangible benefits such has vacation and healthcare. That free lunch only costs the company $5/day, $1250/year. I'd rather take that in pay.

The free lunch might only cost the company $5 a day, but if I were to buy my own lunch I would be spending much more than $5 a day. And I would be with post tax money.

Before I worked at Google, I would frequently spend $10 - 15 a day in lunch costs. Add in dinner and snacks, and it could easily rack up to $40+. In pre tax terms that more like $55. Across an entire year that's close to $15k in benefit.

I work in NYC, so costs are inflated, and I realize this might not be true for people working in some less central location.

I'd rather take the free lunch than $1250.

To be fair: free (healthier than fast) food is practically an investment. Healthier people work better, live longer, etc. It's probably worth $1250/year/person just on those grounds, which could be reflected in better pay. (given the wage fixing and other things: it probably isn't. but in principle it's not a pure loss to your paycheck.)

And I'd LOVE to have on-site laundry and/or a shower - then I could bike much harder/further to get to work and not smell like it all day. Not having that means pretty strict pacing / length restrictions, which basically means I lose a large chunk of time that I could be using for exercise.

Bring baby wipes and wipe down when you change from bike clothes to work clothes. (If you bike to work in work clothes a shower certainly won't help that)

But to your first point: if all you're doing is reducing a part of a third of their caloric intake (one of three meals per day), you probably are not making a significant change in the person's health. It would be more practical to invest in company sports programs or fund things like bicycle purchases. The food is a psychological trick as well as keeping people planted at their desk throughout the day.

Psychological trick: absolutely. And I'll bet it works fantastically well. I don't mean to negate that side of things.

As to food: personally, lunch is my big meal, it comes out to almost half. Plus that's assuming all calories are equal, but meh. The main thing I would argue here is that investing in sports programs or bicycle purchases will probably impact a small fraction of the people that free lunch impacts. In addition, it'll have less effect on the people who could most benefit from better health - just having a soccer team or cheaper bikes isn't usually enough to convince overweight + sedentary to exercise more. It's pretty easy to get people to eat better if that's the easiest option.

If one meal is half of your calories, I hope your highest carb intake is at breakfast... I can't imagine what your blood sugar levels look like at 2pm if you have one giant meal once a day (unless you're specifically eating low-GI foods). Diabetes onset later in life can be related to these things.

This is also why I don't find a healthy lunch to contribute to greater overall health: people are different, and they usually need custom diet plans. Granted, lunch for everyone will impact the greatest number of people, but also in the smallest way. I submit that removing free sodas and adding tastier low-cal or zero-cal drinks would have an even greater effect on overall health than a free lunch, no matter how healthy the lunch is.

What we're talking about is trying to use convenience to covertly get people to be healthier, and that's really hard. If you really optimized you could make it so people biked or walked to work [vouchers on housing closer to work], place resources farther in the office so people have to walk around more often, a rewards system for taking breaks and walking around outside the campus [trackable by gadgets; also helps with vitamin d deficiency], allow people to bring home a healthy dinner, build a gym+shower into the property, and a rewards system for getting more sleep and regular exercise [trackable by gadgets]. The rewards could be tuned to the user's personal motivators.

That's all if you want to improve everyone's health. On the other hand, if you want people to think their job is cool because they get free lunch, you don't need to do those things.

But if it's an investment, it shouldn't be a point to be bragged about to employee candidates -- it's being done to make money, not because it's so great for me. Don't brag to me about that just like you shouldn't brag about how the CFO has done some sweet accounting jiujitsu or whatever.

It's not zero-sum. It can be a sound investment for the company and also beneficial to the employee. The company shouldn't tout its good working environment if it positively impacts the bottom line? That's an odd stance.

The whole damn thing is there to make money, not to make you happy. Of course companies that manage to do both at the same time should brag about it.

I had actually only evaluated the tangibles before I joined Google. But I wouldn't exchange the food for its cost for Google. There is the huge added value of getting it hassle-free and not having remember to order/prepare/go out for lunch. Obviously I still do all of the above from time to time but the key here is: when I want to.

