failing like never before


Why Working at Google Is Not My Dream Job (Anymore)

I had to sign several NDAs with Google and I am honestly too lazy to check what I can and cannot disclose. In light of that, I'll keep this vague and hopefully avoid getting sued (fingers-crossed).

I still remember being in high school and reading about how amazing it was to work at Google. About how amazing their free cafeterias were, their company gyms, massage chairs, and on-site laundry machines. Not to mention the brightly colored walls and hip decorations, which were a stark contrast to Intel where I interned. Conan O’Brien once compared Intel's offices to a parking garage, and complimented them on their excellent design choice to match the grey trim with the grey walls. When I was in university, and I learned more about the ground breaking projects Google had, the brilliant people they employed, and the amazing resources they provided their engineers, I knew that Google was a company I wanted to work for. What computer science undergraduate didn't dream of working at Google? To work at the same company with brilliant minds like Guido van Rossum, Leonard Kleinrock, and Ken Thompson? But in college, after two phone interviews I was rejected from a summer internship, and turned down for a full time position after another three phone interviews.

But not too long ago I interviewed with Google again. The entire experience, from first e-mail to final phone call stretched from the end of November to the beginning of April. I passed the phone interviews and the on-site interviews, all of which were arduous but not unmanageable.

After finding out I passed the interviews, and Google finished doing my background check, I spent the next two months on an emotional roller-coaster. I spoke to a couple hiring mangers, exchanged many confused and angry emails with friends and colleagues at Google, and had numerous phone calls with my recruiter, whose tone ranged from apologetic to congratulatory. At various times, I was not entirely sure if I was fully rejected, or if the only thing standing between me and a formal job offer was some paper work. Many phone calls with the recruiter (who was very kind and helpful) were required for clarification, but did little to assuage my annoyance as she was not allowed to explain any of the inner workings of the hiring process. As the weeks dragged on I received job offers from two other companies, so I gave the Google recruiter a deadline and the inscrutable bureaucracy missed it with all the grace of a three-legged elephant.

I am not overly found of interviews. They can be difficult and uncomfortable and require me taking time off from my current job, and getting my chain jerked around does nothing to help improve the situation. I was contacted by another Google recruiter two months back, who asked me if I was interested in the exciting new job opportunity she had (I wasn't, my current job is more interesting). The caveat was that I would have to do some more interviews. I was surprised to discover that although working at Google has been my dream job for many years, I turned down this opportunity with no difficulty whatsoever. The time and the trouble involved just didn't seem worth it anymore. While I still believe Google is doing great things, there are also other companies in the industry doing groundbreaking work, many of whom can reach a decision over an applicant in three months or less.

The problem is not the fault of the excellent people that Google employs, but rather the creaking, rambling structure of their hiring process. Why is the whole process so obfuscated? Why are they doing background checks and calling references before they are even close to being ready to make an offer? Why is some arbitrary committee rejecting a candidate at the eleventh hour after everything else has been approved? Why does the rain fall from up-above? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?

These are questions that us non-Googlers (non-ooglers? nono-oglers?) may never know the answer to. But we can take solace in the fact that the Silicon Valley is a big place with many wonderful opportunities. And hey, I hear Facebook is hiring :)

(EDIT: see hackernews discussion)

Comments (57) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Almost certainly down to the HR department. No matter which company you interview for, the one thing you can be certain of is that the HR department (if they have one) is staffed exclusively by sales-and-marketing types and airhead bimbos who have absolutely no clue about the positions they’re hiring for. There’s something about the job that attracts these people in droves and they tend to have a knack for complicating and destroying any process they get involved with.

    • There’s some company — Facebook, I think, but I’m not sure — who hired only programmers or other technical people for *every* position, at least at the beginning. That included HR. Not only does it mean they know who they want to hire for technical work, but it brings a no-nonsense, automate-everything mentality to the job of hiring.

    • > airhead bimbos

      Hurray for misogyny!

  2. Because they can. And they know that many people want to work for them. Maybe you search for a small innovative start up instead of going to FB. These guys had their best time in the past now…

  3. The hiring process is a tumultuous one no matter what company you work for, is my impression. Regardless, I’m surprised that your dreams of the job were so easily dashed by it.

    • I cannot say that I am surprised. His only interaction with the company is through their HR people.

    • I don’t know anyone who *wouldn’t* be discouraged by 3 months of bureaucracy, which included being told, alternatively, both “yes” and “no.” I also don’t know any other company (even one I worked with >100,000 employees, which was exactly like Initech) which took anywhere near that long to make a decision.

