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Ask HN: Dealing with Failed Interview at Google and AWS?
91 points by annythesillicat on Oct 30, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments
I went on the interview with Amazon AWS and Google, and I couldn’t make it to the final round. It is disappointed but I feel thankful for this opportunities and I’ve learned a lot. I am a person who never be afraid, always moving forward and never stop. Always looking for positive opportunities. I’m very sure what I want and where I want to be in the future. But this feeling I have right now is kinda lost and confused. I’ve been taking care of my family since I was in school, I have pretty rough journey of live but I’ve done quite a good job on being a good daughter, responsible sister and strong self. I never give up no matter what. But these days I’ve been quite depressed and never have this feeling before. So many night I have (real) dream about the night my brother die and I wake up and cry, feeling lost, lonely and kept asking myself random questions. I tried to meditate to tame the mind and thought but it seems like it didn’t work as it always. I make a joke on it, maybe it is quarter life crisis, I’m 25 and soon turning 26, I should be ok by then.haha. I guess this could be an aftershock from AWS and Google interview. And I don’t know how to deal with it.… anyone ever struggle in this feeling before and how to get rid of it? Any suggestion or comment would be greatly appreciated! Thank you very much :)

I wouldn't take it too hard. I had the same thing happen to me for both Google and Amazon. With both they called me back later several times for other positions to interview for. I thought I did well on the interviews and still couldn't make it in. On one Google interview where I had the most expertise and thought I could get the job no problem, I didn't make it past the first interview.

I really couldn't figure out the problem but found a video from a former Google engineer who was on a hiring committee for years. If I can find the talk, I'll post the link. At one point during his time at Google, the committee got 10 candidates to decide on. They decided to not hire any of them. After the decision, they were told that the 10 candidates were actually everyone on the committee. So they had just decided not to hire themselves.

The point is a lot of times it is totally random and if one interviewer or committee member has a bad day, they may not hire you. So while skill is definitely required, a lot of luck is also required.

If you did well at all, they will probably call you back in the near future for another position. So stay positive and keep practicing till you get in.

For me, I eventually got a job with a smaller company and now I'm kind of tired of trying to get in. Maybe next year.

I've gotten to the final round twice with no offers from Google. They called me a few time since then and I've said no. I'm not sure how many older engineers are in the same boat but I too am "tired of trying to get in". I know they have plenty of candidates to choose from so it is my loss by not interviewing. But the whole "high false negative rate" crap annoys me. This isn't limited to Google but all the companies that don't look at my resume (what I've done to date), and use the interview as the sole criteria to decide if I work there ... at this point, I don't think I want to work at those places. Maybe I'm just old .... and tired :)

I too am annoyed with the "high false-negative rate". I have some impressive professional achievements as an engineer, and I also am a graduate of a top CS program. I recently did a set of onsite interviews at least competently: It's hard to judge how they saw it but I definitely didn't bomb out. In the end, I got rejected. I guess the reality of my excellence as an engineer doesn't matter, what matters is that I didn't appear like an algo-puzzle genius that day in front of a whiteboard. Based on this and other experiences, I conclude that:

1. The whole "developer shortage" talk from top companies is self-inflicted at best. I know it can be hard to find the right hire, but the top tech companies have loads of solid applicants and turn away great people every day. If they were truly desperate, there are so many great people they could snap up.

2. Making the interviews entirely about algorithmic questions biases towards new graduates and academics. To be honest, working as an engineer does not develop the "algo" part of my brain much. They might as well challenge me to a chess match to "prove my intelligence". (I don't play chess)

Personally I'd rather see interviews focus more on real things related to professional practice, at least for experienced hires. If they really are interested in testing my ability on the spot, would it be so hard to set up a computer and have me perform tasks that developers actually do? Like write code that is challenging in some way, but doesn't hinge on a level of on-the-spot cleverness that is almost never exercised in real professional work?

Getting a good sense of a person is really difficult, especially through something as contrived as these technical interviews. And any company that sees enough applicants that they can afford it will err on the side of rejecting candidates even if they know they're probably good, if for whatever reason they're not quite sure. I've interviewed people that blew me away and then seen them rejected. I don't intend that as a criticism really because I can't imagine a hiring process, however well meaning, that doesn't have this issue to some extent. It's just how these things work.

When you don't get hired though, almost always you will err on the side of blaming yourself. I've heard about people blaming the process but I've never met someone in person who did that. And actually I suspect there's a Dunning–Kruger effect working where the more qualified you are the more likely you are to turn a rejection inwards and blame yourself.

I'm not saying that's what happened here, I don't know. Just keep in mind that hiring anywhere, including at amazon and google, can't be a fair process to the candidate. And you're the least objective observer of your own performance.

You've doubtless seen this already, but I'm going to quote Steve Yegge anyway:

You: But what if I get a mistrial? I might be smart and qualified, but for some random reason I may do poorly in the interviews and not get an offer! That would be a huge blow to my ego! I would rather pass up the opportunity altogether than have a chance of failure!

