I was a Google recruiter for 5 years. Here are my biggest interview and networking dos and don'ts.

 While I worked at Google from 2013 to 2018, I recruited thousands of people and personally hired about 150. Now I'm a private tech career coach, focusing on helping candidates with interview and salary negotiation skills.

It depends on the role, but LinkedIn is usually the primary source tech recruiters use to find candidates. At Google, they use their own robust internal database to source, but their other go-to is almost always LinkedIn.

Connecting with people who already work at the company is arguably the best way to get in — from what I've seen, not many people who apply without a referral actually get hired.

The first tip I give clients who want to impress recruiters at big tech companies is this: network with a giving approach. 

During my five years at Google, most messages I received were along the lines of: "Hi, here's my resume, could you please find me a job?" 

Recruiters field hundreds of messages from candidates weekly. A much better approach looks something like this:

"Hi! I came across a really cool article on machine learning. I see you're recruiting for machine learning engineers, and I just thought I'd share it with you."

Then, you can pivot the conversation into career advice or your interest in a specific role. That way, you'll be able to catch the recruiter's attention and show what you have to offer the company.

Also, make it easy for recruiters to contact you by providing your email and phone number in your message, as well as an updated resume, and provide your availability. It seems simple, but the vast majority of candidates don't provide this information right away, which makes it more difficult for us to take action for you.

You should cater your resume to the specific role that you want. 

A great way to do this is to create a brief bullet-point summary of your qualifications at the top of your resume. It's easy for recruiters to spot, and personally, I was much more likely to contact a candidate when they did this. It only takes a few minutes to add, and it's important to adjust those bullet points depending on which job you're applying to.

A lot of people say that your LinkedIn profile should look significantly different from your resume — I'd argue against that. I tell my clients to copy and paste their resume bullets right into their profile because the vast majority of recruiters using LinkedIn usually search based on keywords.

The second biggest mistake I see on candidates' profiles is no profile picture. Recruiters are almost always more likely to reach out to you if your profile includes a high-quality picture of you from the shoulders up, and there's data to back it up. (Make sure you're smiling, too!)

For most positions, the hiring process starts with a recruiter screen. This is a casual phone call with a recruiter that usually takes up to a half-hour. After that, the candidate could have anywhere from three to give interviews before meeting with Google's hiring committee — this is basically a group of your potential peers who will review your interview feedback and ask questions about your background and skill set to see if you might be a good fit.

Finally, if that goes well, candidates move on to working with their recruiter to settle on compensation. 

Something that differentiates Google from other companies is that their questions tend to lean towards open-ended problem sets. (There's a misconception that Google likes to include trick questions in their interviews — in reality, they don't ask those anymore.) 

There are a few keys to answering Google's interview questions well.

Firstly, you need to provide a framework that lays out exactly how you reached your solution, step by step. This will help create a visual for your audience, and then you can actually get into the weeds and solve the problem. 

To prepare, write out example questions and then go back later to tweak them later as needed. Practice with a friend or mentor. Any career coach will tell you that practicing your answers — out loud — will make an incredible difference. And then, of course, you want to make sure to do sufficient research about your role and the company beforehand. 

(Another tip: make sure you're reaching out to the right person when networking. About 40% of the people who messaged me on LinkedIn asked how they could land an internship — I never recruited for internships. Again, not doing your research will suggest laziness.)

100% of people coming in the door at Google should be negotiating their compensation.

When offering a salary, Google will make a market assessment. If you live in New York, for example, they'll evaluate what most software engineers in New York are getting paid and align with the 75th percentile. So, they're going to offer more than average, but that number is still low for Google. This means there's typically a lot of salary flexibility.

As long as you're gracious throughout the negotiation and set the bar high, you'll be set — those are the two keys to success when asking for more money.

A lot of people think Google is harder to get into than Harvard, but that's not the case. You don't have to come from a big tech company and you don't need to memorize every detail of Google's products and services. As long as your skills align with the position, anyone who prepares the right way and practices enough can get in the door — I've seen it myself.

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