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Software Engineer: Platforms Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate
No Offer
Neutral Experience
Difficult Interview

Application

The process took 4+ weeks. I interviewed at Google in March 2011.

Interview

I had a good albeit strange experience. Everybody was very nice throughout the entire process.

The phone screen was 45 minutes long and was completely technical. Was asked to define virtualization [which though I gave great examples of, I'm not sure I actually gave him a textbook 'definition' of which would have been something like 'abstracts the hardware implementation details from the software' or something] and then to evaluate a ten thousand node system. He just said to "evaluate" this system, and didn't really elaborate.

One question that stumped me a little was when he told me I had 2 programs. Each program takes 1 minute to run. Then he said, what can you tell me about the programs if when run together, they take 2 minutes to run, and then what can you tell me about them if together, they take 1 minute to run-- and then what can you tell me about them if when run together, they only take 30 seconds (still taking 1 minute to complete on their own.) I thought I answered the first two pretty well and then was a little stumped by the third. In retrospect, I would have probably answered that perhaps if running together they took less time than separately, then it would be because they were working on a common problem or resource, etc.

Finally was asked to describe an algorithm where I would figure out the highest occuring character in a string, then was asked to define it's complexity.

Throughout the interview I was being told that I was answering well, and thought I came up with some good conclusions. At the end of the interview, I was told that my skills were a good match for the team and was warned that during the on-site interview, I'd probably have to write code on a whiteboard.

Then, three weeks, later, I was e-mailed and told that there wasn't a good fit for my background and experience. Very strange indeed.

Interview Questions

  • You have two programs, A and B. Each of them takes 1 minute to run separately on a Linux machine, when run on a freshly booted system. What can you tell me about the two programs if:
    a) when run together, they take 2 minutes to run
    b) when run together, they take 1 minute to run
    c) when run together, they take 30 seconds to run   2 Answers
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