On Take Your Success, I regularly interview top-performing college students to understand how they’re successful, so you can recreate the success in your life. Take what’s helpful, dismiss what’s not!
This current college student accepted a job offer at Google after graduation. When I asked her to interview, she happily agreed to, but on a couple terms. For one, she needed to keep her anonymity. She also clearly communicated that she isn’t allowed to talk extensively about the interview process, and she definitely can’t tell me her interview questions. I understand and respect that.
There is so much to be gained from learning about this successful college student working at one of the best companies in the world. I mean, she is working at Google! How cool is that?
So, let me introduce to you—just kidding it’s anonymous.
Quick bio: Senior, graduating in 2015 from Miami University with a major in Computer Science.
Brian: How did you apply for the Google position?
Anonymous: I applied online at https://www.google.com/about/careers/. It took about two and a half months from when I first applied to when I got my offer.
Brian: What extracurricular activities in college did/do you participate in?
Anonymous: I have been playing violin since I was ten, so while I was here I have played in the orchestra, been in a quartet, and played at my church, Oxford Bible Fellowship. I have also been a teaching assistant for quite a few computer science courses. My favorite experience was studying abroad in England for a semester. Living abroad is something that I think everyone should do at some point in their life.
Brian: Can you tell us the key factors that might have helped you land the position?
Anonymous: I think that adaptability and the ability to solve a problem on your feet and under pressure is something that Google really values. During my interview process, I think that they liked my thought process and ability to change my opinion given new circumstances. I never felt like the important part was getting the right answer, but how I got to the answer that I eventually arrived at.
Brian: Are there any worries about moving out to Mountain View, California, where I assume you don’t have much family or many friends?
Anonymous: There are definitely worries about moving to California. But, don’t get me wrong, I am so excited to live in what I think is one of the best places in the country, but doing it by myself will be a challenge.
Brian: How do you think your time at Miami University helped prepare you for your first job?
Anonymous: The courses at Miami have not only given me the knowledge that I needed, but more than that, they have pushed me to think for myself and be open to other people’s ideas. I think that Miami fosters an environment where everyone’s opinion matters, and that ability to voice your ideas is invaluable.
Brian: How would you advise a college student who is preparing for a technical interview?
Anonymous: I think it is important to remember that just because you are smart and have great technical experience doesn’t mean that every job will be a good fit for you, so there is no need to be nervous! You will find the job that will use your skills and background where you will be able to succeed.
That being said, it is important to prepare for a technical interview. Obviously, if a company tells you outright that they are going to ask you questions about a certain topic, study that topic. That doesn’t usually happen though, so go back to the basics and make sure that you know them like the back of your hand. Technical interviews usually include questions to make sure that you know what you’re talking about, and problems that you need to solve with code. When you have a coding question, the worst thing that you can do is stand at a board and quietly write down a solution. When they ask you to solve an involved problem, they are asking you because they want to know how you think. It may be awkward or feel like you are talking to yourself, but let them know how you are arriving at your solution.
Brian: If you were to speak with your freshman-self, you would say?
Anonymous: I would say that although independence can be a good thing, it shouldn’t become a stubborn independence that doesn’t ask for help. It can be a good thing to bounce ideas off of peers instead of sitting in solitude and making yourself solve something. People have really good ideas, and it can be very beneficial to listen to them!
Brian: Finally, I have to ask: What Google perk are you most excited about?
Anonymous: I feel like I hear a new perk every day that I didn’t know about, but I would say that I am most excited about the prospect of bringing my dog to work, the onsite massages, and the free food that is provided 24/7.
(My takeaways.) Just the fact that this had to be anonymous shows how secretive the interviews are at Google. But, you can pick up key points to get a better perspective if applying to Google or any other technical interview.
Also, her comment about asking others for help seems like a small and obvious thing to do, but it can have huge benefits for everyone—not only technical interviewees. Personally, I know I’m stubborn enough to spend hours trying to do something that I don’t know how, whether it’s understanding a concept in a class or figuring out how to do some type of coding on my website.
Only after I put myself through so much frustration, do I stop and ask someone else. Then, I feel like a fool when they do it in three minutes. So, don’t be like me, be like the girl interviewed and ask for help when needed. Whether it’s from a professor, classmate, friend, or parent, you’ll save yourself frustration and time.
Please comment below with your takeaways from this interview!