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My nightmare interview with Google (an anecdote for those who will be graduating from college)
Business Insider ^ | 11/20/2010 | Alyson Shontell

Posted on 11/20/2010 1:23:01 PM PST by WebFocus

Google came to Syracuse’s campus to recruit new graduates when I was a senior. I attended the information session and learned which jobs I could qualify for. I created a fancy cover letter and resume, crossed my fingers and e-mailed them my documents. One week later I had an email in my inbox from Google.

Google wanted to interview me! Forbes’ #1 company to work for was interested in speaking with me about an Associate Product Marketing Manager position in Mountain View, California. I called everyone I could think of, ecstatic and day-dreaming that my job hunt might end quickly and painlessly with me surfing during lunch breaks at the Googleplex.

Everyone says your GPA doesn’t matter when you’re finding a job—those people obviously never applied to Google. My 3.6 suddenly seemed inferior. Google also wanted to know if I had received any job offers. They wanted to know who was recruiting me and how far along I was in my job search. Talk about salt on an open wound to a college senior. Sad and dejected, I ticked off the “No” [no one wants me] and “Yes” [I’m still unemployed] boxes. I should have realized then that this was shaping up to be a grueling interview process, but I was too excited to pay much notice.

To prepare for my two back-to-back conference calls, I googled Google and learned their history, products, current news, founders, locations, business models, competitors, AdWords, investors and mottos. My heart had never been in anything more and I was prepared for any curve ball they could throw. I practiced interviewing with friends and felt confident when my cell rang at 4:00pm sharp.

(Excerpt) Read more at businessinsider.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet; Education; Society
KEYWORDS: google; interview; jobinterview; nightmare
She was doing OK until they asked her to answer a MATH question on the fly, at which she froze...

She did well until they asked her the following:

* An advertiser makes $0.10 every time someone clicks on their ad. Only 20% of people who visit the site click on their ad. How many people need to visit the site for the advertiser to make $20?

and this;

* Estimate the number of students who are college seniors, attend four-year schools, and graduate with a job in the United States every year

Her final sentences reveals what she plans to do next:

“That’s all. Good luck with your job search.” The phone clicked-- I was stunned. The abrupt sign-off was a clear indication that I wouldn’t be considered for round 2. Interviewing can be demoralizing, and that’s just how I felt as I sat with my cell in my hand, vowing to switch to Yahoo for life.

The interview is very revealing regarding the kind of people Google wants to hire... It will be worth your while to read it ( especially new college grads ).

1 posted on 11/20/2010 1:23:06 PM PST by WebFocus
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To: WebFocus

Gosh. Maybe she should have asked them how an organization whose motto is “don’t be evil” could sell their souls to the Chi-coms.


2 posted on 11/20/2010 1:30:18 PM PST by EternalVigilance (Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither.)
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To: WebFocus

That article succinctly articulates why this country is in full decline.

A graduate from a tier one University with a 3.6 GPA can’t demonstrate basic math and analytical skills


3 posted on 11/20/2010 1:31:04 PM PST by todd_hall
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To: WebFocus

Reminds me of one of my first interviews..which was not exactly an interview with Procter and Gamble.

It was a group test for new grads and the emphasis on the 2 hour test was math. They even pulled out a “folded swan” (origami)in the middle of the room and asked the possible angles. Some of the interviewees just walked out because they found the screening process unbearable. I was already heading to the elevator just tired until they called my name (3 of us who passes of the entire 21) to come back for the 2nd interview.


4 posted on 11/20/2010 1:33:49 PM PST by max americana
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To: WebFocus

Not a fan of Google, but I have to agree with some of the comments on the site. She did her research, knew those types of questions were coming, and she “froze” when they came. Lots of young people screw up their first interviews. Learn from the experience and move on.


5 posted on 11/20/2010 1:37:25 PM PST by Rokurota
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To: WebFocus

Not a fan of Google, but I have to agree with some of the comments on the site. She did her research, knew those types of questions were coming, and she “froze” when they came. Lots of young people screw up their first interviews. Learn from the experience and move on.


6 posted on 11/20/2010 1:37:25 PM PST by Rokurota
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To: todd_hall

It is pretty bad that a college graduate can’t answer a simple math question wherein the answer is a nice even 1000. Granted, she was nervous and frazzled, but she also claims she had 5 minutes to figure it out.


7 posted on 11/20/2010 1:38:51 PM PST by eclecticEel (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: 7/4/1776 - 3/21/2010)
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To: todd_hall

It seems like Google’s interview process needs some looking-at. If somebody is going for a basic administrative position and they start asking them questions about robotics, don’t you think that’s a little out of hand? It’s the difference between someone graduating from NYU and MIT. Obviously, there’s a chance the MIT student might know about robotics, while the NYU student would know very little.

It sounds to me like a stupid interview process. They shouldn’t expect someone going for one specific thing to know every little detail about the company if they don’t know someone in it.


8 posted on 11/20/2010 1:41:37 PM PST by wastedyears (Being "mad as hell" just won't cut it.)
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To: todd_hall
A graduate from a tier one University with a 3.6 GPA can’t demonstrate basic math and analytical skills

Bingo,

Plus being from Syracuse’s, talking with a translator at an interview has to be a bitch.

9 posted on 11/20/2010 1:45:03 PM PST by org.whodat
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To: WebFocus
“Estimate the number of students who are college seniors, attend four-year schools, and graduate with a job in the United States every year.” This time I remained poised.

My answer: "Damn near zero. The economy SUCKS!"

Yeah, I'd probably get a "good luck," too.

10 posted on 11/20/2010 1:46:12 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Muslims are not the problem, the rest of the world is! /s)
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To: eclecticEel
It is pretty bad that a college graduate can’t answer a simple math question wherein the answer is a nice even 1000.

Which question was that?

11 posted on 11/20/2010 1:46:24 PM PST by raybbr (Someone who invades another country is NOT an immigrant - illegal or otherwise.)
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To: WebFocus

Reminds me of the one interview I landed as a senior in my undergrad program - with Ralston Purina. I remember being bummed out that I wasn’t called back. In retrospect, it turned out to be best for me - and their loss!


12 posted on 11/20/2010 1:48:09 PM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: org.whodat

Ouch!

I took, 10 seconds to answer both questions. Does that mean google will hire me?


13 posted on 11/20/2010 1:50:46 PM PST by BenKenobi (Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.)
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To: WebFocus
* An advertiser makes $0.10 every time someone clicks on their ad. Only 20% of people who visit the site click on their ad. How many people need to visit the site for the advertiser to make $20?

That is an easy question. I've had much tougher ones in interviews. Wonder what courses she took to get her 3.6 GPA. Probably wasn't math.

14 posted on 11/20/2010 1:52:21 PM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: wastedyears
A good interviewer asks all sorts of tough questions, some of which may not seem at all related to the position you're applying for. Believe me, I've been on the receiving end of such.

However, good interviewees can prepare:

Knock 'em Dead contains about a zillion sample interview questions, IIRC.

One example: name 10 people that you admire. When you ask "Dead or Alive?", he says, "10 of each."

15 posted on 11/20/2010 1:55:21 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Muslims are not the problem, the rest of the world is! /s)
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To: eclecticEel

Never mind. I failed.....


16 posted on 11/20/2010 1:55:55 PM PST by raybbr (Someone who invades another country is NOT an immigrant - illegal or otherwise.)
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To: BenKenobi

Nah, they’ll just ask you, “Do you consider yourself a neat person?”

Sure, that sounds easy, but if you’re caught unprepared, you’ll just sit there as you recall your untidy bedroom and dirty bathroom at home, like I did. Live and learn...


17 posted on 11/20/2010 1:57:32 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Muslims are not the problem, the rest of the world is! /s)
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To: BenKenobi

Wonder how may times she said “like” and “maybe”????


18 posted on 11/20/2010 1:59:07 PM PST by org.whodat
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To: todd_hall

Some people don’t do well when put on the spot, and it has nothing to do with their competency in basic math.


19 posted on 11/20/2010 2:00:22 PM PST by FourPeas (Pester not the geek, for the electrons are his friends.)
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To: WebFocus

I would do my interviews like in “Men In Black”, make everybody sit it in uncomfortable chairs, give them a paper and pencil, and see which is the first one to grab the table in the middle.


