Proved Google interviewer wrong and got rejected

Microsoft Jdjebenks
Mar 13, 2018 79 Comments

After doing 500+ Leetcode problems and going over CLRS 3 times, finally I got rejected due to insufficient knowledge in algorithms and data structure, and not able to come up with expected answers after many hints. (Could be because I am an Indian female? My conversations with my interviewers were actually very polite)

Had a debate with an interviewer about part of my code, which he claimed not needed and error prone, but I proved him/her wrong at the end.
Had another debate with an interviewer about choices of data structure to use, couldn't convince him/her without throwing him a textbook.
Was being doubted about choices of algorithm to use, I didn't fight for it but still feedback is not expected answer.

I just want to tell my interviewers:

Yes, weighted quick union with path compression can lead to linear time complexity in practice! (Difficult proof though)

Yes, in graph traversal besides visited and unvisited flags there is this inprogress flag so a set or boolean flags might not be enough, not that I don't know what is a Hashset! (White/Black/Grey marks on textbook)

Yes, top-down dynamic programming could be faster than bottom-up dynamic programming in cases that not all subproblems need to be visited! (Bottom-up is not always optimal or you prove it to me)

Yes R-way Trie could be faster than Hashmap for string search/dedup because when the target string is not present Hashmap still iterates through all characters to get hash but Trie can terminate search early with sublinear time complexity! (Hashmap is linear to input string length)

To Google:

If your interviewers are not like me spending all night every day studying algorithms and data structures, how could you reject me based on their words?

To whoever failed Google interview:

It's okay, it could be Google's loss.

To those who are spending a huge amount of time on Leetcode just for doing interviews:

The system is broken, but you are a hero doing things that need to be done.

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TOP 79 Comments
  • I’m really glad I don’t work with you.
    Mar 13, 2018 9
    • Microsoft / Eng windss
      lol
      Mar 13, 2018
    • Microsoft SatyaBozes
      I think OP has a point
      Mar 13, 2018
    • Cool
      Mar 13, 2018
    • BitTitan cViM50
      Jesus yes
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Microsoft Djikstra00
      Amen to Uber. Sounds annoying, pedantic and insecure af
      Mar 14, 2018
  • Intel CAOV75
    Do you want to be the colleague of a guy who throws textbook and yells at you during a problem discussion or peer review to prove that he is right? Question is obvious, so is the answer.
    Mar 13, 2018 5
    • Microsoft Jdjebenks
      OP
      Problem discussion is different. What would you do if your interviewer doesn't know what he/she is talking about? Do you just accept it? What if it's an important interview?
      Mar 13, 2018
    • Google Froogle
      Besides showing your technical skills you are expected to show soft skills as well. There is a special grade for “googliness”. You can solve multiple problems in a suboptimal way, but it’s a huge red flag if some of the people said that they would not want to work with you. I am not an interviewer myself this is just my understanding of the process. If you care, my advice is to take it easy, there will be many cases when someone has no idea what are you talking about and perhaps vice versa, you should be prepared to handle such cases.:) Funny enough I also had an interviewer at Facebook who never heard about union search with path compression and I also got rejected:)
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Microsoft rihana
      ^ this, you also have to have soft skills to fit in the team else you can make the team environment nasty!!!
      Mar 14, 2018
    • New / Eng
      assertTrue

      New Eng

      BIO
      Former aerospace engineer turned programmer
      assertTruemore
      There’s also the aspect of being able to take input as well as the ability to be productive when your vote loses and the team decides on a different approach. All OP had to do is say something like “I’m not sure if the suggested approach is as optimal, but let me follow it through!” Certainly better than “throwing the textbook” at them...
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Qualcomm LayLawn
      Once you are above threshold in knowledge (you know about hashmap, basics mostly and know how to code bug free )
      The only thing that’s gonna carry you through is answering this question for the interviewer
      “Do I want to work with this person everyday?”
      No amount of leetcode or geeks will prepare you for that. No amount of late nights will help you that.
      Mar 14, 2018
  • Google / Eng Sant
    Sorry to know about the rejection.
    Think you have already excelled the tough part ie technical.
    You just need to work on behavioural part and you would get it.
    Also, Googles not the end, dont be desperate, try fb/uber etc.
    You are very close, good luck ✌️
    Mar 13, 2018 0
  • Amazon ofrhz
    Obviously this is just a rant after a negative interview experience. Dunno why the rest of you guys are quick to make snap judgments about how difficult OP would be to work with. She wasn’t rude at the interview bc she didn’t know she’d be rejected at the time.

