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Google Vs. Microsoft: a Tale of Two Interviews

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the A-or-B dept.

Google 215

jfruh writes "You might be a bit jealous of Andrew Weiss: fresh out of college, he got interviews with both Microsoft and Google. He discusses (to the extent NDAs allow) the differences between the two experiences, ranging from the silly (Google's famous gourmet cafeteria vs. Microsoft's gaming room) to the serious (Google's technical emphasis vs. Microsoft's focus on explanatory and consulting skills.)"

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215 comments

Ugh (0, Offtopic)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | about 2 years ago | (#40444247)

In before the MyCleanPC garbage. It's starting to get really bad, seriously.

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444359)

Don't read at -1 and you'll be fine.

Re:Ugh (1, Redundant)

Shados (741919) | about 2 years ago | (#40444401)

You might be a bit jealous of Andrew Weiss: fresh out of college, he got interviews with both Microsoft and Google

Hmm... why would someone be jealous? If you want to be in that situation, Google and Microsoft are pretty straightforward. Go to one of the colleges they approach candidates from (and while US college system is a bit silly, anyone CAN go to on of these colleges if they try hard enough and are willing to pile up enough debts...most countries will have a way for people who worked hard enough), and then just talk to them. Then if you have a 3.0 gpa and don't babble too much, you'll probably get the job (if you want to). If you don't, get a job elsewhere and they'll be harassing you a few years later.

My silly community college IT degree didn't catch their attention, but that was a personal decision I made. My wife however made different decision and Google/Microsoft are calling her at least once a month.

I guess in some countries it might not be as trivial, but i doubt the summary was thinking of those when it was written.

Aside that, if you're "jealous", you just didn't make the right decisions to get what you wanted.

Re:Ugh (2, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40444891)

"Hmm... why would someone be jealous?"

Not to mention that I'm sure both Google and Microsoft employee plenty of minimum wage workers... those campuses don't clean themselves (yet) as well as hordes of junior level monkeys, clerks, secretaries, etc. Just getting an interview at a company isn't all that impressive unless it's a high-up job that falls into the "dream job" category for thousands or millions of people.

Re:Ugh (5, Interesting)

wiedzmin (1269816) | about 2 years ago | (#40444977)

Not to mention that I'm sure both Google and Microsoft employ plenty of minimum wage workers...

Actually Google singlehandedly raised the "minimum wage" across the Silicon Valley back in the day with all other tech giants having to catch up to avoid losing talent... don't sound so bitter man...

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445547)

Not to mention that I'm sure both Google and Microsoft employee plenty of minimum wage workers... those campuses don't clean themselves (yet) as well as hordes of junior level monkeys, clerks, secretaries, etc.

They usually contract out for janitorial services and things like that. Secretaries and clerks have mostly disappeared from the modern paperless office. If you work directly for Google or Microsoft, odds are you are making much more than minimum wage, even in a relatively junior position. Full employees also get great benefits that probably cost more than minimum wage.

Re:Ugh (1)

CTU (1844100) | about 2 years ago | (#40445277)

I agree. I don't know why anyone post that stuff other then just silly trolling. Although it can be worse as I remember when some people posted scary images on /.

3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (0, Flamebait)

melted (227442) | about 2 years ago | (#40444319)

3 on-site interviews means a FAIL of epic proportions. If you do passably it's no less than 5.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40444351)

Why so many?
Sounds like huge pain in the ass. I get irritated if interviews run more than 1 hour. If you want my time, pay me for it.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (3, Insightful)

Squeebee (719115) | about 2 years ago | (#40444449)

You want a job? Pay for it with you time.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40444613)

I have a job I like, pays well and lets me set my own hours. You have to convince me to come work for you.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (1, Insightful)

Squeebee (719115) | about 2 years ago | (#40444729)

Congratulations, I assume you're not applying then. If you're the best candidate you'll likely have been actively recruited and bypass half the interviews. If you're not the very best candidate then the onus is on you to prove yourself to the employer, not the other way around.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444897)

Who is this insanely awesome employer of yours?

