Some time ago I got an email from a recruiter at google asking me to send a resumé. That was rather flattering. I checked with some computer friends and found that some of them had also received this request — I guess the recruiter did a web search for likely people working on open source projects — or something.

Less flattering.

A couple of months later, after I’d mostly forgotten the original event, I got another email asking if I would set up a phone interview to apply for a job in internationalization.

I don’t know much about internationalization. Come to think of it, I’m not sure that any of my skills would be useful to google. I know nothing about searching, databases, etc. I know the HTT protocol and can frame a request, but doubtless google solved that problem years ago.

I tried to explain this to them, and that I didn’t really want to leave SB. Still it might prove interesting, I’ve made font-editors for 10 years now, perhaps it is time for a change. If a gift job drops in my lap I should at least look it in the mouth, so I gave them a time to call me.

I went through the phone interview. Rather liked the process. The guy interviewing me (an engineer, not a PR drone) asked good questions about what I’d done, and then posed a computer problem for me to solve that proved interesting. At the end he asked if I had any questions.

Well, yes, I had a couple. Most important: What, specifically, was the job? To my amazement, he could not tell me. To me this was an extremely important question. Why should I leave my current work, which I rather enjoy (even if it doesn’t pay) to go do something I don’t think I’m even qualified for? I wanted to say “Convince me that what you are offering me is interesting and worthwhile.” But he couldn’t.

Second question: The job was said to be located in either Zürich or Mountain View, Ca. I don’t speak German (and I gather zürichdeutsch is vastly different from the smattering of German I’ve picked up) any chance the job could be in Geneva (I do speak reasonable French)? The guy I was talking to didn’t seem to think so. Well could I telecommute from Santa Barbara? “Oh,” he said, “We have an office in Irvine, I’m sure you could work there instead.” That’s certainly consoling.

Two weeks later I had another phone interview. Similar procedure. Again the guy I spoke to couldn’t tell me what the job would entail. He told me what he was doing, which sounded quite dull, and said it might be something like that. Eventually he asked me what I would like to do.

This seemed to me the wrong question. I was already doing what I would like to do. I didn’t ask for a job at google, they contacted me. It’s up to them to come up with something interesting if they want to attract me.

Then I did get a call from a PR person who wanted to talk to me about “Google’s interview process.” I wasn’t in the least interested in the interview process. I was slightly annoyed with them too. There was a certain arrogance about them, as if they were doing me a favor in talking to me. Every email I got from them had the title “Google!”, with an exclamation point, as though it were the most amazing thing ever.

But they had said almost nothing which I found interesting. They had given me no reason to work for them.

None-the-less I phoned back. They had twigged to the fact that I wasn’t very interested. And I was told that I’d have to move to Mountain View if I wanted to work for them. I thought I’d made it clear from the start that I didn’t want to do that. I guess not.

The woman said she’d make my resumé inactive.

I keep coming back to the fact that they approached me, yet acted as though I were petitioning them. I can’t understand why they made no effort to convince me that working for them would be better than doing what I currently do. Actually, I find it rather insulting.

An acquaintance who works at google said “You must understand that yours was a special situation and you must make allowances.” Wrong. The “special situation” was caused by google, so they must make the allowances. And since several of my friends have been in the same “special situation”, I do wonder just how “special” it is?


3 Responses to “Google?”

  1. Jim K Says:

    I love the phrasing, “dropped in my lap, had to look it in the mouth.” I’d hire you just based on that.

  2. georgeruns Says:

    I had not realized that the ability to mix metaphors was qualification enough, but I shall keep it in mind.

    If your eye falls on a bargain, pick it up.

    The Education of H*y*m*a*n K*a*p*l*a*n, Leo Rostand

    Were I Herod in the midst of slaughtering the innocents, I would pause to consider the confusion of your imagery.

    The Lady’s not for Burning, Christopher Fry

  3. GooglePhone Says:

    Very very strange story indeed.

    I guess you did the best choice not to quit the job you liked (but underpaid).
    It’s quite difficult to work on what we like…

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