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Getting an Engineering Job at Google – The Interview Process

Google frequently tops “Best Companies to Work For” lists.  We recently talked to a technical recruiter at Google (Seattle/Kirkland) and learned some details about their interview process for software engineers.

The Work – Public and Non-public Projects

Google has about 1,200 people in their Seattle area offices, with more than 85 on-going projects.  About one-third of these projects can be shared with people during the interview process.  These projects include Google products we are all familiar with, such as Gmail, Chrome, YouTube, Maps, Google Earth, Google+ Hangouts, AdWords, and AdSense.  The rest of the projects are not shared with the public.  You can only learn about these non-public projects after you become a Google employer.

Interviews – Phone Screen and In-Person

When a Google technical recruiter reaches out to you and if you decide to apply, you will be asked to submit your resume or LinkedIn profile. Then, the next step will be a 45-minute phone interview.  This is a standard technical screening, conducted by a current Google engineer.  You will need to have internet access during this technical phone interview because you will be asked to show your answers to technical questions live via Google Doc.

If you pass the technical phone screen, you will be invited to an on-site interview.  You should expect to have a series of one-on-one interviews with 4-5 engineers.  Each interview will be about 45 minutes and technical focused.

Job Offers and Beyond

If the engineers you interviewed with are convinced that you’re technically strong enough to be a Googler, you will receive an offer.  Now it’s time for you to interview your potential teams at Google.

Throughout the interview process, the company will have developed a sense of which team you would best fit into.  But, you can be the one deciding which team at Google to join.  You may request meetings with people on those teams you’re interested in to consider a role with them.  However, you’re still limited to discuss only the public projects at this point.

Google claims it highly encourages its engineers to change projects, at an frequency of about once every two years.  Once you join Google, you don’t need to interview again internally when you want to switch teams, as long as there is a headcount available on the project you want to work on.

This setup makes it very easy for engineers to be always working on projects in which they feel they can bring fresh ideas to and are constantly challenged.   It reportedly contributes to signigicantly higher employer satisfaction rate compared to other big software technology companies.

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