Me: Yeah, that's at least partly true. Heck, I kinda didn't make it in on my first attempt, but I begged like a street dog until they gave me a second round of interviews. I caught them in a weak moment. And the second time around, I prepared, and did much better.

The thing is, Google has a well-known false negative rate, which means we sometimes turn away qualified people, because that's considered better than sometimes hiring unqualified people. This is actually an industry-wide thing, but the dial gets turned differently at different companies. At Google the false-negative rate is pretty high. I don't know what it is, but I do know a lot of smart, qualified people who've not made it through our interviews. It's a bummer.

But the really important takeaway is this: if you don't get an offer, you may still be qualified to work here. So it needn't be a blow to your ego at all!


And that all remains perfectly true. I flunked my first round of Google interviews, then tried again (in a different role I've come to conclude was a much better fit, mind you) and now I'm here. You can be too ;)

Pretty sure I bombed the back half of my Google interview today, so this comes at a pretty funny time for me.

This stuff is hard. Don't sweat it too much.

I hear this mentioned a lot, but I'd be interested in hearing how many opportunities a company like Google would give someone. If you fail twice, would you be given a third opportunity in a few years? How about if you fail again?

I think a lot of people would be turned off from applying a second time, in case they blow what might be their last chance. They'd rather wait until they feel they are ready, and for many people that may be never.

The downside of these kind of interviews is that it is a priori assumed that candidate should prepare...

Even though the title is about dealing with Failed interview at G & A, I think the OP needs a different sort of advice. You can get into a hole in your life, more than once and for various different reasons (failing at interviews being just one of them).

This is more about dealing with life. Life that can be harsh and unforgiving. Exposure to Mass Media on a 24/7 basis has changed us as persons. It has made us take enormous amount of useless stress with all the false/misdirected expectations that we set for ourselves, often based on what has happened in the life of those who get the limelight.

We need to disconnect on a regular basis. We need to clear the noise and relax. Life is not about chasing the next big WOW. No need to take stress because of things that would have given us even greater stress if we had got them.

The World is in Shambles (at least for most of us).

As mindcrime in an another comment says,

"a better strategy is to get on with it with a sort of calm, peaceful acceptance of things, even when they are negative"

salute! "a better strategy is to get on with it with a sort of calm, peaceful acceptance of things, even when they are negative" and clear noise and relax. I did went offline for 7 days. feel much fresher!

Another perspective, if I may: you write that you've been taking care of your family since you were in school, and have made it through a rough life to be considered a candidate for both Google and AWS? You're Awesome! What do you care about those companies and their broken interview processes?

A personal anecdote I just went through this week: a few years ago, I lost an interview with a company I really wanted to work for. Part of the reason I wanted to work there was that a lot of people I knew and respected worked there, and they seemed very happy when I visited for the interview. I was pretty down after that. This week one of the people who worked there reached out, and among other things we discussed, it appears he had a horrible time there, and there was no reason for me to feel down about not being accepted. Also, I spent this past summer as an intern at Google, and while I don't want to start the usual "is Google still a cool place to work at" fights here, I do feel comfortable writing that my own very subjective conclusion is that one can get stuck at an uninteresting role at Google, like in any other company.

Keep meditating, and keep being awesome.

Thanks! I wish you all the best for your career and future!

I don't know if it helps, but I interviewed twice at a large company here in Melbourne (for a role as a contract developer).

The first time I was rejected for being "too opinionated" for the likely team I'd be in, second time I was accepted. And I'd say the first rejection was spot on too, I don't think I'd have been a good fit for that team.

Bear in mind that a 'failed interview' isn't necessarily a failure on your part; it might just mean that the company doesn't think you'd have been right for the job. If possible do push really hard to get honest feedback in as much detail as possible; if it's a good recruitment process, such feedback can be a goldmine of personal improvement opportunities.


"Bad fit for particular job" != "poor candidate in general"

Sometimes the interviewer can see this better than the candidate.

And note that one of the companies mentioned by the OP (Google) is very up-front about screening for "culture fit".

Sometimes people get hired and then get very unhappy with their "fit" in the company or the way things are done. Some people leave within 3 months. It's nice when they screen to avoid that.

I interviewed 3 times with Amazon before I got an offer from them. And then when I was there, I kicked ass. There's little correlation between the interviews and how good you actually are. Also, while I was at Amazon, I did probably over a hundred interviews (in person and phone screens). Interviewing in hard and there are a lot of very bad interviewers there. They try to keep a similar bar across the company, but I found it to be very inconsistent from team to team. AWS tends to be one of the harder teams to interview for.

Also, feel free to try again if you feel like you would like working there.

Not sure CS-interview related advice is warranted here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8181380

To OP: I'm really sorry that you didn't get the job you wanted. My path is not the same as yours, but I ran into rejection applying to college, applying to grad school, and applying to jobs after grad school.

