What I learned from my interview at Google

In this episode I’m going to talk about what I learned from interviewing at Google. In 2015, I was flown out to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California for a really long named position, which was Lead Program Manager Developer Relations Ecosystem. Quite a mouthful. It was a position to help Google’s startup succeed using their tools and methods. What I cover in this episode is not only the experience I had, but the things I realized from being in that environment that you can implement in your daily life.

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Here’s the transcript from this podcast episode, please excuse any typos!

A few people asked me about it recently, they said, Hey, we saw you interviewed at Google. There was an article I wrote about it. And it kind of the campus the Google campus kind of reminded me of college, right. It was a lot of fun. I was riding the Google bicycles around campus and the cafeterias, the bathrooms, and the atmosphere. It was all very college-like, and there were some things I learned about it. You know, I took home I learned some things not only about Google, but about interviewing for a big tech company. And it’d be a good idea to tell people because not everybody gets to, you know, interview at Google or a big tech company. And I thought it’d be a good idea to just have an episode where I can actually have some fun for once instead of giving you lots of information about technical stuff. So the first thing I realized at Google Campus, big difference between where I am from on the East Coast and the west coast. His people were much happier. They were willing to talk to you about things. Everybody was smiling. Everybody was collaborating, and it made me realize, no matter where you live, you have to try to be a little happier. I know that’s a lot to ask. But you have to try. If they can do it in California, we can do it anywhere, right? And since everybody was collaborating, I noticed that you weren’t alone, here and in Philadelphia, where I live or other cities there’s a lot of solopreneurs like solo entrepreneurs, basically, people who work by themselves and it’s kind of hard to put together a team. But every coffee shop, I went to every restaurant or even just like parks, everywhere I went people were showing each other iPad presentations and collaborating on stuff and having meetings and whiteboard sessions. And I was pretty blown away at how collaborative it was and how easy it was to meet people who were like you. And here on the East Coast. I usually feel like I’m alone.

I’m not able to find creative people that easily. And something that really humbled me when I went through the Google interview process and started to talk to people on Google Campus is as smart as you think you are. You’re not that smart compared to the employees at Google. Everybody’s smart. Right? So you might be the smartest person in your group of friends back home. But once you get to Google, you’re just another cog in the wheel. You are just another smarty pants. That works there. And that was very surprising to me. That everybody was good at building websites. Everybody was good at graphic design. Everybody was good at programming. Everybody was good at marketing. Everybody was good at this, that other thing and I’m like, oh, so I’m not the only one good at these things. So you start to realize the people like you, the people who are creative and creating content, creating projects, platforms, products, they work at the big companies. That’s why they get paid the big bucks. The moment that I realized that I did fit in at Google, which was probably the coolest moment out of the hole. And I was there for about a week. I mean, they had me interviewing for multiple days with multiple people, different types of interviews. It’s a very long drawn out process and it’s very difficult and time consuming, and you need to be ready for it. So you need to be able to answer lots of questions. Which means, especially for Google or other big companies, you need to think outside the box. Right? You can’t just give them straight answers. They want to know how you get from point A to point B in terms of the answer like how did you come up with the answer? What was your thought process? So thinking outside the box is something that I really took home with Google.

Whenever you’re dealing with life’s problems, or challenges or a business that you’re trying to build or project you’re working on, how can you get through the process that you’re working on differently than you normally would? And that sounds kind of weird, but let’s just say for example, you’re launching a new product online. And you say, Okay, well I’ll do a Kickstarter campaign. Right but that’s, that’s the straight and narrow approach, right? That’s the path that everybody is taking on Kickstarter. And that’s it. Maybe you can think outside the box. And if I just think of an idea here, maybe it’s creating a fun video, posting it on YouTube and tick tock and seeing if you get a lot of followers from that first see if you get a lot of likes and comments and shares or whatever. Maybe people ask you, Hey, where can I buy that product? So you didn’t spend the time and money and energy it costs to create the Kickstarter, right? Because it does take time and money to do this thing. And then you have to advertise it. So maybe you did like a pre beta launch by thinking outside the box and creating just a simple tic tock video or Twitter ad or something like that. Right. So it just kind of made me realize before I make decisions, let me think through them really quick and see if I can come up with other ideas around the approach. I’m going to take it. I’m going back to the moment where I was pretty, you know, excited to be at Google.

