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Sep. 1st, 2007

While looking around for more interview stuff, I discovered Philosophical Geek. He posted a lengthy description of his Google interview, including some interesting advice. By the time you read this, my comments may have been approved. I'll just briefly remark that I have never really understood the point or purpose of memorizing algorithms.

Anyway, there was something else he wrote that I've been thinking about over the past few months. I think that your typical Googler is a much different person than I am in terms of what we value and aspire to do. I say this in a noncondescending manner – Googlers whose blogs I've read seem to be "in love with their creations" in ways that I generally am not. Some of the friends I've had in the past were like that, but I wasn't – I tended to gravitate more towards analytical projects. So this statement from PG's post really struck me:

"That (Google) is a very nice place to be if you love coding."

For the last few months, some people, probably unintentionally, have been making me feel guilty because I am not really enthusiastic about Google. If Google continues to contact me for job interviews, I'll follow up, because I am unemployed, but in reality ... I don't think it is wrong to realize that you are not the right fit for a company; it is not a poor reflection on your character, or that you're not trying, or anything like that. It's just that there are other things you aspire to. I know lots of people who use Google's services, but are happy doing the things they like at the companies they work for.

Perhaps I'll write more about this later; it's time for bed now.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
cellio
Sep. 2nd, 2007 04:47 am (UTC)
I don't think it is wrong to realize that you are not the right fit for a company; it is not a poor reflection on your character, or that you're not trying, or anything like that.

Damn straight. Not every person is a good match for every company, and it is a condemnation of neither to acknowledge that.
ext_62037
Sep. 4th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
Memorizing algorithms
Hi gregbo, Thanks for your comments the Google interview (http://www.philosophicalgeek.com/2007/08/12/my-interview-experience-with-google/)

I just want to clarify what I meant by practicing algorithm-writing:

I don’t think they really expected me to memorize the algorithms, and I certainly didn’t have memorized all that many except for very basic ones (elementary sorting). I think I mentioned that the value in writing out code by hand wasn’t entirely the memorization–it was more the mechanics of being able to clearly write/explain something (anything) under pressure on a white board. Even writing in a notebook was enough of a change in environment that it forced my mind to think more clearly and deliberately about what I was writing. Whether or not writing code on a white board is a good test in the first place, though, is another question entirely.

I think your comments hits upon the value. Practicing algorithm recall yourself before the interview will help you develop the algorithm “live” for them when it counts. They certainly don’t ask you to regurgitate algorithms “you should know”–-they ask you to develop an algorithm from scratch in front of them. I’m sorry if this wasn’t clear from my post.
gregbo
Sep. 5th, 2007 03:03 am (UTC)
Re: Memorizing algorithms
Follow this link for my reply.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )