Book Review: Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?


If you’ve ever thought about looking for a job in the post 2000-whatever economy, then Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google by William Poundstone is a must read.

It’s harder to get an interview in 2012 than it was in 2007. Period. If you haven’t been job-hunting lately, I can tell you from experience that the landscape has changed. There are more people than ever out there “pounding the internet” looking for work. Once you get in the door, you need to be prepared.

Poundstone delivers on his promise of “Trick questions, zen-like riddles, insanely difficult puzzles, and other devious interview techniques you need to know to get a job in the new economy”.

The title implies these questions may be just for job seekers at Google. However, many of the examples of other difficult questions came from not just high-tech companies, but other names like KPMG, Johnson and Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, and General Motors. Also, this isn’t just about IT jobs, but some questions have been applied to positions in Marketing, Sales and Accounting to name a few examples.

One small caution – This is not an all-encompassing “how to ace and interview book”. Having said that, this book does an outstanding job of preparing you for the types of questions (including specific ones in each category) you may have to face beyond the mundane “what’s your biggest weakness” variety.

What’s great about this book:
This isn’t just for pain-stick seeking job seekers. It’s also entertaining to read. Plus, if you are looking for some great questions to ask as an employer, you’ll find out the why and why not of questions you may think are “cool to ask”.

Each chapter closes with a series of specific questions that have been used by companies big and small. The answers are explained in amazing detail in 120 pages in the back of the book. This makes the book an easy reference for future interview preparation.

Limiting Factors:
None really.

Additional Note:
As a contract employee, I move around a bit and interview pretty much every year. I had an interview last week and while I didn’t get ant real “trick” questions, the advice on “Whiteboarding” (Chapter 7) came in handy. Yeah…got the job!

Recommendations:
If you think you may have to interview for a job ever, this is a must-read.

Rob’s Rating system (bolded, the rating is)
Buy now at full price (it read well on my Nook too)
Buy if you get a discount
Wait for the paperback
Wait for someone else to be done with the paperback
If you’ve read my review, you got the gist of it

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