From what I've gathered so far: they hire clueless idiots who spend all day posting banalities on the 'net, pay them excessively, and don't force a standard workday.

For the love of god please clue us in.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444989)

kill yourself

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444615)

You have things upside down. I might allow a prospect to squeeze suggestions out of me for up to half an hour initially, but beyond that I'm upfront that I should be billing.

Can't speak for interviews, though. Every HR I've met I asked out for a date at the end of the meeting, and never got a positive answer (for the job, or the date), so I cannot say. :-P

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (3, Interesting)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about 2 years ago | (#40444999)

Why so many? Sounds like huge pain in the ass. I get irritated if interviews run more than 1 hour. If you want my time, pay me for it.

Agreed. They may be the top of the prestige ladder, but google and microsoft are both places where you'll be expected to put in long hours for average pay. Maybe the hours and hours of interviews is really just to determine who values their time the least?

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445767)

but google and microsoft are both places where you'll be expected to put in long hours for average pay.

I know people who work for these companies. What you say here is absolutely not true.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#40445155)

Many technical companies will do several hour long interviews. Interviewing is difficult, and that want to spend some time to get it right. If you want the job, you'll take the time... otherwise stay with your current job.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445463)

I once had to go through 3 on-site interviews for a job, they had me interview with a pair of front-line programmers, next a manager who I would have worked for, then finally the ceo (obviously a small place if the ceo is interviewing you but I like working for small companies). The first was on one day, the next two were the next day but not at the same time and I made a seperate trip. I was very fed up by the time I met with the ceo and was being roundly praised but still didn't have a job offer, EVEN after the ceo! When they finally offered me the job I turned it down because I'd taken on a contract that paid more and was done entirely over the phone in a single call.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (2)

plopez (54068) | about 2 years ago | (#40444541)

I've rarely interviewed more than once for a job, never 3 times. And got every job I ever wanted (there were some I didn't want I got and some I didn't want I didn't get). Either
1) I am a super mega-uber-super-fantastic-interviewee and you are a loser or

2) different companies hire in different ways.

The number of interviews is meaningless.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (1)

oneeyedman (39461) | about 2 years ago | (#40445523)

You misunderstood the discussion. An interview loop at Microsoft is a *loop* because you are routed past multiple interviewers with different questions and emphases. That is, all in one day. Three interviews is a typical start (taking up the morning), and if you have a shot after that, you'll be sent to additional interviewers. It sounds like Google works the same way.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (2)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | about 2 years ago | (#40444567)

I have a dozen or so former classmates working at Microsoft and they had 2 on-site interviews max.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (1)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#40444733)

You mean in one day, or 3 separate visits? If you don't get an offer after the first visit with Google, you got rated poorly by someone.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40444963)

Or they changed job requirements part way through and are still interested in you for a related position but not the specific job they were looking for before.

Re:3 on-site interviews means a FAIL (1)

terjeber (856226) | about 2 years ago | (#40445529)

Three on-site interviews means an employer with a massive decision making disorder. They are doomed to fail. Run for your life.

Wrong job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444387)

...and after all that he got the wrong job :(

Interesting (1, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#40444389)

Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

Which only goes to show that Google cares about the tech stuff, and MS just cares to make money.

Not saying that Google doesn't want money, but it doesn't seem to be all that matters to them.

MS on the other hand, that is all that matters to them.

Re:Interesting (5, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | about 2 years ago | (#40444433)

Or, that he was interviewing for completely different positions.

Re:Interesting (4, Informative)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 2 years ago | (#40444799)

Considering that he was offered the job of "Associate Consultant" at Microsoft, I'd say he was interviewing for completely different positions.

