Debunking the Google Interview Myth

Years ago, rumors used to circulate about Microsoft interviews.  They were the hot, new company that everyone wanted to work.  With envy came the urban myths.  These rumors have since been transfered to Google, and will surely be transfered to some new company in due time. Bloggers - always desperate for links and traffic - have capitalized on this, with scary articles about their "nightmare interview" and "crazy questions".  Let's just stop this right now, shall we?

Google's interview process is really no different from its competitors. An engineer does a phone interview or two, where they're asked standard coding and algorithms questions.  Sometimes they're asked to code via Google Docs, because evaluating phone coding isn't easy.  Then, if all goes well (it usually doesn't - that's just how it is at any company), the candidate is brought in for a full day of interviews.  Candidates are asked a mix of standard coding and algorithms, and are asked to code on the whiteboard.  Coding on the spot might seem surprising to those outside of the software industry, but it's standard practice.  After the interview, Google's process is a bit different from Microsoft and Amazon's: a candidate's feedback is submitted to a hiring committee of engineers who makes a hire / no hire recommendation.

(FYI: I served on Google's hiring committee for 3 years, and interviewed 120+ candidates.)

IQ Tests? I've never seen these. Ever.

Brain teasers? Banned.  (Of course, everyone has a different definition of a brain teasers.)  If an interviewer were to ask a candidate a brain teaser, despite the policy, the hiring committee would likely disregard this interviewer's feedback and send a note back telling the interviewer not to ask such silly questions.

That whole "Google cares about GPA even for people years out of college" thing?  I supposed I can't speak for every hiring committee, but I never remember my hiring committee discussing the GPA of a professional candidate.  For that matter, we were never even given a candidate's GPA unless he/she elected to put it on their resume.

Now, let's look at the very widely circulated "15 Google Interview Questions that will make you feel stupid" list.  You want to believe these are real questions, given that Business Insider feels like such a reputable source.  Except that they didn't get this list from a direct source.  They borrowed their questions from some blogger (I won't link back here) who was posting fake questions.  Now, I don't know that said blogger was intentionally lying - he probably borrowed them from someone else.  Whatever the original source is, these questions are fake. Fake fake fake.

How can you tell that they're fake?  Because one of them is "Why are manhole covers round?"  This is an infamous Microsoft interview question that has since been so very, very banned at both companies .  I find it very hard to believe that a Google interviewer asked such a question.

As for some of the others - "Explain the significance of 'dead beef'", "A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?", etc - I'm also highly skeptical.  If one's a lie, why on earth would we believe the rest?  Especially if they are clearly in the banned category.

So while I know that "oh my god - Google asks candidates to reverse a linked list?" doesn't make for quite as good SEO-link baiting material, let's stop scaring the candidates with silly stories. And that includes you too, Business Insider. Any Google interviewer could tell you that at least some, if not all, of these questions are fake.

Want to see real Google interview questions, Microsoft interview questions, and more?  Check CareerCup.