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Why Google’s tricky interviews are hard nuts
Lipi Agrawal | HRKatha | New Delhi | Wednesday, 09 November 2016

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Pierre Gauthier, a computer engineer who set up his own tech company 18 years ago, applied for the role of director of engineering at Google and was rejected.

Google is one of the most sought after workplaces, and its interviews are not so easy to crack. In fact, the level is such that even the most experienced candidates at times fail to woo the interviewers.

In a recent case, Pierre Gauthier, a computer engineer who set up his own tech company 18 years ago, applied for the role of director of engineering at Google and he was rejected as he could not pass a test in a telephonic interview. He shared the questions of the test and what he got wrong, on his blog.

Gauthier, who started coding about 37 years ago when he was just 11 years old, was also appointed the R&D Director 24 years ago at the FMN Holding Group, at the age of 24. He says, “I have since then designed and implemented the most demanding parts of TWD Industries' R &D projects – all of them delivering commercial products.”

At Google, the requirement was for someone with both management and coding skills and having ‘exercised the former for more than two decades and the latter for almost four decades’, Gauthier stood a strong chance for the role. However, he didn’t get through!

"As I qualified for the interview but failed to pass the test, this blog post lists the questions and the expected answers. This might be handy if Google calls you one day," wrote Gauthier in the blog post. Among the highly technical questions the recruiter asked him, he got the first four correct. The fifth question was: "What is a Linux inode?", and he got it wrong. 

Gauthier replied "A unique file identifier for any given file system." But the recruiter responded - "Wrong, it's file metadata." Delving deeper into the technicalities and not fully satisfied with Google's answer, he pushed back, saying, "The inode is an index uniquely identifying a file on a given filesystem, and you can look up this index to fetch file attributes like size, time, owner and permissions; you can even add your own attributes on some file systems."

The recruiter again dismissed his comeback, saying, "Wrong, not 'attributes', it's 'metadata’.”

Out of the ten highly technical questions asked, Gauthier got six of the questions wrong, despite his legacy of decades of experience in the domain. The questions certainly look difficult, with plenty of technical terms that will be completely unfamiliar to anyone who hasn't studied computer science. At one point he even asked the recruiter, "What's the point of this test?"

After each question and the conversation that followed between him and the recruiter, Gauthier provides his thoughts in his blog. The views displaying his discontent and displeasure, range from "typical computer science (1st year) lectures" to "how long is this crap going to last?"

Gauthier concludes by mockingly commenting, “my score is four on ten, that's better than my best Google page rank** ever!”

It’s not about Gauthier’s rejection but the fact that such technical and stringent interviews can at times turn off even the best of talent. The question here is whether such an interview means that companies like Google are setting the bar illogically high or is it an inefficiency on the part of the recruiter to just focus on bookish knowledge while simply missing out on the expertise and past experience possessed by an individual.

Gauthier sums it up in a tip that he shares in the end — “hiring people who know things that you don't know helps more than hiring people who merely know what everybody knows.”

© 2016 HR Katha
Last modified on Wednesday, 09 November 2016

1 comment

  • Comment Link R Muthukumar Wednesday, 09 November 2016 posted by R Muthukumar

    No doubt that the interviewer lacked depth and the approach was not pragmatic.
    Instead of what value has the person added in the past and how/ which direction the candidate is headed - the interviewer focused on what the interviewer knew.
    May be the real promoters of Google will fail if they anonymously take these interviews.

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