I dreamt of working at Google like every other Computer Science student and I soon recognized it won’t be all plain sailing. Today, I will unravel all the twists and turns in my journey.
Chapter 1: 2021
It all began during IITD’s placement season where Google conducted an online test but withdrew its application later and didn’t visit the campus at all. I was upset because I was eagerly waiting for it and Google could have been the perfect start for my career.
Chapter 2: 2021
Fortunately, a few months later, I was approached by a recruiter asking if I would be interested in an opportunity at Google. I was thrilled to hear this and promptly agreed.
She briefed me on the interview process which goes like this - An Initial Phone Screen Round with the recruiter followed by 1-2 Technical Phone Screen Rounds onwards to Onsites.
Initial screening round
This was to test some basic CS concepts like searching, sorting, storage classes etc. and it went smoothly.
Technical phone screen round
This round started with an easy subarray problem advancing towards a toughie. I took one subtle hint from the interviewer to spot Binary Search and wrote a full working code. I was confident about this round.
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My recruiter came back with a positive response and scheduled onsites after 2 weeks as I wanted to brush up some concepts and that's when the pandemic hit. All onsites were converted to virtual interviews and my dream of spending a day at Google’s office was crushed. Anyway, the day arrived with 4 technical rounds and 1 Googleyness round.
Onsites: Round 1
The first interviewer posed a LC medium problem involving BFS that I coded at once. He then introduced some constraints in the original problem. I gave an optimal solution after a little discussion and some inputs from him but there was no time left to code it.
Onsites: Round 2
This round went dreamy. It was a cost-based dynamic programming problem and I was super proud having coded a live, unseen dp problem in an interview.
Onsites: Round 3
I was asked a DFS based matrix question where I fumbled a little due to my hazy understanding of the problem. I wasted a little time here but finally ended up coding the first problem and giving a solution for the next one.
Onsites: Round 4
It had just one graph and shortest path based problem. I proposed a solution but it wasn’t optimal. The interviewer was very interactive and made me identify the section that involved redundant work. I corrected it and wrote an optimal code.
Onsites: Round 5
This was the Googleyness/Behavioral round. I had no trouble here.
Finally, the day ended and I was satisfied with my performance. I heard back from my recruiter after 2 days saying the feedback is positive and my application is being sent to the Hiring Committee(HC). I had no idea what a HC is and for once I thought that I’ve made it to Google. Alas, that was not the case.
My application went through multiple HC sessions and it took them over a month to reject it. My recruiter told me it was a very close call and I had just narrowly missed my shot.
Honestly, I was heartbroken seeing that rejection email from Google.
Chapter 3: 2022
I moved on with my life, completed post-graduation and started working at Adobe. It was in February that I received an email from Google with the subject “Hi from Google again!” and I guess you know how it turned out this time.
I was told that since I missed the chance last year by a small margin, they would like to interview me again but they wanted to skip a couple of rounds owing to my good performance in the last attempt.
It gave me a ray of hope that things might turn out for the best and all those dreams came rushing back to me.
However, this time I was out of practice and therefore requested for a month of preparation time and thankfully they agreed to it. I was supposed to have 2 technical rounds on the same day followed by 1 technical and GnL round the next day. I began my preparation and finally the day arrived.
Onsites: Round 1
The first interview started with a medium DFS problem progressing to a hard one where I gave a union-find solution. I was happy that I could solve both of the questions on my own without any help.
Onsites: Round 2
This round had one LC hard problem with additional constraints. I started with brute force DFS with O(n⁴) complexity, then applied DP to reduce it to O(n³). However, the interviewer had an O(n²) approach in mind which I couldn’t think of. I ended up coding my O(n³) solution. I was dejected and thought this was it for me.
To my surprise, the recruiter called that evening saying they want to schedule the next rounds. I didn’t know how to feel. The remaining rounds were scheduled the next day but there was some mix-up between the interviewers and recruiters thus the interview got postponed at the last moment. I was too anxious as I had to wait another day.
Onsites: Round 3
The next day started with GnL round and I was totally comfortable with it.
Onsites: Round 4
I was asked a string and interval based problem. It started off with an easy version and got complex later. I managed to do the first part pretty fast and then dedicated all my time to the second one. I discussed different approaches, kept optimising and finally arrived at the solution.
I was too pessimistic this time to feel right about the interviews. Few days later, the recruiter called in saying the application was being sent to HC. Of course, once bitten twice shy, I had to manage my expectations. I comforted myself by thinking that I took a stab at it and there’s nothing else I could have done.
I heard back from my recruiter where she mentioned that HC has recommended ‘Hire’ for my application. I was on cloud nine only until I realised there are more committees that need to approve the application before an offer is released.
The recruiter said she’ll be forwarding the application and I had to wait. It was one of the longest weekends of my life. I spent all my time reading every possible answer on Quora/Medium about what are the chances of getting rejected from here.
After a lonnnggg wait, I got a call for compensation discussion and one week later I received my offer letter saying “Congratulations on your offer with Google!”
I still read my offer letter at least 2–3 times a day and it brings back the same smile on my face as it did for the first time. It’s worth all the struggle, hard work, heartbreak and wait. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
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