    Nothing she said was wrong. If you have problems with the way she said it, have you never been mad at other people in your life and felt the need to rant???

    I’m with you OP. Honestly if they really did reject you for being arrogant and aggressive (qualities that are usually praised in men as “confidence” btw), then you dodged a bullet.
    Mar 14, 2018 6
    • Microsoft JPTrudeau
      This has nothing to do with OP’s gender. I would have said the same things to a white dude. Some kids, especially out of school and with no real-world experience, feel very entitled and act arrogantly.
      In the workplace, you don’t want to think you’re the smartest one in the room for a second. Being a good team player is significantly more important than being the know-it-all.
      I’ve interviewed many candidates in my life, and hearing them saying “I don’t know” and then showing they can learn made me grade them much higher, and this is totally regardless of their gender.
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Amazon ofrhz
      What she described here was not a play by play of what went down at the interview but how she felt after being rejected. You really have no idea if she even was arrogant because a rant after the fact is not reflective of how people present themselves at interviews. People here are quick to make assumptions.
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Microsoft JPTrudeau
      Right, I have no idea of how she behaved there. But, I read the last 5 sentences she wrote and she blamed the ignorance of the recruiter for her failure, and that makes me think that, at minimum, she doesn’t have a growth mindset. For the rest, you just need to read in between the lines ;)
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Amazon ofrhz
      Exactly. Read in between the lines aka “make assumptions”
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Microsoft JPTrudeau
      Whatever you think
      Mar 14, 2018
  • Amazon Fr00pid
    QED: The system works!
    Mar 13, 2018 0
  • Microsoft JPTrudeau
    You got rejected for lack of soft skills. For appearing arrogant and know-it-all. It doesn’t matter if you were right, you proved you have a bad character, and the outcome should have been obvious.
    Mar 13, 2018 4
    • Microsoft SatyaBozes
      How did you find this out based on OP's post? Because she said she tried to prove interviewer wrong on the spot?
      Mar 13, 2018
    • Microsoft JPTrudeau
      She said she had a debate and at the end she proved him wrong. Also, the fact that she still doesn’t understand why she got rejected and blames it on the recruiter is a red flag (definitely not “growth mindset” to use some micro-speak)
      Mar 13, 2018
    • Microsoft SatyaBozes
      Blames on recruiter? Where did you see that?
      Mar 13, 2018
    • Microsoft JPTrudeau
      Read the last 5 sentences she wrote.

      She reminds me of a girlfriend I had in college. Every time she got a bad grade, she would come to me saying that it’s because her teachers were stupid.
      Mar 14, 2018
  • Google / Eng UUKg61
    Reading such messages makes me more proud of Google hiring process. Most people don’t understand that Google takes Culture fitment very very seriously. Yes you may have been right. But the way you wrote this note and showed your outburst , I am sure someone would have figured out this tendency of blaming the system during one of your polite debates during interviews.

    There are companies who explicitly hire only leetcoders. There are others who hire super smart but assholes. Not Google. If the interviewer got a hint that you are answering directly from leetcode , he would ask you more deeper questions or change it subtly. Many guys who practice leetcode too hard fail to even notice the change.

    Also, hard statements like “Trie could be faster than Hashmap” are not universally true. Trie uses pointers and you have to factor in that cost vs summing array representation of string.

    So when you appear for Google interview next time, please be open minded and listen to the question. Then please ask questions to clarify further. If the interviewer is expecting something specific to be discussed like trie or hashmap, just make it clear that you have made a choice because of these X factors and confirm of your Xs are matching his/her Xs. If not, first align and then proceed. If you try to force a Trie over Hashmap, or top DP vs bottom DP, it certainly is a red flag.
    Mar 14, 2018 2
    • Google / Eng Alpha Zero
      👆this
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Amazon ofrhz
      Using words like “could” like OP consistently did throughout is by definition not a hard statement
      Mar 14, 2018
  • New / Eng Marco9
    I will not like to be stuck with OP on an airport for even an hour.
    Mar 13, 2018 1
    • Netflix / Eng QcYH15
      Why would you be on an airport? I wouldn’t want to be on an airport either. 🤔
      Mar 14, 2018
  • Facebook Subway
    I think what a lot of people are trying to say is that at the end of the day, interviews are about the question of ‘can I see myself working with this girl/guy?’ which depends on a lot of factors. Sure, technical aptitude is super important since you certainly don’t want to hire someone who can’t pull their own weight or will weigh the team down, but the social component is not negligible either. For engineering, the behavioral component (ex. Googley or Jedi parts) is mostly a filter for the really bad apples. Whether due to poor matching with interviewers or yourself, it looks like you got caught in that filter. Just remember that interviews (and also code reviews...) aren’t ego contests. Being able to adjust behavior to the time and setting is an important quality imo. I hope you have better luck next time or elsewhere!
    Mar 13, 2018 0
  • Workday / Eng vNtf04
    An interview is not all about getting the question correct. It’s about if they want you as a colleague. One of my past team leads wanted me to suggest something ludicrous and see how the candidate reacts.
    Mar 13, 2018 0
  • Sounds like something on /r/iamverysmart
    Mar 13, 2018 0
  • Amazon Requeue
    ITT boys insecure about their dick size feel threatened by a smart woman over the internet

