Marc Grabanski, CEO & UI Developer of Frontend Masters

Interviewed by Google

January 11, 2008

Part 1 (Series)

I got interviewed by Google and was turned down. I never expected to interview with Google because it was not something I sought out. I love where I work, but you can’t say “no” to an opportunity to entertain the idea of working with Google. An internal developer over there saw my work and said I should work there, so I sent over a resume and got interviewed. Even though I didn’t get the job, it was a good experience and really tested my convictions of where I am at in my career. In the interview I botched the technical interview badly.

That is what happens when you have no formal education in your area of expertise. I don’t know inheritance in JavaScript because I have never seen it in any script I’ve ever looked at. I learn by doing. I don’t know SOAP, REST or any other acronyms that I don’t use at work. Another question I was asked was the difference between DTD and Schema. I didn’t have an answer for that either. Oh well. The part that went well was the interview with a developer. They said I would be going to conferences and helping other developers learn their APIs. I do that now with jQuery and CakePHP. I answer questions, emails, etc about their APIs - I spoke at jQueryCamp and soon I’ll be speaking at CakePHP Fest. He asked me how I would go about solving certain problems and I think that went well too.

I realized that I would like to do more teaching and explaining - I need to get more tutorials on my website and do some teaching sessions at work. What had me worried for a bit is how much would be taken away from my work with open source and building client applications. I like building applications for the marketplace at work. I think I would miss that.

Lately I’ve had some big successes with projects and I want to make sure it continues. All-in-all it was a nice little trip for a while to be considered by Google, but I’m glad its over with. I get to do all the things that I enjoy right now where I work so I have nothing to complain about.

Part 2 (Series)

As many of you know, I was interviewed by Google two more times. Once as a UI Engineer for Gmail and once for a web developer position at YouTube (Google owns YouTube). YouTube actually sent me out on a plane to San Francisco, but I was turned down for both positions. Let me explain how this played out…

UI Engineer at Gmail

The phone interview for UI Engineer was for a position on the gmail team. The person who interviewed me asked very heavy JavaScript questions. One question went like this, “How do you profile JavaScript”? So I told him about Firebug for Firefox and Drosera for Safari, that was fine. Then he asked me, “How do you profile JavaScript in Internet Explorer?” I had no idea so he responded with, “The JavaScript date object, outputting the date and time with each line of code executed”. Wow, manually profiling JavaScript with the date object? - I wouldn’t have thought of that, nor would I do that unless for some drastic situation. Aside from the heavy JavaScript questions, I think the interview went well and I gained more insight about Google.

Web Developer at YouTube

The phone interview for YouTube went great. I was interviewed by the lead web developer and was interested to find they have less than 300 people there at the moment. He asked me a lot of JavaScript and CSS questions. This all went fine, and I got along with him very well. So they sent me a plane ticket for an on-site interview. I took this opportunity to visit people I know at Google as well. The Googleplex is a pretty crazy place, seemed like Disney world for work. But, after being there for a few years the mystique of it all wears off and it is just an office to them. Free food and cafeterias made it seem a little reminiscent of college days. I even got a little jealous at one point. The on-site interview was enjoyable. What was interesting to find out is how everything is based on self-motivation. You set your goals, you set your time lines. This works with very motivated people, but wouldn’t work in the general working world for obvious reasons. In the end, the reason I was given for not given an offer was being, “library dependent” (aka jQuery). This got under my skin a bit, because I don’t think it is true. I understand how they thought this because I talked about jQuery a lot and am very involved in the community, but jQuery is used to get stuff done faster - not as a crutch. 4 of my 6 open source projects are without a library… but don’t need to go any further.

Wrapping Up My Experience

I’ll take free plane flights to Google any day. I was glad to meet the people I met, and to see the inside of Google was a good experience. Sounds like things aren’t over quite yet with Google, but once again I still have a great position at RMG. Cheers!

Marc Grabanski, CEO & UI Developer of Frontend Masters

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