Other than vacation for new hires (15 days), Google has an incredibly generous policy towards pretty much everything. Your comp is top-notch, your health insurance literally makes doctors drool, and you'll be discovering new perks and benefits long into your tenure there.

3 weeks of vacation to start is pretty good in the US, actually.

What I found peculiar about Google's application process was that all of the emails from Google's recruiters went straight into Gmail's spam folder.

They might not be perfect at hiring, but they are pretty good at cranking out spam detection algorithms.

I've been getting a lot of real mail delivered to my Gmail spam folder. It's very sporadic. Sometimes it will throw out one or two messages from the middle of an email exchange.

Hey I'm new to HN. Why is your name green?

I think it means that it's a newish account. It was created 3 days ago.

They paid for the HN Gold account package.


Downvoting because you lack a sense of humor, or because you are sad that we don't have such a service yet?

As goes the recruitment, so goes the employment.

Despite the efforts of the Valley's largest companies to "be different, think different, not be evil", etc..., they are human endeavors run by human beings subject to the same natural laws of behavior and organizational psychology as the companies they were once trying to "be different" from.

Your story is no different from the typical story of someone trying for non-trivial employment at IBM, Apple, Microsoft, the Department of Defense, or even Wal-Mart. Except, perhaps, for the free lunches- which you'll be trying to avoid after a few months anyway, unless you have given up any semblance of outside life to join The Party (or The Company).

It is proof that large tech companies, new and old, have not made the type of change that their execs and founders have always trumpeted. They are still subject to the same laws of human behavior and organizational development that affected older companies, the United States, the ancient Greeks, the Catholic Church, etc...

> Your story is no different from the typical story of someone trying for non-trivial employment at IBM, Apple, Microsoft,

I disagree on that last one.

I have interviewed at MS twice, once out of college, and again after I left the company and wanted to go back to lead a team doing some great stuff. Since being hired I have myself been involved in many interview loops.

The interviewing process at Microsoft is very streamlined. If there are a multiple highly qualified candidates for a job it may take 1-2 weeks to get back to you, we naturally want to interview everyone first and then make a decision.

If we encounter a situation where multiple candidates that we want to hire and extra head count exists we may try to hire both, or try to give one of them to another team who does have head count.

The overall idea here is that Microsoft wants to say hire to all exceptional candidates that come our way.

For the majority of interviews however, we can get back to the candidate within a couple of days.

(FWIW I've had the exact same turn around interviewing at Amazon.)

Now part of this is being Microsoft does not have Hiring Committees. This is both good and bad. Some teams do not have a consistent bar for hiring, and MS's interview training class just goes over what we legally are not allowed to say.

The good aspect is that we can be more agile hiring people, and our interview process varies based on teams needs. While we want to always hire with an eye towards future potential and growth, different teams and orgs need different skill sets. A hardware team may want its software engineers to know how to communicate with EEs and Mechanical Engineers, and future growth in that org means being able to stretch across multiple disciplines. In contrast, Azure is going to look more at how well a Dev can live in the world of ops, DB, and their understanding of large scale computing.

The downside is, as mentioned above, that some teams don't hold the same bar on candidates.

Now all this said, I have of course seen MS disqualify very highly qualified candidates for asinine reasons, again this is due to there not being a standardized hiring process.

I can sum up the whole article in four words: Google is too big. They have obviously become what they would have despised at the outset: a lumbering bureaucracy.

But I have no interest in being one fifty-thousandth of Google, and to anyone who's on the fence, I'd argue that you'll learn more and wield far more responsibility at a much smaller company.

I wish this was studied more. (Or maybe it is, and I don't know about the research.) My theory is that organizations should follow nature. For example, when a cell gets big enough, it divides in two. I wonder if it would make sense to grow a business that way.

I think Fog Creek is a good example of this. They recently split Trello off into its own company, and Stack Exchange before that.

I also think of George Lucas as a good model, too -- looking at all the things he created that came out of Star Wars (Lucasfilm, ILM, Pixar, THX, etc.)

