Why I Turned Down an Interview with Google

3년 전

Around the time I was graduating from Utah State University I went on a massive job hunt. The aim of this massive job hunt was more to garner interviewing chops, as well as to experience as many different companies and their interview process as I could. During that time I got offers from a bunch of great companies and got to visit many different corporate campuses all over the United States.


The obvious front runner for every computer science major is Google. To many of us Google represents the pinnacle of computer science. They pay really well, they have a great company culture, they're illustrious, they've got great brand recognition for non-technical people, and the interview is well known as one of the most difficult. They also have the 20% rule (that doesn't actually exist), which peaked my interest above all else.

My thought was, I'll prepare for an interview with Google, and if I don't manage to land an interview or get an offer, hopefully those skills will be transferable to other interviews at other companies. As luck would have it, I did manage to interview at Google, and, as luck would have it, I also managed to not receive an offer. However, I did receive offers from every other company that I interviewed with.


One of the most intriguing processes I went through was at Amazon. In fact, I didn't even have an on-site interview. The interview process for college graduates at Amazon at the time involved an online pre-screen (nearly every other company also has this, including Google). After this, you're given a proctored online behavioral assessment, immediately followed by a coding assessment, which is also proctored. At the time, I thought this proctored assessment was taking the place of a phone screen and would ultimately lead to an on-site interview. I took it, and did relatively well. I knew I did well because before the interview process I searched for what the assessment generally involved and found there were a certain number of coding questions. I finished these and had time to spare, so I clicked complete, thinking "great, I'll get called for an on-site", instead yet another coding problem came up, this one more difficult that the previous ones. I couldn't quite get all of the tests to pass and eventually ran out of time. After a few weeks I got an email from an Amazon recruiter saying something along the lines of "we'd like to move forward" and nothing else. Again, I was thinking "great, I'll get an on-site at Amazon". A few more weeks pass, and I'm directly sent an offer letter via email.

IBM Watson

Contrast this to how IBM handled the offer process. I did a similar online coding assessment, which I had to do in a language I wasn't terribly familiar with (the choices were Python and Java). I then had a phone screen which went extremely well. Rather than moving forward with an on-site or directly to an offer I was sent an invitation to some bizarre hiring event in Atlanta. Mind you, I was still a student at USU and the event was scheduled near to midterms or finals (I don't remember which). I was also trying to prepare for interviews at this time, so I was spending all of my time on weekends and after work/school working through algorithm questions. It felt like a waste of resources, especially considering after searching for what the hiring event entailed I found out that everyone would receive an offer from IBM regardless of how they performed at the event. For these reasons I tried to get out of going, but was told that if I didn't attend I wouldn't be given an offer.

The event was very odd to me. At one point during the event we were sent into a conference room and given some kind of propaganda type film (I will say, it was very well made) about how IBM has been around since the beginning of computing. I also received a text from "Watson" during my flight back, informing me that I'd be receiving my formal offer soon.

It all seemed a bit unnecessary and wasteful. One thing that really intrigued me about Amazon was there was no frills and no bullshit. I met their hiring bar, and they sent me an offer, the end.

Why I Turned Down an Interview with Google

Fast forward 8 months. I've been with Amazon as an SDE since graduating. During this time I've been contacted by all manner of recruiters, CEOs, start ups, block chain enthusiasts, and competing companies trying to marshal skilled developers behind their cause. Recently a Google recruiter has reached out to me about interviewing again at Google. I've elected to pass on the opportunity. Here's why.

The Hiring Bar

The hiring bar at these companies is a bit absurd if you ask me. I've often heard the argument for this absurdity is "it's the best indicator we have" or "how else will they assess candidates?" I don't have the solution to this problem, but I do know I'm not going to validate it as an engineer. I did previously in order to make up my mind for myself using actual experience and I know which side of the fence I sit.

There are a massive amount of things that go into being a good engineer, let alone being a good employee. I would say coding maybe makes up 40% of this, and I would say algorithmic skill accounts for maybe 5% of this 40%. I would also say that assessing for this 5% is largely random luck. Yet for some reason, this 5% of the 40% is what's most carefully assessed during the interview process.

My time is better spent on things like building businesses, teaching others, and investigating technology that I find interesting rather than preparing for irrelevant algorithm puzzles. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I did it a year ago, but I don't want to do that now.

The Culture

As I stated in the opening paragraph, the phrase "they have a good culture" is often heard in the tech industry when talking about Google. However, I feel that's a marketing ploy that's worked out quite nicely for Google (see the non-existent 20% rule that lured me in). With recent controversy like the James Damore lawsuit, or the $2.7 billion EU fine, to even just a few weeks ago this article written by a (now) ex-Google engineer.

What intrigued me the most about Amazon was there was no illusion. This is business and you are an employee that will be leveraged in creating new businesses for Amazon. For many this may be a bad thing, but for me, that's just fine. Google is no different.

