Are There Enough Smart Developers for Google?

Maybe, maybe not, but either way, there is more than one for a software developer to be smart.


How to Help Your Business Become an AI Early Adopter


Posted January 18, 2010

Eric Spiegel

Eric Spiegel

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A deer in the headlights.

That’s what most developers would feel like during an interview with Google.

I have determined this from the recently published questions that Google typically asks in an interview. Anyone who interviews at Google can easily find these Google interview questions and answers. (Just Google it!)

So I’m sure a seasoned Google interviewer will start with the first question “Did you research the questions you can expect?” If you answer no, you are either a liar or incompetent – either way disqualified.

If you answer yes, then you show you have done your research and guarantee you will get questions from left field. Such as these interview questions that Google keep in its arsenal to totally flummox the majority of candidates who think they are smart enough to work for the tech giant.

You can’t memorize all the answers, can you? Oh wait, you aren’t supposed to be memorizing answers, you are supposed to be showing off how smart you are and figuring them out on your own.

But maybe you are one of the lucky ducks to have a photographic memory. How will the interviewer know if you are reciting the answers or running through innovative calculations in your head? And isn’t memorizing cheating? Or is it simply good preparation?

I have been pondering my own tough question: Are there enough smart techies who can actually answer these questions?

If you consider that Microsoft and other tech giants have been famous for tough interviews for years, you must wonder if the techie population will support the demand. Where will they find all these geniuses?

Well, Mensa claims it has over 100k members and they only accept people that score in the 98th percentile on the standard IQ test. That's the top two percent of the population who are really, really smart.

Of course these Mensans should be smart enough to pass the Google interview gauntlet – but how many of them actually work in software? Sure there are plenty of other smart people who aren’t in Mensa because they want to keep their super powers secret, so let’s look at computer science majors in relation so Mensa and world population.

Stay with me -- I’m getting to my point through very intelligent mathematical computations.

According to the Computing Research Association, there are about 8,000 computer science majors in the US. If only 2% of them would qualify for Mensa, then only about 160 would be shoo-ins for Google. Even if Google does a crazy amount of international interviewing, I doubt the numbers will add up.

Okay, my math isn’t perfect and I’d probably never even get an interview with Google. But even if they could find enough people to pass their tests, is Google doing itself a disservice by pursuing only the smartest of the smart?

You may argue that they are looking for diamonds in the rough by asking questions like, How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to answer about X dollars per window. It’s probably also amusing to watch the intellectual show-offs actually try to exhibit their brilliance by figuring out how many windows there are in a large city.

The problem with this argument is that they seem to be mostly interested in Ivy League schools. And they care about your GPA even when you are years removed from graduation.

Everywhere I have worked there have been at least a couple really smart developers. I mean scary smart. But these people typically aren’t the best at other things such as common sense and interpersonal skills.

Next Page: The 'real' questions to ask developers

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Tags: Google, programmers, developers, IT Jobs/Salary, programmer salary

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