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Google Phone Interview #1: The Aftermath

February 09, 2007 | 2 Minute Read


So I finished my first phone interview with Google. Overall I thought it was very fair and I didn’t get the types of mind-bending puzzles that people claim they are asked.

I won’t disclose the questions I was asked, not because they asked me to, but because I think it would undermine the effectiveness of the interview process itself. Plus I have a feeling that Google “Googles” to find questions posted online and doesn’t use them anyway.

I had a chance to describe a project that I had worked on. I chose Notecentric, since it was more complex than Anime Nano and I could say that I worked on the entire thing by myself. I did a pretty simple (and nervous) high level overview of the system and my reasons for creating it.

The first question I got was a simple data structure implementation efficiency question. I’m pretty glad I studied my data structures beforehand. It took me a while (and a few hints) before I came to the correct solution. It was sort of a “well duh!!” moment, but I’m glad that I at least reached it. Though it took a while, I thought I did well in rationalizing my ideas and explaining why they wouldn’t work quite right. Plus coming up with a solution to a problem is very stressful with a real life Google Engineer listening to you think it through! I think the interviews are mostly to see how you think, not how quickly you can derive the right answer.

The second question was a pretty open ended one about role playing as a Google Engineer. I guess that’s as vague as I can get without actually saying what the question was. I think the question was more about seeing how much I knew about Google and how I would behave in the company itself. I think I did fairly well in this question, going through a lot of edge cases and coming up with ideas that might those handle edge cases, etc.

I also had a chance to ask a question about Google. I asked about the 20% projects, as it’s something I find really unique about the company. I also gave the interviewer a feature request for Gmail, though she wasn’t directly working on that project.

Overall, I think the interview had its desired effect. Google learned more about my thought process and critical thinking skills. I probably won’t hear from the recruiter again until Monday at the soonest, since it’s the weekend now. Hopefully they’ll have another phone interview or even an onsite interview lined up for me shortly.