How to Get the Google Hive to Hire You: Don Dodge

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-09-14

Perhaps no company more than Google is looked at for the rumored gauntlet that is its hiring process.

You may already know the process is lengthy, detailed and strenuous, but did you know that Google receives more than 1 million job applications per year but hires only 1,000 to 4,000 people per year?

That's less than one half of one percent. Those odds, as the kids say, suck.

That's the news bite coming from Don Dodge, who Google picked up and when Microsoft let him go earlier this year.

Now a developer advocate, Dodge wrote a thoughtful post about what it's like trying to land at Google.

And it's probably depressing for even those at the top of their class at Stanford. The hoops to jump through steps to get hired is a tough job alone!

First is the recruiter screen, followed by the 30-minute phone screen with the recruiter who apparently asks middle-aged folks to list their SAT scores and college GPA. Potential technical hires may be asked to conjure code in a screen share over the phone.

If you pass muster, you get the "first on site interview" with four or five people. This basically takes half a work day or more.

Hope you like math games, the kind that appeared on SAT and even middle school tests when you were a pre-teen and teenager. Dodge wrote:

You may also be asked some questions like "How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?" or "There are 8 balls. Seven of them weigh the same, but one is heavier. Using a balance scale, how do you find the heavier ball with just two weighings?" I was asked both of these questions in my interviews. There are lots of puzzling questions like this.

Next, the interviewers submit their feedback and assign a numerical ranking to the candidate. From there, it goes to the hiring committee, which reviews the candidate's info and sends those who fit the bill to the executive review.

If the executive review comes out favorable, it goes to the compensation committee. Then you get the job offer, right? No.

Next is a "Final Executive Review" where one of the top execs looks at all employment offers before they are extended to the candidate.

Then you get the offer, at which point you might be more interested in going to sleep for a week. Seriously.

What happened to the days of meeting with a few people, getting some solid recommendations and writing a contract? At Google, it's a labor of love apparently.

One thing the stuck out to me in this is that Google's hiring process really is a Hive Mind approach, where several people with the same goals are looking to find the next worker bee they believe will stoke the hive.

In that respect, it's not unlike the teams of programmers writing features for Google applications, so why would the hiring process be any different?

The question becomes: Will people just say forget it and move on to Facebook, Twitter or the next company?

Dodge would no doubt argue that it's their loss, but with decathlon hiring practices like these, sometimes it's better to go for the small startup with the promising stock options.

At 21,000-plus employees and $24 billion-plus per year in revenues, Google is no longer the startup of the future.

What Google has done is become a powerhouse in search on the way to create a popular mobile platform, thereby supplanting Microsoft as Apple's archenemy.

Where Microsoft's weapon was Windows on the PC, Google's firepower is Android on tons of smartphones all over the world.

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