Google job interview cheat sheet

November 5, 2009Jon Brooks 1 Comment »

googlelogo If you had to pick one company during these uncertain times that might provide the most job security (excluding those in the online porn sector, of course), a good choice might be Google. The Big G is everywhere, and if you really need proof of the search engine’s cultural relevance, just check out how many time’s it’s been satirized in The Onion. (Our faves: here, here, and here.)

Google lists lots of jobs on its web site, but its hiring process is notoriously stringent. So if you make it as far as an interview, perhaps this might help. A blog/advertisement called Seattle Interview Coach has aggregated what it says are 140 Google Interview Questions, culled from more than a dozen online sources. Whether all of these have been truly asked or are still in use, who knows? But here are some of the more interesting ones, anyway. I included only those, frankly, that I can even sort of understand.

For Product Manager:

  • What is the most efficient way to sort a million integers?
  • How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
  • If the probability of observing a car in 30 minutes on a highway is 0.95, what is the probability of observing a car in 10 minutes (assuming constant default probability)?
  • Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.
  • You have eight balls all of the same size. 7 of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more. How can you find the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?

For Software Engineer

  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?
  • Describe the algorithm for a depth-first graph traversal.
  • What method would you use to look up a word in a dictionary?
  • What’s 2 to the power of 64?
  • You need to check that your friend, Bob, has your correct phone number, but you cannot ask him directly. You must write a the question on a card which and give it to Eve who will take the card to Bob and return the answer to you. What must you write on the card, besides the question, to ensure Bob can encode the message so that Eve cannot read your phone number?

For Quantitative Compensation Analyst:

  • How many resumes does Google receive each year for software engineering?
  • Anywhere in the world, where would you open up a new Google office and how would you figure out compensation for all the employees at this new office?
  • What is the probability of breaking a stick into 3 pieces and forming a triangle?

For Product Marketing Manager:

  • Who are Google competitors, and how does Google compete with them?
  • If you are the product marketing manager for Google’s Gmail product, how do you plan to market it so as to achieve 100 million customers in 6 months?

For Engineering Manager:

  • You’re the captain of a pirate ship, and your crew gets to vote on how the gold is divided up. If fewer than half of the pirates agree with you, you die. How do you recommend apportioning the gold in such a way that you get a good share of the booty, but still survive?

Frankly, I think I’d have better luck going in cold to take the California State Bar Exam. Or trying to beat out Derek Jeter for Yankees’ shortstop. But here’s a question for Google:

If you hire the absolute smartest people in the world, how long before someone develops a death ray that accidentally destroys the entire world? Please give your answer in the form of a puppet show.

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