Think it’s cool to work at Google? Who doesn’t ?? Nikhil Taneja finds out what it takes to get a job at the ‘most wanted’ company visiting engineering campuses across India.
Rachit Aggarwal, one of the three finalists from the NCR/ Delhi region for the Google ‘dream job’ is calm, cool and composed. A final year student from the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, he is unassuming considering that he has got through 6 rigorous interviews with Google for a job that offers an exceptional package between Rs 8 to 12.5 lakhs. Awaiting the final results with understated anxiety, Rachit tells us more about the challenge that Google actually is.
Why is Google a ‘dream job’?
Google is a company which wants expertise is whatever you do, be it technical, or management side. The greatest thing about Google is that there are only 8 engineers in Hyderabad and about 10 in Bangalore. That’s about 18 for India, which makes the job really special.
What was the drill that you were required to go through for it?
It was really tough – interviews stretching up to one and a half hours for each person. The questions they ask require very high level of thinking and test your basic concepts. The important thing is that they don’t provide training; so they want people who don’t require it. People who have the confidence to do anything. That’s the Google punchline.
What is the package being offered?
Rumour has it that the minimum package offered would be Rs 8 lakhs. Last year, they offered 12.5 lakhs, so it could be anything between that.
How many made it to the last round?
When I contacted the HR executives from Google, they told me that they have been visiting campuses aggressively this year. They have been looking for people who can work in Google and do something great there. They selected 3 people from NCR/ Delhi for the final round, which took place in Hyderabad. Those included one person from DCE (Delhi College of Engineering), another one from NSIT (Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology), Delhi and myself, the third one.
Take us through your journey from the very first interview to the last one.
First of all, I would like to say that the outcome wouldn’t bother me, because it was such a marvelous experience. Google’s selection process is very unique. Most companies ask some technical questions and check whether you can code in C or not. But with Google, every question has its own implications. An engineer can never have the perfect answer for a question they ask; it’s all about the best solution you can think.
They themselves say whatever question they put requires at least 6-7 hours of thinking for the best possible solution. They look for someone who can work out a quality solution within a little time.
My first interview was a technical interview, which stretched for about 1.5 hours. I could only get through that interview because of the knowledge imparted to me by the faculty in the labs and I am really thankful to them for that.
The second interview was a HR interview. That too lasted 1.5 hours. The rest of the interviews were all technical. The third and fourth interviews took place in Delhi, where people working in California interviewed me. They gave me challenging puzzles and the most difficult problems. I realised that they don’t need the exact answer. They just see the way you approach the problems, whether a difficult problem deters me and how I go about working a good solution. One of the interviews had questions relating to programming of a web browser, while the other tested me on data structures and algorithms.
The fifth interview was in Hyderabad and only 3 people had qualified for it. I was given a short notice of about one day, so no preparation was possible. Actually, to be frank, for Google, last minute studies don’t help much. It all depends on how much you have accumulated during four years of studying. The fifth interview was comprehensive. Even though most of it was based on programming, they tested every aspect of what I had learned from 2nd year to final year.
The last interview took place on the phone from USA, which lasted 50 minutes to be precise. I was given two algorithms, which were obviously, really tough. The specialty of all the interviews was in the fact that even though they stretched so long, you’d never really realize that, since during all that time, you would be engaged in thinking. You would never get a question that you already know; everything needs to be thought of at that moment.
Before your interviews, what had you anticipated from Google?
I heard that Google stresses on algorithms and there were also rumours that Google was developing its own Operating System. But I didn’t have much time to study all this. I just spent a day or so on algorithms and data structures which form a really vital part of programming. And programming is the most important aspect of a Google interview. So even if they did allow Electronics’ students to sit for their exam, none cleared. If you don’t know programming, you won’t be able to get through even the first exam.
Which was the most nerve-wrecking moment for you in all the interviews?
In the third interview they asked me to develop a code for Internet Explorer. That would scare anyone, to get through that was really amazing.
You have already got a job with IBM and you’ve made it to the final round of Google. One main difference in their approach to the interviews ?
IBM hardly concentrated on the technical aspect. Also, while in IBM interviews, they were happy to see the prizes I had won, in the Google HR interview, they wanted to know how I reached the final stage of winning every single prize. They would ask you the topics, your approach, the approach of the other contestants and every other little detail.
Do you think the difference between them is anything to do with the package that is being offered?
Absolutely not. There’s a difference in every single aspect. Google works at a research level, they do things which are at the cutting edge of the entire industry. If 18 people are managing work in India and the Bangalore center is an R & D centre, you can get an idea why they are be so selective in their recruitment. I heard about a tool they are developing which automates JSP (Java Server Pages). That is the kind of work they do. IBM has a work force running into thousands. Agreed, you get Rs 10 lakhs in Google and around Rs 2.5 lakhs for an IBM global job but it’s a dream job also because of the work profile attached with it. One year in Google is equivalent to three years in any ordinary company.
Have you interacted with the other finalists? How do you fancy your chances against them?
Yes, interestingly, all three of us are from the same school in Delhi – Bal Bharati Public School. They are tough competitors and I really respect them. I am not being modest when I say that they are better than me in quite a few aspects .
Finally, what advice do you have for Google aspirants?
What I would like to advise Google aspirants is to not keep ‘Google’ in mind. The things that you are hungry for become too difficult to grab. Honestly speaking, I confess that I was under-prepared. I hadn’t even spent a full day revising my course of three years. If I hadn’t done any significant work in those three years, I wouldn’t have got through any interview. So, build on your basics. You should have outstanding programming abilities. As far as algorithms are concerned, I found ‘Introduction to Design and Analysis of Algorithms’ by Corman really good.
But rather than spending a lot of time on books, work on a Turbo C compiler. Make programs to pacify yourself not because you are asked to. They don’t care whether you know JAVA and Dot Net. If you are good at C and C++, that’s good enough for them. Get a thinking attitude, that’s the key. Use the internet to solve problems which are difficult. Do a lot of puzzles in your daily life. That would help you develop your mind. Do problems that are challenging to your teachers as well. That may demoralise you in the beginning but even if you take weeks to solve one problem, that would boost your confidence a lot. That’s what it takes to develop a thinking attitude, and that is the only thing that could get you through Google.