A few days ago I received the usual e-mail I get every year from a Google Recruiter. Apparently my name must be in one of their databases of possible candidates from the days when I was actively seeking a position there. They like to check on me every once in a while. Here’s what I wrote back:
Hi <recruiter name>,
thanks for getting back to me.
I understand that this is a general position open to anybody who applies. I’m quite familiar with the hiring process, so I’d like to clarify that I’m not willing to schedule phone interviews regarding my coding abilities. It’s not because I don’t want to solve challenging problem. I very much enjoy hard problems, they are quite fun.
Here’s why I will not spend my time for a round of phone interviews: job applicants like me get scheduled for one or more of these 45-50 minutes interviews, we get pressured to solve very difficult problems and we do not receive feedback on our overall performance. This method allows your company to rate a large pool of interviewees and progressively advance those who score in the highest percentile.
I consider myself a good coder. If I need to solve a problem I will take my time to analyze the problem, do research if I need to, state my assumptions, identify edge cases, verify my results and discuss them with one or more fellow developers. Most importantly, if I make a mistake, I’m always eager to learn how I can improve. During these technical interviews we are pressured for time, we do not have the means to do our proper research and most importantly, we do not receive feedback on how to improve.
I would gladly accept to meet some of your engineers and discuss as well as evaluate my technical abilities with them on-site, but I will not spend time over the phone doing algorithmic puzzles for the purpose of assigning a score next to my name. I’m much more than a number and I don’t need to prove it. If Google has a need to do an early evaluation of my abilities, they can check-out my Github account, my contributions to several open source projects ( https://www.pierotoffanin.com/projects/ ) or call my previous professors/employers for a reference (I can provide names and phone numbers upon request).
Let me know if my request can be accomodated; I’d love to be back in Mountain View for a chat. I visited the Bay Area a few years ago during a road trip and had a great time!
During my time in college I learned to get really good at solving programming interviews (Reading #1, Reading #2, Link #1). Solving puzzles is a lot of fun. But when you put great effort to solve these problems, and you know you have found a good solution for them, getting a rejection without knowing what you could do to improve is not very nice.
If I want to spend time solving puzzles for the purpose of assigning a score next to my name, I’d rather compete in the Code Jam or the Hacker Cup. At least there, at the end of each round, I can see other people’s solutions and take steps to improve my abilities. 🙂0