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Google | L4 | Bengaluru [Reject]

Note: I will not be able to share the exact questions but will share a gist of my experience and few tips as per my experience.
Asterisks are the major feedbacks that I received and I have explained those at the end.
PS: Please do not forget to upvote if you think this post has helped you.

 

Background: 5 years of experience with BE in CSE from tier-2 college. I have zero experience in competitive programming and had not done even a single leetcode problem while applying to Google. I was contacted by a recruiter in LinkedIn and I took around two weeks time before I decided to reply the recruiter back. By this two weeks, I was able to get two offers and developed some confidence. Recruiter replied me back immediately and I got myself a screening round scheduled within a week time.

 

Round 1: 3rd week of July
Rest of the rounds: 1st week of August
 

 

Round 1 (Telephonic screening):
Recruiter was very friendly. After introduction, he jumped into a question. The question was kind of application based but I could figure out the pattern immediately and it was a tree traversal. I explained the DFS approach since it was more suitable and defended the approach with reasoning. The interviewer was fully satisfied and I was asked to code which I did and dry ran the solution.
As a follow up question, he tweaked few things in the question and for this BFS suited the most. I almost coded the solution but I couldnt exactly dry run with inputs because of the time limit. Interviewer told it looks fine and I am in the right direction as we ran out of time. I asked him some questions about the work in Google and the interview ended.

Feedback: Very strong in data structure, communication and the test cases. Further input was to improve speed and also think of alternate solutions.



All things were happening very quickly. I was casually looking for change and as my luck had it, I had few offers and I was suddenly serving notice. I wasnt fully prepared for a company like Google, so I was very casual about Google till this point. But this positive feedback gave me hopes of getting into Google and as I started dreaming of getting into Google, I started working towards achieving it in the very short time I had. I took two weeks time before I scheduled my next set of interviews. This was the max I could afford since I was close to end of my notice. This is the moment where I started solving problems in leetcode (I know I am very late). I realised I could learn more algorithms/patterns if I watch videos on YouTube than solving the problems on my own. This was more suited since I had only 2 weeks. I solved close to 60 problems on leetcode (mostly easy ones) and I went through solutions for close to 100 medium problems of leetcode on YouTube.
 

Round 2 (Virtual Onsite 1):
Interviwer straight away jumped into the doc that Google shares. For some technical reasons, he couldnt start the interview in the doc link shared and he decided to share the doc link of his own. It was all silence till he shared the document and he neither introduced himself nor asked me to introduce myself. It was a first such situation and strange one for me. At first I thought of filling the silence by talking something or introducing myself but decided to stay quiet to avoid something stupid coming from my mouth or getting into a trap by digging hole myself. Thats the least thing one wants in Google interview. (And I am not a great conversation starter either though my communication skills are good)
The problem was something on file structures and I could notice the pattern easily. Any tree traversal would have worked for this problem. After explaining that, I went ahead and coded kind of level order traversal solution which I thought was most suited. Though I couldnt put the right words for explaining time complexity in the beginning*, I finally wrote it in a right way with right explanations.
The follow up question was also on similar lines and I managed to code the solution for that as well. We spoke about test cases for validation of the given question and the question was such that I could cover all the negative test cases in one generic scenario (Test case was that the given structure should not have a cycle). He asked me to give the specific examples and I gave two cases but missed the one which he had in his mind*.
This round went really well if you ask me*.
 

 

Round 3 (Virtual Onsite 2):
This interview started with introduction of each other and then the interviewer jumped into the problem. The problem given here was one of the best real world application I came across and it was something related to receiver and transmitters placed at different locations and had to figure out certain things. At first I freaked out to be frank, but as I understood the question, it looked doable. The main problem I had here was that the interviewer was not giving me the example input. He asked me to define in whatever way I want and I had some hard time in figuring out how I could take the inputs and decide the structure of it. Finally I came up with the input format, explained him my solution and coded a recursive approach for it.
As a follow up and custom, he added some more constraints and I was able to explain the solution for that as well. There was no time left to code for this since we were already overtime by 15mins*.
I wasnt very satisfied with this round but it dint go bad either.
 

 

Round 4 (Virtual Onsite 3):
Interviwer was the friendliest of all and asked me how the previous rounds went and some general stuffs. He gave me a math related programming question which is my weakest area. I had to find some kind of relation between coordinates and figure out certain things. I was struggling a bit for naive approach and with one hint from interviewer, I could code the naive approach. After I finished up the coding, he told me to find out a very minor bug in the code and I couldnt figure it out. He later pointed that I had declared a list inside the method but that was supposed to be declared at class level*. This solution took O(n^4) and next obvious thing was to optimize it.
I came up with another approach which reduced the time to O(n^2) and wrote a pseudo code for this. He asked me to quickly dry run and it worked fine. In this round as well we overshot the time and it took around 1hr 10mins*.
 

 

Fortunately or unfortunately, all the questions I was asked were application based questions and there was not even a single typical programming question. After this round, though it all dint go amazing, I was content that I was able to give solutions for the questions asked and I had some hopes. Out of curiosity, I decided to contact my recruiter to know the feedback even though one more round (Googlyness) was scheduled the next day. "You have got a strong feedback for data structures, problem solving, recognising the patterns and communication." These were sort of exact words from the recruiter and I was already imagining working at Google. "Improvements are required in test cases (as per round 2 feedback), efficacy and speed. Because you took more time in coming up with the solution in last 2 rounds, the interviewers recommend that you can be considered for L3 and not L4. For the experience you have, L3 would not be a justice to you. So as I see, it is a negative and we will not be able to move ahead with your candidature". As she uttered these words, I went numb for a second and couldnt understand what was happening. It took some time for me to come back to reality and then I asked for the detailed feedbacks again. The recruiter went ahead and cancelled the Googlyness round that was scheduled the next day.

 

Some more details on onsite rounds feedback:
Round 1:

 

  • Good in DS and Algo. Could recognise pattern and could provide solutions for both the questions.
  • I was not able to explain the time complexity properly. Even though I agree I struggled initially with the wordings because of the way the question was, I could write the complexity in a detaiiled way with what each variable in the time complexity meant
  • Did not give all the test cases. One test case was missed by me though it was part of the generic test case I gave.
  • The feedback in this interiew was leaning no hire. I for no sure got the reason for this from the feedback I got and I think this was very harsh

 

Round 2:

 

  • Could come up with the recursive solution and could code.
  • Code could have been a bit better and neat
  • Took more time
  • The feedback here was fit for L3 or no hire

 

Round 3:

 

  • Could understand the hint immediately and came up with the approach
  • Had a bug in the code (the list declaration I was talking about)
  • Wasnt fast
  • Feedback same as round 2, fit for L3 or no hire

 

 

My two cents based on the experience I had:

 

  • The parameters on which Google judge is way different compared to other companies
  • The interview process is very meticulous, detail oriented. Every thing counts. Just giving the (optimal) solution is not good enough
  • Time management is very very very important for Google interviews and this can be achieved only by more and more practice I believe. (This is the biggest weakness of mine and I have lost couple of other opportunities as well because of this)
  • Thinking of alterante solution is very important in Google interviews. Giving two to three solutions and then explaining the pros and cons would really help
  • Always speak out loud, no matter what logic you are thinking. This helps a lot and interviewer will be able to help you
  • What I realised with many interview experiences is that no doubt one should have prepared a lot for the interview with determination and consistency, but luck plays a very major role. Luck is the father of all.

 

 

Being an average student during engineering to giving an attempt at Google has been one amazing journey. There were days I doubted of even getting the call from Google, but now I am confident that with some more hard work and determination, I will be able to make it one day. Rejections are part of life and while I definitely regret missing this opportunity, I am excited for what I have in hand currently.

 

Enjoy life, we all will achieve what we want one fine day. Cheers!

by Expert (30,360 points)