Alright, I've been meaning to write this up for a while. Thought it would be a good resource for some people who may be interested in working for Google. Let me preface this by saying I can't give super specifics as I was required to fill out a non disclosure, however I can give you guys the general idea of what to expect. Mods you can move this to an appropriate section if necessary (maybe off topic?), wasn't sure where to put it. Or you can just delete it haha...
Ok, back story, I was thinking one day "it would be cool to work for Google" so I went to their website and applied for a position. Really just in passing, not expecting anything either way. So I was pretty surprised when a recruiter contacted me saying they wanted to know more about me, and had me fill out a little questionnaire on my experiences and knowledge of subjects like networking, programming, windows, mac, linux, mobile and general troubleshooting. I'm pretty well versed in all but mac so I thought maybe I have some kind of chance. Sure enough a couple of days later the recruiter wrote back saying they wanted to schedule a phone interview and asked my days of availability. My first thought was "no way" haha, but I told her when I was free and the interview was scheduled for that day.
The phone interview took place on April 22. I was kinda nervous, I much prefer doing face to face interviews because I could at least gauge by the interviewer's reactions what they thought. The interview was to take place from 4:00-4:45PM. The phone rang around 4:05 and the it began. First he asked me a couple of "getting to know you" questions about my experiences, my education etc. After that he got into the nitty gritty. Let me say it was extremely technical. You have to know your stuff. Don't expect any "where do you see yourself in 5 years" type questions. Google wants someone who knows what they're talking about or at the very least give off that impression that you know haha. Can't get into specifics, but when the interview ended he said a recruiter would be contacting me once he provided feedback.
Now, I'm not going to lie and pretend I aced that interview. There were plenty of spots where I stuttered, and even spots where I flat out said "I don't know". TBH, after I hung up I thought "no chance I get called again". Not because I didn't know my stuff, but because I did mess up on some parts. The tough part is, as I mentioned, I wasn't able to gauge any reaction, and he didnt provide any real feedback during the interview itself. (No, "yep you're right", or "no you're wrong").
Five painful days later, I got another email. They wanted an on-site interview! My first thought now was "no FREAKIN' way!" haha...the fact that I got one made me realize that they may not necessarily be looking for right or wrong answers (because I did have wrong ones) but moreso how your thought process works. They want someone analytical and someone who can be presented with something and come up with a feasible solution. My advice to anyone who interviews would be not to worry too much about giving textbook answers, but make sure you know how to "sell your solution" to the problems they pose. They like creativity, and not some nerd who recites their college textbooks.
Now it was moving along fast. Before the on-site they made me fill out a full application, more non-disclosures as well as submitting transcripts and work experience (they're apparently big on education...harsh, but i doubt if you got your degree with a 2.9 GPA you'll get the job). My on-site was scheduled for May 13th in Mountain View, CA. One line in the email really appealed to me: "Leave your suit at home"...awesome, I hate dressing up. Regardless, I emailed the recruiter and she told me just wear khakis and a dress shirt. Done.
Their travel agency contacted me a couple days later, and arranged to fly me out, provided a rental car and a hotel for the interview. The lodging is not a Motel 6. It was an awesome hotel room, more like a suite, complete with a living room, huge TV, and a king size bed. I arrived in Cali the night before, at like 2 AM and my interview was scheduled from 10AM - 1:30PM. Didn't really sleep, was flipping channels till about 5AM and I guess I fell asleep some time after that.
Woke up at 8, strangely not tired, more excited then anything I guess. The Google office was about 10 minutes from the hotel, so I had time to go over some material I had bought with me to brush up on some stuff I may need.
I arrived at the offices around 9:45 and was told to wait in the lobby and my first interviewer would be down to get me at 10. At exactly 10 they came down. My first interview was two interviewers and they took me upstairs to the main office. Just as a side note, everyone was wearing jeans, or shorts, and T-shirts and sandals. Awesomeness haha.
The first interview went well. Again, technical stuff, but the interviewers were cool and we had a pretty good rapport and back and forth. It wasn't tense or anything and I felt pretty relaxed. It lasted about 45 minutes. Now here's an important part. At the end they did ask "do you have any questions", which I knew they would, so I asked a couple. What I didn't anticipate was that every interviewer would ask me that at the end of their interviewers (I know, I should have anticipated that), so I ended up running out of questions to ask haha. Word of advice, make sure you have a few questions to ask and try to separate them throughout the day.
The second interview started right after. This time it was one guy. Again, a cool guy, very friendly. This interview was definitely the toughest though. This one consisted of "what would you do" scenarios, and it's definitely one where they try to gauge how analytical you are. Again, I found myself stuttering in this one, so I didn't feel too great after the second interview. This one also was about 45 minutes.
After that it was lunch time. My interview was Friday, the 13th (haha), and on Fridays they have Taco Fridays. Just as an aside they have their own chef everyday cooking different things daily. Fridays just happened to be Taco day. I was taken to lunch by a third person, and this one was more of a "casual" interview. In other words, getting to know you. Again, I had a good rapport with the interviewer and there was no tension or anything. It was more like two friends eating lunch. After lunch, she took me on a tour of the campus, and let me tell you, it is as awesome as everyone has heard. Very, very relaxed work environment. One area had a 150inch projection screen and some Googlers were playing Xbox. Another one people were watching a soccer game. People were riding their Google issued bicycles around the campus. Everyone was super friendly. Definitely a fun place to work. There is food stations everywhere. Literally. Apparently their philosophy is that you must always be within 150ft of food at all times. All free, all great food, snacks, drinks. There's an arcade, a foosball table, a pool table, a babysitting service for mothers, a car wash, barber shop, oil change haha. It has it all. It's not an office, it's like a resort.
After lunch, I had my fourth interview. Another 45 minute one. This one was mostly about my qualifications. I was a little dismayed because they asked a bunch of questions about Macs which I didn't know much about, and did say "I don't know" for a couple. Other things asked were about Linux and Windows.
That one ended around 1:30 and the final interviewer walked me out and told me that the recruiter would be in touch once everyone got their feedback together and made a decision.
One week later, got the bad news, that I didnt get the job. I'm not going to lie and say "it was an honor to just be interviewed" because it sucked that i didn't get it haha, but it definitely was an awesome experience. I think where I may have messed up might have been in that second interview with the "what would you do" scenarios. Again, they're not necessarily looking for the right or wrong answer, just something to prove you can solve something given a problem, but they didn't really provide feedback as to why I wasn't chosen.
Anyway, I guess the moral is, if you want to work for them, definitely apply. don't think "there's no way they'll hire me", because I thought the same thing and I made it all the way to an on-site. And know your stuff. You can't get away with not preparing for the interview because the stuff they ask is not stuff that you can hope to wing. Sure, you don't need to be 100% right, but you have to have at the very least intermediate knowledge of all subjects, and most preferably expert knowledge.
Oh and btw, there were no "google questions" like you might read online like "how many windows are in nyc" or something like that. that doesn't necessarily mean they dont ask those questions, but just that i wasn't asked any. Again, those are just for analytic purposes.
Sorry for the long post, just figured I'd provide some advice for those interested in applying. Any questions, just ask. Or just take the knowledge I've bestowed haha...