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Interviewing with Google? Read this!

In response to my post, “My team at Google is hiring,” I got a lot more résumés than I expected. This is absolutely great! Many thanks to all the folks interested in working in my team!

While chatting with a few of the potential candidates, I offered some advice on interviewing with Google. This is advice that was passed to me when I interviewed a couple of years ago. Even though these tips are nothing out of ordinary, they are, however, practical and useful. Since I found myself repeating them over an over, I thought it may be a good idea to write them down.

Here we go.

1. Listen to your best friend: the (Google) recruiter

Is the recruiter’s job to get you an offer from Google. He or she will do everything in their control to help you. As part of their job, they will tell you what you need to study for the interview. It is a lot of material, but it is absolutely worth the effort. Needless to say, Google is awesome.

2. You decide when to interview

It is your decision when to interview. Take all the time you need to prepare and don’t let anybody push you. Knowing when you are ready is difficult though. Studying all the material is pretty much impossible. Instead, you need to set a realistic goal. In my case, since I was terrified by the interview process, my goal was to cover the basic algorithms and data structures, and study until I feel calm and confident.

3. Practice, practice, practice…and get a whiteboard

It does not matter if your solution is wonderful, you are in trouble if the interviewer cannot understand it. While preparing for the interview, solve problems on a whiteboard. Learn how to express your ideas and write code (yes, write code on a whiteboard) in a clear, neat and organized way. You want interviewers to understand your solutions.

4. Let all your friends at Google know that you are interviewing

The more Googlers that can say something good about you, the better. You may be able to skip the phone interview (it is not a promise though.) I personally hate technical phone interviews.

5. $hit can happen

Preparing for the interview does not guarantee you will pass it. There are many factors that can work either in your favor or against you. Plus, there is no such a thing as a perfect interview process. $hit out of your control can happen. Don’t feel too bad if, for whatever reason, you fail the interview. It happens more often than you think. Seriously. Just learn from the experience and apply again in six months. Like I mentioned earlier, working for Google is worth the effort.

That’s pretty much it. Good luck! :)

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