The hiring experience for engineers isna��t what it used to bea��and thata��s partly by design. Here at Google, wea��ve intentionally broadened the number of schools where we actively recruit, from 75 a few years ago to 305 today. Wea��re as interested in English or philosophy majors as we are in computer science degree holders. We dona��t really care if you have a 4.0 GPA, and wea��re not interested in whether you can figure out how many golf balls fit inside a 747.
But herea��s what weA�doA�look for in engineering candidates in 2016a��and why we look for it.
1. DONa��T DISQUALIFY YOURSELF PREEMPTIVELY
Recent experience has taught us that we can find great tech talent in a much wider range of places than previously thought. For one thing, there are far more qualified college applicants than there are spaces for them at top universities. And for another, computer scientists arena��t always aware of their talent for coding by the time theya��re 18 and have to declare a major.
Google is also trying to challenge some of the industrya��s stubbornest stereotypes about what computer scientists look like and do in their spare time. OurA�Google in ResidenceA�program, for instance, embeds Google engineers at historically black colleges and universities to teach computer science and coach students about how to position themselves for engineering careers. We have similar initiatives in the works aimed at improving Hispanic diversity, too.
Ita��s important to know this because, too often, the tech sectora��sA�well-documented demographicsA�are enough to discourage some of the best talent from imagining themselves as future Googlers. My job is to help change that; your job is to apply.
More broadly, Googlea��sA�CS in EducationA�initiative works to develop programs, resources, tools, and community partnerships to make computer science accessible to more students during their formative educational years. The goal is to make sure tomorrowa��s tech industryA�mirrors the demographicsA�of the people it actually serves.
In the meantime, dona��t assume youa��re unqualified on the basis of your educational, professional, or personal background and decide against applying (or, for that matter, let self-doubt get the better of you when youA�doA�show up for an interview). Trying to land a competitive tech job is daunting, but ita��s only impossible if you dona��t compete.
2. SHOW US WHAT YOU CAN DOa��EVEN IF YOU DIDNa��T LEARN IT IN SCHOOL
Yes, engineers need to be able to code. But wea��re interested in hiring actual people, not machines. So on your resume, instead of listing your GPA (which we no longer use to determine candidacy), give us details about your experience at hackathons, coding competitions, or programming assignments at work. Just because it isna��t an academic credential doesna��t make it any less relevant. Not only does this create a more textured portrait of your abilities, ita��s a great way to prove your engineering chops if you majored in sociology, for instance.
3. GET COMFORTABLE WITH CODING EXERCISES
Now for the obvious part: It goes without saying that engineers need to be able to code, so intensive preparation for the coding exercisea��the centerpiece of every Google engineering interviewa��is a must. Candidates should be able to answer three coding questions from scratch (without the help of a library function) within 45 minutes.
I also suggest practicing with a live person, whether theya��re technical or not. And try going analoga��use a whiteboard or a blank piece of paper. And focus in particular on algorithms and data structures. There are some great samples inA�Cracking the Coding Interview,A�Topcoder, andA�LeetCode.
4. REMEMBER WHAT GOT YOU NOTICED IN THE FIRST PLACE
Ita��s equally important is to keep a lookout forA�a�?impostor syndrome,a�?certain high achieversa�� tendencies to discount their accomplishments andA�fear being exposed as a a�?fraud.a�?
Some newly hired Googlers experience it when they first step on campus, and sometimes it crops up periodically during their tenures. While this is a completely normal response, ita��s a counterproductive mind-set while youa��re gunning for a tech position. Ia��ve seen it get the better of candidates and completely derail an interview.
You might not put relaxation techniques at the top of your checklist for tech-interview prep, but they should be there. Herea��s a tip: Consider thinking out loud while you complete the coding exercise. Not only can that help you own the task at hand and stay calm under pressure, but this level of transparency helps your interviewer understand how you think.
And whyA�wouldna��tA�you want that? After all, if youa��ve made it to the interview, you can be confident that someone on staff already believes in your abilities.