October 15, 2004 12:22 PM PDT

Do you have what it takes to join Google?

If you want to work for Google, you'd better have a favorite math equation and a penchant for word problems.

Google, well-known for its search technology, is now applying its creativity to its search for new employees. The company has created mysterious billboards and two-page ads featuring word problems and now is moving into SAT territory with the Google Labs' Aptitude Test, which appeared recently in several technical magazines.

"We are always interested in opportunities where we can find creative people, so we are always trying new ways to find them," said Eileen Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Google.

The search company has gained allure from its successful--if rocky--initial public offering and its bullish stock price, which has climbed to about $145 a share on Friday from its debut at $85 in August. While the tests are a good way to winnow the influx of applicants for positions at Google, completing one does not necessarily give interviewees any extra credit, Rodriguez said.

"It just helps us attract a different class of people," she said. "There are some people that complete the test that don't even want a job at Google."

The 21-question test includes problems such as:

• Write a haiku describing possible methods for predicting search traffic seasonality.

• How many different ways can you color an icosahedron with one of three colors on each face? What colors would you choose?

• This space left intentionally blank. Please fill it with something that improves upon emptiness.

The test is not the first of Google's recruiting methods to go creative in the search for stand-out engineers. Last summer, the company posted a billboard in Silicon Valley with a mysterious mathematical question and no sign of who had funded the advertisement. When answered, the question led to a site on the Web, which posed a harder problem and eventually led to a page on Google's site itself.

Another recruiting ad hosted in a well-known Linux publication featured a picture of a vending machine and asked potential employees to find the pattern between 4- and 5-digit labels on each item and the 1- and 2-digit numbers on the machine's keypad.

The company also hosts an annual Code Jam, in which participants attempt to create elegant solutions to a series of software problems. The finals for Code Jam 2004 were held on Friday.

Such tactics are not unknown in the world of companies looking for coders. Game maker Electronic Arts took aim at a rival's employees by posting a billboard with the words "Now Hiring" written in ASCII code.

4 comments

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After years of admiration and support.....
I'm rapidly losing faith in Google, regardless of where I sit in the church.

Apparently, after a somewhat long and fruitful run, Google will go the way of that much travelled path.
Posted by djugan (40 comments )
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Not even the tip of the iceberg.
Every person I know who's interviewed at Google (myself included) returns not only disappointed with the salary they offer (incredibly low for the Bay -- and still amazingly low despite our economic recession in the tech industry), but disappointed with their interviewing tactics as well.

Google has a major addiction with what you could call "jock geeks" -- that is, computer geeks who have an intense interest/addiction with sports. Basically, the concept is that if you don't "fit in" with the extroverted happy-go-lucky five-minutes-for-slashing lifestyle, you're never going to get hired. You could be the next Einstein and they wouldn't bother with you unless you showed some form of being an "elitist bastard".

I've yet to meet a single Google employee who _doesn't_ fit into the excessively extroverted category.

Google's hiring practises need a major reform. I think most of us understand the desire some companies have for "niche" employees, but this is taking it to the level where sooner or later they're going to end up in court.
Posted by katamari (310 comments )
Link Flag
Another round-eye misconception
Haiku cannot be written in English. A bastardized 17 syllable
(character) poetic form is claimed to be real Haiku, but English
just doesn't have the complex meaning variants that the
Japanese language provides.A good Haiku is five unique and
independant thought trains. A great one may have up to seven
or eight.

Google had better rethink their hiring criteria, or maybe their
software will be as incorrect as their hiring criteria
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What does a haiku have to do with the web, and now my dreams of working for google are crashed and drowning. :'(
):P(look the other way to see, just like this one: (: )
Posted by fanelyx (1 comment )
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