In his book, I’m Feeling Lucky, Douglas says that even after he was hired, the HR department kept pestering him for his transcripts and SAT scores. Indeed, having high academic records was once a pre-requisite for a Google hiring, a factor perhaps influenced by the views of the founders themselves, who were after all brilliant students.
As we have seen in a recent blog post, Google’s reliance on academic accomplishments seems to be a thing of the past.
One of the curve balls which Brin threw at Douglas during the hiring interview was when he offered him five minutes to explain something complicated that Brin didn’t already know. Douglas chose general theory of marketing. By the time Sergey came back, he had prepared stuff to answer 10 minutes of questions, but they were not of much use as he was forced to find answers on the spot to the questions Brin fired at him one after another. Later he found out that this was routine for Brin. An hour wasted with a candidate wasn’t considered a total loss if Brin could take away some new insights on a topic he didn’t know.
NO DIRECTORS IN A FLAT ORG
Douglas had applied for the post Marketing Director. Another individual by name Shari Fujii had applied for the same post advertised on the Google website. When they joined both found that Google didn’t seem to have such a post, and instead, the company preferred to address them as managers. “I shrugged my soldiers and swallowed my pride,” writes Douglas. Sergey reminded everyone constantly that titles aren’t important because Google wanted a flat organization with fewer levels and less of bureaucracy
NO GREAT CODERS
Apparently both Brin and Page were no great shakes as coders. Craig Silverstein, the first employee of Google, would say that he didn’t trust the founders as coders because he found a lot of bugs in their early code. He categorized them as research coders who were more interested in writing code that works than writing code that was maintainable. Jeff Dean, another engineer, told Douglas that the early Stanford version of Google had this quirk: when something unusual happened, it would print out an error message. It read, “Whoa, horsey!”
(To be continued. Vignettes taken from the book I’m Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards)