To me, one of the weirdest things about Google is that, for an international technological powerhouse with a market cap soon to reach half-a-trillion dollars, it is rather idiosyncratic. And they are idiosyncratic in a way that goes beyond Google doodles, or the many search easter eggs that the company has slipped into its algorithm. It actually puts substantial resources into things like driverless cars, or internet from the sky, or immortality.
It does this simply because the founders are interested in that sort of thing. It's all kind of ... wacky for such a huge company.
And we can now add "recruiting programmers through secret, Matrix-esque search query games" as another surprising method to Google's madness. According to Max Rosett in his article "Google Has a Secret Interview Process... And It Landed Me a Job" on The Hustle, he landed a job at Google because he was searching for the right things.
Said Rosett, "One morning, while working on a project, I Googled 'python lambda function list comprehension.' The familiar blue links appeared, and I started to look for the most relevant one. But then something unusual happened." The unusual thing was this:
This led Rosett to a Google subpage called foo.bar, which had a programmer-ish interface and provided a series of increasingly difficult programming challenges, each requiring the submission of a solution before a time limit was up. Rosett was up to it, and completed the challenges over the course of two weeks, at the end of which he was asked to submit his contact information.
Soon after, he was emailed by a recruiter from Google, asking to see his resume and set up a phone call. After that, the interview process, which at Google is rather famously elaborate, began as per usual, minus some of the technical testing, as Rosett had already met those requirements through foo.bar.
The most interesting thing about this was Rosett's realization, after asking several other people at Google, that nobody else had heard of the foo.bar recruitment test. It was just, y'know, a secret tool nobody knew about. As Rosett states, "foo.bar is a brilliant recruiting tactic. Google used it to identify me before I had even applied anywhere else, and they made me feel important while doing so. At the same time, they respected my privacy and didn't reach out to me without explicitly requesting my information."
And the quirkiness doesn't stop there. When Rob Triggs of Android Authority contacted Google about Rosett's story, Google stated that foobar wasn't a "recruiting tool," just part of a larger process." It then sent the following snipped to Triggs:
\u0050\u0075\u007a\u007a\u006c\u0065\u0073\u0020\ u0061\u0072\u0065\u0020\u0066\u0075\u006e\u002e\ u0020\u0053\u0065\u0061\ u0072\u0063\u0068\u0020\u006f\u006e\u002e
which, when translated from hex, is "Puzzles are fun. Search on." (It's true, I checked. You can check too.)
So now, to the long list of weird and semi-hidden things that Google likes to do, we can add, "use a secret programming-search-term-based recruiting tool to find and recruit new Googlers." Which, again, one would not expect from a half-a-trillion dollar company.