An ex-Googler shares interesting insight about the tech giant's hiring practices

Gayle Laakmann McDowellgayle.comGayle Laakmann McDowell worked for Google for more than 2 years.

If all Google engineers had to re-interview to keep their job, what percentage would succeed?

This is what one inquisitive Quora user, as well as more than 266,000 viewers, wanted to know.

Gayle Laakmann McDowell, founder and CEO of and a former vice president of engineering at Google, provided one of the most intriguing answers: in her estimation, between 50% to 75% of Googlers would be rehired.

It’s worth noting that this question is strictly hypothetical — to the best of McDowell’s knowledge, Google isn’t known for doing this.

But her response sheds some light on the interview and hiring practices at Google.

McDowell, who wrote “Cracking the Coding Interview” and “The Google Resume,” wrote on Quora that coworkers from her days at Google previously assessed they’d have a 50/50 chance of getting rehired. But she puts the odds closer to 75%.

“This is not because the standards have risen, but rather that there’s some randomness in the process, the standards are pretty high, and the process is geared to be risk averse,” McDowell wrote.

It’s difficult to get a software engineering job at Google, she told Business Insider, which is not that surprising. Engineers go through five interviews each testing their problem-solving skills, and McDowell says they’re challenging enough that even the best candidates struggle.

“Flawless performance is unheard of. You can do mediocre on perhaps one interview (and most candidates who get offers do), but that’s about the limit,” she said.

If you get too nervous, or just have an off day, you might not get an offer, she explains, even if you’re qualified. “Many developers got rejected at one point and were later hired.”

But while Google is aware of this issue, McDowell says its attitude is that it’s better to reject a good candidate than hire a bad one. “They’re intentionally risk averse.”

The compensation is that Google will reconsider candidates with a clean slate.

And while most candidates who get hired would receive other equally-selective offers at other top tech companies, this isn’t always the case.

“People will sometimes get rejected from a less selective tech company but hired at Google,” McDowell says. “Google does the best they can, but there’s still some randomness in the process.”

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