Google’s weird job interview questions — in which engineers are asked to solve arcane, complicated logic questions on the spot — are legendary. The type of problems candidates can expect to face are, “What pattern would you use to guide a marble through a table-top maze?” “Given a word, mutate it to convert it to a palindrome in linear time.”
And (allegedly) “What happens when you type www.google.com into your browser?”
But less attention is paid to what happens after candidates are finished explaining their step-by-step solutions on a white board or in a Google doc.
At most companies, interviewers may make a few notes on a candidate and perhaps fill out a form giving prospective employees a score.
Not at Google.
According to Mike Gainer, a senior software engineer at Google in San Francisco, after you shake hands with your interviewer and say goodbye, that Google employee then has to write an essay of up to 1,500 words about you. The post-interview essay is crucial because there is “no meeting” after the interview in which Gainer and his colleagues might discuss their gut feelings about you. The decision is made based on the level of detail and info in the essay, Gainer wrote on Quora, the question-and-answer site that is frequently used by people in the tech biz:
The other thing to note that’s particular to Google is that my interface to the process is that I talk to you, then I write 1,000 to 1,500 words on how that went, and that’s it. No meeting, no shades of grey, no nonverbal iffiness. The more you can demonstrate that you really grasp the problem, the better an essay I can write. Please, please, help me write a great essay about you. Think out loud. I need to see how you think, so I can be sure you worked your way to a correct answer, rather than got lucky. I care far more about seeing you dig your way out of a mistake or discuss alternative approaches than getting some “perfect” (probably memorized) answer.
So the advice here is: talk, and talk a lot, about the questions you’re asked.