This is the second of a 2-part series about my interview experience with Google for a Software Engineering Internship (Summer 2019). I went through 2 on-campus interviews and 1 phone interview before getting rejected, and here I continue talking about my experience going through the interviews and the lessons I learned from them. Read Part I here.
I finished 2 on-campus interviews with Google on October 9th. A week past with no news from Google. Then on October 16th (6 days after my interview), I received an email from my recruiter that started with “Thank you for interviewing with…”
We all know what this means. But then I took a second look at my Gmail notification and notice that the subject of the email was “Next steps with Google”, and so I was confused — if this were a rejection email, it would hardly be titled “Next steps” would it?
And so I opened the email, and saw:
“Thank you for interviewing with us at… for the Software Engineering internship at Google.
We would like to conduct an additional phone interview to collect some more data points on your technical background. My colleague …will reach out to you shortly to set up your phone interview and manage your candidacy going forward.”
Oh boy. The third interview.
A Third Interview?
The week between my 2 on-campus interviews and my reception of this email was honestly rough because my mind had been a tumultuous tumble of potential outcomes: would I be rejected? Am I overthinking this? Would I make it?
The 1 possibility I did consider but had dismissed as improbable, though, was a third interview: perusing various online threads, I saw that Google sometimes gave candidates a third interview if the first 2 proved insufficient in some way. At the Google info session (at my college), however, the recruiters told us that a third interview was rare and usually reflected some error on the interviewer’s part (rather than a fault of ours), which was why I didn’t really expect to get a third interview for my Google internship application.
When I received the email I felt a mixture of relief and anxiety: I was not out of the game, but there’s work to do yet.
Things slowed down considerably from here on, however. The next recruiter took a week to start scheduling my interview, and my third phone interview was only scheduled midway through the next week (October 23) for October 25th.
Again I went through the flurry of preparations and mock interviews, and at this point, it basically felt like a make-or-break: it seemed like this third interview would basically be the tie-breaker of sorts, determining whether I made team-matching or not.
When October 25th finally came I set up my table, plugged in my earphones, test-called my friend … and picked up the phone.
The Third Interview
My third interview started off pretty much like the rest of my Google interviews, and it ended well— or so I thought.
It was a really interesting interview, however, and interesting not just compared to my other Google interviews, but compared to all of the interviews I had with other companies this recruiting cycle as well.
The third interview took place over the phone and the interviewer gave (what was to me) a relatively straight-forward question (I’m not able to share more details than this, unfortunately).
After I solved it, we still had quite a bit of time left, so we deep dived into a key programming concept that I brought up while solving the question. And this was the interesting part, I guess, because the rest of the interview was devoted to this conceptual deep-dive, and I finished the interview feeling like I did alright.
A week past with no news. Then, on a Sunday night a week after my interview (November 4th), I received an email from my recruiter that started with “
I have an exciting update!…”.
And this is the sad part I guess because I jumped the gun and began celebrating on my own only to read the email in full to realize that the exciting update was not what I expected, but merely that my recruiter had received my interview feedback.
She said that it would take 1 to 2 weeks from this point to hear an update from the Hiring Committee, and I was feeling pretty anxious because a week had already passed and I was juggling another internship offer with an expiring deadline.
I managed to expedite the process a little because of my offer deadline but a week later, on November 12th, I got my rejection. I tried emailing my recruiter to ask where I might be able to improve on, but unfortunately, Google doesn’t give specific interview feedback:
Thank you so much for interviewing with us. We enjoyed learning more about your background and experience…
The hiring team has decided not to move forward with your candidacy for the Summer 2019 Software Engineering Internship role. If we come across another opening that we think could interest you and may be a good match for your skills and experience, a member of our recruiting team may contact you. Unfortunately we are unable to provide specific feedback as to our interview decision rationale.
This is the part where I write about my takeaways, how it was a good experience despite the failure and all that but before getting into it, I just wanted to acknowledge that the rejection did sting and I did feel sad at how things turned out. However, I recognized that things were beyond my control at that point, and so I could and should only focus my energy on reflecting to distill the lessons I could take away from the experience.
I learned that I still had much to learn in Computer Science and that practicing with technical interview problems, while often a good proxy, was no substitute for true, deep technical sophistication. Thankfully, I still have 3/4 of my college education ahead of me and I fully intend to make the most of that.
I learned that I often have trouble communicating on a technical level, and this was illuminating even as it was troubling because my third Google Interview marked the latest in a series of conceptual technical interview failures — that is to say, I have yet to pass a technical interview where the focus was on concepts rather than problem-solving, and this is something I fully intend to address moving forward.
I learned what worked and what didn’t for my technical interview preparation, and I intend to refine and improve my preparation process going into the next recruiting cycle (if anyone has any tips/suggestions, please do leave a comment below and let me know!).
All in all, it was a valuable learning experience and one thing’s for certain, I’ll definitely be back.
Thank you for reading this! If you enjoyed it, please 👏🏽and share it so more people can get to it!
This series was inspired by a similar article I read about the Google internship interview by Sean Kirmani. During my own interview process, I found the article to be incredibly useful in shedding some light on the interview process and letting me know what to expect. My story, unfortunately, doesn’t have the same happy ending but in publishing this, I hope to do the same. Read part I of my Google internship interview here.