Re:Interesting (3, Informative)

Captoo (103399) | about 2 years ago | (#40445871)

Very good point. I had the chance to interview at both Google and Microsoft. I found the interview styles to be pretty similar. Google was a bit heavier on the technical. Microsoft was a bit heavier on general problem solving. That's easily explained by the fact that I was interviewing to be a developer at Google and a tester at Microsoft. No big deal. There was one glaring difference between my experiences at the two companies. Google flew me to their Seattle office, set me up with a hotel, rental, car, food, etc., and spent the whole day in interviews with me before the recruiter told me that they don't actually have any openings and they're just building a candidate pool. Microsoft took me to Redmond, gave me a similar treatment, and I got an offer the same day.

Re:Interesting (5, Informative)

jbburks (853501) | about 2 years ago | (#40445913)

Microsoft actually has people who will talk to me about the problems I have with their software and systems. They, in many cases, will work with my company to fix the problems, or at least provide a workaround. I've never been able to talk to anyone at Google about a problem or have them acknowledge it, much less work with me to fix it.

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 2 years ago | (#40444481)

Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

Which only goes to show that Google cares about the tech stuff, and MS just cares to make money.

Not saying that Google doesn't want money, but it doesn't seem to be all that matters to them.

MS on the other hand, that is all that matters to them.

One of the best advice I ever got was:

Remember, no matter how great of a thing you create, unless someone sells it it will be forgotten.

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40444647)

Best advice?

Sounds like one of the most depressing things I have ever heard.

I would rather create something wonderful no one ever sees than have what I create be dictated by some salesdrone.

Re:Interesting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444939)

Based on how shockingly stupid your posts are and how much time you waste posting them on every single story, I doubt you've ever created anything "wonderful".

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

skiflyer (716312) | about 2 years ago | (#40444987)

It's a nice thought... but the problem is it becomes very difficult to fund future creations with that mindset. Unless you're fortunate enough to be in some funded department who is just doing R&D it's not a great way to go through life. Even if you are that fortunate, chances are there's some very political individual properly extracting enough from your group to make sure the company at large is getting value out of their funding.

Same holds for pretty much any productive endeavor.

Re:Interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445669)

"I would rather create something wonderful no one ever sees than have what I create be dictated by some sales drone."

You missed the point. What you create is not dictated by some sales drone. But whether what you create
succeeds in the market place may well have everything to do with the "sales drone".

Sales people are a necessary part of getting products to market in an effective manner. Buyers don't magically find
out that something is worth buying, they need to be informed and a good sales person can do that far more effectively
than a web page or advertisement. Wonderfulness of a device alone means little or nothing.

You have a lot to learn about the real world.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444695)

Which may explain why so many good Google products just go away.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444825)

Errr...ummmm...to play devil's advocate here...LOL! ;)

Seems Linux is unlikely to be forgotten...and you have to the choice to buy it, sell it, or just plain download and use it gratis...much better options than that MS junk that is only for sale, and I do fervently hope it will soon someday be forgotten! LOL! :D

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445195)

Are you nine years old?

Oh, sorry, I mean: Are you nine years old? LOL! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

Re:Interesting (1)

Forrest Kyle (955623) | about 2 years ago | (#40445233)

So GNU Linux will be forgotten?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445339)

as crazy as it seems ppl still managed to sell it nonetheless (through fallacious rationales or adjoined services)

Re:Interesting (5, Funny)

StripedCow (776465) | about 2 years ago | (#40445443)

Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

Of course, Google has the advantage of prior knowledge here. They probably had the guy profiled before he even signed up for the interview.

Re:Interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444499)

Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

That probably says more about the position than the company. If you want someone for support or consultancy then being able to explain things is vital. Even so, communication is important even in purely technical roles - a genius who can't communicate ideas to colleagues is less valuable than a merely very good person who can.

A fast talling idiot is useless to everyone of course. Even sales* in the long term.

*I knew you were going to say it!

Re:Interesting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444513)

Yes, because this one interviewer represents all of Microsoft's 90k employees... Your prejudice has clearly clouded your critical thinking skills. I wouldn't hire you.