It's surprising to see this kind of title from someone who's never worked at Google.

OP seems to be mostly disgruntled by Google's recruiting process, which seems horrendous, to be honest. But just because there is a lot of red tape before you can get a job offer doesn't mean the job will suck.

I went through the same thing twice at google, but actually failed the over-the-phone interviews. Bank of America had a firm offer the very next day after the interview. I've been there 4 years, get great vacation amount and benefits (401k match, etc) and it's 20-40 minutes from the house, depending on traffic, instead of in Venice, which would be 1.5 hours. And I get paid well. On top of that, the work is interesting and challenging.

Heh, completely opposite experience with BoA for me. Incredibly disorganized interviewers (I was waiting for almost an hour between some interviews), the last 2 out of 5 gave me attitude too. No offer in the end.

Bloomberg was the next place I interviewed at and they had a firm offer that same day (the HR guy was the last person I spoke to) -- I had them wait another 4 days since I had 2 more interviews lined up.

I had a similar experience back when I'd interviewed with Bloomberg. I was scheduled for a set of interviews with one team in the morning and another set with a different team in the afternoon. 1pm rolls around and the Bloomberg recruiter tells me the 1st team wanted to make an offer so there won't be afternoon interviews. I'd been looking for work for quite a while so it was really gratifying to have things just suddenly fall into place. Plus now I had the rest of the day to explore NYC a bit.

You took the Bloomberg offer I assume?

I did. One of the other 2 jobs turned out to be completely opposite of what the job offer advertised (consulting instead of R&D), so I lost interest. The other could have been interesting, but they took their time to get back to me and I did not want to lose the Bloomberg offer by waiting too long.

Surely it's indicative though; a lot of skills are general. If they're bad at recruiting they will probably also be bad at customer support, supplier negotiations, and whatever it is the company actually does.

I see it as a sign hubris when a company makes you invest a ton of time into their interview process and then don't even show you the courtesy of an explanation if no offer is extended.

It depends on what you mean by "explanation". Almost no company will tell you specifics of why you didn't make the cut (at least in the US) because there are many, many ways you can spin it into something you can sue over.

That said, with care, there is some feedback that can be given. It would be great if interviewing could be more of a learning process, especially on the technical side. "Go read more on taking advantage of cache coherency", "go get some more experience in software development with a team instead of on your own", etc

Honestly, there isn't even a need for an actual explanation. Just a simple, "thank you for your time, we decided to move on to other candidates" would be sufficient. It's called courtesy.

What Google is doing here however sounds like a complete and utter cluster-fuck. I mean, this:

>>After finding out I passed the interviews, and Google finished doing my background check, I spent the next two months on an emotional roller-coaster. I spoke to a couple hiring mangers, exchanged many confused and angry emails with friends and colleagues at Google, and had numerous phone calls with my recruiter, whose tone ranged from apologetic to congratulatory. At various times, I was not entirely sure if I was fully rejected, or if the only thing standing between me and a formal job offer was some paper work. Many phone calls with the recruiter (who was very kind and helpful) were required for clarification, but did little to assuage my annoyance as she was not allowed to explain any of the inner workings of the hiring process.

Wow. Just wow.

I just see that as a sign of legal ass-covering. Companies do not tell you why they didn't give you an offer, because if they do give you a reason, and it turns out to be something that could possibly be construed as an illegal reason, then that could give you grounds to sue them for discrimination.

"Yeah sorry we just didn't think you'd be a good cultural fit here."

Up until about a year ago (or maybe 2 now?), Larry Page still personally reviewed every single Engineering resume.

This gives you some idea about what could happen at the "11th hour" at Google.

So, to make this more constructive than a rant-article, does anyone know who does this right? For a large company?

Can it be done with a separate HR staff, or do you need an engineer on the inside managing this?

Disclosure: I am a Microsoft employee but am only speaking about my personal observation of our processes. This is not the company's opinion. I believe I am not disclosing any proprietary information.

