He dressed professionally. Black suit, white shirt, striped tie. His dress shoes were polished, and their shine matched well with that of his belt buckle.
I dressed casually. Blue jeans. Sneakers. A brown collared sweater that hid the geeky maroon “Computer Wizard” t-shirt that I was using as an undershirt.
I was trying to dress the part. I had heard that Google’s dress code was simply “You must wear clothes,” so I wore something I might wear to the office if I got the job. Sitting across from Mr. Business Suit, I started wondering if I made a huge mistake.
For whatever reason, Mr. Business Suit hadn’t acknowledged my presence since I arrived. He sat cross-legged with a magazine in his lap, half-heartedly thumbing through it without looking up. He kept this up until the Hiring Manager opened the door to the adjacent office and called his name: “Don?”
Don set his magazine down and stood up.
“Good luck,” I said hopefully.
He nodded at me and followed the Hiring Manager out of the room. I took pleasure noticing that the Hiring Manager wore sneakers and jeans.
Now that I was the only applicant left in the room, I started reviewing the materials I brought with me to the interview. In my “Portfolio” (a thin 3-ring binder) I had:
- Loose copies of my resume
- How-To Instructions and Screenshots from three of my Open Source Projects
- Two Letters of Recommendation from previous Employers
- A Thank You Card that I planned to mail immediately following the interview
I imagined that I had at least ten minutes until the Hiring Manager asked for me. I was therefore surprised when a petite woman entered the room and called my name: “Shaun?”
“I’m Stacy,” she said, extending her arm.
I stood up, tucked the Portfolio under my arm, and shook her hand.
“Shaun Boyd. How do you do?”
“Just fine, thanks. I have good news for you.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“Your application has been fast-tracked. I’ll be giving you a quick tour of our facility, and then I’ll introduce you to the team that’s interested in your background.”
“Oh my, that is good news,” I said through a huge smile. “How exciting!”
“Definitely. Follow me.”
As I followed her through the double doors and down the corridor, Stacy filled me in on what being “fast-tracked” meant. She explained that I still needed to be interviewed, but because my application was unanimously selected by an existing project team I was exempt from the first-tier “initial screening” interview. I would start at the second-tier interview, which would be conducted by current members of the team I might be working with. Stacy, a Senior Hiring Manager, would sit in during this interview to see how I interacted with the team members, and to answer any HR questions I might have about the position.
Stacy led me into her office and told me to have a seat. She typed an instant message onto her screen, sent it, and then proceeded to copy and paste the same message to four or five other people. She toggled through the responses for a few minutes before speaking to me again.
“We have almost 30 minutes until the entire team will be available to meet with you. Would you like to join me for some Free Lunch in the cafeteria?”
“Absolutely,” I said.
The cafeteria was intimidating. Nearly every station had at least half-a-dozen Google employees in line for their Free Lunch. Since they were already familiar with the selection and ordering process, they moved around the cafeteria with ease while I stood in place holding an empty tray. Stacy pointed to the different stations, told me the type of cuisine that was served there, and encouraged me to not be shy.
“Everything is always free, tasty, and nutritious,” she said, more or less reciting everything I had heard about Google’s cafeteria verbatim.
I got into the line for Chinese cuisine. I asked for a helping of General Tso’s Chicken over white rice. The chef asked me if I’d like some orange slices to go with my entree, and I said “Yes please!”
I joined Stacy at a round table in the center of the cafeteria. She introduced me to Tom and Anu, two of the team members who would be interviewing me once we finished our lunch. She then busted my chops a little by telling them how I chose to get Free Lunch instead of a tour of the facility, but they said I made the right choice. Anu scolded me for not taking advantage of the Slurpee machine.
Tom asked about the Portfolio I was carrying. I paged through it briefly, and explained that it was basically a detailed addendum to my application. I said that I’d like to show it to the entire team during the interview, if they’d be interested. He gave me the impression that they would be.
Once we finished lunch, we returned our trays and left the cafeteria. The four of us rode the elevator up together and got off on the floor where the meeting with the entire team would take place. I followed Stacy around a corner and through a large wooden door.
I stepped onto the boat and felt disoriented. I suddenly found myself on a sailboat with my father, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, rocking violently in a complete mess of a thunderstorm. My dad was signaling for me to grab the lines near the bow, but before I could grab a hold of them a giant wave crashed into the broad side of the boat and knocked me overboard. Right before I hit the surface of the water, I woke up.
I’m jobless in Michigan. For the past month, I’ve been relentlessly applying to and interviewing for various local jobs with little to no success. As of last night, the job hunting process has permeated my subconscious mind to the point where I’m literally dreaming about it.
What I experienced in my dream was so vivid that I felt compelled to share it above. No, it never happened. No, it’s not an accurate representation of the application and interview process at Google. It is, however, more interesting than my recent experiences in the real world.
If I misled you, I’m sorry. I just wanted to take a break from writing cover letters to write something enjoyable. I hope some readers will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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