    If the interviewer was wrong he should recognize and admit it; what the fuck is she supposed to do when her solution is right but the guy in the other chair says she's not? There's literally no good way out of it
    Mar 14, 2018 1
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Microsoft Djikstra00
      This ☝️☝️
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Google / Eng Tofumon
      100% this
      Mar 14, 2018
  • Adobe / Eng eHrn76
    Same with above...
    Mar 13, 2018 0
  • Microsoft OaDD87
    This seems like a damned if you do or damned if you don’t scenario. If she doesn’t defend her approach, she will be rejected for wrong answer. If the interviewer is being dumb and cannot get it, she ends up getting penalized.

    OP does mention she was polite all the way. If it were men, I am sure it would have been seen as passion instead of aggression.

    What does seem odd though is the fact that she was rejected for lack of algorithms, DS skills. If that’s the interview feedback Google gave, OP is rightfully pissed
    Mar 14, 2018 4
    • Deutsche Bank LPeJ52
      Gosh how biased you are !
      OP mentioned multiple times that she got into a debate. And she "thought" she was polite.
      Well Google had to give some reason - lack of googlyness or being arrogant are hardly ever given as reasons.
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Microsoft OaDD87
      I may be, but all we have is biases since none of us were in that room. My heart sinks at thought of her getting rejected because she fiercely defended her solution and in return being served “you are not good” at it.
      And since when did debate become synonymous with disrespectful
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Deutsche Bank LPeJ52
      Fiercely is the key word. It's an interview after all - even if it was not, discussions have to be amicable. If you are a hiring manager, and if multiple interviewers reported that the interviewee was fiercely debating her ideas , it would surely be a red flag. I agree that some of the interviewers might not have been fair to her , but again - it's an interview and the interviewer has the upper hand
      Mar 14, 2018
    • Google / Eng
      sergey

      Google Eng

      BIO
      Haha
      sergeymore
      Google will not give any interview feedback for rejected or accepted candidates.
      Mar 14, 2018
  • Cisco jerome
    I'd rather have op as co-worker than the sweet talking non technical memorizers.

    At least I have confidence in OPs assessment and understanding of problems, which I deem a critical part of a team.

    If the team is full of leetcoding YES MEN, it becomes really hard to tackle unusually hard challenges
    Mar 14, 2018 0
  • Microsoft / Eng
    Beeisfor

    Microsoft Eng

    BIO
    Hate coding quizzes but studying hard for better future!
    Beeisformore
    OP, I am with you and I am a man. I just don’t understand so many negative comments here. I am surprised to see so many comments are assuming lots of things OP did not imply. It looks like people have predetermined thinking about certain tone. No wonder we can’t recruit women. People are reacting like they never have talked to a female in their life besides their mom.
    Mar 14, 2018 0
  • New / Eng
    HrlyDvdsn

    New Eng

    BIO
    WalmartLabs
    HrlyDvdsnmore
    I have a teammate like you. I did a big mistake by giving her a thumbsup.
    For real, my quality of life has gone down because of it. She’s smart, but a torture to work with.
    Mar 14, 2018 0
  • Google plane
    I think Google rejected you for your attitude not aptitude and yes it has NOTHING to do with your gender.
    Mar 14, 2018 0
  • Microsoft NullData
    What the OP revealed to her interviewer:
    1. She believes algorithm theory is absolute and trumps all other options.
    2. She has a problem dealing with opposing viewpoints.
    3. She is not good at defending her coding decisions.
    4. Her team dynamics are suspect.

    As previously mentioned, the "i would like this person in my foxhole" is a key decision point for interviewers. Interviewers 8n tech usually know what it takes to be successful in the position.

    My advice to the OP is to rise above the code theory and demonstrate an understanding about getting things done in a team environment.
    Mar 14, 2018 0

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