Max Rosett says Google recruited him after he searched for a specific set of programming questions.
Rosett was a former data scientist with a huge online housing directory, but knew he wanted to become a computer engineer.
While working on a project to help develop skills he would need in an engineering role, he Googled “python lambda function list comprehension.”
“The familiar blue links appeared,” Rosett wrote on The Hustle. “But then something unusual happened.”
His search results page began to split in half horizontally. A black box emerged with a message: “You’re speaking our language. Up for a challenge?”
After Rosett clicked on “I want to play,” Google took him to a site called foo.bar.
“The page resembled a UNIX interface, so I typed the command to see the list of files,” he said. “There was a single one called “start_here.txt”. I opened it and saw two sentences: ‘Type request to request a challenge. Type help for a list of commands.'”
He typed “request,” and from there, Google gave him a series of programming problems to solve — each with a 48 hour time limit.
In total, Rosett worked through six challenges over the course of two weeks.
“After I solved the sixth problem, foo.bar gave me the option to submit my contact information,” he said. “I typed in my phone number and email address, fully expecting that to be the end of things.”
On the contrary. A recruiter emailed him a few days later. After that, he went through what he called a “pretty typical” Google recruiting process, eventually getting a job offer which he “enthusiastically” accepted.
In his story, Rosett didn’t reveal what kind of problems Google gave him on foo.bar, but he said that he had the option of coding in Python or Java.
“I won’t post the problem here, but solving it required a bit of knowledge about algorithms,” he wrote. “Each time I submitted a solution, foo.bar tested my code against five hidden test cases.”
Rosett isn’t the only one who has documented an experience with the search engine recruiting tactic. Last year, a few users on Hacker News chatted about their experiences. An Ello user by the name of Phil Tower also posted some of the questions he got from the site.
A Google spokeswoman didn’t directly confirm that the company uses foo.bar as a recruiting tool. Instead, she told CNNMoney to decode its response, written in Unicode:
“u0050u0075u007au007au006cu0065u0073u0020 u0061u0072u0065u0020u0066u0075u006eu002e u0020u0053u0065u0061 u0072u0063u0068u0020u006fu006eu002e.”
The translation? “Puzzles are fun. Search on.”