Microsoft doesn't always get it right, but the process is designed and intended to provide a top-notch candidate experience (sometimes at the expense of the interviewer's time, company's budget, etc.). I primarily have experience with the college recruiting side of the house. Industry candidates come through a different pipeline.

* We have people dedicated to logistics: scheduling the loops with engineers, air transit, hotel, rental cars, etc. * A separate group of dedicated people handles the candidate's side: Email them details ahead of time, meet them at the beginning and end of the day, and keep them informed throughout the process. * Although we have an official tool for documenting interview loops, the more important aspect is a strong culture of "warm handoffs" from interviewer to interviewer. What was covered, where did the candidate do well, where could we use a deeper dive to understand the candidate's skills? * Training at multiple levels for interviewers: Before you can begin interviewing, you have to attend a training. Many divisions have historically required additional training. Want to go to campus? There's another training for that. Also, the training now emphasizes how useless "trick" questions are and how to formulate good questions.

There's more, but it veers into proprietary details of the process that I don't feel comfortable disclosing.

When I was in school I was always amazed at how lavishly Microsoft spent at my no-name tech school. A full time local Microsoft recruiting rep (don't remember if regional or assigned solely to that school), quarterly Microsoft events with giveaways, prominent booth at the career fair. Google probably didn't even know the place existed, but especially at the time they were such a sought-after company that they probably didn't need to expend any effort on recruiting.

I signed up to respond to this.

I recently joined Booking.com and one of the factors that led me to join them was their excellent interviewing process. A quick HR screening phonecall was followed by a telephonic tech interview scheduled a couple of days from then. In a few hours I received an email asking if I could visit them for an interview in Amsterdam. When I visited, I really liked the people who were interviewing me. Of course even when not at their office, I was walking around the beautiful city and felt that the Dutch are awesome folk and made me feel welcomed in their city. That day, I had a 3 rounds of tech interview followed by a short walk around the office floor after which they made me a formal offer. I was interviewing with some other firms during that period and this process with B.com went so quickly (along with being so pleasant) that I just informed the other firms that I was accepting an offer from elsewhere and took a few days off to meet my friends and family before leaving the country.

The entire process was smooth and professional. After joining them, I was curious about the process and came to know that they keep working on the method scientifically and improve it regularly.

Congratulations! As someone who used to run a startup in the same space, I am very aware of the competition. Booking.com's user experience is the best in the business, and Amsterdam aint half bad! Welcome to HN ;)

I had a pretty good time with Facebook and Twitter. But I was interviewing with the Seattle offices.

For me Reed Elsevier took I think around 3 weeks in the UK only two interviews.

I've had great interviews at Intuit and Yahoo (both long ago).

Disclaimer: I work for Google. These are my opinions and not necessarily Google's.

My hiring experience was slower than other companies, but did not seem particularily obtuse. It was maybe a few weeks from my initial interview to an offer. I delayed my interview so I could study and had a waiting period after offer before I started due to visa, but the core hiring process was just a few weeks.

Talking with others internally about their experience, it was all pretty similar. No one I know internally suffered through their hiring process.

It does seem to be the case that we sometimes don't do a good job of properly rejecting candidates who didn't make the cut, but there are so many factors that go into these things it's impossible to take a face value a one sided view.

My advice for anyone who does want to work for Google is that you shouldn't, if possible, parallelize your Google application with any other companies. Try here, and if it doesn't work out, continue with your job hunt. But if you try and speed up the Google process by presenting competing offers, you're gonna have a bad time.

This seems a bit arrogant in the SV job climate. Google doesn't exactly have the prestige it once did. Yes, it set the current standard most Silicon Valley engineers enjoy, but most see it as large, unwieldy and less prestigious than it used to be. Companies like Twitter and AirBnB seem to be grabbing up the highest end talent and whose names carry some real weight on a resume.

It would behoove Google hiring managers to understand they're not at the top of the heap anymore for the choicest job in SV.

Okay since there appear to be people here who know what they are talking about may I ask a question about what happened to me?

