Saturday, June 1, 2013

An Excerpt from "Doggy Paddle"

Getting this ebook published has been an exciting process. Later, I will share with you some really crappy mock-ups I created for my ebook cover using Paint. All I'll say is, I have deep respect for digital designers and illustrators.

For now, I've included a small excerpt from my book. I hope you like it. Sharing a book with the public is a nerve-wracking process because now that it's out there, you've made yourself vulnerable to everybody's opinions. It almost makes me want to go back to the safe world of blogging where punctuation errors and mediocre content are easily forgiven.

This excerpt is a section from a Chapter about Job Interviews. In the chapter, I cover various types of interviews like phone screens, technical interviews and in-person interviews. This specific excerpt talks about the crazy interviews, usually given by companies like Google or Apple, that ask mind-bending questions like "How many windows are there in the city of Seattle?"

Here we go:

The Weird Annoying Interview

These are the Microsoft or Google type interviews where some smartass walks in wearing jeans, mocks the stiff suit you have on, and starts asking real asshole-type questions like “Why are manhole covers round?” or “How many poppy seeds are in a poppy seed muffin?”

There is an actual purpose to these seemingly random questions. They test your creativity. The good news is that college is where you are usually at the peak of your creative skills. The bad news is that you will still need to prepare to demonstrate your creativity. I had gotten an interview with Microsoft during campus recruiting. I walked in and, sure enough, there was an Indian-version of a Bill Gates sitting behind the desk, looking at me through his rimless glasses, wearing worn jeans. As I spoke about my technical skills and development experience, he looked more and more unimpressed. Finally, exasperated, he said let’s take a different approach. He looked around, found a plastic cup and then asked me how I would go about designing a cup such as this. I stared at the cup, realizing this small piece of plastic was going to be the demise of my potential career at Microsoft. I paused for a very long time and then replied, “I would design it such that the cups are easy to stack on top of each other.”

He looked at me and then said, “Which plastic cups have you encountered in the past that you’ve had difficulty stacking on top of one another?”

“I’m not familiar with cups, actually. I usually drink straight from the bottle,” I quipped.

He looked even more displeased, if that was possible.

“What else?”

“It should be made from a recyclable material.”

“That’s excellent! What else?”

“I don’t know. Leave me alone.”

Alright, I didn’t say the last part, but that was how I felt. I was panicking at this point and counting the sweat droplets running down my back. I swore to myself I’d never drink from a plastic cup again. I wanted to run out of the room and rip apart all the plastic cups in the world. I wanted to pile them up, set them on fire, and perform a tribal dance around it. I wanted to—



“Well, thank you for coming. We’ll be in touch.”

No you won’t, you asshole. “Okay, thank you.”

To a large extent, you can actually prepare for these interviews. The first thing to do is ensure that your foundation is very strong. A question that often comes up during Google interviews is: “Explain a database in three sentences to your 8-year old nephew.”

If you take more than five sentences to explain this, you will risk rambling and exposing your lack of understanding for a very core concept. This question can be applied to various other topics, too:

Explain Manufacturing to an 8-year old.


Explain the Stock Market to an 8-year old.
Ensure you understand fundamental concepts and learn to explain each concept succinctly and clearly. And above all, stay calm and collected. If a question stumps you, take the time to think it through.

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