I got rejected by Google – woe is me

I’ve just had the standard rejection letter from Google about how I’m not a good fit for their position “$p”. Awww. I was kinda enjoying the interviews in a masochistic way. This was at the end of interview #2.
I thought I’d share what went on, and my thoughts on the process, and what sort of person Google is likely to get out of them. Also, I suspect Google is on a hiring rampage right now, with HR people scouring the web for people with some degree of fit.
Before the Google fan-boi’s jump out of the woodwork and exclaim that this is just sour grapes, I’m going to clear up a few things.
#1. I never applied. Google contacted me, and asked me to interview. I agreed, only after explaining that I was very happy where I was and that I was very unlikely to move.
#2. At each step of the process I expressed my concern about the process, and what that meant to hiring people.
Of course, Google being Google meant that was kinda irrelevant, because “Everybody wants to work there”.
First of all the job that I was asked to apply for was in C/C++, in a testing department and had pretty much nothing to do with my current skillset. W..T…F..
OK, so I had a chat with the recruitement person about that. “Oh, we’ll just go ahead anyway as I’m sure we can find another job somewhere with your skills” says she.
Turns out Google don’t interview specifically. They must have a checklist of things they’re going to answer, and if you can’t answer those, then you’re not a good fit for Google.
In the first interview, you’re asked to rate yourself on a bunch of topics, with a wide variety of technical skills on offer, I appraised myself with fairly low to medium for anything not in my current domain of expertise (JavaEE) and expert in that field (seems reasonable, I have written a couple of books).
In my second interview with an engineer, I was delighted to be asked questions about physical networking devices, detailed questions about specific operating system filesystems and some algorithmic questions that were theoretical at best but could be used to gauge peoples thinking skills.
Excellent, after I answered them honestly (I could take a guess about “a” and “b”, but I’d prefer to look things like that up) and went through what was required for “c”.
The engineer said that the interview was over. I was like “huh”. Don’t you want to ask me about Java, Agile development, teamwork, managing distributed development ? Any of the 10 things I am actually expert in doing ?
The answer was (predictably) “no”. These questions (the types of ones that people working in small companies who do networking, user and operating system administration) which only a specific set of people will answer without digging through old textbooks are what Google considers will give them a good indication of whether people are a fit to work at Google.
I was amused by the process, but felt it was fairly “typical” of an american companies interview process. After having gone through a similar (but much more sophisticated) version for ThoughtWorks, I’m starting to believe that these companies are so entrenched in their ideals of what makes a good fit that they are creating a mono-culture.
I’d say, from experiencing the process, the people that Google will find “a good fit” are:
1. Bright, and capable of solving relatively theoretical algorithmic problems
2. 22-28 years of age and working in, or have just recently worked in, a very small environment where they have had to do all the networking, the operating system management as well as small amounts of programming.
Ability to write code and work in teams appears to be a secondary concern, something I find fascinating from a socialogical point of view, but given what I’ve read about the environment, possibly not all that suprising.
I wish Google well, I wish people who interview with Google well, and I hope that people who read this get some degree of insight and amusement into the process. I’ve deliberately kept the contents of the interview process vague, as they have asked me to do so. I don’t believe for a moment that is legally binding, but it seems like the polite thing to do.

A memo to George Eaves

Dear George,
It is no longer daylight savings time. This means that you, and the rest of the house get to sleep for an additional hour. I know you might be a bit confused because you don’t read clocks, and really it is the same time, but it’s not. 5:30am is not the same as 6:30am.
Your mother and father are rather tired. So, in the interests of harmony at home, I suggest you read this memo and act on it accordingly.
  — dad

Hudson – CI tool written in Java

Very nice. Slick and easy to setup. I’ve not got a fully running application yet (stupid corporate network) but I can’t imagine it’s going to take very long.
Using Java WebStart as the download container was such a good idea.
One of the really compelling components of Hudson is that it has a master/slave build system built into the core. A very nice feature for large projects.

Where is the green sheep ?

Susi and I read a lot to George, and one of his newer books is “Where is the green sheep?” by Mem Fox.
He really enjoys having it read to him, and the style of the book (familiar to most parents I’m sure) is “Here is the X sheep, here is they Y sheep, here is the Z sheep, but where is the green sheep”. Then rinse/repeat.
Where X,Y and Z are things like “thin, wide, train, car, moon, star, up, down, slide, band, clown” All beautifully illustrated.
So, we get to one particular pair of sheep set in a beach scene. One is standing on the shore flying a kite, and the other is out in the water surfing.
“Here is the wind sheep. Here is the wave sheep.”
As soon as we get to this page, George looks at the surfing sheep, and waves to them.
Clever little boy.