At the end of my Microsoft Internship I got an offer, this triggered a Google recruiter to contact me and do a phone screener. I'm not sure how well I did on the interview but when I mentioned I had decided not to take the Microsoft offer the recruiter said they wanted to push any next stage stuff back a couple months (4-5 months), they mentioned December.

That was fine by me. In fact I was still fine in November / December because I was trying to interview at Mozilla and was working on making a contribution in support of that.

Mozilla hit their hiring cap just after I got the patch accepted. So now I'm curious what happened to the recruiter? Was the sudden change in tone when I said I wasn't accepting the offer the recruiter worrying I had lied on my blog? Was she serious about moving any later interviews until closer to graduation, and maybe just left the company?

When negotiating (and interviewing for a job is a negotiation), never give more information than you have to.

In your case, no one but the recruiter (and other people on the hiring committee) know why you were really rejected; but what's certain is that telling her that you decided to not take the offer certainly didn't help you.

However, saying something like: "Microsoft's offer is really enticing, and I'm thinking very hard about it. That being said I've heard so many great things about Google, and I'd love to work there. Microsoft wants my decision by <end of month, end of next week, whatever>- do you think we could go through the interviews before then?".

That alone wouldn't have gotten you an offer, but it would have made you a slightly more desirable target.

Thanks Gui, those are good points I'll take to heart.

Keep in mind that interviewing is ultimately a human thing, and thus never perfect or rational (even though everyone would like to think their hiring process is flawless and as logical and unbiased as can be).

Prepare as much as you can, go in with your best attitude, etc.- but at the end of the day, interviews can result into a negative answer for something completely out of your control. Maybe you remind one of the interviewers of their ex-boyfriend, or they don't like your voice on the phone, or they've never used framework X but the guy they just fired was really into X and you put X as the first thing on your resume, etc. etc. etc.

Don't get discouraged- it's part of the game. I am starting next week at $(big large company where I've wanted to work since I've been a teenager), and that was after 6+ months of interviewing, talking to about as many teams, and hearing "we think we'd be really great at $company but the team you've just interviewed with isn't the right team for you" every time. Funny thing, the position I ended up getting is beyond what I could have dreamed of 6 months ago, and far more interesting+challenging than any of the other teams I interviewed with there.

There's also nothing wrong with working at a company for a year or two with the sole intention of getting better so you can re-interview with the company of your dreams.

Work hard, keep your long term goals in mind, and good luck :)

We often don't understand is that our inaction communicates just as much as our actions and speech do. The difference is that the recipient can interpret inaction to mean whatever they want it to mean. In an interview process, I could interpret silence from HR to mean that the company has moved on when the truth is that the recruiter is on vacation.

Google can obviously get away with this because they're still one of the richest company in the world. When they piss off a candidate, they've got twenty ready to take her place. For those of us at smaller companies, it's crucial that we over-communicate during delays and move decisively when hiring.

I had a similar process out of college, but didn't even make it to the phone screen portion of the process before getting mad and giving up. Google was sort of a dream job for me, too, but the recruiting process made it clear that I was at best a potential cog or a line item to their HR.

They'd never call at arranged times, but did call while I was giving a project presentation, once during another interview (probably looked good actually, "Oh it's the google recruiter again." <ignore>)... the whole thing was enough to put me off. I was a bit older than the standard college grad, so maybe I just become disillusioned at 8th grade level.

I recently had a very similar experience with Google.

They have you run through the hoops a full day or two of interviews, then deliberate for months. I ended up correctly answering every question given to me, but was in the end rejected, the only feedback I received is that it was a marginal situation but one committee member "had some doubts".

Being that I didn't graduate from a ivy league school, far from it, my imagination can come up with many motivating factors of their various hiring committees. Also, I did not approach Google, their recruiter contacted me based on my rapidly growing list of successes on my resume.

But in the end, I'm glad they didn't offer my the position, because after reflection, it was really just the prestige of working for Google that drew me to even consider an offer from them, when the smaller, more agile and more innovative atmosphere of a start-up is far more in-tune with my skillset and mentality.