One of the interviewers asked me what my passions were in life now. I didn’t talk about technology or you know, building websites or marketing or any of that stuff. She’s like, What do you do when you’re not working? I immediately said, Well, I play the violin. The piano, I like to paint. I like to make movies. I like to hang out with my dog and learn languages. And then she’s like, Oh, you play the violin. You play the piano. You’re an artist and all these different things. That’s Googliness your Googley. She’s again, she’s writing that. It’s like your Googley and I’m like, okay, okay, I’m Googley. It’s like I guess that was a thing. From the interviewers. There are some passions in life that are not related to your job. Not related to your skills. Your Googley. So I was happy that I was Googley. Because that is something else that I realized that you should do. Right? I asked this question to so many people all the time and I’m afraid to say this, but I have to. Most people don’t have an answer. When I asked what are you passionate about besides your job, or if money wasn’t an issue? What would you do with your life? I can’t tell you how many people don’t have an answer and I get a blank stare and I’m surprised by that. And I’m saddened by that. And I think that everybody out there should have at least one passion in life that is not directly related to their job, or their family or their friends. Something else. It could be gardening, it could be taking care of animals. It could be painting, art, it could be learning a language or learning an instrument. If you don’t do any of those things. You should do one of those things. We’ll learn how to do one of those things. Anything at all. Maybe it’s writing or making clothes. It’s you know, any just pick something right? Because you can’t just go through life, never having a passion, because then all you’re doing is working your job and then living your life. And that’s it. And to me that’s not a really good existence.

Now a lot of people ask me, Well, what was it actually like on the Google campus besides the things I already mentioned? It was incredible. I mean, it really is a home away from home you can literally do everything there whether it’s you know, they have lots of different cafeterias, lots of different restaurants you’re always able to get food and snacks everywhere you go. You can do your laundry there, they have a bowling alley, they have a movie theater, they have a community garden where people are all growing different things. I mean, it was everywhere. I went there where you know these conference rooms where people were doing meetings and whiteboard sessions and they were pods where you can sleep. From what I understand, I didn’t see this part, but you can get your haircut there. They have doctors that come there and dentists that come there. I mean, I heard stories where people were living in an RV in the parking lot, doing their laundry and taking showers and going to the gym and doing everything at Google and then living in the parking lot in an RV because let’s face it, it’s expensive to live in California. So it really is kind of like a big, massive living, workplace, you know, and the environment, the people, everything about it seemed almost magical. It was definitely really cool. Even though you hear stories about Google’s you know downfalls or, you know, the way they treat their employees. And that’s the thing when one of the things I noticed there is everybody is at their desk working in the end it is just another job.

People glamorize the top companies because of all these perks you get, but the perks are there to keep you there. Right. They don’t want you to go home , they want you to work. And I think most of the people that work at any big company, when you get paid a really big salary, put pressure on your shoulders to succeed and stay at work and put in long hours. It’s going to be tough, and that’s one of the reasons why I was glad I didn’t get chosen for the role. And instead I came back home. And I did some amazing things. I wrote a book and I made a movie. I was able to launch a tech platform, I was able to teach my new course and so on and so forth. I’ve been able to do the things that I love instead of doing things that accompany love. That’s something I realized is when you take a position at a company it can be any company that positions that job. That’s what you need to do every single day and you’re doing it for them. You’re not doing it for yourself. And that’s why I think finding a passion is so important in life because at the end of the day, you’re working eight, nine hours, maybe even longer at a job. Maybe it’s accounting or programming or marketing or anything. And that’s all you’re doing every single day. But it’s not for you. If you’re a nurse or a doctor and you’re helping people through their ailments and diseases and whatnot, sure you’re helping the world, you’re helping somebody. But in the end, you’re coming home and you’re tired, that didn’t really do anything for you. That’s when you pick up a brush and start painting. That’s when you buy a keyboard and you start playing the piano. That’s when you buy some plants and take care of them. And so many other hobbies you can do even if it’s just you know, writing a book or making a podcast or making a video or anything. You need to have passions in life and that’s pretty much the main thing I took home from Google is that everybody there had some sort of passion that made them Googley. So what would be your passion that makes you Googley? I want to hear in the comments. And if anybody else has any questions about what Google was like, please also leave them in the comments. I’m curious to know what else I might have missed. There’s a lot of stuff that happened there. I could talk for hours about my experience the whole week that I was there, including the night that I went to an event at Facebook where they had a pizza party and they talked about some cool announcements, but I want to hear your passions. What makes you Googley? And as always, I will see you in next week’s episode.

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Author

Jason Sherman