Blog | Kadima Careers

How I Got a Google Job With No Tech Background, Part 2

Part 2 of a 3-part series shares how this first-generation college grad got into Google with no tech background and virtually no contacts.

If you haven’t already, read Part 1 before proceeding.

In my last post, I told you how I got past the first hurdle that led to me GETTING a job at my target company by using my weak ties to get passed the recruiter screen. I covered why I wanted to work for a company like Google (hint: big money, future job opportunities, and working in an impressive environment). I also shared how I didn’t have all the listed requirements for the position but was still able to impress the interviewers.

Now, you’ll see how I prepared for job interviews and doubled my chances of getting hired.

Key takeaways

  • Your second hurdle is getting past the hiring manager.
  • Proper interview preparation can bolster your confidence for technical questions.
  • Behavioral interview questions and forming a connection with the interviewer can help you stand out amongst other candidates.
  • Be open to all job opportunities at your target company because the hardest part is getting through the door.

Second Hurdle in Your Career Path: The Hiring Manager Screen

I thought I was nervous about my conversation with Google’s recruiter, Punit. But it was a whole other level of anxiety for what came next: A call with a Google hiring manager named Anant, an ex-McKinsey guy, a Columbia business grad, and a reputed tough interviewer.

McKinsey, in case you don’t know, is one of the top consulting firms in the world. McKinsey consultants are whom Fortune 500 CEOs call when they don’t feel comfortable making decisions. And one big thing their consultants are famous for is “case-based interviewing.”

Meaning instead of asking what your weaknesses are or some softball question, they present you with a case–– a challenging business scenario that you need to analyze and solve out loud.

Preparing for a Phone Interview

I had a feeling the hiring manager was going to dig a lot deeper into the technical role requirements that I felt shaky about. I did a ton of prep; some of which helped, some of which was a waste of time.Case in Point by Marc Cosentino

I ordered a book called Case In Point to bone up on this interview style as soon as I heard about Anant.

I prepped for some curveball questions that I’d heard about candidates getting in Google interviews too, such as “How many golf balls can fit in a school bus” and “How many lawnmowers are sold in the U.S. in a year.”

I also gave myself a crash course in advertising technology (ad tech) since the role I was interviewing for was heavily focused on that. SEC filings, Google’s ad revenues, and an online advertising company they recently acquired –– all of which were brand new to me. 

Technical Interview Questions: Do You Know How to Do the Job

The hiring process took a couple of unexpected twists.

The first twist was that Anant wasn’t really a tough interviewer. Although the role I was interviewing for was also pretty technical, Anant wasn’t a technical guy. So almost none of the tough questions about the role that I was expecting came. He never asked me case questions, riddles, or any of the curveballs that I prepared for.

To my surprise, the interview was more social and friendly than anything else. We talked about our kids. The fact that we’d both gotten our MBAs from Columbia. We only discussed the role at a fairly high level. 

Moreover, the guy who referred me –– Ben –– was somebody whom Anant respected a lot. Again, my referral gave me an advantage.

The next twist occurred just as Anant and I were wrapping up. Anant asked, “Do you have 45 minutes to talk to someone else on the team named Lindy right now? She’ll call you as soon as we hang up.” My second interview was just seconds after my first.

And during that the interview with Lindy, I would need to answer a fair amount of ad tech questions. So, I was thankful to have boned up. 

For instance, Google had acquired a company called DoubleClick a few years prior, and my work was going to involve their product pretty heavily. The time I spent digging into DoubleClick’s background helped a lot.

Additionally, Lindy asked about something called the “product development lifecycle,” which I had not heard of. I inferred the gist of it from the name and told her that I would soak the rest up as I went. 

In short: I prepared as best as I could and relied on my ability to figure out what I didn’t know yet.

Behavioral Interview Questions: Do You Have the Personality for the Position

I knew this the interview with Lindy was going to be different from the moment she introduced herself. She wasn’t meant, but was colder and certainly more task-focused. 

I tried establishing some rapport (asking about her family, etc.), but Lindy answered curtly before diving right into the role requirements. Only, instead of digging into the technical aspects, she focused on the personality fit. 

