Google has taken the lead as the №1 Employer for the past several years in a row. It’s no wonder. Apart from free food, Google offers many perks and benefits that other companies don’t offer, including:
– free gym/swimming pool
– great relocation packages
– free training, plus free access to Lynda.com (the leading online learning company)
– subsidising academic studies and offering free courses
– cheerful offices – and much more!
These perks are all pretty well known, and so we’re left with one central question: how do you get into Google when the competition is so high? We decided to interview several Googlers (that is what they call themselves) and ask them this very question: HOW DID YOU GET INTO GOOGLE? Overall, we will look at their backgrounds to show you what kind of candidates Google searches for. Here is our first Googler:
Name: Anna Boroshok
Country: Originally from Uzbekistan
When started with Google: 2011
Department: Large Customer Sales (AdWords)
Anna, why do you think you were selected among other candidates?
Google is a company that looks at how daring people are, how easily they merge into new environments, how well they know a product/their potential role and overall, how Googley they are (I will elaborate on this term later). I want to believe that I met those criteria, because my background is more versatile than even I realized when I applied to Google. I am going to tell you my story with the hope to inspire you rather than simply tell you what I have achieved. I want to show you that you can do it too.
I was born during the time of the Soviet Union in Uzbekistan’s Kyzylkum Desert, and I have a very ordinary family. I did not graduate school with excellent grades, but I studied quite well – although some teachers hardly believed in my potential:
My math teacher called me “Dried Apricot,” referring to my dry brain and being unable to process obvious math logic. My classroom teacher believed I was only good enough for a technical school and said I shouldn’t even dream about University. They would be very surprised I have a Job with Google (Anna smiles).
When the time came to enroll at a university, I failed my entrance exams. However, instead of lowering my ambitions, the following year I decided to apply to the best university in the country – The University of World Economy and Diplomacy. I have to admit though, my mum’s motivational trick helped a lot: she threatened that she would get me a job as a babysitter in a kindergarten class if I didn’t enter any university. Plus, I would have to cook for her everyday. And guess what? I did enter that University! No one could believe it, not even me.
Was I the best student at the University? No, I wasn’t. But unlike other students who went home after their studies, I headed to my internships (don’t remember who gave me such a good tip, but it was very valuable). I did a one year internship at United Nations Development Program and a four month internship with the International Red Cross. This experience sat beautifully on my CV.
Masters Degree in Poland at Lancaster University Program
During my last year at University, I intensively applied for scholarships to study abroad, and I got one. It covered my MA in Politics & Society tuition in Poland and my living costs, $3000 for 1 year. That was like a fairytale for me. If I didn’t get the scholarship, my mum (a single parent) would never have been able to afford to pay for my studies. Thus, I travelled to Poland to study at Lancaster University and entered its program in Polish Academy of Sciences.
In the beginning, I really struggled. Even though I studied at the best university in Uzbekistan, the level of instruction was still quite low. Imagine, I didn’t even know what plagiarism was. When I came to Poland, I did a copy-paste job for my first paper, and I failed miserably with a D-. It was a shock to me, but I was a fighter. Spending day and night in the library, I finally got my first C+, then my first B and ultimately began earning As. My philosophy professor used to say, “I don’t know if your papers are brilliant or if they’re complete bullshit.” I didn’t know either (smiles).
I graduated with merit, earning my MA and feeling very proud. In the process, I gained so much valuable knowledge in structural analysis, research and academic writing. It helped me greatly on my professional journey.
Recommended to read: 3 Valuable Lessons I have learnt working in Google
Masters Degree in Italy
One master’s degree was not enough for me. I got another scholarship to study Cooperation and Development in Italy. This was a more practical course rather than theoretical, and it allowed me to experience the practical side of International Organisations. What was great about this University is that it offered paid internships at interesting organisations. When searching for a University for yourself, take this important factor into consideration. It will serve you well later on.
As I have mentioned, the MA program in Italy offered a paid internship somewhere in a developing country. I chose Ethiopia, because they had a project on Capacity Building that was of great interest to me. For 3 months, I performed research on Human Capital in Northern Ethiopia, living in quite harsh conditions.
This internship helped me apply my theoretical knowledge to the practical world. Even so, the experience was tough: my dwelling was a mud and straw house, the toilet was just a hole outside the dwelling and the food was very poor in diversity. Forget about chocolate, the most sophisticated treat was sugar cane! Most disturbing, rats were frequent visitors in the house. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the experience very much, and I learnt, learnt, learnt!
After three months in Ethiopia, the organisation I worked for, Cooperazione Internazionale, offered me a six month contract South of Ethiopia, in Negelle. I accepted. My task was to research the sustainability of local farms. The central question was: why were some farms sustainable and others were not. It was an amazing experience. I saw how foreign aid negatively effects local communities, how much money is wasted, how unsustainable foreign aid is, etc. This experience changed my attitude towards charity and everything that comes with it. Ultimately, I decided that I didn’t want to work in this sector because it contradicts my values.
After that, I have found myself in Ireland, and I decided to try the commercial sector. It was 2008, a year of crisis. During the whole year, I managed to only get a two month contract at the International Organisation for Migration where I did research on Georgian and Moldovan communities in Ireland.
I continued my search. After multiple applications, I finally managed to get job at Accenture. I was doing customer service outsourcing for Microsoft packaged goods. Salary was low and treatment wasn’t particularly good: there was a lot of manipulation and bullying. My self-esteem crashed through the floor, but I was fighting. In one year I was offered a promotion, but my rebellious spirit didn’t allow me to stay there anymore. I left.
