I cringed when I read this, because I see someone on track for major, crushing disappointment, and because it reminded me of my own mistakes.
I bought into Google Exceptionalism and, more broadly speaking, the tech industry’s narrative of it being post-corporate and nerd-friendly and all that jazz, only to suffer severe and to some extent public (some of this was my fault) disappointment. I really thought once that the work we were doing in the tech industry had meaningful social value. I thought that the industry, for all of its faults, could be fixed.
The fact that he’s using the word “Googley” suggests that he’s bought in to the cult before even joining it. I did too. If I had been better informed about Google and recognized it for what it is– an average large tech company– then I would have had a different experience.
I’ve studied cults and, even though one associates the act of joining a cult with stupidity, one of the most striking things about them is their tendency to rope in very smart, highly educated people. “Silicon Valley”, by which I mean the startup (and ex-startup) industry and this idea that corporate technology serves any higher goal, is a cult. We’re making financiers rich with the (often vain) hope that they’ll return the favor by tossing a few scraps under the table.
The truth about “true believers” is that they get eaten for lunch. This post reminded me of the curse, “May you get what you want.”
I strongly admire the amount of work he put into this, and as he says at the end of the article, the knowledge he gained from it will certainly be helpful towards his(hopefully Googley) career.
However, please heed his advice and don’t do this, as he says several times. It is an obscene amount of work to put into just preparing for an interview. I can’t begin to imagine the heartbreak that would follow if you failed afterwards. Even the Google Interview University page he links seems like complete overkill, although I can only give my perspective from having done the new grad-level interview twice.
I failed my first on-site with them because I had built it up to be some amazing haven that I absolutely had to get into after university, or else I would be a failure. The sheer amount of pressure made it extremely difficult to stay calm and collected. Every time I made a mistake, I couldn’t recover from it and reset my thinking, because I couldn’t take a step back and relax. The tech interview, for better or worse, is largely testing your mindset under pressure.
Yes, Google is a great company that tries to recruit great talent, but at the end of the day it’s still just one of many large tech companies. The people I know who have done the best on the interviews had done some amount of preparation from the standard resources, but most importantly they went into it thinking of Google as just one of many options open to them. This helped them relax and stay composed, which leads to a much more comfortable interview atmosphere.