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

BorgAssimilator (1167391) | about 2 years ago | (#40444527)

Not saying that Google doesn't want money, but it doesn't seem to be all that matters to them.

Playing devil's advocate, you could also say "Not saying that Microsoft isn't technical, but it doesn't seem to be all that matters to them".

To be fair, a lot of companies underestimate the ability for tech people to have good communication skills, for both inside the company and without. When you have big companies like Microsoft and Google, to have a good infrastructure, you need good communication. This just shows that, for one reason or another, Microsoft has chosen to focus on this in their current hiring process.

Honestly, they both want / need money and tech to stay in business.

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 2 years ago | (#40444575)

Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

You do realize that the people the pay the bills are often not interested in the tiny highly technical details. This is also why very often Architects are higher up the food chain than operations personnel.

It's the architect's ability to communicate that separates them.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444681)

They both rely on technology to make money, and they both need money to continue operations. So they both care about the tech stuff and they both care about the money. How on earth was the parent post marked "insightful"? It's the opposite, it's being deliberately obtuse.

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

schlesinm (934723) | about 2 years ago | (#40444869)

I don't care how technical you are if you can't explain what you are doing to others. You need to be able to explain what you are going to do during design phase, so that others can make sure it fits in with the pieces they are working on. You need to explain what you are doing to production support teams, so that they can understand the system well enough to support it. Also, depending on the type of project you are working on, you will probably need to explain some of it to people who do user manuals, phone support documents, training documents etc. There are several different levels of explanation that need to be done and you better be able to explain your application to all of them.

No (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about 2 years ago | (#40445887)

He was interviewing for different positions in the 2 companies.

Probably a developer post in Google and a consultant post in Microsoft. Microsoft's interviews for the product developer post are fully technical.

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 2 years ago | (#40445915)

Google is wanting to you to be technical and MS only cares about how well you can talk.

Well, right out of the gate he was not applying for the same job. So its inherently and apples to oranges comparison.

Which only goes to show that Google cares about the tech stuff, and MS just cares to make money.

That's drawing a pretty specific conclusion from virtually no information. Your wouldn't have some sort of bias would you?

One could chalk it up to the different requirements of the job he's applying for.

Or one could spin it that Microsoft values effective communication highly even for its technical positions.

Reality check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444399)

in 3...2...1 "I can't wait to start my job -- every day will be a new adventure"

wow ... (5, Interesting)

ixidor (996844) | about 2 years ago | (#40444403)

He went in unprepared for possible the toughest IT interview of his life and he did not get the position. BIG SURPRISE. then he had some job leads spoon fed to him, interviewed at a few other places and nailed the MS interview. the end. saved you the 45 seconds it takes to read it. the position at MS was more MIS/marketing, and they asked "softer" questions, big whoop. Just some ivy league brat who didn't nail his first interview, and wanted a way to bitch.

Re:wow ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444579)

Just some ivy league brat who didn't nail his first interview, and wanted a way to bitch.

Ah yes, Purdue - the forgotten Ivy.

I agree with the rest though - worthless article.

Re:wow ... (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444597)

What about it was bitching? The article was pretty disappointing and just said obvious things, but he wasn't bitching.

Re:wow ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444747)

I felt prepared for my 1st MS interview.... until they asked me if I knew how to build boats, when I replied that I didn't, they proceeded with asking me how would I build one.

Re:wow ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445281)

as a yacht ETO I think even I would struggle on that one!

Re:wow ... (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#40445327)

Thank you! Wholly shit I wish I could get the 5 minutes back I wasted reading that turd someone labeled "article".

Didn't read TFA? Consider yourself lucky. Rambling about nothing important to anyone except the author. Should have been posted as Facebook status, not an article pointed to on /.

/sigh

They aren't really all that different (4, Informative)

Mabbo (1337229) | about 2 years ago | (#40444421)

Having been an intern at both, and gone through at least the intern version of their interviews, I didn't see a huge difference. Can you solve problems? How do you approach different types of problems? Simply put, did your education (both formal and personal) teach you enough to know the important things that any software engineer should know? Communication is incredibly important, and your ability to communicate how you are solving the problems and dealing with issues factors in quite a bit.