      The worst I’ve even seen is 2 weeks, and I thought that was excessive. Every competent company I’ve worked at could give me an answer, yes or no, in 2 days. (The best company I ever worked for: a few hours.) In my experience, turnaround time for dealing with people outside of the company reflects the nature of the company, not just for hiring but for all kinds of decision-making. Do you want to work at a company that cannot give a straight answer to a boolean-valued question in 3 months? That sounds like a company overrun by bureaucracy. The process may be “tumultuous” but 3 months of confusion is not normal.

  4. If a company doesn’t get back to me promptly and with clarity in their communication, I assume they are probably dysfunctional in other ways too. Had similar experiences with other cash filled juggernauts ( not Google )and decided working for them would only annoy me.

  5. Totally agree. I\’d add a little personal rant.

    I\’ve been called 2 times consecutively by a SRE recruiter; she was very kind and helpful, but she was the only pleasant part of the whole experience.

    I was rejected after the onsite interviews, both times. The first time it was for a lack of experience (ok, altough it was not such a disaster). The second time the answer was kind of \"you are smart and did really well in some interviews, but no\".

    And this is what I don\’t understand: why interviewers seem to care more about current skill level than your \"professional slope\"? What good is to interview someone 16 (sixteen) times only to decide that \"nah, it\’s not a good fit\", when you probably already realized 10 interviews ago if it\’s smart enough to be going to be effective in some months after joining the company?

    You could say \"well, it\’s because you weren\’t actually that smart\".
    And it\’s ok to me, but no feedback like this has ever got to me.
    It was more something like \"Try later\".

  6. You probably got an ego boost thinking you \"rejected\" Google.

    But quite frankly, if you were any older, wiser or more patient you\’d probably wait it out a little bit more and muster the maturity on your end to see Google\’s hiring process to completion.

    Sad, you simply did not have the patience to be hired for your dream job either.

    • Perhaps. But it would have meant turning down two very good job offers so that I could continue to wait on Google who may or may not accept me.

    • Or maybe you did the right thing and the skills/experience you pickup on this journey will better position you for a new entry into Google or even better opportunities elsewhere.

    • No company should ever jerk a candidate around and expect them to wait several months to get an answer. That is simply unprofessional. I have had numerous interviews and job offers and none come close to the disaster described here.

    • There’s a fine line between wisdom and patience, and being so utterly passive that a giant corporation can walk over your job prospects.

      Why is it a virtue to be slow? Why are you not taking Google to task for being so lethargic they missed out on hiring somebody who is apparently smart enough to work there, and thinks that it’s his dream job? Are you giving Google a free pass on being lazy, simply because they’re a corporation?

      Props to the author for being *proactive*, which is something Google can apparently no longer muster.

      Sad, Google simply did not have the corporate willpower to make an offer to an enthusiastic, qualified candidate.

    • You sound like HR of google… 😀
      Yes it was you personally that turned him down from going on.
      and this dream job is a joke for kids… Jobs are for a living even in google… People are suffering around and we think of our dreams jobs! What a utopia!!

      I had a really similar experience with JP Morgan, the definition of bureaucracy. I regret even applying to them, 6 interviews and one coding project for 3 months, one extra month to prepare the contract, 2 extra months for the background check, 2 postpones of my starting day and finally a “Good Bye” mail with out even an explanation or a thank you for your interest. They just said the “background check failed” after we had exchanged something like 100 mails with me attaching docs and docs and docs for “background verification”. Total Nightmare and 6 months of my life lost as well as the cost of my booked flight to relocate for them, in order to work as a programmer for the biggest investment bank of USA.

      incompetent management and HR guys with studies on international relationships that they have they power to reject you because it was raining yesterday! Welcome to the paranoic side of Capitalism.

  7. The comment section of your blog doesn’t even escape quotes properly. Why should we hire somebody with such poor attention to detail? Google would not remain the #1 tech company for long if we lowered our hiring standards.

    • Thanks for the heads-up. Nobody ever really comments on my blog so I never noticed.

      • Chi,

        Here’s the scenario in which it’s happening: after the message is rejected, the quotes in the input field of the generated page get escaped. Happy debugging!

    • Chi, no matter where you go the quality of the experience will be determined by the quality of the people you work with. If working for Google means working with a guy like this commentator, you made the right choice in my book.

    • Do you really want to drag this into a “who writes more bugs” debate?

      I’m sure we can all list plenty of bugs in Google services which were written by J Random Googlers, who were hired because of their “attention to detail.” At least on this blog there’s a way for you to report the problem so he can fix it.

      I don’t suppose you want to post the link to your personal blog, so we can admire your attention to detail, do you?

    • This is exactly the kind of stunning arrogance one can expect from a Googler. No wonder the Bay Area hates you and your kind.

