Dale's Reviews > Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?

Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? by William Poundstone
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's review
Jan 29, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: engineering, nonfiction

In my case the answer is probably "no", though I did somehow get hired at Google.

The title of the book is a little misleading: much of the book is not so much about Google as it is about high tech hiring in general. In fact, I felt that the first half of the book was misleading in putting such emphasis on tricky puzzle questions. It wasn't until around page 100 that I came across a question that I had actually been asked. For the most part, technical interviews at Google involve writing code on a whiteboard, and though the problems may be somewhat odd or even a little tricky, Google interviewers don't really stake the interview outcome on whether or not the candidate has a clever insight.

But Poundstone does give good advice on general problem solving tactics, and if you are interested in working at Google it couldn't hurt to work through the many questions and puzzles in this book.

But if you really want to succeed at the interview your best bet is to really prepare on the fundamentals of software and engineering: if you claim to be a C++ programmer then you had better know the language inside and out and be able to prove your knowledge by writing a non-trivial chunk of code on the whiteboard. You should have good facility with common algorithms and data structures and know how to apply them. If you claim to be a Linux guru then you had better be able to demonstrate that. When I say you should 'really prepare' I mean you should cram like you might have done in college. Being rusty at the skills you claim on your resume just won't cut it - not at Google or at any other reputable software company.

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