“We need this person to be a hardass”, she told me.

Google’s engineers had a habit of pushing products out the door before all the bugs had been fixed. Or, in many cases, even identified. Google was hiring a person mainly to nip that in the bud.

A lot of Lindy’s questions were aimed at sizing up whether I was the type of person who could say “no” to engineering VPs when their new products weren’t yet supportable.

The truth was I wasn’t that person. I had little experience working with VPs. Much less in engineering, which –– at Google –– is the department that runs the show. I wanted to work there, though, so I did my best to seem unflappably confident.

Our call ended without her tipping her hand either way.

The next day, Punit called with news: “We like you, but we need to calibrate you against other candidates.”

At first, I was demoralized by Google saying they needed to interview more candidates. It felt like the hiring version of your crush calling you a great friend. It sounded like a big hurdle being placed onto what was previously a wide-open road. 

Since I was the first candidate Google interviewed for this role, they needed to bring more people in before I went further. 

Staying Open to Job Opportunities

Fortunately, Punit also said that there was another role I might be a good fit for. He asked if I wanted to talk to Jen, the hiring manager, for that.

I didn’t really care what my exact role was. I just wanted to work at Google. Period. The way I looked at it, this would double my chances of getting hired by Google, which was my only real goal.

So, I told Punit, “Sure – have Jen give me a call.”

The role was in their Rich Media division. The position was a lot less technical, and seemed to be more up my alley.

My call with Jen was three days later, on March 11 at 6pm. She was friendly and asked me a lot of questions about my management style –– a topic that Anant and Lindy had only somewhat touched on. 

I had been a manager for a few years at American Express, and I had plenty of management stories to share, which I think demonstrated that I could successfully lead a large team. But at that point, I had only managed small, co-located teams. At Google, I would be expected to manage:

  • A lot more people…
  • All over the globe. 

What really helped me in this interview was my psychology degree, which has endless applications to leadership. She and I connected over growing and developing people and different ways of thinking about doing that.

Our call ran for an hour or so but it flew by. It was one of those conversations where the good vibes flowed from beginning to end. I hung up feeling optimistic and sent her a thank-you note the next day. 

What Happens After Interviewing With Hiring Managers

Jen rated me well, and I was definitely still in play for some role at Google. Yet this was still far from the end of my hiring journey.

It was March 17th when Punit emailed me the news that my next interview would be March 28th in-person at their NYC office. Spoiler alert: I overdressed!

Hearing that it would now be 11 more days before anything happened was a real drag. It felt like another pop-up roadblock.

Feb 2 2011

Met with Seth

Feb 2, 2011 | My college buddy offered to introduce me to Ben, a director at Google

Feb 2 2011
Feb 18 2011

Phone Call with Ben

Feb 18 2011 | Ben gave me some advice and referred me to Punit, the recruiter 

Feb 18 2011
Feb 25, 2011

Spoke with Punit

Feb 25, 2011 | Put me in touch with Anant, a Google hiring manager

Feb 25, 2011
Mar 8, 2011

Interviewed with Anant

Mar 8, 2011 | Wanted me to talk to Lindy, another hiring manager

Mar 8, 2011
Mar 8, 2011

Interviewed with Lindy

Mar 8, 2011 | She gave Punit the nod to put me in touch with Jen, yet another hiring manager, for a different role

Mar 8, 2011
Mar 11, 2011

Interviewed with Jen

Mar 11, 2011 | Spoke with her about a second job opportunity

Mar 11, 2011
Mar 28, 2011

In-Person Interviews

Mar 28, 2011 | Headed to Google's NYC office!

Mar 28, 2011

Check out Part 3, where I my story concludes after going through the INTERVIEW LOOPS, an intense background check, and screwing up the salary negotiation to leave at least $100K on the table. (Above and beyond the $62K bump that I did get.).

Do you want to learn how to impress interviewers despite not having all the job prerequisites? Check out the valuable articles with interview tips to discover how to effectively sell yourself, forge other career paths, and accelerate your career!

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think