Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Life at Google

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Google is telling the students about Internships and Graduate Opportunities at Google Sydney (there is a list of jobs) and beyond. The room is packed with more students than I have ever seen at a lecture. This started with some videos of life at Google. I have been to Google HQ in Sydney and it is not quite like the movie "The Internship" (if you want to see the office, the easiest way is to attend a SLUG Talk). There was then a quiz about the history of Google. The hardest question was "What is was Google Maps orignally called?" It was a Sydney start-up called "Where 2".

Last year there was a smaller talk for PHD students on "What Google Wants in a Job Applicant". As well as graduates, Google also has programs for interns.

After the general introduction, one of the recent Google recruits gave tips on how to apply. The first tip was to have a CV of only a page or two, and targeted to the role. It was suggested to use bullet points. Experience counts as well as marks, but focus what you did. These are all good tips.

After the VC, the next step is a "technical interview". The tip for this was that the interview is not trying to trick the applicant and to assess skills with algorithms and data structures a university degree level. Students who have learned non-mainstream languages, such as Haskell at ANU, are advised to tell Google in advance so they can find a suitable interviewer. The applicant is asked to solve a problem in a shared Google Docs screen, while they talk with the interviewer ("Think aloud protocol"). Applicants are encouraged to try again if unsuccessful.

At the interview the applicant will be given a programming problem to solve. The suggested approach is to write down the question, ask for clarification, then start with the simple (brute force) solution and follow up with more efficient approach if you have time. Students can be expected to be asked about multi-threading, memory and other issues with "big" problems.

An interesting aspect of the interview is assessment of the applicant's "Googliness", which seems to be the ability to work in a team. Also apparently Google employees get monetary bonuses for referring applicants.

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