20 posted on 11/20/2010 2:06:20 PM PST by dfwgator (Texas Rangers -Thanks for a great season.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Can you define neat? I always work best when parameters are well established. ;)


21 posted on 11/20/2010 2:09:56 PM PST by kalee (The offences we give, we write in the dust; Those we take, we engrave in marble. J Huett 1658)
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To: kalee

Well, something better than my bedroom and bathroom, anyhow. :-)

But in reality, in retrospect, I think that one would be best answered by recalling what kind of organization you had going at work. I could have recalled the good filing system that I had at my first real job out of college, and I might have gotten that job, temporary though it would have been.

So, recall how orderly you kept the burger assembly line at Burger King or how you kept each technique specification package and it’s associated materials in its own file folder, or whatever.


22 posted on 11/20/2010 2:13:40 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Muslims are not the problem, the rest of the world is! /s)
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To: WebFocus

She is not even smart enough to know she never should have written an article detailing how she could not answer a basic math question that kids in grammar school should be able to answer.

What a dufus. Plus, over all my years from interviewing in grad school to searching for jobs during my career, I learned that one will come across some rather strange interviews and interviewers. They are quite useful in determining whether one would have any interest in working for that company.


23 posted on 11/20/2010 2:14:41 PM PST by CdMGuy
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To: CdMGuy

And now every future potential employer now will Google her name and read this tripe.

Not smart.


24 posted on 11/20/2010 2:16:07 PM PST by dfwgator (Texas Rangers -Thanks for a great season.)
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To: dfwgator

writer graduated in 2008 ad got a job...


25 posted on 11/20/2010 2:20:57 PM PST by GreaterSwiss
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To: todd_hall; WebFocus
A graduate from a tier one University with a 3.6 GPA can’t demonstrate basic math and analytical skills.

...Math?! I hadn’t taken a math course since freshman year of college...

She apparently didn't like math and it was not required for her degree:

That apparently is the real problem.

As to the first math problem:

* An advertiser makes $0.10 every time someone clicks on their ad. Only 20% of people who visit the site click on their ad. How many people need to visit the site for the advertiser to make $20?

To make $20 for $0.10 a click you need $20.0 divided by 0.1 or 200 clicks. To get 200 clicks when 0.2 % of the people click you need 200 divided by 0.2 or 1000 people.

26 posted on 11/20/2010 2:40:43 PM PST by Screaming_Gerbil (Life is God's gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to God. Make it a fantastic one.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

>> One example: name 10 people that you admire. When you ask “Dead or Alive?”, he says, “10 of each.”

I wonder if you’d get hired if you rattled off twenty in no time at all — and one of them was Jesus, and you put him in the “alive” group.

I’d bet that no matter how well you did on the interview, that answer to that interview question at essentially any high tech company (especially one HQ’d in Kommiefornia) would be a “bad career move”.

Just because.


27 posted on 11/20/2010 2:49:08 PM PST by Nervous Tick (Trust in God, but row away from the rocks!)
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To: All

Morons, it’s spelled “Sycacuse”.


28 posted on 11/20/2010 2:49:59 PM PST by andyk (Hi, my name's Andy, and I was a BF 1942 / Desert Combat junkie.)
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To: Rokurota

Writing down the question and having a calculator handy would have helped.


29 posted on 11/20/2010 2:59:33 PM PST by November 2010
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To: wastedyears
It sounds to me like a stupid interview process.

If so, then Google will suffer the consequences. So far, their interview methods are working for them, going by their balance sheet. Silicon Valley companies in general (and Microsoft, of course) tend to be pretty demanding and will ask questions not in the area of the interviewee's expertise, or brain-teasers. They want to see how you think, how you react to and solve problems that aren't in your comfort zone - because most work won't be.
30 posted on 11/20/2010 3:06:45 PM PST by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: Nervous Tick

That’s a hard question because the Saints are alive too.


31 posted on 11/20/2010 3:11:37 PM PST by BenKenobi (Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.)
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To: AnotherUnixGeek

I’ve interviewed others, and I’m guilty of using that technique.

I love taking an engineer and asking him who composed the 4 seasons? Basic knowledge questions in a field diametrically opposite to his own.

