My Google Fuckup.

How I screwed up a potential interview at Google ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Justin Schueler
Jan 10, 2019 · 4 min read

Since I published my 2018 Freelance Review yesterday, I received quite a decent amount of positive feedback which basically made me smile all day long. So thanks for that. It also pushed me to continue hitting the keys straight away and that’s why you read these lines. Hopefully.


I can’t even recall how I came to pick this thing up but I thought it might be interesting, useful or at least a bit fun for other designers. So here it is.

The Mail.

Back in February 2017, exactly the 06.02.2017, I was in Berlin at a tattoo appointment (yes, super designer cliché). After roughly 1,5 hours into the session I was checking my phone to distract myself from the pain. I checked my inbox and there’s this new mail with the subject: “Opportunities @ Google”.

Not that mail, but one of them.

I first deleted it straight away since I couldn’t even think of it being real and thought it’s just some random spam / scam shit. But I quickly decided to check my trash folder again and have a closer look at the sender — just to be sure. To my surprise, this seemed to be an authentic and trustworthy {at}google mail address. Ok. That’s weird. And cool. I’m already starting to feel overwhelmed.

The Struggle.

Back home I took some time, checked the mail again. It basically said that they came across my website and linkedin profile and that they are searching for an Interaction Designer to join their team in Zurich to work on Google Shopping. Sounds interesting.

So I instantly sat down and answered it. Done! … Bullshit! It took me almost one week to answer the mail. What a great start, right? But I was just unable to act on this. It’s been a mixture of anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and unprepared for this. I mean, it was just the first mail. Whatever. Mail sent.

I received an answer in which they gave me very detailed instructions on how to prepare and present my portfolio. Nothing too fancy, just very structured. Basically a good one and super helpful. Not for me as it turned out. I got stuck even more. Anxiety intensified.

At that time, my portfolio was outdated and so was my CV. (Which is basically identical to my current situation). But this meant I had to work on both, as soon as possible, as good as possible. But, no pressure.

It took me another two weeks to work on my stuff, yet not finish it. I wrote another follow up mail, telling that I need a a bit more time, that I’m right within a bigger client project, things are kinda crazy and busy etc. (which they really were at that time).

Aaaaand yet another two weeks passed by and I haven’t actually accomplished anything. I was so stuck and constantly overthinking this whole thing that I eventually ended up completely lost. I just couldn’t get my head together to finish it. Fucked…

But then I did it, got hired and I was the happiest person ever!1!!
End of story.

Of course not.
Truth is: I didn’t finish it. I didn’t reply. I just went on, feeling stupid and guilty for being unable to accomplish this “challenge”. That’s it.


The Takeaway.

But why am I telling you this?
I have been spinning my head around this in the upcoming months back then and tried to reflect on the situation, my feelings, thoughts and how I handled it.

There are a couple of (simple) conclusions I made, that eventually helped me better understand myself and how to handle similar situations and challenges in the future.

I like list’s and heuristics and stuff, so let’s put it that way:

  • Do not overthink — Don’t get lost in the spiral of self-doubt and anxiety when facing complex and challenging situations. It’s hard and easier said than done, I know.
  • Fuck perfectionism — I know this is something so many designers (and of course other people in general) have to bear with. It’s a thin line between good work and screwing things up. Update: Here is a good article from Mr. van Schneider about this thing.
  • Therefore: Ship good enough — As Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson like to keep it in “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work
  • As a freelance designer — Keep your portfolio & CV updated, even if you’ve a shitload of work. It will probably be required exactly when you don’t have the time and mental capacity to work on it.
  • Keep Calm — It’s always good to keep calm and take a deep breath so that’s why you read it here (:

Did you have any similar experiences like these or am I the only fuckhead who missed a solid opportunity here?

Ps.: I don’t regret it or blame myself today. I did so for a couple of months after it. But I also came to the conclusion that I would not want to work for the Big G. So, I’m fine (:

Justin Schueler

Written by

Freelance Digital Designer from Leipzig @justin_schueler / jschueler.com

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