My virgin experience with Google Interviewers
After completing my Masters, I was restless, figuring out what to do next. Like a famous saying by Harvey Dent, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Thus decided to look at other opportunities before being forced out from my current coy. LOL!
After a decade of working as a Security Engineer, the best place to start from is Google!! Thus searched in their careers’ website and applied for a couple of engineering positions and even for internships. Due to covid, I have to restrict the search within my country of residence since relocation during this period is going to be a PITA.
I applied around Sept 2020 and within few weeks around early Oct 2020, I received an invitation to participate in Google’s Online Coding challenge. After registration, the actual day came. There were two coding questions to attempt, with a 60-minute time limit for completion. The timed challenge will automatically record your submission at the 60-minute mark. The whole process was smooth. I liked the fact that you can choose which programming language to code with through a drop down menu. I chose Python3, since I was more comfortable with it. But there a whole list of options including Java, Python2, C++ and so on.
The challenge was the time limit. Even though the questions were doable (you can find numerous examples online), the time was the killer as you have to make sure it covers all the test cases. Anyways did it to my best and submitted it.
After a few weeks in Nov 2020, I received an email from a hiring personnel in Google for the Privacy Engineer role. I initially thought it was for an interview and arranged a time for a chat through Google Meet (guess they have to use their own product!! Thought will be using the more popular Zoom). After the chat, is when I realized that this was not an interview but more of a preparation for the first interview. And this Googler is my hiring consultant and will be my point of contact with Google for any followups.
Great thought of Google to have someone to help and guide the interviewees throughout the process. The hiring personnel gave me lots of pointers and guidance on what to prepare for the privacy engineering role in Google. I too read up about the role and latest research in the Google blog.
The first interview was scheduled in the first week of Dec 2020. Another Googler contacted me to ask for my available dates and fixed the interview. Was pleasantly surprised Google actually dedicate so much resources to ensure that the interview will be smooth sailing. Before the date an Google Doc and test links was sent to ensure I could put in any answers if necessary during the interview into the Google Doc and also to test my Google Meet connection.
The actual interview day came, it was at 8 am (GMT +8) and for the interviewer was 8 pm (GMT -4). It was a pleasant interview. The interviewer was also working as a Privacy Engineer in Google and asked a few technical questions and also conceptual questions (like if you have this Google product, what are the privacy concerns?) etc. The 45 minutes chat came to the end and I updated my hiring consultant on the completion. Then the process went silent for few months.
After almost 3 months (during the period, i almost forgot I had such an interview or more specifically thought I screwed up), my hiring consultant replied asking if I am still interested and the feedback has been positive. Not sure why there was such a long delay, but anyways agreed to continue. Thought, the next stage is to discuss pay right? Gotcha nope, he told me there are still 5 more interviews.
Wow, no wonder getting into Google is hard. The process repeated again, as another Googler contacted me for dates and timing. And since the interviewers are going to be from different timezones, the timing were as early as 7am (GMT +8). Neverthless, 5 interviews was arranged between various timings. Some were back to back interviews. The hiring consultant mentioned that if it is pre-covid, most probably I will be flying to Google HQ for the interviews! (Sux, wasted a good chance to checkout Google HQ in person)
All the interviews was done on the same week. It was intense but a pleasant experience. The first 2 interviewers were also working as Privacy Engineers and asked deep technical and ethical questions like “Video Surveillance is used to prevent crime but it also has privacy concerns, so what is the right way to implement it? What are the technical concerns?” And also various proposed technical solutions for privacy issues rising from Google Home, Google maps etc. Federated machine learning, Differential Privacy and so on.
The next 3 interviews were more on leadership and team work. They expect you to share your personal experiences. Like, “describe a time where you worked hard for something and failed.” One thing i noticed in these 3 interviews was, Google were more interested in knowing your failures and how you recovered then your successes and how you worked and motivated others in your team.
In short, had 6 interviewers from all over the world in different time zones like West Coast and East Coast of US, Australia and Singapore.
After completing the interviews, i thought it was going to be another long wait. But this time round, it was relatively fast considering it was 5 interviews. After around 5 weeks, the hiring consultant sent me an email. The first line was exciting, “the feedback is positive”. Hooray!!!
Then the bad news, “I’m currently discussing options with the Hiring Manager, since the role changed………”
This was my WTF moment. After numerous preparations and interviews, the role could just be changed like that? I feed backed to the hiring consultant that if there are any upcoming engineering roles do inform me. It has been few months since then, but there is not news yet (that’s it i guess, didn’t knew roles changes so fluidly in Google).
It was a fantastic experience throughout. All the interviewers did not have any air around them and tried their best to make me comfortable. And I am talking about some of the smartest folks around. They also ensured that the interview is over in 45 minutes and they are on time for the interviews. Google also ensured that the process is smooth and pleasant. Well since there is no onsite interviews now, Google could consider sending some Google merchandise as an additional motivation :)
Well, that’s life. I take it as a good experience i gained through the interviews and the processes with a tech giant. Guess life is a continuous learning journey.