Abdulmateen Tairu
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TayCode Wall of Knowledge

I Took an L from Google - The Google Internship Interview I failed.

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Abdulmateen Tairu
·Jul 25, 2021·

6 min read

I Took an L from Google - The Google Internship Interview I failed.

Everyone wants to work for the top companies we have in this world. Many of us had this dream where we were building the next big thing while sitting in one of the offices of a large tech company. I also had those dreams.

I tried setting my path towards that dream but got rejected so I would love to share with everyone my interview process with Google.

First of all, I am no badass developer. I am just a developer with about 2 to 3 years of experience and I consider myself a mid level or sometimes junior developer. They say these levels are relative to where you are working so I can't be specific.

Late 2020, a recruiter from Bloomberg sent me a linkedin message requesting me to apply for their internship program. I applied and got into a technical interview which I failed woefully because my knowledge on Data Structures and Algorithm were very weak. This failure made me buy a Data Structure and Algorithm (DSA) course on Udemy during Black Friday so I could sharpen my knowledge on it.

Few weeks before then, I found a link on a group stating that Google had this program they wanted to start so they were calling for applications. The program was Google EMEA Step Internship.

EMEA stands for Europe, the middle east and Africa and STEP stands for Student Traning in Engineering Program.

I applied with the mindset that I would never get a response but there was no harm in trying. Infact, I had forgotten I applied for the program until I got an email on the 27th of November.

Hi Abdulmateen,

Thanks for your interest in our 2021 EMEA Student Training in Engineering Program (STEP) opportunities. My name is Zara and I’ll be your recruiter from this point forward. I’m pleased to let you know that we think you could be a great match for our program! The next stage is to schedule two 45-minute general technical interviews over Meet.

I scheduled my interviews to 15th December so I could use the two weeks to focus on learning DSA. At this point of my life, I was struggling with minor health issues which meant I had to stay in bed for weeks, visit the hospital regularly and take long nights in bed but I tried my best to continue learning DSA.

Despite all the reading and practice, I wasn't confident that I would be able to attempt any question in the interview so I reached out to a Google employee on linkedin, He was an alumni of my university. He adviced me to extend the interview to the next year.

I sent an email to my recruiter telling her I would love to postpone my interview because I wasn't ready but I didn't get a response till the day I was meant to have the interview. I was scared I would have to do the interview that day until I got an email stating that the interview has been postponed till 2021.

Hi Abdulmateen,

Thanks for providing your availability, please see details of your interview below:

1st Interview: Monday, 18th January 2021 at 10:00am - 10:45am

2nd Interview: Monday, 18th January 2021 at 11:00am - 11:45am

I took a health leave from work (yeah, health was playing games with me) so I could have time to prepare. I got more confident day by day especially after seeing reviews about other people's interview.

The Interview

The day for my interview came, MTN first came with their jokes as my internet went on holidays. I took time to sort that out. I couldn't let Nigeria ruin me for the 2352nd time.

I was getting really tensed just minutes before the interview so I played some MGK music to keep me calm which worked.

The interview started with introductions and my interviewer was pretty friendly, we had some fun speaking to eachother about myself before we hopped on the technical interview.

I was asked to write a code on how to manipulate some strings. I think it was "how many strings of a specific length can I generate by combining a certain list of letters".

write a function that takes a length n, and returns a list of all the strings you can generate from letters T and F. the length of the string must be n.

I took my time solving this question and came up with the solution. This was the end of the first interview and I had a boost in confidence. I was killing it.

The next interview started few minutes after the first one ended and this interviewer was cold. I remember reading it somewhere on the internet that Google interviews are always the combination of friendly and cold interviewers just to see if you can work well under both situations.

The interviewer wasn't interested in giving me any clue to solve my problems.

The first question was very easy, I was told to read a file and remove duplicate lines.

I asked myself "is this what you are gonna ask me in a google interview, what do you take me for ??".

I solved the question in seconds with a smile on my face.

Then the next question came in a strange manner.

lets asssume we have a location where we have 1billion chinese, 300million from brazil and 20milion from canada. Select one person randomly but make it in such a way that the chances of picking a chinese is higher than that of picking a brazillian and so on.

I was confused at first but then I treated it like a probability case. Explained to the interviewer using the red ball and blue ball in a box example. Gave my half baked solution to him before time ran out. We ended the interview on an impressive note if you ask me. I felt I did pretty well.

According to the email I got before the interview, it takes 2 weeks to evaluate an interview but then I got a rejection email in the space of 3 days.

I kept asking myself why I got rejected considering I did pretty well in the interview, I wonder if I was even considered because I come from a Nigerian Federal University or is it about the whole anti-african or black thing people say about Google recruitment on social media.

I wonder what the answers are but I believe better opportunities await me (what could be better than Google ?? I don't know but let's see).

The main reason I wrote this was to make people understand that you do not need to be some einstein to apply for the Google Intership opportunities. The people working for Google are also developers like us but with more exposure.

Also, understanding Data structures and algorithm should be at the top of your priority list. It helps you make better decisions while building software and could also help you pass technical interviews.

Thanks for reading my pretty "not so exciting" story about getting an L from Google.

Regards. Tay.

 
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