In each case I felt terrible. I didn't know how to move forwards or what I was going to do, I felt like the rejection was an indictment of my self-worth.

But I think it helps to keep three things in mind:

- The people on the other side of these interviews are humans - they make mistakes and work off incomplete data. I guarantee you that they know far less about who you are, personally or professionally, than any of your friends or loved ones.

- Your self worth isn't tied to how well you do during an interview, or how many job offers you get, or whether or not your dream company gives you a job.

- Your destination - if you don't give up, you will probably end up where you wanted to go. But almost certainly, you won't have taken the path you originally set out to take. Life is filled with unforeseen setbacks and unanticipated opportunities. Proceed with an open mind and don't feel like you need to have everything figured out right away.

:) Thank you so much for your advice. Helps me have a clearer sense of how to approach whatever this is. This is new to me though, ''don't feel like you need to have everything figured out right away'' Ill try to remind myself.

Thank you everyone for your kind advice and encouragement. I really appreciate and can not express how much I feel thankful for this with my limited English. Since my older brother pass away. I never show weakness to anyone even my family. I just don't know how to be miserable or share negativity with people around me. (Please allow me to be drama, please ignore if you don't like it.) Everyone sees me as a smart and strong person and they can rely on me and I'm happy with that. I'm happy when people around me is happy. But why I'm too emotional so much now about Google and Amazon because, I realised, actually, I wanted to be accepted. I was thinking if I get the job, I'll make more money so that my mom will stop asking me to marry with the guy I don't know(in Thai culture, when a guy marry with a woman, a gloom has to pay money to a bride family), just accept who I am. I want my dad stop worrying about me and be proud of who I am. I want my brothers to have a better education, better than I had, be a better person than I am. And everybody just be happy. That's all I want in life. I just complain. And I know this hard time will pass as I always pass so many storms. Just this time, I expected myself too much so it hurt so much, and I couldn't figure out how to handle this drama emotional. time heals... One thing I know, to me, failure is just an event but not an identity. It happen, I acknowledge and experience that I'm sad, depressed, cry if it necessary. Then detach from it, put my shit together and move on. I can only imagine I will be a batter person than I was. I will try better with SoftLayer on upcoming interview soon. And if I fail again, it is totally fine because I already feel thankful for any opportunities I was given. Thank you and goodluck everyone!!! :)

This is real mothership of drama queen. writing last night while I was drunk.so embarrassing and can not delete it. oh well. All I want to say is thank you everyone for your advice, sharing, encouraging!

Whatsapp's founder got turned down from Facebook and then he got rehired again when Facebook bought his company for $18b.

If he had been hired that day, maybe there'd have been no Whatsapp. A single situation can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

I'm pretty sure he added at least $1b to the price of whatsapp for the compensation of emotional stress he got back then :)

It's natural to feel disappointed when one doesn't get through an interview and one begins questioning a lot of things when this happens. This happens to almost everyone. Almost everyone has not made it through at some point or another ...be it an interview, college application, a date, a driving test, getting selected for a sports team ...

We tend to obviously be more critical of ourselves when we lose out on things like interviews because we value jobs a lot more than other things. While it is ok ...in fact, healthy even, to feel a bit depressed by rejection, this shouldn't get to the point where you spiral downwards questioning everything in your life.

Hiring is often a matter of selection based on a number of factors beyond technical skill. Irrespective of what developers believe, HR truly can could be influenced by salary expectations, date of availability, logistics (for instance, visa issues) ..etc. I do agree that most of these are non-issues for places like Google or Amazon but even then, it might be a tough call to make when companies have shortlisted 2 very strong candidates and just have 1 slot to fill (or maybe even 10 strong candidates and 4 slots ...you get the idea). The point of all this is, don't beat yourself up about it -- external factors beyond your abilities, suitability or control influence hiring decisions. Don't feel too bad if you think you did well enough at the interview. If you didn't, you now know where you were lacking.

HTH, good luck

Don't worry, you're not alone. https://twitter.com/brianacton/status/3109544383

When I was 25, I got rejected by both Facebook and Microsoft and felt really bad about it, but it's only been a couple of years and my career is now light-years ahead of ahead where I ever hoped it would be. As several others have said, the fact that you didn't get an offer doesn't mean you weren't good enough, it probably means you weren't a fit. And if you weren't a fit, it means that long-term it's better for both you and the company if you work somewhere else. So even though I completely understand your disappointment, know that you're just still looking for the right fit, and a couple of years from now you're probably going to look back and be really happy with how things worked out somewhere other than Google or Amazon.

I'm very sorry that you lost your brother. Losing a family member is always a sad thing, but if it's causing you to have nightmares and lose sleep you should try talking to someone. If this has been going on for a long time you might have depression that won't get better by just 'dealing with it'. I'd suggest you find someone you feel comfortable talking to about it in person: maybe a friend, or family member, or a therapist. But get some help - depression makes everything seem worse than it is, and if you can get on top of how you feel, not only will you feel better, but it'll probably help your job search too.

