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Saeed Selvam Headshot

How To Get An Interview With Google

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I've had the opportunity to interview for a variety of positions with companies like Apple, Facebook, Starbucks (corporate), Airbnb and Google. Some of which resulted in offers, others that led me straight to the final round after a grueling 7 interviews in.

Today's most innovative companies are changing the world because they don't just think different, they hire different. Google is at the very helm of this paradigm shift in how company's hire and are setting the gold standard in not just work-life balance, but recruiting.

According to Sunny Gettinger, a Google spokeswoman- Google receives close to 2800 resumes a day. I knew that if I wanted my resume to be seen let alone considered by a recruiter, I would have to get extraordinarily creative.

It turns out that the persistence and creativity paid off. After countless application iterations, I got the interview invite. You can find out how here.

In my first Google interview, I was completely blindsided. I had spent hours preparing by watching a series of Laszlo Bock's (Google's SVP of People Operations/HR) public presentations on YouTube on "How To Get A Job at Google" and reading Google's own tips on how to prepare for their interviews to find that the actual interview was quite different.

I was also nervous about the potential brain-teaser questions that Google made famous years ago (eg. if you were shrunken down to the size of a penny and put in a blender, how would you get out?) but fortunately they stopped asking those as there was no evidence to indicate that they accurately identified a candidate's ability to problem-solve.

My first interview was surprising because I was unprepared for how case-based the interviews were. The interviewer seemed to care little about my past experience and more so about my ability to think on the spot. Having interviewed at the Boston Consulting Group a few months earlier I was fortunately familiar with case-based interviews and while many companies state that there's "no real right or wrong answer" in case-based interviews, the fact is, there are if the interviewer is looking for certain key words which is often the case. I was hitting everything but the key words, so that didn't work out.

Trying to figure out what I did wrong after the interview, I finally found the "answers" that the interviewer was looking for after scouring deep into Google's company and product directories and now knew exactly how to approach the interview process. Time to try again. I found another great position that matched with my skills and experience and used the same approach that got me the interview the first time-- bam, success!

Those interviews went extremely well but the entire process of getting the interview in the first place was the most eye-opening part. The creative steps, e-mails and research that had to go into not just submitting my application but completely revamping it from normal applications was similar to what I had to do when I successfully applied to work with Apple, Facebook and other major companies that are now looking for a different type of applicant, especially if you don't have a technical background.

Applicants that show cognitive ability along with what Google calls "emergent leadership," the process by which an individual can step in to solve a problem and then step out when necessary, is a direct contrast to traditional financial institutions and law firms' cultures. These leading tech companies are challenging those entrenched hierarchical and drab office cultures by putting people before egos which breed an atmosphere of innovation and comfort where value to customers is more important than the bottom line.

If you've always wanted to work for company that can say they're changing the world and actually mean it, check out the next seminar (only 9 spots available as of this posting date, first event sold out) where I'll be teaching exactly how you can stand out from the crowd to get a Google interview and how to successfully pass your phone screen along with subsequent rounds.

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