Once inside, they do have different cultures, goals, focus, but as far as getting in, I feel there's very few people who would be hired by one, but not the other.

Re:They aren't really all that different (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445115)

>Once inside, they do have different cultures, goals

Details, man, details. Don't just leave us hanging like that.

One of the worst slashvertisements ever (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about 2 years ago | (#40444519)

I thought this article might actually be interesting. Instead, it was just shit. I suck at one interview, and got good, and did good on the next one. This one was almost as worse as the one about taking your kid to the forest for school.

Re:One of the worst slashvertisements ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444929)

I believe "Cool story bro" is the idiom you are looking for.

Re:One of the worst slashvertisements ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444941)

Almost as worse? Maybe you went to school in a forest.

Re:One of the worst slashvertisements ever (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40445453)

Funnier still, it sounds like he actually interviewed for two different positions - some technical kind at Google, and then a marketing consultant for MS. What's the point of comparing the two?

Why can they just leave each other alone (0)

sci-fi fantasies (2670099) | about 2 years ago | (#40444553)

Well if Google wins against Microsoft i could lead to problems: 1.Microsoft could go out business.(I hope they don't because I have one.) 2.Microsoft might not do anything and could go out of business.(Refer to problem number 1.) Now if Microsoft wins against Google,Google might not do anything about it.

Re:Why can they just leave each other alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444765)

Microsoft could go out business.(I hope they don't because I have one.)

I wish I had a Microsoft. I'd be on a beach sipping piña coladas, not posting on Slashdot.

Re:Why can they just leave each other alone (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40444863)

Microsoft could go out business.(I hope they don't because I have one.)

You have a Microsoft? Me too!

i wonder who has the third one.

Re:Why can they just leave each other alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445319)

there is more then three now, apparently someone posted the torrent on pirate bay.

Next post: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444563)

No matter what role you hold in IT, you will find cool things you didn't know before. This is why I can't wait to start my job -- every day will be a new adventure!

Fired for blogging.

I hope he chooses Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444583)

After all those years in college, you don't want to end up in an advertisement company, spying on your users. Admittedly, the tech is cool, but many if not all things this company does can be done easily on a much smaller scale on your own little server. Now that I'm thinking about it... what is so cool about this tech? They
provide boring office supplies, belonging in the category of paperclips, noteblocs, and staplers.

None of the above (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 2 years ago | (#40444667)

I agree, making a profit is immoral! It might be better to just get a doctorate and work at a university, at least then he can expand knowledge without exploiting anyone.

Re:I hope he chooses Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444901)

If you'd bothered to RTFA, you'd realize that you're nothing more than an anti-google retarded moron. (he didn't *choose* MS: they *chose* him (google, his FIRST EVER interview, didn't.))

you're welcome, dickweed.

Microsoft campus interview: a summary (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444621)

One of the unique aspects of my time in Redmond was the interview environment. In between interviews, I was in a room filled with music, video games, and movies. While it may sound unheard of, it actually worked in my favor helping to keep my mind off things for a bit.

Entry interview: you'll need to dodge alien laser beams.

Exit interview: you'll need to dodge flying chairs.

My experience: Google vs Amazon (5, Interesting)

exabrial (818005) | about 2 years ago | (#40444727)

Here's my experience in Google vs Amazon


In summary, Google's interviews don't get a flying rats behind about anything but microbenchmarks on small pieces of code. Amazon cared more about technical design but started asking me questions on the Linux Kernel (I was applying for Java Engineer position)


Some more odds:

One of the Google interviews disagreed with me that a Java HashSet was not Big O(1) for the contains() method when I wrote out my sample code. I pointed out (very kindly) that I believe HashSet is backed by HashMap in Java, which is constant time. He said he didn't think that was true and I conceded and said, "I can assume then for now that it is not constant time then." I was extremely polite, but I'm fairly certain that cost me the job.