Good luck - and don't feel alone. A lot of us have been through these same kinds of things and know it does get better, even though it kinda sucks right now.

Thank you for your kind message. I think my problem is I don't know how to ''share'' feeling with people around me. In my whole life I have been the only one person my family can rely on both mentally and physically. I only know to be stronger and never give up and I never show feeling with people around me. I just let go and focus on positive thing that I can make it happen.

I'm sure it goes against the grain if you're used to being the one everyone depends on, but please just never feel like you really can't talk to anyone. By all means keep focusing on the positive as long as that's working for you, but if you feel like you need more than you have to give, it can be as simple as just stating facts like you've done here. Having trouble sleeping? Bad dreams? Keep having negative thoughts? Just say so. You don't have to open up all your emotions for someone to see you need a bit of support.

I am currently working at a company that is widely considered to be amongst the best in the world in its area of expertise. I interviewed 6 times, with 6 different teams, over the course of about 8 months, until I got an offer from my current team.

What's interesting is that in retrospect, my current role is far more interesting and demanding on all fronts than any of the other teams I interviewed for.

It's hard, but keep pushing. The main thing that differentiates successful people from the others is persistence.

I think this is great info. It's usually never quite clear from the applicant's perspective whether multiple interviews with multiple teams is kosher or not (maybe depends on org as well?). Great datapoint ta have. Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the gig!

Regarding the multiple interviews, I would typically interview with one team, get a negative answer, not hear back from the company for a few weeks, and then be contacted by another recruiter for another team.

2 months ago I went through something similar. Interviewed at this company: 2 phone interviews, one skype call, and about 6 hours of onsite (flew out to a different city).

I got another offer so I contacted the manager from the first company and the recruiter. Manager calls me up and we discuss the offer, things seem to be going well, I was happy with the offer and we agree to move ahead. Recruiter contacts me the next day saying I should be getting an offer letter by the end of the day. Next day I get a call from the recruiter saying the HR department wants to see my current pay stubs and tax documents from the last year because they want to ensure my "integrity". Things went south after that as I didn't want to give my personal information. I really liked the team and the job (what was described to me by the team / manager).

I was in the same state as you are right now, didn't really sleep properly for 3 weeks. I would suggest taking your mind off the job hunt for next week or so - - start a new project - learn a new technology that you have never touched before - hike / take long walks (helped me a lot as it opened me up to a new perspective) - volunteer (tech talks / meet ups)

Honestly, a job or a company doesn't define who you are and what skills you have, it is YOU who makes the difference.

I've known and worked with so many great coders (including myself) who got rejected from those places or couldn't even get interviews. There is no shame in it, their interview process is just calibrated to reject most good people.

I'd say this just means you can go work somewhere that will allow you to be more then a junior cog in a large corporation.

I'd start with the hacker news "who is hiring" thread that gets posted the 1st of every month if you aren't already watching it.

I used to work for Amazon, and made it all the way through the Google loops once and I can tell you that you are better than the most of the candidates already, because you made it to the second or third last round.

Applying for positions in these companies comes with hard interview loops and you need to know everything about the stack your code is running on (mostly operating systems and networking). this is true for almost any role there (usually the engineering field is divided: systems, network, software and security engineering. i am not sure what sort of role you were going for but i guess software engineering. those positions also require that you are familiar with extreme scale and you are knowledgable about the usual SDE topics like data structures and algorithms. it is hard to do all of these at once at the level that you are in the top 5% who gets hired.

if you are serious about it, most of the questions and answers are leaked out to the internet so you can just google them and try to understand the problem, study it more if you are not sure (ask stackoverflow etc.) and you can pass the interview the next time (~18 months from now). next time you are going to be more prepared and potentially similar questions going to come up.

I'm in my mid thirties and I know that feel. Got turned down in round 2 of AWS last year after the interviewer put a full court press on me for not knowing something kind of arcane (I think it was knowing the implementation of FIPS 140 or something like that). I was honest and said I had no idea and only a passing familiarity with it, but the guy was just like a dog with a bone. That's the way it is sometimes - you get a bad interviewer and the game is up. You shouldn't couple your self-worth or even your worth as a developer/technologist with the outcome of any interview process - especially from those kinds of places.

It will feel like crap for a while, but it's a numbers game - keep turning them over and one or two will come up your way. Don't know what city you are in, but tech meetups are a great place to pick up leads for jobs, usually. This might sound weird - but elections are happening now (assuming you are U.S.) - Go volunteer at a campaign pretty hard for the next week and a half. You might meet some people who can help you out in the long run.

At your age, it's often better to cut your teeth somewhere where you can jump in and get more responsibility off the bat anyway.