Recommended to read: How not to give up your dreams
ServiceSource and finally GOOGLE
My next employer was another American company that renewed IT licences for the largest IT companies in the world. I enjoyed working there and earned a good salary, but after a year I felt that I can’t renew licenses all my life. I was not learning anymore, and so I started searching for new opportunities. Browsing through vacancies I noticed a position for a Russian speaker at Google. My heart started beating. Why not, I decided. Instead of applying directly, I decided to get some more information from someone who worked at Google. That was a good decision. Always try to get information from insiders before applying anywhere.
I have found a person who worked at Google, and he gave me valuable advise: Google looks at four main values while selecting people: Leadership, Analytical skills, Googliness and Professional Knowledge. I made sure I had good examples from my experience for all of these areas, nailed my CV to perfection and threw myself into the storm of interviews.
In case you don’t know, Googlers get bonuses for the people they refer. They are, therefore, interested in you being successful and can give you useful insights and guidance.
How did you prepare for an interview?
As I mentioned, I contacted a person at Google, got general guidance and then compiled all possible questions in concerned categories. After that, I categorised the questions and composed the best answers, writing all of them by hand.
I also collected all the information about the position I was applying for and studied Adwords products, market trends and different solutions for different businesses in the context of Adwords.
Then I practiced, literally. I sat down at a desk, took a proper posture and talked through all my answers.
How many interviews did you have?
I had 7 interviews in total: three over-the-phone and four on-site.
The first phone interview was mainly about my CV and my experience. Be prepared to discuss every point you have on your CV, even your hobbies (some people list a hobby but have nothing to say about it). Stress your achievements in numbers: for example, “I was the only one on my team to over-achieve a target by 20% during our least intensive quarter.” Also, explain what you did to achieve that, otherwise it can look like simple luck.
The second phone interview was checking my language skills (it was a market specific job). Nothing difficult here: if you know the language, you know it.
The third phone interview was focused on my analytical skills. I was really afraid of this interview, expecting tricky questions, like “how many golf balls can fit in an airplane?” Thankfully, nothing like that came up. There were mainly in-depth questions about my experience:
– What projects have you managed? How did you manage them?
– What difficulties have you faced, and how have you solve them?
– What kind of research have you done, and what research methods did you use?
– What research methods worked well and why?
– What were the conclusions/outputs/recommendations?
The four remaining interviews were at Google, all on the same day, with four different people.
And again, I didn’t get any tricky questions. They were typical questions you would expect during interviews at any company:
– Tell me about your achievements/failures, and what have you learnt from them?
– Tell me about your project: how did you organise it?
– Tell me about unpleasant experiences at work? How did you deal with them?
– What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Recommended to read: How to grow and protect your dreams
Were the interviews difficult?
I wouldn’t say they were difficult. I have heard a lot of scary stories about Google’s tough interviews and tricky questions, but in the end, the questions were rather standard. For example, “Tell me about the projects you have done,” “How did you organise these projects,” “What were the results,” “What could have you done better,” “How have you solved this or that problem” and “Tell me about times of conflict you have been in and how have you resolved the conflicts?”
Later on, when I started interviewing people myself, I realised that the biggest mistakes people make during interviews are:
– They can’t elaborate on their own achievements/projects which gives an impression that a person put something fake on their CV
– They can’t provide proper examples
– They don’t study properly the field they apply for
– They can’t show a logical flow of problem-solving
What can you recommend on CV?
My advise is be as specific as you can when describing your roles and responsibilities, and compare yourself against
other employees/students. For example, if you worked towards specific targets, indicate:
– What was the target
– Achieved percentage of the target (compared to other employees)
– How many clients you managed
– How many deals you won and how much they were worth
– Any awards won (indicate amount of awards, say if there were three awards for 200 people, tell that one was won by you for a particular achievement (provide numbers)
If you did any research, indicate:
– Methodology used during research
– Quantity of respondents
– Have you developed surveying materials yourself
– Output (for example, 25 pages of report material produced and published at “link”)
(do not provide exact numbers if it is against the policy of your previous company, use percentages instead)
Here is a FREE good course from Udemy on Resume writing and their examples.
For your studies, indicate:
– GPA (Grade Point Average)
– If you were at the top, indicate the percentage, for example: in the 5% of top best students
– Show leadership by indicating if you chaired any club or initiated something significant (volunteering, charity, etc.)
– If you got a scholarship, indicate how much and what was the competition to get it
Some people don’t even put hobbies on their CV, probably because most companies don’t really care about your personal life. Well, Google does. The crazier and more daring your hobby the happier Google will be.
BUT: Don’t merely list your hobby on your CV; you need to elaborate a bit on it. For example, Hobby: belly dancing (took 1st place at a World Championship of Belly Dancing in London in 2014. Giving my own classes).
What final advise would you have for people who want to get into Google?
Work towards it. Learn everything you can about the department you are applying to, about the people who work there and about the industry. Take courses related to the field you want to apply to, and do related projects which you can put on your CV.
If you really want to get into Google, don’t give up, even if you get a NO at first. I know several people who got into Google on their third attempt, but I also know that they really worked hard toward it.
Try to get an internship first (if not through advertised internships, then via Google employees on LinkedIn – or any other way you can think of).
If you have questions for Anna, you can post them in the comments below or write to firstname.lastname@example.org