The Amazon interview didn't go after they started asking me the internals of the Linux kernel. Then, the gentlemen asked me to implement a C function. I stopped him immediately after he was done speaking and said, "There must be a mistake, while i'm more than willing to attempt this in C, I thought I was applying for a Java position." He said he didn't know Java and asked me to implement atoi() in Java then. Needless to say he wasn't satisfied with any iteration of my Java code and made it a point that C was far superior to Java when we were done.


I really wanted the Google job, and I feel I was definitely qualified. What makes me feel better about it I guess is that it seems some Googlers couldn't pass the Google interview.

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444923)

Just use Integer.parseInt and you are done.

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40444959)

It's only O(1) in the absence of hash collisions... which is most of the time, so people like to pretend it's constant time, but in a pedantic theoretical sense the interviewer was right.

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445623)

It's only O(1) in the absence of hash collisions... which is most of the time, so people like to pretend it's constant time, but in a pedantic theoretical sense the interviewer was right.

Or the interviewer was right in the real-world-shit-you-have-to-worry-about sense. If you aren't concerned about hash collisions in real-life, you probably don't care about real world performance at scale.

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (0)

svick (1158077) | about 2 years ago | (#40445657)

It's still O(1), even with collisions. But there can't be many of them.

And it has nothing to do with pretending, you just have to say what exactly do you mean. If you mean the average case, that's O(1). On the other hand, if you mean the worst case, that would be O(n).

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | about 2 years ago | (#40445737)

And of course the very definition of O(1) is that it be constant time in the worst case scenario, no matter how unlikely the worst case is.

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40445101)

"I really wanted the Google job, and I feel I was definitely qualified. What makes me feel better about it I guess is that it seems some Googlers couldn't pass the Google interview."

Should have Googled all of the answers. I bet that's what they did.

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445189)

If you can't manage the intellectual insecurity of folks not quite smart enough to know better, Google's not the place for you.

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445315)

Worst case scenario for HashSet is O(n). That's what cost you the job - some interviewers are very nit-picky about such details.

Another experience - Google vs Amazon (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445353)

I was very interested to read your post, having just recently interviewed with both Amazon and Google.

Here's my experience with each. Amazon was four 45-minute interviews, with a 15 minute break between each. Clearly they had decided on the problems for each candidate beforehand, as each interviewer asked a different question or two about my previous experiences and then a technical question that took the remainder of the interview time. I was also given the opportunity to ask about their experiences, which was actually quite illuminating as it was clear their past projects heavily influenced each technical question they asked.

Google was five hour-long interviews with only a minute break or so between them. Additionally, there was an hour-long guided lunch after the third interview. My first interviewer gave me a rundown of how the process worked (in particular, they had a sheet keeping track of what problems I had been asked that was passed on to each subsequent interviewer) and then each interview pretty much was 100% dedicated to solving a technical problem. The only person who asked anything about my previous experience and gave me any information about the workplace culture was my lunchtime interviewer. From what I gathered, it sounds like after a training session most developers are put into an interview rotation, which I suppose makes sense when one considers the number of applicants they must have. As a result, my last interview also had an observer present, presumably in training.

I won't talk about the questions asked except to indicate that both companies asked interesting and engaging technical questions - only one of which (Google's "warm up question") I'd seen on glassdoor or other interview question lists. But Amazon seemed much more interested in my experience in addition to my technical abilities, whereas talking to Google was more like taking a standardized exam.

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40445569)

One of the Google interviews disagreed with me that a Java HashSet was not Big O(1) for the contains() method when I wrote out my sample code. I pointed out (very kindly) that I believe HashSet is backed by HashMap in Java, which is constant time. He said he didn't think that was true

HashSet/HashMap (and hash tables in general) is O(1) in the average case, but O(n) worst case. Sometimes these things matter, especially when you're dealing with data that crosses the security boundary - if your program stuffs user input into a hash table, an attacker can DoS it [arstechnica.com] by feeding it carefully crafted input such that all keys end up in the same bucket.

