Douwe Osinga's Blog: More mothership

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

More mothership

In continuation of my previous post, Google set me up for an interview over the telephone. I was rather nervous, but as the recruiter later said, it really went quite well. Almost only technical questions, nothing about attitude or feelings. I guess that is what you get from letting the Geeks run the company. It was actually quite fun. Questions varied from 'how would you count the bits in a 32 bit word' to 'how would you estimate the occurance of a certain word on the web without spidering the whole thing'

So they called me back that they were happy with the result and wanted to schedule a second telephone interview. However, as chance would have it, I already had planned a trip to California just for the next week. Luckily enough they could set up an interview for me right that next monday, so I didn't have to cross the Atlantic twice in two weeks.

Everybody warned me that not having a car in California means trouble. It probably does, but there was actually a quite good train connection between San Francisco and Mountain View. We (my wife was accompanying me) asked around where Google was at the station, but nobody had heard of the company, which seemed pretty weird, but is probably just a sign of the digital divide - the people we talked to where hispanics fresh from the South to whom the whole Internet thing had passed by.

But there were taxi drivers who knew where it was (all Sikhs from India). Google is now housed where Silicon Graphics used to be, but you wouldn't really know. The design and coloring of the buildings is very Googlish. Right away it seemed like a nice place to work, with the massage chair in the lobby, some weird game they made up, a scrolling list of search terms being used right now and a fridge with interesting juices.

The interviews again were very much of a technical nature, this time with actual code writing on the white boards. Now writing code on a white board is relatively hard under any circumstance, but they also wanted me to write the code in C, a language I hadn't used for five years or so, but I think I did pretty well. There were also some more brainstormy questions this time, for example how to solve MineSweeper and one guy even remarked that unfortunately there wasn't time to discuss Michel Foucault. All in all I did quite well I think and two weeks later I had a job offer.

So here I am, blogging from Google's headquarters, sipping the best corporate espresso I've had so far. I'm not really sure what to do with the whole Google hack thing now. Some of them might show up in Google products actually and the new ones I'll probably keep inside here - you get to work 20% of your time on your own projects here, but any results belong to Google.