I recently went through a particularly brutal round of failed interviews myself that left me reeling and pretty self-conscious about my ability. I made it through till the last round for 4 companies (one that flew me from DC->SF) and didn't get an offer from a single one. A couple of them I spent hours/days on coding projects/samples too, and 3/4 of them I really thought I had done well enough for an offer. I am still kind of recovering from it and haven't entertained an interview opportunity in a couple months, and truthfully I didn't cut a line of code outside of work for close to a month. I'm still slowly getting back into the swing of things, but I'm getting back into the swing of things. The sting of failure hurts, for damn sure; you try to separate your ego/self from the process and know that the interviewing process is a crapshoot, but it still gets to me and I imagine most people. Sounds like if you've made it that far and was even asked to interview with G and A, you're going to be just fine down the road. As others have said in the thread - with time, you'll start to feel better, just keep on keepin' on.

I've recently gone through similar rejection myself. I found a company through a Who's Hiring post. I breezed through three phone interviews, and it felt like the company had hired the NSA to find me, as what they seemed to be looking for was me exactly. I had an all day in person interview, felt like I had a great rapport with everyone, had no problems with any of the coding sections, had great answers for their questions, and getting the job seemed like a foregone conclusion. Then a week later I got "we've gone with another candidate". I'm pretty sure that's not true, as it's a fairly small company, and over the course of my interviews, their team page was updated a few times. No one with the position I applied for has been added since before my interview, and the job ad is still up, and in fact, has been expanded upon. So essentially, they'd rather just not have that position filled then fill it with me :\

What's funny though, is that when I first read the rejection email, the main source of my disappointment was not the job, but realizing I'm probably stuck in the midwest for another winter.

My head is up, though.

Funny to me too. After the recruiter called me and said I was rejected, I said thanks and hung up the phone and cried very hard as if it was the first time I cry in a whole year. But then I feel very very good about myself. It's like damn I am quite damn kick ass!, especially after this experience, I feel like being a better person and I have learned a lot!

If relocation is not an issue for you, there are literally tons of jobs in US. HN's hiring thread doesn't represent even a 0.01% of these... There are many great companies or big enough circles where they even never heard of "Hacker News". So you should consider the world outside HN.

Most of the advise here seems to be along the lines of: "I was rejected from Google too, don't take it too personal". This post got a lot of upvotes, because this is an experience many people can relate to.

I read your previous post at: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8185085 and based on that I wanted to give you hopefully a little bit more personal advise. That said, I don't know much about you and personal situation, so I might be completely wrong.

Based on what you wrote, it seems like you had a setback in your life. After that you fixated all your efforts on your job interviews at Google and Amazon. When that failed, you fell into a hole.

I think, you need to find a different focus. I can't really tell you what it is, because I don't know enough about you.

What can help is to exercise and meditate every day. There is no such thing as bad mediation. Maybe talk with a psychologist, counselor or monk (I understand that you are in Thailand). It might help to view it in term of Buddhism: attachment, craving and letting go.

This takes my breathe away. I'm pretty much like what you're saying. I’m lost and need to focus on different thing. I know it is bad when I think like I'm from poor family and I carry responsibility everywhere I go. I felt like I am an underdog until I got to interview with these top companies. I think I expected myself to get the job because I want to feel like ''yay!, I made it''. I’m still pretty sure that I want to work with one of these companies, surround with smart people where I can learn together with them and be a better person. See how far I can go. Because of the rough road of life I’m falling in. I learn how to let go. I love reading Dhamma, Persian poetry, philosophy and psychology. I mediate almost everyday. Go to gym/swim/ yoga. I’ve been living a happy life by using this stuff as a life manual. Just this time I don’t know what happen. I totally have no idea what I’m talking about. Haha. Thank you very much for your advice. I could see how I can adjust my craziness from your perspective :)

I am glad you found it helpful. Good luck.

Timely post, I just heard back from Facebook today and didn't get an offer. I was pretty crestfallen at first, but I am kinda realizing that interviewing is really somewhat of a crapshoot.

At the time, I thought I did pretty well but as I went back over the questions, I realized that I missed a lot of the sort of "tricks" of the questions that they wanted to see.

It was really simple stuff, using a hash where I should have used a trie and not seeing an edge case initially, maybe not being super efficient in a design problem. After thinking about it, the result could have been drastically different (worse or better) using a different 4 questions.

CS is a broad problem space, its not surprising to come across something that you fail at and in my mind, thats to be expected. While this time luck wasn't on my side with a few questions I didn't do amazing at, it may be better next time. Its kinda crappy how arbitrary it can seem, but I don't know if there are much better alternatives.

I have a Google interview tomorrow, so I will try my best, but also remind myself that there is a lot of chance involved.

I had my shot at Google in 2012, made it to the on-site rounds. I thought I did well, but I read all the rejection stories online so I wasn't holding my breath. Still, only my wife knew about the interviews; didn't tell the rest of my family. Back then, I felt like scoring that job would just make my life complete. 3 weeks later I got the "Sorry, not this time". Even though I thought I was ready for rejection, it still hit me kinda hard. But because of how hard I prepared for Google, I was able to nail the interview that came afterwards and ended up in a great company. And the experience from this job has given me some insight to what Google was probably looking for.

