Posts filed under 'Employment'

Homebound

I'm just [back from Florida](Florida in bullets), but nevertheless I'm planning my next trip. I've just booked a flight to Los Angeles in June when school is finished. There I will meet up with Andreas from Sweden for a two week roadtrip, before going back to Sweden.

Which leads me to the next thing; I am going back to Sweden. No [Google internship](Second Google interview) for me. While it is a little bit sad, it actually feels good to go back home as well. While I wouldn't have turned down an internship opportunity, I wasn't really convinced that I wanted to stay in the US right now. So going back to Sweden, meeting everybody again, and finishing my Masters degree feels like the right thing to do.

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3 comments March 26th, 2006

Second Google interview

Now, the second and most likely final phone interview with Google is over. I think my brain was considerably warmer after the interview, partly from trying to think, but most likely more because I had been using my cell phone for one and a half hour straight. I try not to speculate too much about how things have gone, as I can't influence the process now, and I'll know the result soon enough anyway. However, there are two things which I found kind of interesting/funny/frustrating about the interview.

First, one thing which I thought was really funny and interesting was the fact that my interviewer had [googled](http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=googled) me. (Hi Marius, if you read this :-)) Among other things, he had looked at my post here about my [previous interview](Nervewreck) with Google. I guess I should have expected to be googled when looking for an internship at Google, but the thought actually never crossed my mind. Not even though I myself had googled my interviewer.

Secondly, during the interview, we were discussing some differences between the [research project](No job, but research) I've been working on here at UW and the work my interviewer was doing at Google. Then I claimed some things about the project here at the UW which my interviewer was not aware of. Since he knows the area very well and has read the papers published about the project, I started to doubt what I thought I knew. When I looked into it after the interview however, I realized that the things I was referring to had actually not yet been published. I suppose that gives a good explanation for why he wasn't aware of them. 🙂

2 comments March 17th, 2006

More Google

I heard back from Google this afternoon. They told me that the interviews had gone very well, but that I propably was a better match for their research team (compared to the AdSense/AdWords teams I had been interviewed for). Therefore, they'll set me up for another two interviews!

To be honest, I was pretty glad all the interviewing was over, no matter how things went. Now, it seems they are not over after all. One nice thing about it however, is that I get a chance to do things better. For example, I have requested letters of recommendations from three different professors at the University (one positive and no negative answers as of now). I hope those letters will improve my chanses even further.

So, now it will be another week or two until my interviews, and then yet another week or so until I get a new answer. I can't do much more than try to be patient.

3 comments February 24th, 2006

Nervewreck

When you're interviewing you get asked tricky questions. When you're asked tricky questions you get nervous. When you're nervous you get stupid. When you're stupid it is exceptionally hard to answer tricky questions. When you can't answer tricky questions you don't do well on interviews. Bad circle.

After two and a half hour of interviewing I'm a nervewreck. Among other questions, I was asked how to compute median values in a distributed fashion, do binary search on cyclically sorted arrays, and to design a virtual piano. Answering all those questions while mentally being on the level of a three-year-old (which is what you get during a phone interview) is hard. sigh

Anyway, I'll hear from them in about a week. If I'm lucky, they'll give me an offer to move down to California and become a noogler, if not, well, then I don't.

10 comments February 15th, 2006

Google’s calling

Google logoOr at least, they will. I've been scheduled for two 45 minute phone interviews with Google! 🙂

The interview calls will be made sometime during next week or the week after that. I've sent them a list of all times when I'm available, so now it's up to them to get back with the times they will actually call me.

I'm getting nervous already. At the [second interview](Amazon.com Interview), I felt that I was rather relaxed both before and during the interview. But now, I'm [back to being nervous->The first interview] again. A phone interview is a whole other game than a face-to-face interview.

Well, I guess I'll survive. With a bit of luck they might even like me. Enough to hire me? That's the question.

6 comments February 2nd, 2006

No job, but research

Unfortunately, I wasn't invited to a second round of interviews to either [Microsoft](The first interview) or Amazon. Although that is unfortunate, I don't feel too sorry about it. There will be a new recruiting wave and a new set of interviews in the spring, so I'll make another attempt then.

On the other hand, I did get accepted to do research on the KnowItAll project. More precisely I'm going to work on a program called TextRunner, which is a search engine which does not return documents containing certain terms, but answers questions. It can for example answer questions such as which the highest mountain in Sweden is, or return a list of American scientists. At the moment, this search engine extracts information from paragraph text on web pages, and my work is to make it also extract information from lists and tables on web pages.

I am actually very excited about this for several reasons. First, because I think TextRunner is the most interesting project of the several projects I've referred to as KnowItAll so far. But also because I believe lists and tables on web pages can contribute with very high-quality information to the system, so my work might end up being a very important part of the project.

Yesterday, I attended my first weekly meeting with the group of researchers working on KnowItAll and related projects. It was actually surprisingly similar to a typical student group meeting at Chalmers. Today, I talked to one of the main developers about the work I'm supposed to do, and he also explained to me how the system works, how I can get access to the research cluster, and other things that I need in order to work on the project.