My Interests

Since my days as a musician I've never made decisions strictly for money. I took the job at Amazon because I wanted to see how a large scale tech company functions internally. I wanted to learn how to write large scale software using industry best practices. I wanted to grow as a leader, a coder and an engineer. If I'm going to leave my position at Amazon it's going to be for a position I feel passionate about, not more money. I'm not convinced that Google is going to give me that. Sure they'll say "pick any team you're interested in" (and that's assuming I'm some tech rock star, which I'm not) or whatever other lip service is given to new hires. But, one of the things I learned interviewing at so many different places is, you rarely get to pick anything and recruiters will tell you a lot of stuff in the initial phone call to get you excited about the company and the position.

My Current Position

I really like my current manager. This is her first role as a manager. This is my first role at a large tech company. I feel like her and I are learning the ropes together. Up to now she's doing a great job, and she herself has a very good manager who I can tell is mentoring her very well. Together they've created a culture of high quality work without sacrificing the work life balance of the engineers.

I also like my teammates. To put it bluntly, there aren't any assholes. Everyone is ready and willing to step in and help when a helping hand is necessary. For the most part no one is overly critical of one another and the senior engineers on the team are always happy to share wisdom.

I'm sure this same scenario could easily play out at Google as well, but, why put myself through months of mind numbing algorithm puzzles, and set my side projects on hold, for a chance to roll the dice on a new team at a new company for slightly more money?

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great share about your experiences in the tech space. I spent 28 years at IBM and a couple at Accenture. I called it a gravy train on biscuit wheels, just sopping up the gravy. Then the gravy dried up and the biscuits got hard. I am still a geek in Dad's clothing and truly enjoy the exponential technologies space. My goal is how to manifest in my family's lives. Crypto's are just a fascinating tech that is transforming the world view and use of money.


I spent 28 years at IBM and a couple at Accenture

No kidding? I had no idea!

Crypto's are just a fascinating tech that is transforming the world view and use of money.

Agreed. I would prefer to leave Amazon for something crypto related rather than to another large tech company.


When I left IBM and Transitioned to Accenture, I did have 30 days of Overlap. Hardest I ever worked for a double paycheck. But I already had streams cranking in Real Estate and the Markets. Did not take much time on the streams but had to be managed for cashflow. So my recommendation is not leave the day job, until you have enough streams to cover your living expenses or a secure job in a new company. Either way, the ideas to accumalate streams and cashflows so it is not just about finding a secure job...


But I already had streams cranking in Real Estate and the Markets.

Holding quite a bit of dividend funds already. I'm also looking to get my first condo in the next few months.

So my recommendation is not leave the day job, until you have enough streams to cover your living expenses or a secure job in a new company.

Sage advice. This is what I'm working on right now. To have as many different income streams as possible (working on a Udemy course, as well as a mobile app for steemit, in order to supplant the dividends and real estate) so as to not rely explicitly on a job. I think I'll always work, but by choice, not necessity.

That is just so nice experience. You had a great and great opportunity to have those interviews and offers! ;-)


Yes, I agree, I'm very lucky in my life, no doubt about that.

I too went through a number of interviews, and the Amazon hiring process seemed like the best one. Hard to imagine why Google is seen as the ultimate tech job by many. Very cool article!


Thanks for reading!

Its amazing how the Google brand has become so synonymous with excellence in the world of tech. For example if you're a digital marketing agency that spends over $10K a month on Google Adwords you can become a Google Partner which is nothing more than a badge on your website but agencies flog this as if its the ultimate qualification and score big business contracts only to give Google the majority of that money through its ad platform

It really is brand recognition on a whole other level and with that they've been able to get away with so much. Someone with a PHD probably came up with the hiring process and because its Google no one has gone to question it.

Google also doesn't need to have all the best engineers some can afford to simply slip through in the hiring process because they're so big working in teams coders can work collaboratively and make sure any slacking is covered and also any average coder spending time in that environment will pick up certain tricks and ways of thinking that will turn them into a pretty good coder

Im glad you're happy with the way things turned out you can never really plan your career as much as they told you that while studying. Good luck and wish you all the best


you can never really plan your career as much as they told you that while studying

Every plan you make gets broken. I find it's better to have a few solid principles and live life making the best decisions you can day by day.

sjkelleyjr Jackson tweeted @ 04 Mar 2018 - 23:18 UTC

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You got a 6.06% upvote from @brupvoter courtesy of @prometheus21!

Wow, this is awesome and I will call you the #fortnateone. You actually want through a lot to get to where you are now and am so happy for you that you ended up working where your heart chooses and doing fine o'er there. Big-ups to the good people around you @ work. Stay blessed my main man!


Thank you! and thank you for taking the time to read my post!

This post has received a 4.52 % upvote from @booster thanks to: @five34a4b.

Wow. Interesting and eye opening!