Google applications

I got an email from a guy at Google a couple of weeks ago. He said that he had come across my CV online and asked if I’d consider opportunities at Google. I’m not really looking to leave IBM, but I was curious to hear more about Google and figured that I had nothing to lose by finding out more. It led to me having a quick chat on the phone with him and a ‘mini-interview’. So I thought people might be interested to know what this included.

A chance to rate my competence on a range of technical topics
Never a good thing for me… I tend to be a little on the conservative side when it comes to “selling myself”.

What is the complexity of quicksort?
Erg… I struggled with this one. My (very maths-based) Computing degree did include a module where I had to learn the complexities of different sort algorithms, and be able to reproduce the proofs for calculating them. But it’s been four years since I last had to think about it! I admitted that I’d have to look it up, and didn’t know the answer.

What is 210?
Eurgh… I hate maths. That’s why I have a calculator. I probably should’ve known this, but I didn’t. So another question that I had to say that I didn’t know the answer to.

Sort these into order of how long they take: read from register, disk seek, context switch, read from memory
Easy-peasy – that’s more like it. 🙂

What is a context switch?
Another easy one. I think I rambled a bit about time-slicing and stuff like that, but I think that was just the relief at knowing an answer or two!

So there we are. A chance for me to underrate myself, then get half the technical questions wrong. I bet they were impressed 😉

It perhaps gives an insight into the sort of candidate that he was after – someone focused on performance and complexity, with a mathematical background. At any rate, we had an interesting chat and it was fun to hear about what it’s like at another big tech company.

One Response to “Google applications”

  1. kellyd says:

    I, too, got the same “cold call”. My interview didn’t feature those “technical” questions, probably because I’ve been a pointy-headed manager for far too long.

    Good thing, too! 🙂