I was called.

Note for the reader: I wrote this post a little while ago just before I started on the Google interview process. It’s a very traditional thing that anyone who goes though the process talks about it and I wanted to do two posts – one with my feelings before the interview and one with my feelings after. Today is the before, and I’ve avoided editing it since (with the unfortunate result that it’s actually quite badly written) to preserve the of-the-time feeling.


‘Cause I was thinkin’, it really don’t matter if I lose this fight. It really don’t matter if this guy opens my head, either. ‘Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I’m still standin’, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood.

Rocky, 1976


Photo from: http://www.edudemic.com/ways-use-google-tools-maximize-learning/

Photo from: http://www.edudemic.com/ways-use-google-tools-maximize-learning/

I was called to interview for Google.

I have, honestly no idea if I’m close to good enough. I am, with no false modesty, pretty good. But I have no idea if I’m that good. I do know that I’m at least good enough to know just how far ahead of the curve the guys that make it really are.

The call is validating, someone picked though the CVs and pulled out mine as being the sort of CV that might fit.  That’s pretty nice, I’m proud of that. But I could have just made nice formatting choices. 🙂

The prize, the real prize is at the end of a long process, and every stage of the process that I make it though (and I expect to make it through only a very small distance) is a massive amount of validation: 90% of applications that reach the first technical interview are washed out.  The people who reach the final stage, the full day of back-to-back interviews, only a third of them make it.

I intend to make it as far as I can, and if/when I fail, I intend to have no excuses. So let’s eliminate some of them right now.

Google’s interviews are data-driven, if you make it to the last stage then the people who make the decision look at the reports of those who interviewed you, the questions you were asked, and they make the decision based on that.  Since they started they’ve been saving data on interview questions so they can genuinely compare the performance of people who’ve been there for five years with how they did on each type of interview question. If an interview question/question type is not a good predictor of how someone performs at their job, then this is passed to the interview trainers and so such ‘unhelpful’ questions are removed from the setup (Google famously stopped asking trick or hypothetical questions for this reason several years ago).

So if I don’t make it, then it’s not because the interview questions were ‘stupid’ or because the interviewer ‘didn’t like me’. There is a data-driven process designed to work and work well. It’s not going to be because ‘there was a more impressive candidate’ or because I didn’t know the right people. There’s a standard, I have to reach that standard.

It’s not going to be because I’m unprepared.  I’ve spent the last four weeks working very hard indeed….   I’m in the algorithmic shape of my life.

I’ve not suffered any major emotional upheavals.  I have a day job to do, and do well, but I can rearrange almost all my other activities and commitments until after the process.

The only possible reason I have for failing this process is by not being good enough to pass it. I also know that the only way I can find out if I am of the right standard or not is by working as hard as possible to pass.




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