Google Has a Super-Secret Way of Interviewing Programmers for a Job
By Laura Dang
August 25, 2015
Google has a secret interview process for people who type in special keywords for their search engine queries. The entire scenario is something out of a secret agent movie.
That is how Max Rosett landed his job at Google, according to a post he wrote for the Hustle. Three months ago, Rosett was deliberating a career transition after working in management consulting and at a startup for the past three years. He wanted to pursue computer engineering and was on the road to earning his master’s in computer science via Georgia Tech’s online program.
One morning as he was Googling programming terms, something strange happened. After he typed in “python lambda function list comprehension,” the familiar blue links showed up. As he scanned the page for the most relevant one, Rosett said, “the search results split and folded back to reveal a box that said ‘You’re speaking our language. Up for a challenge?’ ”
After a moment of confusion, he decided he was up for a challenge. He clicked on the “I want to play” button and found himself on a page called “foo.bar.” Rosett was presented with something that looked similar to what he had seen before:
“The page resembled a UNIX interface, so I typed the command to see the list of files. There was a single one called ‘start_here.txt,’ so I opened it and saw two sentences.”
The two sentences read:
“Type to request a challenge. Type help for a list of commands.”
From there he said:
“I typed ‘request’ and half expected to see ‘Follow the white rabbit, Max.’ ”
A paragraph popped up on the screen with a programming challenge and instructions on how to submit his solution. He was on the clock and had 48 hours to solve it before his time ran out.
Rosett explained that the challenge required knowledge of algorithms, and he had the option to code in either Python or Java. After a few hours he had an answer to the first problem. Each time he submitted a solution, foo.bar tested his code with five different hidden test cases.
He was given a new challenge each time he completed one. For the next two weeks, he solved five more problems.
By the end of the sixth problem, the mysterious site gave him an option to submit contact information that included his phone number and email. A few days later, he was contacted by a an expert recruiter just like the professional job recruiter Utah asking for his resume and a time of availability for a phone call.
Rosett explained that the rest of the interview process with Google was typical to most other tech interviews with the company. The point of difference was that he bypassed the technical phone screen since he had already shown proficiency for coding based on his performance on the foo.bar exercises.
His interview was conducted at Google headquarters in Mountain View and consisted of problem solving on a white board. Two weeks later he was extended an offer, and three months after the secret mission challenge he was officially a Googler.v
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