🎵 Movin’ on up! 🎵

3 minute read

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. More info available here.

It’s official: next month I’ll be a Google employee! 😲 The story of how it happened is a little strange, so I’d like to share.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about Google Foobar in which I casually mentioned that passing 3 of the 5 levels of that challenge gave you an opportunity to send your resume in to a Google recruiter. I wasn’t looking to change jobs but thought “what’s the harm”, and submitted my information. Googling (oh, the irony) for info about the Foobar challenge, I found plenty of people who assured everyone that “nobody gets hired through Google Foobar anymore - don’t even bother,” so I went about my business like nothing had happened.

About a month later, I got an email from a Google recruiter. No way, the internet told me this doesn’t happen, and the internet never lies! Sure enough, the recruiter had gotten my resume via Google Foobar and was reaching out to set up interviews. I immediately ordered a copy of Cracking the Coding Interview #ad like everybody suggests and starting preparing. As my December post about imposter syndrome laid out - I felt very ill-prepared. The amount of information everybody tells you to memorize was completely overwhelming. The stories on the internet of people applying dozens of times and failing to get in had me in a very defeatist mood.

Thank God for my wife

She’d look over and see me stressing out on yet another LeetCode problem and tell me to calm down. “Don’t worry about it. You’ll do fine.” And after a bunch of lamenting and oh-woe-is-me complaints, she’d continue “you can always try again if you don’t get into Google. You already have a job - there’s no real risk. It’ll be alright.” I’m not going to say I stopped stressing out, but her advice helped. It wasn’t the existential crisis I was making it out to be - it was just a job interview.

I’m not going to outline all the steps of the process - plenty of people (including the aforementioned book) have already done that. I’m definitely not going to share the specific problems I was asked. If you’ve stumbled across this blog because you are looking for that information, stop and think about it. As anybody on the internet will tell you, you’ll get interviewed by a handful of current engineers who choose their own questions. Google is huge. The odds that you get the same group of engineers asking you the same questions is basically zero. Trying to memorize answers will not help you. You know what will help you? Being personable.

For that, I’ve got to thank the Air Force.

I joined the USAF at 24 and was a shy mess of a person. They made me yell at folks from the very beginning of basic training, encouraged me to mentor younger Airmen even when I was at a low rank myself, and then they put me in a teaching position that demanded interpersonal skills that I did not have. I got thrown into the deep end of social situations, and once I stopped drowning I learned how to be sociable. Don’t get me wrong - I still got every bit as nervous right before the interview started, but as soon as things kicked off I switched immediately into Social Noah™. I joked around here and there, admitted when I didn’t know things, asked a bunch of questions - all the stuff people advise you to do. I couldn’t have done that at age 24, before I enlisted. I would have been a stammering, stuttering mess who was too afraid to ask questions and too proud to admit mistakes. There’s no way I would’ve been hired back then - not just because of a lack of technical skills, but because of a lack of social skills.

But here I am, doing onboarding tasks and getting ready for my first day at Google. Do I still feel kind of like a fraud? Sure, but my wife keeps reminding me that it will all be okay. Am I nervous about the impression I’ll make when I start? Definitely, but those Air Force skills of getting in and fitting in will help get me through it. Am I more excited than I’ve ever been about a job?

You better believe it!



Leave a comment