And yes, I get all the maths questions because my diploma actually reads a BA in History. :)


32 posted on 11/20/2010 3:14:43 PM PST by BenKenobi (Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Actually I’m quite boring. Now a tidy person on the other hand...


33 posted on 11/20/2010 3:15:27 PM PST by BenKenobi (Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.)
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To: Nervous Tick
One example: name 10 people that you admire. When you ask “Dead or Alive?”, he says, “10 of each.”

I'd answer by saying that I don't admire that many people to begin with. I have work to do, I have no time for admiration of others. Next question!

34 posted on 11/20/2010 3:30:16 PM PST by Greysard
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To: WebFocus
She might have gotten the job if her first name was Shontell...
35 posted on 11/20/2010 3:31:08 PM PST by Moltke (panem et circenses)
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To: WebFocus

My brother’s first interview with a partner of a law firm included the partner handing him a rubber chicken and demanding “Sell me this chicken. “. I love it.


36 posted on 11/20/2010 3:49:23 PM PST by Yaelle
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To: Screaming_Gerbil
As to the first math problem:

* An advertiser makes $0.10 every time someone clicks on their ad. Only 20% of people who visit the site click on their ad. How many people need to visit the site for the advertiser to make $20?

To make $20 for $0.10 a click you need $20.0 divided by 0.1 or 200 clicks. To get 200 clicks when 0.2 % of the people click you need 200 divided by 0.2 or 1000 people.

Put another way,

Let x= site visitors, 0.20x = site visitors who click, at $0.10 a click, (0.20x)($0.10) = $20.00, $0.02x = $20.00, x = ($20.00/$0.02) = 1000.

37 posted on 11/20/2010 3:51:56 PM PST by thecodont
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To: BenKenobi
I love taking an engineer and asking him who composed the 4 seasons?

A mathematician (or an engineer) can answer "everybody, or nobody - this is equally probable, as long as I don't listen to that music. It's a division by zero, or an infinitely thin layer of probabilities that integrates to unity. You can also view it as an event that occurred outside of our light cone. Yet another way to put it is 'if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it...' (linky)"

It's far more informative this way, instead of just saying "Vivaldi" if you properly dislike Baroque :-) Even most of Mozart's works are "too old" for my taste. The Romantic period is far more lively, and is well represented.

38 posted on 11/20/2010 3:52:29 PM PST by Greysard
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To: Greysard

And I’d respond,
\
“Mathematics is for Mathematicians”, which is a quote from Copernicus of all people!


39 posted on 11/20/2010 4:05:30 PM PST by BenKenobi (Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.)
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To: BenKenobi

When I interview potential programmers I always ask them what their favorite book about programming is and why they like it.

I know that if somebody reads those books, that they are really interested in what they do. If they can’t come up with one, then I know they don’t take their craft seriously.


40 posted on 11/20/2010 4:10:22 PM PST by dfwgator (Texas Rangers -Thanks for a great season.)
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To: dfwgator

Interesting. I’d be more inclined to pick a programmer who read anything outside of his field.


41 posted on 11/20/2010 4:35:35 PM PST by BenKenobi (Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.)
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To: KosmicKitty
That is an easy question. I've had much tougher ones in interviews. Wonder what courses she took to get her 3.6 GPA. Probably wasn't math. You didn't major in the obvious, either. She stated she hadn't had a math class since her senior year.
42 posted on 11/20/2010 4:50:22 PM PST by ImaGraftedBranch (...By reading this, you've collapsed my wave function. Thanks.)
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To: ImaGraftedBranch

Edit: I didn’t major in typing. Since her Freshman year.


43 posted on 11/20/2010 4:57:53 PM PST by ImaGraftedBranch (...By reading this, you've collapsed my wave function. Thanks.)
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To: BenKenobi; dfwgator
I’d be more inclined to pick a programmer who read anything outside of his field.

Both of your approaches are interesting, but I don't know if they are in any way helpful. In my beginner's days - which was around 1983, on 3rd year in university, I read a lot of computer books - about IBM/3[67]0 hardware, about languages, about PDP-11 and its hardware and the languages, about UNIX, about DECUS C and other C compilers, Pascal, FORTRAN, PL/1, parsers, grammars, etc. etc.