It feels rough at first, but don't take it personally. Keep doing what you love and it'll be alright. Last I heard, you can try about once a year or so. In the meanwhile, keep a list of other places you'd like to work and try for them. You might even find another gig so awesome that you don't hunger for G or A anymore. That's kinda what happened to me.

Time will heal.

I went to an interview a while back that I was ridiculously well qualified for; it was as if the job posting was a veritable transcription of my resume. And I got absolutely thrashed.

The interviewer was kind of combative and played the 'trick' question whiteboard game. I just fell apart. By the end of it, I wasn't able to respond to basic English. I stared blankly when asked what a 'heuristic' was...

I felt absolutely terrible -- and this was a job I hadn't really even wanted.

I found out that I don't do well with that kind of interview. A lot of people, especially introverts, wither in the confrontation.

And it's ok. Those companies miss out on a lot of amazing developers. And there are a lot of places that will hire people without forcing them to do an awkward dog and pony show.

I no longer bother with it at this point in my career. I have several friends that work at Google, but I'd never even think about interviewing there.

You can make great connections at things like user groups and personal projects. And there are TONS of wonderful places to work outside the Google/Amazon microcosms.

Big question: why did you pin your hopes, dreams, and identity on working for a XXXX major tech firm? It's not fully within your control, and at the end of the day, it's just a job. I can't really offer you much help other than this. Ask yourself, at your funeral, what do you want people to remember you for. Will it be your character, or the fact you worked at Google?

I can relate. I've been rejected after 2-3 months of pretty good prep by all of FB, Google, MSFT, Amz and Apple after onsites with them. It's been pretty depressing and I feel totally burned out, but the only path forward seems to be to practice harder.

All the companies above told me to try again after a year, Google mentioned I wouldn't have to do the phone screens again, so hopefully I'm not that far away from getting the job.

My advice would be to try stay positive. If you're a programmer and have a stable job, you're in the top 10-20% income wise in this Country and probably in the top 5% of all humanity. As programmers, we have the tools to imagine and make into reality whatever we chose. To top it off, we generally enjoy doing this stuff and working conditions are usually tolerable.

My current path is to keep challenging myself progressively tougher algo problems on websites like HackerRank and not get locked into the mindset of gluing together libraries all day.

All the best for next year!

What happens at an interview largely isn't about you - it's about the company that is trying to hire someone. They will only ever see a small slice of who you are and what you are capable of. Whether or not they get what they need to make a decision says a lot more about their hiring process than your quality as an engineer.

That's funny, I have been rejecting being interviewed by either of them for many years now.

It helps to have some sort of arrogance about the whole thing. If they don't want you, then whatever. They have brilliant engineers but I wouldn't want to join a big company that already has it all figured out. What's in it for you?

The mid-20's are an interesting time of life. We expect our life to be on some kind of track by then, and the reality is it often isn't. The difference between our expectations and our reality can hurt.

The biggest thing is to take some time. Time heals, and sometimes just lying on the ground for a bit after you've been knocked down is all it takes.

There are literally thousands of companies in the world doing interesting stuff that are not Google or Amazon. Many of them are starved for talent. This doesn't mean you're settling for places with lower standards, but rather the standards at Google and Amazon are so high that--as others have pointed out here--past a certain level it is random chance if you get in or not. Hiring is a very random process.

So don't restrict yourself to big-name companies. There are a lot of interesting and rewarding places to work that pay well. Keep going.

This might sound like a bit of a glib response, but just go with it. It sucks, but there is nothing you can do except to keep improving for your next opportunity.

For what it's worth, earlier this week I massively failed whiteboarding two should-have-been-dead-easy questions. Nerves jumped up and bit me. I'm talking near total meltdown in which I complicated a task as easy as swapping two variables using a single temporary.

What can I do about it at this point? Nothing. It's a tad embarrassing, but I'm already moving on. I've finally started reading Okasaki, and am making a project out of concurrently learning Elixir and some distributed algorithms.

I'll probably fail a technical interview again at some point in the future. But behind the scenes, I'll already be a better programmer than I was at that point in time. What else can I do?

For what it's worth, I'm not qualified by any means, but I've tangoed with both Amazon and Google extensively. Though I'm younger than you by a couple years, I feel like we have a similar story.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, part of being in this industry is that it doesn't matter who you are, it matters how you do it. Mind me, I saying you're doing/did anything "wrong"; you may have caught someone on their bad day. But, by all means, don't give up. Believe me when I say that if I can do it, you can surely do it.

This quote seems relevant (though you weren't fired, like the film portrays): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1193138/quotes?item=qt1093933

Everyone get's turned down for jobs every now and then, eventually one will work out for you. Just keep building things.

The depression you're feeling might be a problem worth working on in and of itself though. Exercise, medication and therapy can all be really helpful, tackle it head on.

Not to be harsh, but I don't know if English is your second language or not, but reading the above statement, I wonder about how you came across verbally in the interview. Can you present your arguments coherently? Did you understand and answer the questions correctly? Not knowing details, I would recommend taking time to practice interviewing.

That being said, both Amazon and Google have interesting interview patterns. I've done well at both and flailed at both -- over the years. So it could just be timing as well.

Learn from it, contemplate on where you think your short comings were, practice those and move on. There are plenty more interesting companies out there.

yes, actually I always have very low confident about my English as it is my 3rd language. (1.Thai, 2. Japanese) I understood the conversation perfectly though. But the role I interviewed for was totally not match with my experience so I didn't know what to answer to their questions. And yes, I will keep practicing interview.

When I finish a long contract it usually takes me a couple of interviews before I get to the point where I can do good. So I started lining up interviews at marginally interesting opportunities first to use them as "practice".

I've twice failed the final round of Google interviews. Just remember that if you haven't failed then you haven't really pushed yourself to the limit. Now that you're a member of the huge family of Google rejects, take a look at the myriad awesome companies out there. I ended up with a fantastic post-series A startup that has exposed me to opportunities I'd never have if I was writing boilerplate Python and PHP at Google. Though Google pays better and had free food. Working for a startup is not without its drawbacks.

My advice? Don't sweat it. I didn't get an offer from Amazon after the in person interview. I was pretty bummed, to say the least. But I did end up getting a job that pays just as well, in a company just as cool, in a position that might actually be a better fit.

If you are good, keep going. You'll find what you are looking for. Just don't get too caught up in the "it has to be Google/Amazon/Apple/etc" mindset. There are a lot of other great jobs and companies in this market for technical skills.

Go launch something in consumer space. Make a game for pet cats to play. People seriously have these. Games are nice since any UI with a user-achievable action is essentially a game without a score. Software portfolios and investment portfolios are remarkably similar in providing a center of consistent improvement and data feedback on which to get awesome at developing products. Android has a really low bar for entry. You have to be 26-clicks-and-a-credit-card tall to ride the ride. Launch & learn.

I went through the same, was interviewed at Google and for AWS. This was after a short 2-year sprint running my own start-up. I wrote my story here (including how I am dealing with the side-effects, some of which you mention). Part 4 is still in the pipeline, but I should be ready to release it soon. http://www.lemiffe.com/truncated-dreams-1/

Why bother? There are tons of places better than G and A! This just means they don't fit you. You did nothing wrong, it's like relationship.

Take a break, then carry on!

I've been there, having interviewed at both amazon and google and rejected at both. Ultimately, I'm better (and happier) for it. Eventualy found myself in the position of having to choose between multiple better offers. Use this as a learning opportunity -- other opportunities will come along, and this probably isn't the last you'll hear from either google or amazon.

I had three phone interviews with AWS, then they flew me to Seattle for 7 more interviews in one day.

I didn't get an offer.

There is a large randomness factor in interviews. You could have come in second to somebody who is basically your equal, but happens to have the same undergrad school as the hiring manager. You just don't know, and you never will.

I'm sorry for the rough turn things took. Rejection from a company you want to work at sucks. I've coached 250+ interviews on Career Cup. Interviewing is a muscle, you have to build it with practice and techniques.

Contact me at bilal at careercup dot com, I will help you out pro bono.

"...At the time, it seemed much better to be chosen than not chosen"


this too, shall pass.

Through most of my life I always looked at any form of rejection as a form of motivation, and adhered to a sort of "next time, be so damn good they can't ignore you" mindset. I think one can take that too far, to a point where it isn't healthy, but if you channel the emotion the right way it can help you keep moving forward and keep climbing to progressively higher heights.

If you want to take that approach, and say "f%!# it, I'm going to buckle down and work my ass off so I do get the job next time" there are a few concrete steps you can take.

1. Find, read, and do the exercises in two or three of the various popular books on "programming interviews". I'm thinking of books like Cracking the Coding Interview[1], Programming Interviews Exposed[2], Ace the Programming Interview[3], etc.

2. The companies you mentioned are well known for asking lots of detailed questions on fundamental computer sciences concepts. If doing "big o" analysis and talking about algorithms in detail isn't your forte, get a couple of good Algorithms course books and go through them. Personally, I'm a fan of the Robert Sedgwick books[4][5][6][7], and the CLR[8] book is a standard in this area.

3. Look over the many various articles / blogs / etc. written about preparing for Google interviews.


I have never applied to Google myself, so I can't speak to that from first-hand experience, but this Steve Yegge blog post always struck me as being excellent:


4. Take as many interesting Coursera, EdX, Udemy, etc. courses as you can find time for.

5. Write code any chance you can. Get involved in, or start, an open source project (or two). Volunteer to code for a non-profit / charity or something in your area. Write an app for yourself, to fill a need of your own.