And while there is no in-house laundry, so I can literally live in my "open office" without the bother of ever leaving work, I do have a few things in which I don't imagine I would find at Google, namely: A good work/life balance, an innovative atmosphere with little bureaucratic inertia and most importantly, a warm feeling when I'm driving to work in the morning.

In the end, I think it's google's policy of "Let's get the best, forget the rest" that is slowly taking them from "Do no Evil, be a cool place to work at" to "stuffy, sterile, homogeneous corporate environment". As people who are often "the best" have a much higher chance to be the trajectory oriented egocentric types who rarely, in my experience, produce "the best" outcomes and seem to be more interested in proving/showing/demonstrating how much better/smarter/whatever'er they are than everybody else that, despite their reputed intellect, seem to have a poorly understanding of the prisoner's dilemma as outlined by game theory.

eplilogue: the start-up I ended up with exceeded the salary requirements I handed Google, have free food too, and oh yeah, I get to make robots, oh yeah!

I recommend disregarding the ping-pong tables, the free organic-sustainable food, beer, MacBooks, the branding (we are enlightened geniuses constructing the future), etc. Pay attention to who you will be working with, and for. If your prospective job will be bullshit janitorial work, it doesn't matter if Guido van Rossum works there.

Throughout the process of interviewing and joining a new company, they will be communicating important things to you, whether they realize it or not. Just listen.

I had a pretty shite experience with Google applying for internships.

I had gotten through the interview process and told I was being placed with a team and would get a chance to speak to my new manager in November/December. I give her my preferences for placement and I waited until a few months before the summer started and asked my recruiters what was going on, and they said there were very few positions left and they must have flubbed the paperwork. She said she would work hard to get my team sorted out. Nothing for a week. I ask again, she apologizes. Nothing for another week. She apologizes and I finally speak with my manager. It is one of the teams near the bottom of my list of preferences. I had several great offers at the time and was by this point very unenthusiastic. I ask for another team, but am told all placements have been made and that they will try me again in the future.

Now I get calls/emails from Google recruiters every few months, seemingly always a few days after I sign a contract to work elsewhere. Are they intentionally trying to poach me? Anyways, I've had enough of big companies. I'm going to a startup as the 7th engineer that will let me work remotely as I sail around the world. I think I've made the right decision.

Google grew big and its bureaucracy grew with it. As well as many other things have changed, and not for the better. It's not the Google of the 2000s anymore.

I went through Google's interview process twice, including passing all the phone interviews and remote coding sessions and being flown out to Mountain View, only to be rejected each time.

When they started another recruiting push and asked me to come back and interview a third time I told them no thanks.

Ironically I wound up working for Google anyway after the startup I worked for was acquired!

Here's a secret for those who still want to work at Google. Put your resume on Dice and you'll probably get contacted by a contracting company. My friend who did this has no college degree and just had to do 2 non-technical phone screens. He gets free food and whatever and has his dream "job at Google". Now if you want to get a job at Google doing something interesting, all bets are off. He works on a large angular app that shows hardware allocations for an internal team. It's his first programming job at a software company though so he's learning a lot.

I'd like to hear more about this. It seems like a valid and responsible way for someone who is not an A+ player and needs some experience to get their foot in the door.

More and more of these stories seem to be popping up now. It doesn't seem to be to googles overall detriment though as people are still just as interested (I think?) to work there. Guess they can get away with it.

Is it possible the same people doing the hiring, are the ones doing the tech 'support'?

"on-site laundry machines"

Let's just pause and think about how INSANE that is. Are people that work at Google really so hopelessly dependent on their employer that they can't handle basic bodily sanitation without help?

Let me get this straight. These people are taking their laundry on the Google bus to wash their clothes at work?

Hi, reality much?

Why would you assume that because Google offers a service to its employees, this makes the employees hopelessly dependent? Presumably, not using that service won't put more money into Googler paychecks, just take it out (either as laundromat fees or their own water bills.) If it were me, I'd rather spend that money on something else.

