Few people know the real identity of the programmer who’s written some of the most-read tech books in the country. Leading security groups and loved because of his forthright nature, the anonymous coder whose secret alias is Harry H. Chaudhary has been giving useful advice on core Java programming for years.
But many of his fans find Chaudhary’s career advice more useful. As part of a recent project looking into technology education publishers, App Academy staff put together notes on what happens to applicants when going through the interview process at top companies in the Valley.
Check them out below.
The Apple Interview
If you think the Cupertino-based company appreciates individual expression and creativity simply because of your familiarity with its flashy marketing ads, you’d actually be kinda right. Apple’s interview process is known, Chaudhary says, for its emphasis on personal connections, creativity, and its minimal reliance on bureaucracy.
“They’re looking for good technical skills but are more interested in a passionate applicant,” the anonymous interviewer says in one of his books.
The interview process is multi-pronged but transparent. He says it starts with a recruiter phone screen where you are approached by someone inside Apple if you have good skills and marketable background.
If there’s a phone screen, it’s usually performed by a team member, especially if you’re an engineer. But technical aptitude is also expected in other professions, such as with writing tests for marketing positions. The company also has a tough behavioral test that helps determine candidates’ total quality-fit score.
In terms of number of interviews, the anonymous programmer says there are multiple, often more than at other companies. Sometimes this means candidates need to prepare for six-to-eight interviews on-site, many with “multiple people at once.” If you’re applying and make it to the on-site, Chaudhary’s books say that a lot of questions are related to the specific team’s work. If you’re an engineer, you’re expected to code on a whiteboard, for example.
The way the structure of the Apple interview is set up is that everyone starts from zero, meaning there is no feedback until every interviewer has talked to the potential employee. At the end of the interview round, though, all interviewers, Chaudhary says, compare notes and “give the go-ahead or the thumbs down to continue.” After that, if a person is passed up the ladder, the Director or VP of the organization approves or rejects the hire.
The Google Interview
Google workers are known for helping their friends get a job but recruiters also work on finding the best candidates, especially for senior positions across the Mountain View-based company.
When there is a recruiter involved, apparently, the process tends to go a bit more smoothly and like with other companies. Meaning, scheduled calls are almost never cancelled and there’s an expectation that it takes a specific amount of time. When there isn’t a recruiter and the candidate is a direct-hire staff recommendation, it’s a little different.
Hiring staff, for example, can be seen as a bit “disorganized,” leading to multiple calls and emails for scheduling. Still, getting a recommendation is always a good thing and leads to higher rates of full-time hiring. That means that if you want to work there, you should make friends with someone who already does. But the seeming disorganization of this type of outreach means that, according to Chaudhary, a candidate needs to be aggressive in communicating with the hiring people, ensuring they know your intense interest in Google and its products.
On-site interviews are similar than with other major companies in tech. There is a series of interviews lasting between 20 minutes and an hour, with four-to-six people in total who come see you within a four-hour window. Every interviewer that comes in to interview you comes with a blank slate, he says, because there is no immediate feedback given between interviewers after each interview. Written feedback, according to Chaudhary and Glassdoor comments, is given to a hiring committee who score candidates on a scale from 10 to 40 based on analytical ability, coding, experience, and communication.
After the scoring, interviewers pass on feedback to a senior hiring committee, which sends the candidate to executives. At this point, a candidate is on its way to getting hired, most likely, but executives do review the resume thoroughly and if they don’t like something, can bury someone’s candidacy.
What do hiring managers look for the most at Google? Chaudhary says they want to see great potential in a hiring asset, which is why they consider the highest recommendation for a candidate to be when the interviewer is an enthusiastic endorser of the candidate.
The Microsoft Interview
Getting an interview at Microsoft includes the expected referrals from internal staff as well as direct recruitment efforts. Owning to its traditional space as a place with deep coding experience, the Seattle-based company wants potential employers to know a lot about its history, its current products, and the way they interact with other services.
Most of the over-the-phone conversations are standard, with follows-ups on technical and written tests. The company, according to sources online on Glassdoor, is fairly transparent about the expertise expectations as well as some of the ranges of salary and benefits options.
If you’re good enough to get an interview at the main campus, expect deep professionalism all-around.
According to Chaudhary, the recruiter is the first person that you see at an in-person meeting at Microsoft and is considered the go-to for any questions you may have. Since the recruiter has incentives to find you and get you hired, they invest a significant amount of time in preparing you for the hard interviews.
For example, Chaudhary says that some of the questions you receive in the actual interview with higher ups are the same ones the recruiter asks you. He suggests candidates pay attention to the recruiter’s advice throughout the process.
One of the things that distinguishes the Microsoft interview experience on-site from others’, he says, is that most of them actually happen at the interviewees office or desk, which makes it easy to get a feel for the culture and the connections you can make there. It also shows a certain, sense of confidence and open mindedness to the procedure. If they do it all outside, there’s nothing to hide and also, maybe makes you already part of the team.
Like at other companies’ teams, candidates meet with four to five people at any interview. At the end of the interview cycle, the hiring manager is often tasked with speaking with the candidate, sometimes in a seemingly informal setting like a lunch. In a different manner than the interviews at Google, Microsoft’s feedback process is more immediate and shared with the team throughout, which means that it might move faster too if you’re a good candidate. Sometimes this means that you are told you’ll be hired on the same day. If that doesn’t happen, almost all the sources say that candidates tend to hear back from the recruiter about their status within one week.
In terms of questions, Microsoft often asks specific who, what, where, and why questions that seem simple but that should be answered in a strong, fully-detailed way by the candidate.