6. Make sure you broaden your horizons and challenge yourself. If you've always written, say, Java or C++ or Ruby code, then make an effort to learn Go, or Erlang or Haskell or Prolog.

All of that said, as I've gotten older, I probably feel a little bit less of the "I'll show you!" thing. I've developed more of a stoic approach, and almost a bit of a zen mindset. There's a lot to be said for a sort of calm, peaceful acceptance of things, even when they are negative. There's a lot more one could say about this, but I don't want to get too philosophical here. I'll just point out that you applied to two... TWO.... companies. Out of like a BILLION possible companies you could work for. Ok, maybe not a billion, but certainly millions, or thousands, depending on where you live and your willingness / ability to travel.

My point is, don't put too much weight on what happened with Google or Amazon. The whole "dream companies" thing is a crock of shit, IMO, looking back on it with hindsight. I've worked for two companies in my career that I once thought of as my "dream" destinations, and neither experience was anything special (neither was bad either), and not worth getting all worked up over.

Final last bits of advice.

1. Read Nietzsche

2. Read Ayn Rand

3. Get drunk

4. Listen to some Queensryche

5. Profit???

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Coding-Interview-Programming-...

[2]: http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Interviews-Exposed-Secrets...

[3]: http://www.amazon.com/Ace-Programming-Interview-Questions-An...

[4]: http://www.amazon.com/Algorithms-Java-Parts-1-4-Pts-1-4/dp/0...

[5]: http://www.amazon.com/Algorithms-Java-Part-Graph-Edition/dp/...

[6]: http://www.amazon.com/Algorithms-Parts-1-4-Fundamentals-Stru...

[7]: http://www.amazon.com/Algorithms-Part-Graph-Edition-Pt-5/dp/...

[8]: http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Algorithms-Edition-Thomas...

Read Nietzsche? Common now, OP isn't a teenager :)

Points. I am giving them to you. Thank you, sir or madam. I salute you.

This is the post I wish I'd made a year ago. Any advice for building back up again for a second attempt?

Does anyone know what the retry/reapply period (after rejection) for Google is these days?

don't be too hard on yourself. as a lot of people have said, not only do you need to be good but you also need to be lucky. and not all jobs in google is glamorous (but yeah the perks are for sure)


There are thousands of companies you can still apply to.

I recently went through some similar feelings... well, at least about the interviews. For me, it wasn't so much being rejected by places where I really wanted to work as just getting rejected five or six times. It was shocking; I've never had to interview more than twice before the offers started rolling in.

as an aside, what is it with the lack of a response? I interviewed at one place... for like 7 hours. It went really well, the guy gave me his email, told me to email him... until the end. "How much do you want?" I named a high number, and then said something like "But that's high. I just got someone that used to work for me a job for $lowernumber" - the guy mumbled something about that being a little high, I said that I'd been interviewing for a while, so I was open to offers.

Total silence. I email the guy twice, email the recruiter, etc.. and eventually like two weeks later I email the contract recruiter (who told me ahead of time that my high number was in range) and he tells me that I didn't get the job, because of the downsides I was real up-front about in my phone interview.

Man, I can understand not wanting to hire me. Especially not for the high number. But if I spend seven hours on-site interviewing with you, and you ask me to email you... you can respond. And what is it with making me name a number and then not countering? it's a negotiation. I'm trying to get as much as I can, but I really don't know how much that is. Give me some clues.

gah. Okay, yeah, rant over.

The solution for me was to keep interviewing until I ended up getting a job.

The fact of the matter is that social performance matters a lot on interviews, and for me? My social performance is pretty random. Some days I seem to have it; all my mistakes come off as jokes, and I seem charming and confident. Other days? well, sometimes it seems like I'm mildly autistic. My mistakes cause awkward silence.

That, and some departments just don't want a personality like mine. I... don't drink kool-aide. I mean, sure, I'll do what I'm told, but, for instance, you aren't going to get me to actually believe that advertising is good for the person that is being advertised to.

I recently got a gig that is absolutely perfect for who I am and where I am in my life, and it was the first job that accepted me. Incidentally, it's at google, but it's a contract-to-hire thing, so I've got another year (and a bunch more cash) to let my partner try to get prgmr off the ground again before deciding if I really want to (or if I'm actually able to) become a company man. Meanwhile, from what I gleaned from the interview, I'm going to be able to absolutely nail the role, as long as they don't expect too much google cheerleading from me.

From that perspective? The rejections were really for the best; I can't credibly pretend that I want to be a company man because I'm not ready to be a company man, and I think I'll make an awesome contractor (and maybe I'll be ready to be that company man a year from now? )

Try working for McDonald's. The interview is a lot easier, and you get free food there as well!

when I was in school. I worked part time in McDonald's. I could split money to my family. yeah, easy interview. Good experience and I've learn a lot after all.

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