Theory of Place caught up with the woman who hires at Google, New York -- Preet Mehta spends hours sifting through resumes and conducting intense interviews with wide-eyed Google prospects. As a recruiter, she knows what Google managers are looking for. So we met up with her at their massive office in Chelsea to pick her brain on how to land a job at Google.
What do you mean when you say Google looks for Googliness?
The way I define ‘Googliness’ - well, I think it’s one part genuine enthusiasm and passion for what you do, and the constant desire to improve in your respected area. It’s also another part having a strong ‘moral code’ - doing the right thing, making the right decisions for your workplace, digging deeper to rectify things, not ‘half assing’. Lastly, I’d say it’s curiosity, which ties into the enthusiasm and passion. When you’re curious, you ask questions, you challenge assumptions - and that is truly the first step to improving or acquiring knowledge to improve.
How important is it to use your contacts and network when trying to land a job at Google?
It’s not the end all be all, but it’s important, and it certainly helps. Google really does value employee referrals. On the application form, there is a portion you can fill out if you know anyone who is currently working at Google. Once the system registers that, it will automatically send a questionnaire to that person, asking them general questions about the applicant (questions about their work ethic and experience knowing them). So, if you know someone who works here, ask if it’s all right for you to list them as a referral. A strong referral can go a long way.
What part of the hiring process do you think is the most important?
Every part. Your resume should stand out. If it doesn’t, you’re not even making it to the first initial phone screen/introductory call phase. Here’s a tip - less fluff, more pulp. Google likes to see that you live and breathe your work, what I mean by that is, if you’re a part of a ‘coding club’ (or were in college), you should most definitely highlight that. If you’ve conducted certain projects on your own outside of your 9-5 that relates to your profession, most definitely highlight that. When you get that coveted phone call from us, ASK QUESTIONS! Show us how interested you are and make it clear what you want and are looking for. This will give the recruiter a clear picture of how your interests can aligns with the role you’re applying for.
What are the top three interview mistakes you’ve seen with Google interviewees?
1. Not talking through their answers. When you talk through your answers, it allows someone to sort of navigate your min (i.e. rather than giving a basic response). Talk through it. “Based on X, Y and Z, I think X would be the right answer because of this”. Take them through your train of thought.
2. Answering what you THINK you should answer, instead of responding the way you truly think and feel. Google purposely will ask questions in their interview process that are meant to test your thinking skills, there is no WRONG answer. It’s a strategic move on their part to see where you end up and how.
3. Sense of entitlement - every so often, I’d speak to a talented engineer who was truly amazing at what he or she did. But I couldn’t help but feel a sense of aloofness, or entitlement on the phone. Before we even make a decision on whether we want to move forward with a candidate past the initial phone screen, I often here people tell me, “I need to know the salary range right now otherwise I don’t want to move forward with the process”. Salary is heavily based on their experience and putting a recruiter in that position before you're in the game can give a bad impression.
What goes through your mind when you search for resumes?
Keywords; I look for specific program and language knowledge. Formatting; You have to have neat and clean formatting with grammatical accuracy. Uniqueness: Like I mentioned before, standing out in your respective field. Are you a part of clubs, forums, open-source projects in addition to your day job? That stuff looks great.
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