Granted, they probably make enough that it doesn't matter either way, but unless they're washing buckskins in a river, just about everyone (in the US at least) is hopelessly dependent on their employer for "basic sanitation" to varying degrees of abstraction. And food. And shelter. And healthcare. Etc, etc.

Whatever. Normal people do their own laundry, like they brush their own teeth.

Lots of professional people pay for services to take care of laundry and dry cleaning. I don't see how that's economically different than getting Starbucks to make your coffee for you instead of doing it yourself.

Plenty of people live in apartments that don't necessarily have laundry on site. I don't have any firsthand experience, but I'd imagine it'd be a lot more convenient to be able to do your laundry at work for free vs. having to take a separate trip to a laundromat, feed quarters to the machines, etc.

I think this is key. I have a laundry machine at home, and would honestly be ashamed to bring in my wash, but if it saved me a trek to the laundromat, and the google laundry facility was a few minutes walk from my desk, it might give me a nice break from my day to mindlessly fold clothes.

People that work at Google live in apartments that have laundry onsite.

Because when they saw to it that the people who previously lived in that apartment were pushed out by rent increases, they also demanded that the landlord put in laundry machines.

That way, they could do their laundry at work and have the satisfaction of checking off "on-site laundry" in their mental status meters.

> Are people that work at Google really so hopelessly dependent on their employer that they can't handle basic bodily sanitation without help?

This makes as much sense as saying "This company has a cafeteria, are the employees so inept that they can't find food by themselves?".

Having laundry on site is extremely convenient, especially for younger folks who have roommates or very often rent a cheap bedroom without dryer/washer in the building.

Speaking as someone who (a) cycles into work (b) has on occasion spilled a cup of coffee down my business suit just before an important external meeting - that sounds very handy.

My guess is that OP is not in the U.S. Google isn't perfect but a 2-month background check is NOT the norm. A company that dysfunctional would get no talent.

In my experience, any scrutiny beyond the normal 2-3 references (no back channel) can be killed by faking (or, better yet, getting) a competing offer. That type of scrutiny/delay means they're on the fence because they see you as a low-status (but possibly capable) chump and social proof is often what it takes to land on the right side.

Well, that escalated quickly!


Wow, what a clever and constructive comment!

Not only do you dismiss the article in its entirety, you get to let us know how much you dislike microsoft too! Bravo!

How about instead of posting dismissive trashy 1 liners like this, you force yourself to write at least 3 or 4 sentences about why it's microsoft syndrome or what the hell you're even implying by calling that.

It made me Google "microsoft syndrome" and I'm still not really sure how that applies to this article.

Pff, and now the comment it's gone. I'm curious on what he wrote.

It may just me, but I feel like you're just a little sour grapes.

If it was really your dream job, you wouldn't give up on it so easily.

It sounds like the root of it is, you desire to work at a "great perks" type silicon valley company, not google in particular.

Time to dream again...

I don't get it. The blog post is about failing multiple Google interviews, then complaining that the process is good enough for you, then saying Google isn't your "dream job" anymore?

How is this different than the old, "I didn't want to go to your stupid birthday party anyway!"??

Maybe I missed something in the post but I was hoping to read about someone who had actually worked at Google before criticizing it..

Get over it, you were not good enough for them and that's what it is. If you were "google quality", you would have had long had an offer. This is for everyone else reading this, if you don't want to go through this. You must dazzle the folks interviewing you. Building amazing products you are willing to demo, solve interesting problem utilizing ridiculously large data sets, or in interesting AI domains. Google doesn't want average folks. I don't work at google or ever did, but your post is one of many lamenting about this.

Yeah not really, I know far too many "above average" people working there. Not everyone there is a savant, heck not even close. Companies on wall-street like DE Shaw have had far superior talent for a while now. And no, not all of their products are "stellar", some of them are utter shit. Just because you have accepted mediocrity and self-pity doesn't mean everyone should. Hard-work and practice goes a long way.

Some of Google's products are shit though. ^ The above would have been correct if their quality was great across the board, but it is not.

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