FooBar Challenge — Save the bunnies!

My Google FooBar Journey, 2022

February of 2022, it was my last semester pursuing my Master’s in Computer Science degree, when I first saw a weird pop-up on my browser window. It felt like another pop-up ad or scam. Little did I know it was the start of an exciting ride to saving some bunnies!

The following article outlines my journey through Google’s FooBar challenge.

How I got the FooBar Challenge?

I was working as a Research assistant as a Full-stack developer, and trying to figure out a way to solve some bugs I was facing. After the usual scrolling of stack overflow, I started searching more about Recoiljs and Nestjs. Suddenly the browser engine broke apart and I could see the below pop-up asking if I was up for a challenge. First I thought it was just a new kind of pop-up ad or a scam, so I did some digging and turns out Google used to have these secret interview processes triggered based on a potential recruit’s search history. With my elevated ego, I clicked on “I want to play!” and started my long FooBar journey.

FooBar invitation

So what is FooBar?

FooBar is a secretive way Google uses to hire potential employees using a set of 5 challenging levels:

  • Level 1: 1 question with 7 days to solve it.
  • Level 2: 2 questions with 7 days to solve each of them.
  • Level 3: 3 questions with 7 days to solve each of them.
  • Level 4: 2 questions with 15 days to solve each of them.
  • Level 5: 1 question with 22 days to solve each of them.

Each question is an algorithmic problem to be solved using Python 2.7 or Java in an interactive window on your browser. The difficulty increases as we progress through each challenge.

FooBar interactive window

FooBar Milestones!

The challenge has a few milestones to show the users some progress and get them even more excited! As soon as I cleared level 3, I was asked for my contact information in case a Google recruiter wants to reach out to me. On clearing level 4, I got two referral links to invite my friends to attempt the challenge. Finally, I cleared the level 5 and I could see a really cool gif of bunnies hopping on the screen with a secret encrypted message for me.

Bunny hopping gif at the end of the challenge

My experience through the challenge

The journey through the challenge was quite exciting and difficult. The first two levels were relatively simple. Starting at level three the questions started to become challenging. Level three had questions that required me to know about trees, graphs, and dynamic programming. Luckily I had taken an Algorithms course in my first semester pursuing my Master’s in Computer Science. Starting level 4, I remember I was completely clueless reading the questions. I managed to solve them with some reading over the internet and learning new algorithms that could help with the questions. Finally, I tried to decrypt the encrypted message!

Decrypted message

Conclusion

Before I received the FooBar invitation I had no idea about it, and neither did any of my fellow friends pursuing the degree in Computer Science. I even asked some Google employees and even they were clueless about it. While reading about the FooBar challenge I read that Google recruiters might reach out but, I haven't heard from Google yet. Maybe, it takes some time for them to review the submissions and contact us. Anyways it was a really fun challenge and I enjoyed every bit of it. Now, I can still request new challenges to solve and continue the games. It is interesting that such a huge tech company has such a unique process to hire potential employees.

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Grad student pursuing Masters in Computer Science at Northeastern University, trying to make it as a successful Software Developer.

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Yash Kothari

Grad student pursuing Masters in Computer Science at Northeastern University, trying to make it as a successful Software Developer.