Re:My experience: Google vs Amazon (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | about 2 years ago | (#40445651)

One of the Google interviews disagreed with me that a Java HashSet was not Big O(1) for the contains() method when I wrote out my sample code. I pointed out (very kindly) that I believe HashSet is backed by HashMap in Java, which is constant time. He said he didn't think that was true and I conceded and said, "I can assume then for now that it is not constant time then." I was extremely polite, but I'm fairly certain that cost me the job.

Presumably, he was testing you to see if you could explain why he was technically right, even though it is commonly assumed to be constant because in the average case it is. The Java HashMap and HashSet (as far as I know) handle hash collisions with a linked list, and the worst possible case for a Hash structure is if all your elements have the same Hash key, this is of course so unlikely that it would never actually happen in real life, but since O is the worst case, it would be O(n). Of course it's entirely possible that the Java HashMap/HashSet has a mechanism to avoid such an unlikely scenario by switching to another hashing algorithm if many hash collisions occur, but it seems unlikely that they prepare for something like that and even if they did, it may be possible for the new algorithm to produce hash collisions as well meaning it's still O(n). (Or if you wish you could use something like a doubly-linked list combined with a binary search, resulting in a O(log n) contains() but also O(log n) insertions which would otherwise be O(1).)

Microsoft interviews have changed (4, Informative)

kbob88 (951258) | about 2 years ago | (#40444759)

Well, that was a fairly lame article...

Anyway, I interviewed with Microsoft back in 1989 or 1990, and it appears that things have changed since then. Back then, they definitely were more focused on technical questions. I don't remember anyone asking anything about customers or business or communications. It was all technology, with a bit of design thrown in. The position wasn't even a hard-core programming job. Since I was a few years out of college, the customer/business/communications questions would have been nice, since I would probably would have been better positioned to answer those than the college seniors, as my then current job had me working with customers a lot. Their recruiting group was horribly disorganized back then also -- they switched recruiters and the job at the last minute, so no one (myself, the recruiter, the interviewers) was properly prepared. I suppose they've probably fixed that since then... One of the weirdest things was the "cult of Bill" -- whenever you asked a question, the answer seemed to always be prefaced with something like, "Well, Bill thinks that..." Even questions that had nothing to do with technology or Microsoft, like "what do people in Redmond do for fun?" "Well, Bill thinks that being fit and active helps the brain, so a lot of us like to mountain bike..."

Re:Microsoft interviews have changed (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40445057)

It's possible microsoft, having been in business a while, isn't as starved for technical people as it is for people who can explain what all the technical people just did. Making a product doesn't do you any good if you can't communicate what that product does, and how it would be useful.

Re:Microsoft interviews have changed (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40445605)

Let me quote the bit from TFA which explains the difference:

That same day, I was offered the position as an Associate Consultant.

When I interviewed for a software development position 4 years ago, pretty much all questions were technical, and most of it was writing code. No-one asked me any questions about customer or business communications, either.

The MS job was about business skills and google (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#40444809)

The MS job was about business skills and Google was about tech skills.

Now to be fair we need to have tech job at MS vs tech job at goolge.

But this maybe telling that college CS is not good for some tech job at least at MS but the same CS is what google may want for tech jobs.

I think that MS is better as they see that CS is NOT IT.

It all depends on the team... (2)

cplusplus (782679) | about 2 years ago | (#40444917)

I have a few friends at both places. At MS, the style and topics of an interview can change from team to team, and from internal organization to organization. From what I hear, at Google it's a little different in that you get interviewed by a wide variety of folks, and then teams "bid" on you based on your interview results and strengths/weaknesses, so the technical interview experience there is largely the same for every candidate.

Re:It all depends on the team... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40445653)

MS interviews also involve bids sometimes. I interviewed 4 years ago, and there were 4 teams in the loop (though all from the same org, and three from the same division). Each candidate was interviewed by every team, in a round robin fashion - 45 minutes of interview, then 15 minutes break and you're off to the next one. Then, as I understand, they somehow split the accepted candidate pool between each other, and settled cases where two or more teams bid on the same person.

I didn't get the job either (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445119)

I interviewed at MS while I was a grad student in math, and I was astounded at the experience. While the HR guy who interviewed me on campus and then flew me to Redmond was very positive, upbeat, and encouraging, the only thing I can think about the engineer who interviewed me is: "What an asshole." He would ask me a question, then while I answered he would turn his back to me, face his computer and answer email.

I was bright and eager and thought it would be fun to move across the country and stop being a starving student, but even at that young age I new I could never work for a company that treated me like garbage while trying to woo me!

I dunno. I was the last on-campus interviewee before lunch, and maybe the recruiter wanted one invite under his belt before he went out and drank his lunch, so maybe I really was unqualified.

Interviews aren't really different (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#40445177)

I've interviewed at Google, and at Microsoft, as well as a few other technical places, for similar positions. The interview process was very similar. Stand in front of a white board, solve and then code a small problem. Or discuss design. I think the biggest difference is lunch was not exactly an interview with Google, but it was with Microsoft.

No work life balance at Google (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#40445479)

When I interviewed at Google, I was struck by how my main interviewer had no work life balance after he moved to Google. He talked about all of the things he used to do - hiking, mountain biking, etc. When I talked to him in more detail about some of his favorite hikes and rides, it became apparent that they were all done before he went to Google and that he no longer has time. Then as I talked to the rest of the team members I found the same thing - their lives revolve around Google. And as I looked around I saw all of the great amenities that are geared toward keeping you on-campus - great food, free laundry, haircuts, oil changes, gym, swimming pool, etc. You could literally live at the office and have everything you need.

That's when I realized that I didn't want to work there. They wanted to bring me back for another interview for a team member that wasn't there for the first one, but I declined and took another job.

Did both MS and Google, and much more... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40445793)

While working at SUN, I had been interviewed once by Microsoft and then by Google (at G three times overall in the past few years). I aced the MS interview and they wanted me there. Google told me, that they almost hired me after the first interview (told me about it a few years later though) - I have solved some problems that nobody has solved during an interview before - it was not enough though. Somehow I managed to end up in NOKIA, and now I have to move out as NOKIA is imploding. What a pity, N9 rocks and there were so many hopes around MeeGo and Qt...

MS: You have to be assertive. I think they wanted me because I was arguing heavily with the development boss of the whole product range and convinced him that my non-typical solution was better - and it was impressive to see how a confident and cocky person admitted he was wrong and ended up like a best friend - we had a really nice smalltalk at the end of the interview... Technical questions were quite OK, but not that difficult (after a brutal training at SUN). Usually some concurrency, linked list algorithms, Warcraft data structures :D and the emphasis was on not making mistakes in the whiteboard code. The interview was very relaxing (comparing to my job at SUN), I even told MS' HR that it was really easygoing day that shocked her...

Google: Few years ago, it was the most exciting interview ever - puzzles, extremely difficult combinatorial problems solvable via dynamic programming, pressure, interviewers interrupting flow of thoughts just to make you feel uncomfortable, just pure craziness, and I loved it! Two years ago it was just slightly more difficult than the MS interview (I think one problem was using dynamic programming, otherwise it was the same as MS), no puzzles anymore :-( And very recently, it was a much much simpler interview, however a jetlag after flying over to California from Europe and inability to sleep more than 3 hours before interview did not help to be responsive...

One strong difference between MS and Google was that to my surprise, the people at MS appeared to be happier than Googlers. No idea why, but none of the Googlers I met ever smiled...

If you are like me and perform better when you are challenged than on "easy" tasks where you can make silly mistakes, try Facebook, they still do puzzles (Puzzle Master). There are other interesting companies that would challenge you, for example Crytek, Valve, JetBrains, SpaceX, Cloudera etc.

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