But over time I discovered that I'm largely past that point. I don't think I read any hardcopy book about programming in last decade, even though new languages like Java and C# showed up as strong players (and I used Java, and use C# currently.) But somehow I managed to learn them without reading books. Probably it's because I have some basic knowledge, and whatever extra is required to code in this or that language I just get from the Net.

Often reading a book is plain counterproductive. A full description of a .NET API may easily exceed TAOCP by volume. But can you really learn a thousand classes, each with hundreds of public members? At best you can remember a few concepts, but they aren't that difficult, and they already changed a few times between WinForms and WPF. Your best book is under that F1 key, especially considering that it is linked online to even larger depository of sample code and documentation and "best practices" articles. When I needed to attach a custom font as a resource I learned the way to do it not from a book but from Google.

Today I read a lot of SF. I don't read about Perl. I don't code much in it, and when I do I have bookmarked everything that I need to do what I need. Today I'm not in a position of a fresh, green graduate who has to spread thin to meet requirements of many potential employers. Today I know my sphere of comfort (analog/RF, microcontrollers, firmware, and PC software to operate hardware.) I don't need to get outside that and study stored procedures in Oracle, for example. There is a lot of demand for someone who knows the difference between S[2,1] and S[1,2] and can quickly put together a system that measures both, simultaneously :-)

44 posted on 11/20/2010 5:31:03 PM PST by Greysard
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To: Greysard

“Today I read a lot of SF”.

And you’d be at the top of the heap. I want people who may not know everything but who can figure out how to find the information that they don’t know in order to be an asset to the company.

That’s at least been my approach. Has it been successful? I’d love to have a list a mile long, but I don’t work there anymore, and haven’t for some time. Times are tough these days.


45 posted on 11/20/2010 5:52:46 PM PST by BenKenobi (Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.)
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To: Greysard

I wasn’t necessarily talking about books about languages, but books about architecture or design patterns, or a book, say like, “The Mythical Man-Month” or “The Pragmatic Programmers”.


46 posted on 11/20/2010 5:54:10 PM PST by dfwgator (Texas Rangers -Thanks for a great season.)
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To: EternalVigilance
... an organization whose motto is “don’t be evil” ...

Amazingly stupid marketing and leadership. Leaders lead by pointing the direction to take. A leader would have said, "Be good."

That the word "evil" even comes to the minds of google's upper ranks is revealing of the company's core perceptions.

47 posted on 11/20/2010 6:10:36 PM PST by Finny ("Raise hell. Vote smart." -- Ted Nugent)
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To: thecodont
* An advertiser makes $0.10 every time someone clicks on their ad. Only 20% of people who visit the site click on their ad. How many people need to visit the site for the advertiser to make $20?

To make $20 for $0.10 a click you need $20.0 divided by 0.1 or 200 clicks. To get 200 clicks when 0.2 % of the people click you need 200 divided by 0.2 or 1000 people.

Put another way,

Let x= site visitors, 0.20x = site visitors who click, at $0.10 a click, (0.20x)($0.10) = $20.00, $0.02x = $20.00, x = ($20.00/$0.02) = 1000.

Oh yes, solve for x.

I like your way better. Thank you.

48 posted on 11/20/2010 6:34:22 PM PST by Screaming_Gerbil (Life is God's gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to God. Make it a fantastic one.)
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To: wastedyears
It seems like Google’s interview process needs some looking-at. If somebody is going for a basic administrative position and they start asking them questions about robotics, don’t you think that’s a little out of hand? It’s the difference between someone graduating from NYU and MIT. Obviously, there’s a chance the MIT student might know about robotics, while the NYU student would know very little.

The point of those strange, off-the-wall questions probably isn't what the person knows about robots (especially when interviewing for an administrative position). The point of those questions are to show how the person thinks under pressure and how well they maintain their composure.

It sounds to me like a stupid interview process. They shouldn’t expect someone going for one specific thing to know every little detail about the company if they don’t know someone in it.

They seem to be doing something right.

FTR: I know two people who work at Google. They're both engineers and they both love it.

49 posted on 11/21/2010 3:07:07 AM PST by mountainbunny
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To: ImaGraftedBranch

Probably one remedial course

Heck, this was a question I’d expect on “Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader”


50 posted on 11/21/2010 6:34:12 AM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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