Interviewing at Google part III

Over a year ago I wrote up some notes on my experience interviewing at Google. I intended to write a 3 part series but obviously never did. In the spirit of completeness, I'll toss out a few notes now on the rest of my experience. They may be a little inaccurate since it's been so long, but you won't know.

At the appropriate time I stepped out of the car and walked into building 40. I checked in with a lady at the desk and she offered me some drinks from a fridge behind her. She also gave me a bag of schwag, which I later spread out at the hotel and photographed. Google schwag

As I sat in the lounge I glanced around. The chairs were colorful and there were some bean bags on the floor. I kept thinking about how weird it'd be if I had signed in and went and sat way down low on one of those.

Soon the recruiter I had been in contact with came in and led me up some stairs, explaining the process and the history of the building (SGI used to own it). We crossed a sort of suspended walkway that offered views into small rooms, each equipped with a whiteboard, table, and a couple of chairs. She informed me that most of my day would be spent in a similar room.

We entered one of the main parts of the building and there was a large vacant espresso bar behind us. There was some disorganization as she tried to track down the first person I'd be talking to. I sat in the room and waited.

My first interview was with a guy a few years younger than me. He had just graduated and was working in QA. I had helped interview some candidates at a company I co-op'd at and could tell he felt the way I did then. He didn't have any specific questions and we just talked about technology and testing.

After he left an older woman came in. She was a little sick and somewhat nervous. That actually put me at ease. She had some questions that were very general and I felt comfortable answering. The only awkward part was that she insisted on typing my responses into her laptop, and I often had to slow down so she could get it all. She thanked me for my patience. I mentioned a few things during my talk that she went oh! we do that here too!, which I thought was good.

After this it was time for lunch. My recruiter introduced me to another guy that had just graduated and would be taking me to lunch. The cafeteria was bustling, the scene similar to what you'd see at Georgia Tech's--or any university's--student center dining area.

They really do have a lot of interesting food. I tried some Mexican dishes and some other things I don't remember. Grabbing a drink is like going to your local gas station. There's a whole row of refrigerators stocked with sodas, juices, etc.

The tables were long, school cafeteria style. We picked the end of a table and I talked to him about Google Phoenix, where he had been hired originally. I related how I was born in Arizona and we also talked about local recreation in the mountains and San Francisco. Google HQ After lunch we grabbed some ice cream and walked around the courtyard between the buildings. He was talking about how it's cool to work there and that you often see Sergey and Larry out there or at lunch. Shortly after he said this he pointed to two guys in the distance and said "See?", and sure enough, Larry and Sergey were walking slowly together in what appeared to be pajama bottoms. It was certainly interesting to see them who I had so often seen on the covers of magazines, who represented billions in wealth, just strolling.

We went back to my interview room and I waited for the first of the final two rounds. A guy a couple years older than me came in and started asking some of the more typical questions. I answered them with relative ease, but towards the end I got stuck. I tried to remain calm and not choke up (what can they think of you if you're just silent?), but I kept thinking of other things I knew and wished he would have asked. It wasn't a good sign, but I didn't feel it was horrible either.

After him an even more senior looking guy came in. He was fairly cold from the start. I made it through a couple of his questions but botched one I really should have gotten. In fact, just a couple weeks earlier I had written what he asked me to write, but he wasn't buying it, and my head certainly wasn't remembering under this pressure. I struggled with a solution to a low-level C question but offered up a couple solutions to similar problems that I knew about in an effort to show I wasn't a dope. I don't think he really cared. He politely concluded that bish and showed me the door. Google After that I cruised around Mountain View and got ready to fly home the next day.

The flight home was good except for the part where we had to land in Pensacola instead of Ft. Walton Beach due to fog. We waited around for a couple hours and were finally bussed back home. After that I hopped in my truck and drove another 20 miles to our house. A few days later the recruiter left a message saying I was close but not quite.