Pardon me for making a technical digression here, but speaking of the research cluster, it is actually pretty cool. TextRunner is running on a cluster of 20 dual-Xeon machines, each with a single local disk of 250GB, resulting in a total of 5 TB(!) of storage space used to store a set of more than 90 million web pages. After being processed by TextRunner, this results in a graph structure with more 227 million nodes representing nouns such as "Albert Einstein", "car", "orange", and a mind-boggling 1.9 billion edges representing relations between them such as "is a", "worked for", "died in". I guess it's kind of nerdy, but I think it is really cool. 🙂

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2 comments November 22nd, 2005

Amazon.com Interview

I just finished my second job interview with a large American high-tech company. This time, it was Amazon.com who wanted to ask me tricky questions. And they devoted 45 minutes of their time to do it.

The interviewer was a nice young man (again, Asian) about my age. After some small talk where I, again, had to explain why I was at my fourth year of Master studies and had no Bachelor's degree (that's very weird over here), the coding questions started.

<technical>

He first wanted to ask me something nasty about pointers, which I kindly declined. He then switched to asking me about how to reverse the order of the words in a given text string. My (Java) solution used String.split(), a reversed for loop and a StringBuilder.

After the first question, he asked me how to pick two integers out of an unsorted array such that the sum of the two elements equaled a given number. Coming up with a naive dual-loop version was very straightforward, but I couldn't think of a better strategy. If someone can tell me how to do it in less than O(n^2), please post a comment.

The next question was about finding the closest common parent to two given nodes in a binary search tree. After sitting for a minute or two without being able to figure it out, trying to explain to him how to do it (without knowing it myself) and then thinking about it for another minute I finally realized that the problem was much easier if you didn't start with the two given nodes, but with the root node. So after the initial trouble, I gave him a nice O(log n) algorithm.

Finally, he asked me about how to count the occurrences of all words in a given text stream and print each word and its frequency sorted by decreasing frequency. Again, I started out with a non-optimal solution involving a HashTable and some sorting, but pretty quickly realized that it all could be done much more beautifully with a PriorityQueue.

</technical>

Welcome back. For all the technical non sense above, please forgive me.

Anyway, we ended our 45 minutes by talking about how it was to work at Amazon and some practical questions about employment. If I understood him correctly, they have a much quicker decision process than Microsoft, and if they are interested they will ask me to come to a second interview within a few days. I also asked him about what group he was working on, and he happily spent the last seven or eight minutes describing his work. 🙂

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8 comments November 16th, 2005

The first interview

Pew! That was nervous. I just got back home from my interview with Microsoft, and my body is still a bit weird. Anyway, I'll start with the beginning.

I was scheduled for the interview at 3:30 but was asked to go there 15 minutes earlier to fill out a form before the interview. So I did. The form was basically about what kind of job I wanted (internship or full-time), what I wanted to work with and when I would prefer to start working. After filling out the details on the form, I just sat there and waited.

After about 10 minutes a man with obvious Asian heritage (including a quite hard-to-understand accent). He greeted me and invited me to a room where the interview was to take place. It was a small room with white walls (I can imagine it is the kind of room you put prisoners who are to be isolated). There were also a round table and two chairs. We sat down and he started to speak. We had a thirty minutes slot allocated, and we would spend about five minutes going through my resume and the form I just filled in. The rest of the time should be used for a technical programming question.

The main thing about the resume was that he was slightly (rather) confused about where I studied, from which school I was supposed to get my degree and when. Perhaps that's something I should clarify on my resume for future use. The only thing there is that it could be the case that they would prefer if I would finish my degree in Sweden before working for them. But it is also quite likely that their hoard of lawyers will sort that out. He also asked me some about my summer jobs.

Then, over to the main part of the interview: the programming task. I was assigned the task writing the algorithm for merging two linked lists. That is a very simple problem – at least at any other time then when you're sitting in a interview with Microsoft and you're supposed to write it on paper. *sigh* So, after doing all the kinds of mistakes which you do because your 1) nervous, 2) writing on paper, and 3) are in an interview with Microsoft, I got the algorithm down on paper. It could have done better, but on the same time, I all worked out roughly fine.

After that we just talked for a minute or two about more or less nothing. I did learn however that they would pay for the relocation from wherever I was to Redmond, including all the way from Sweden. Then, the interview was over. Now I just have to wait about two weeks before I know if they'll invite me to a second interview, or not…

I guess the best thing is just not to think about it until I hear from them. That is somewhat hard, however. Well, tonight it's UF practice at least, so that will definitely help me clear my mind.

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1 comment November 9th, 2005

Microsoft interview

I just received an email which started out like this.

Dear Henrik:
Congratulations!

We are writing to inform you that you have been invited to interview with MICROSOFT.

Wohoo! 🙂 That means I've taken my first step towards a job in the US. I still have a long way to an actual employment though. First I have to go through this interview which is meant to figure out if I'm suitable for working at Microsoft and if so, what areas I might be interested working in. If it turns out to be successful, a second, more detailed interview will be scheduled.

And with a bit of luck, I might be invited to an interview by Google and/or Amazon.com as well.

The interview will be performed at the UW campus, and I was able to decide what time suited me best for the interview. I won't say exactly when it is, but it will be some time during next week, I can say that much. I'm getting nervous already. 🙂

November 3rd, 2005


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