kitchen table math, the sequel: what does Google want?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

what does Google want?

A friend of mine (ok, it was Debbie S.) talked to a person at Google about what they look for in job candidates.

He gave her a typical problem a candidate might be asked to solve during the interview. 

As I recall, it was a permutation problem.

A hard one.

So here's Tom Friedman on the three basic skills:
There are three basic skills that students need if they want to thrive in a knowledge economy: the ability to do critical thinking and problem-solving; the ability to communicate effectively; and the ability to collaborate.

Teaching for America
Published: November 20, 2010

I guess Google-level math knowledge falls under 'problem-solving.'


SteveH said...

Was this someone from Personnel or one of the workers in the area where the job opening is? Human Resources is loaded with people who are searching to justify their existence. They are the ones giving the tests.

What "business" cares about are skills and knowledge. Job openings are not vague things where they hire people with potential. They want some specific job done and they really don't want to train you unless they have to. If you are an expert in HP Integrity/Itanium systems, and that's what they need, they won't care one little bit about whether you can solve a permutation problem. If you don't keep up with needed job skills and knowledge, you will eventually get pushed aside and laid off.

Allison said...

It's SOP that Google asks math questions for any of its developers or IT staff, and nearly everyone at Google is a developer or IT staff. (All of the tech people are expected to write code, including management.) And it's SOP in silicon valley in general to ask these questions.

They aren't interested in an expert in X who can't solve a permutation problem, because they don't have to be.

These questions are preliminary interview questions as well as questions that would come up in later interviews.

They aren't difficult math problems if your background is an undergrad or masters in CS or math. They are standard discrete math questions you'd know the answers to. And if you're from a different-but-still tech field, they'd expect you to solve puzzles like this for fun. They aren't generally anything but clever-cute problems, problems that if you've heard once, you'd remember the answer to. The kinds of stuff you'd have on an AMC test. And if you hadn't heard the problem before, then you'd need to demonstrate you can think on your feet.

The culture is biased toward Stanford MIT Cal CMU. People from those places spit out problems like this to each other for fun. If you're not from there, there's a great skepticism about your actual qualifications, because resume inflation is so rampant everywhere.

They will also ask you coding questions in interviews.

Crimson Wife said...

Google is notorious out here in Silicon Valley for giving interviewees uber-geeky problems. I know several really bright individuals (Stanford/MIT/CalTech engineering grads) who didn't pass the interview because the Google interviewer didn't like their answer to some B.S. question. And I'm not talking an AMC-style math problem (the folks I knew who didn't pass muster at Google wouldn't have a problem with those) but something that's completely subjective.

Revenge of the nerds...

CassyT said...

I thought you might enjoy seeing the questions we asked of teachers we interviewed for the HS Math/Engineering/Science teacher position. These are just the content-related questions. Applicants also had to answer questions on pedagogy, classroom management, experience, etc.

How do you help students understand the relevance of their math courses to their present and future lives?

Why is it easier to do math computations with Arabic numerals than with Roman numerals?

What is the order of arithmetic operations and the purpose of parentheses in numeric expression?

If 602 is a number in base 7, how do you compute its value in base 10?

Define the three primary trigonometric functions.

What is a function?

Is this the graph of a function?
(Draw one the with multiple y values for a given x… No)

In the equation y = mx + b, what is m? What is b?

If you knew the circumference of a circle, how would you find the area of that circle?

What is the definition of a parabola?

Analytically prove that the lengths of the diagonals of a rectangle are equal.

Find the values of x and y that satisfy

x + 2y = 6
3x + 4y = 24

While this is a classic type of algebra problem, how would you explain its relevance to your students?

Sketch a graph of y2 – x –2 = 0

What is the solution to a quadratic equation?

If A and B are matrices, what is required to compute A× B?

Who is usually credited with the invention of calculus?

How far back can calculus be traced?

Describe the mathematical definition of acceleration.

What is the definition of a limit?

Explain an integral.

Other applications of an integral?.

Explain a derivative.

We are looking for brief answers here to ascertain applicant’s knowledge and understanding of general underlying principles.

Explain the difference between ionic and covalent bonding. Which bond is stronger?

What happens at the triple point of water?

In chemistry , what is a mole of a substance?

How is mass related to weight?

Why do we measure our weight in lbs?

Explain Archimedes’s Principle.

What is a Coulomb?

How does a battery work?

What are the two conditions of static equilibrium?

Define Torque:

How do you compute gravitational potential energy?

What is the energy stored in a stretched string?

Explain how a satellite is able to orbit the earth.

Is apparent weightlessness observed within a satellite orbiting the earth? Why or why not?

Why does an airplane fly? What principle is involved?

Can an object be accelerated to a speed greater than the speed of light? Why or why not?

What is the Carnot cycle? Give an example of its practical application.

Explain the ideal gas law.

How does a light bulb work?

Can you use a transformer for DC current? Why or why not?

What happens to a current loop in a magnetic field?
Give an example of an application of such a circuit

What are the two types of waves. Give an example of each.

How does a radio or TV station send out its signal?

How does a TV or radio receive the signal?

Can an electric field wave travel in a vacuum?

What is the speed of an electromagnetic wave in a vacuum?

Why does a prism split light into its constituent colors?

What is Quantum Mechanics?

What is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?

What is radioactivity?

What is the difference between nuclear fission and fusion? Give example/application of each.