    • lol ‘We’

      Here’s a guy who has internalized google to the extent that he no longer makes any mistakes because google never does, and he’s a paragon of their staff. Somehow he’s fixed every third-party library he’s ever utilized before even using them, because that’s the definition of attention to detail.

  8. Had similar problems with the process; however, when the recruiter called back a couple months later I took the the interviews again. At total I think I interviewed for over 4 different positions. Some I knew I wouldn’t get because the recruiter had me interviewing for jobs that really didn’t fit. But the job that fit my skillset the best I didn’t even make it through one interview.

    Oh yeah did I mention, I won two Google programming competitions in the past and still wasn’t able to get a job there. I feel like I aced many of the interview programming questions but could never get past the hiring process. With such a horrible process I don’t know how they keep up with hiring since their churn is so great.

  9. Be thankful you dodged that bullet. Google is a joke. Silly place full of arrogant and entitled jerks.

  10. You’re an arrogant piece of shit, like most Googlers. Go play with your stupid cardboard.

  11. You are talking about attention to detail by quotes in the comment, is it? Perhaps you should re visit the crappy android UIs you guys built for a long time.

  12. My experience with my Google recruiter was much more pleasant than yours – I think it just comes down to who your recruiter is. My recruiter was super helpful, considerate, and friendly through every step of the process.

    This is even after I was turned down for an internship and another full time role a few years back. She always asked if I had other deadlines and made sure I had everything I needed to make a complete and intelligent decision.

    Not that the full interview process at Google isn’t stressful – it is, but I found that she did her best to make sure I got through it smoothly.

  13. I feel sorry for you. They only take the best and it can happen that although you are an expert in your field, you do not fit into the social culture of Google.

    Best of luck for the future.

    • really ? your cunties teaching us now ?

      • What exactly is your problem with women?
        Your other comment on this page is ridiculous too.

        I’ve anticipated your answer. It involves more sexism and name calling.

        I guess your point is that it only takes a few guys acting like fucking psychos to alienate women on the internet.

  14. This story isn’t uncommon. You can find similar stories from people applying to Amazon, Twitter and other large companies.

    It seems to me the larger they are; the more complex they are. No one enjoys spending 4-6months Interviewing for a job; no one.

    • It’s not the case with all big companies. I recently went through Microsoft recruiting. They had a written offer within 2 days of onsite interview. The whole process from phone screen to offer was about 2 weeks. This was for the Yammer team. Maybe this is not typical but my recruiter was great.

    • Really? Everyone I know at Amazon works on a small-ish team, who is responsible for their own hiring. I’ve never heard a horror story about Amazon’s hiring process, in fact.

      I don’t doubt that there are people with bad experiences going through Amazon (and Twitter) hiring, but for a company twice as big as Google, I think it’s curious that I’ve heard this story many times about Google, and not once about Amazon.

  15. That’s because Google has become the invisible arm of the feds. Can you for one second believe that Google is not in bed with the NSA. Their information stream is pure gold. And only by cooperating with the government can they get leverage to move the laws in the direction they want. As for evidence, Only the government moves so slowly in doing background checks. And as you know, there is a whole division within Google to respond to the government’s flood of information requests. They make a big deal about privacy, but really, they have to put up a good show so their share price still floats.

    • “As for evidence, Only the government moves so slowly in doing background checks.”

      What evidence do you have for this?

      If I pointed out that other large companies were slow to perform background checks, would you revise your opinion to admit that Google might not be “the invisible arm of the feds”, or would you extend your statement to claim that every large company that moves slowly is “in bed with the NSA”?

      To maintain this position in the face of any evidence to the contrary is circular reasoning.

  16. I have a friend who recruits for a large investment bank. It is the policy of this bank to delay notifying other applicants that a position has been filled until the new employee has their first day of work. That way, if something falls through, it is easy to find a replacement. When bank hires someone new it often takes months before that person begins work and all applicants (other than the one that is actually hired) are left in a state of frustration and misinformation for months. Based on your description, I suspect Google has a similar policy.

    • At least for engineers at HQ, Google typically doesn’t hire for specific team openings (unless things have changed dramatically since I left a few months ago). There’s always open headcount for engineering somewhere, and you get matched to a specific team basically just before or sometimes immediately after your start date (during orientation), so the scenario you’re describing isn’t the policy at Google.

      (If chi was interviewing for non-HQ offices, harder to say what happened. Also, I guess it’s possible if you got an offer but would only be willing to work on a very specific project, your position could evaporate out from under you, but again, most folks I know were matched with projects after a formal offer was made and accepted.)

