Do you break into a cold sweat at the thought of a job interview? You shouldn’t! As Google states on its web site about its interview process, “Why sweat the small stuff when you can change the world, challenge the status quo, and impact millions of peoples’ lives?”
Of course, there’s a difference between not stressing about an interview and not being well prepared. And if you want to succeed in the highly competitive tech industry, you must be very prepared.
As for Google, which many students believe to be the promised land when it comes to tech careers (and which ranks No. 1 in Vault's Most Prestigious Internships ranking), its interview process often begins with an interview with a “Googler” (as Google employees are called) from a completely different department than the one you want to join. This Googler will try to determine if you would be a good fit overall for the company. Interviewers usually ask a combination of questions about your background and interests, and why you want to work at the company.
Applicants for software engineering or technical jobs should be ready, as part of the next step in the process, to answer high-level questions on data structures, algorithms, and related topics. For some positions, applicants must take tests in addition to going through interviews. Sometimes interviewers will also want to see you in action. Some sales workers report being asked to try to sell a stapler or other handy item to the interviewer. Software engineers will need to demonstrate their mastery of programming.
And for candidates applying for roles in all areas except engineering, Google says it wants to see four basic things from job applicants:
1. Leadership ability.
During an interview, you need to show how you acted as a leader—whether in an official or unofficial capacity—to mobilize a team to succeed. Be ready to provide more than one example, and your examples can come from a job, a school organization, a nonprofit, or another setting.
2. Role-related knowledge.
Google is looking for people with the experience and background to be successful in a particular role (such as software engineering) but who also “have a variety of strengths and passions, not just isolated skill sets.”
3. How you think.
Good grades are great, but Google is more interested in seeing how you think by asking role-related questions that will show how you tackle and solve problems. A creative thought process is the key, rather than always finding the “right” answer.
Okay, it’s a made-up word, but it basically means that hiring managers want to make sure Google is a place where you will thrive and can still be “you.” Google is a place where people work together to solve problems—which may not always have clear-cut answers or one solution. If you have good interpersonal skills and are okay with a little ambiguity in your daily life, then Google might be a good fit for you.
This post was adapted from the new Vault Career Guide to Social Media.