  17. I’ve started down the path of the google interview before and have found the company to be incredibly unpleasant deal with. Their recruiters have managed to upset me prior to even scheduling the phone interviews. The arrogance is astounding.

    I can confirm that Microsoft, Amazon, and most of the smaller companies I’ve dealt with are MUCH better at this stuff than google is.

  18. I recently verbally agreed to an offer from a very large tech company.

    The recruiting process: phone screens, technical interview, private lunch with future boss, all went well. The offer was excellent and I agreed. We settled on a start date and they said paperwork should be emailed later that week…

    Six weeks later and nothing. Apparently the paperwork got held up on some executive\’s desk, awaiting a final signature. Not sure if it is politics or incompetence or what Eric mentioned above, but someone (me, future boss, or their boss, etc) has been lied to week after week.

    Point is if there are politics like this now, I\’m worried about the further. No thanks. I\’ve never applied at Google for similar reason. Last recruiter to call me gave me a workaround.

  19. I’m kind of amused at how successful this troll was, maybe that’s just a reflection on how many people are ready to hate on Googlers. Do Erick, Anonymous, and EE really believe that this guy works at Google just because he says so, let alone is representative of people who work at Google?

    • Also, for what it’s worth, the recruiting experience at Google is regrettably bad in too many cases. Sure, lots of folks have a good experience, myself included (e.g. I never waited more than a week for the next step in the process to get set up, and negotiating a start date etc. was painless for me), but really there’s no excuse for anyone to have a bad experience, especially one where you thought you got the job and then didn’t.

      I’d be very curious to know precisely where the breakdown occurred — my understanding is that they do background checks after a hire decision is made, so I can’t imagine what would cause the offer to not happen after that, other than something bad turning up in the background check, or a hiring freeze that went into effect in the interim.

  20. I actually had a pretty good, but long experience. The interview process, of course, was several months long, but at no point throughout the process did I not know where I stood and I was thoroughly explained the process. Scheduling the travel dates/times was easy.

    The only difficult or annoying part of the experience was getting the results of the on-site interview. My recruiter told me that the results would be in by Friday, having interviewed on Monday. We had several emails exchanged, and the recruiter kept dropping the ball. I think he was busy or on vacation at the time. IDK. Eventually, I told him to just tell me over email.

    Otherwise, he and the other recruiters were very helpful and I had a great experience interviewing at Google.

  21. It took them nearly 6 months to make me a job offer. I accepted and worked there for 5 years. It was a good experience overall. I would return given the right circumstances, but I can definitely vouch for the fact that their hiring processes are shitty, overly complicated, bureaucratic, and largely driven by layers of committees with differing goals.

    On the other hand they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.

  22. What are these background checks you people are talking about? Were you all interviewing for Google\’s military wing? I went through the whole process a couple of years ago at one of their European offices, and nothing of the sort was mentioned at any point.

    • Background check is a proper excuse for an employer to withdraw the offer of employment he has done to you already.

      Of course it being contacted for security purposes, involving credit reports, criminal records, employment, education or address verification, normally up to 5-6 years ago. in extreme cases even drug tests etc…

      Some incompetent “Detective company” is paying some thousands $ to annoy you with mails on everyday basis and to destroy your life if they can. This is actually their success. Verifying you as a criminal or something like that…

      Hope you will never experience!

      In any case if the company in the meantime can found someone cheaper can simply send you the hell out of here with the excuse that the background check failed.

  23. I work for a top tier management consulting firm, and my interview process took ~6 months end-to-end. I was a fairly experienced senior hire, and despite this, it took several rounds of interviews and a rather thorough background check before making the decision.

    It is the same with many industries, at least in the east coast. Banking, private equity, hedge funds (and indeed, most of high finance), management consulting, and even media firms typically have a long pole when it comes to their hiring processes.

    Now, arguably, I do not know if this is typical for the valley or for west coast companies (and from the comments, it sounds like it’s all over the place). But rest assured that unless you are a college hire, the interview process will be a long one. And even for college hires, most of them tend to be former interns, so in some sense, the interview process is longer.

  24. >Why is some arbitrary committee rejecting a candidate at the eleventh hour after everything else has been approved?

    It’s been a few months and I’m still asking myself the same question. I’m told the process is purposefully designed with a bias toward false negatives, which I suppose I can understand. Also it seems Larry Page still personally rubberstamps — or not — every individual engineer hire. I never figured Larry Page for the rubberstampy sort, but what do I know?

    That said, the entire experience was a blast, my recruiters were very nice and friendly, the onsites were a fantastic (if draining!) experience, the interview questions were tricky but interesting, and I definitely enjoyed myself.


( Cancel )

Security Code:

Trackbacks are disabled.