How to Get a Job Interview at Google: a Chat with Luca Mastella

This guy and I have something in common. We’re both Italian, but this is not relevant since I’m from Rome and he’s from Ferrara, so the way we sound when we swear is completely different (Romans obviously do swear much better, sorry mate).

So: first, we both are kind of too tall; he is 6’4” and I am 5’10”, but he has been clever enough to get into professional basketball, while I just spend my time complaining about the nasty Smurfs in my life.

Second, we both went through the appalling process of being shortlisted over and over again. As for me, I’ve had over 120 job interviews in 99 companies in 4 countries; Luca doesn’t have a precise figure, but he must have landed at least 70 job interviews in 45 companies in 9 different countries (and he’s younger than me so he still has plenty of time to go completely mad).

Third, we both help people who are in the same situation we used to be. He runs an e-course in Italian called Career Accelerator, and we might be partnering in crime anytime soon. Here he unveils the strategies he has adopted to land a job interview at Google without even sending a CV out.

At the time we start the conversation I’ve just had breakfast, but the man is currently based in Australia where he does fantastic things, so he Skypes me from the kitchen while his 764 flatmates get prepared for dinner in the most intrusive way.

Hey Luca, how did you get your job interview at Google?

To obtain an interview with them I basically optimised my keywords on LinkedIn and I was found out by one of their HR manager who got in touch. You know, I had watched a video workshop by LinkedIn’s CEO explaining how recruiters should search for a candidate who doesn’t want to be found…

Wait, wait, wait; you’re going too fast. You know, I’ll need to translate this into English.

You mean that you will be translating this from my Ferrara dialect into Italian and then into English? 😉

Ha ha.

Ha ha. Oh, just a moment.. wait. Hey! Hi, I’m Luca. Nice to meet you.

What the hell? Are you introducing yourself to your own flatmates?!

I didn’t know these ones actually.

How many people do you live with?

Only 8. In the previous flat, we were 12 people. With a single toilet.

Why don’t you have dinner, too, anyway? Help yourself if you’re hungry.

Oh come on, I can’t talk about Google and getting tomato sauce on my T-shirt at the same time. So, let’s start from the beginning. I had just returned from my time working in a gaming company in Romania, and I wanted to work for some very prestigious corporations, so at first I tried to reach Google (and also Facebook) in the “regular” way, just applying for jobs, but it didn’t work. And there are also limits: for example, you can apply for a maximum of 3 positions at Facebook. When it comes to Google, though, you can apply for as many roles as you want.

So, how did you stand out from the crowd?

Alternative ways to get noticed exist. For example, you can get a recommendation from someone working in Google who can support your application for a maximum of 3 positions based everywhere in the world; in this case, you are privileged because you got an endorsement from a Google employee.

Is this what you did? 

I tried to. I got in contact with a lady based in the Philippines who was the Head Office for Google Malaysia. I had previously met her in person at a networking event. I got in contact on LinkedIn and tried to get a recommendation for 3 roles, but I was rejected for all of them. In any case, trying to approach a Google employee on LinkedIn to get this type of endorsement is a thing I’d recommend. At first, I was trying to get them to contact me, but it didn’t work; the recommendation didn’t work either, so one evening I watched this video workshop by LinkedIn’s CEO explaining how to find someone who doesn’t want to get found. I then optimised my keywords on LinkedIn accordingly and I was headhunted by one of their HR manager who got in touch and invited me to a job interview in Dublin.

Who wouldn’t want to get found on LinkedIn?

Well, you know, these big corporations are trying to steal employees from each other all the time, so let’s say that you are a Developer or an Engineer at Google… can you figure out how many people will want to contact you? So what do they do? They put some mistakes in their own descriptions and profiles, so when you search for people with their keywords, they won’t show up in results because they did spell their keywords wrong.

This is crazy.

Obviously they don’t want to get contacted all the time. Just imagine if you work at Google, how many people will be interested in you. In any case, well-optimised keywords are crucial to index your profile properly for the Boolean search. Do you know what Boolean search is?

OR, AND etc.? I’ve had an exam about this at uni. Such a horrible experience. 

Yes, exactly, if you get the Boolean search’s principles you’ll find out the logic behind a recruiter’s search, so you’ll get the words they would use to find you on LinkedIn. Another great way to be found by Google recruiters is…

Luca. How can you get so focussed while those three gorillas are wrecking food on the fridge just behind you?

In my office I work with blasting hi-pop music in my headphones. Anyway, you need some good Google certifications if you want to work at Google. I hold a Google AdWords certification, and you can have it for free. Recently, also Facebook introduced similar free certifications. So, people being shortlisted for entry-level positions at Google will likely be people holding these certifications, as the word “Google” will appear a lot in their LinkedIn profiles. That’s what I did for both Google and Facebook, and both times I have been successful. Put more Google that you can in your profile; if Google doesn’t appear on your profile, I don’t think you’ll be contacted. This is my opinion, though.

Any other final tips for job seekers?

Another thing I recommend is submitting your CV to them even if there isn’t a suitable position at the moment, because you’ll remain in their database for one year and they can get in touch if they have something for you. This may sound naïve, but it really happens. It happened to me with other companies.

This is true, it happened to me, too. Thank you, Luca. Have a nice dinner and say hello to the gorillas.

★★★

Eventually, our conversation lasted well over an hour. We talked about job interviews, tricky questions, companies and breakfast cornflakes.
Luca went through 5 job interviews at Google and 7 job interviews at Facebook and didn’t get hired at the end. Facebook didn’t give him a proper reason, while Google sent him a politically correct feedback he has appreciated.
He believes them.
I don’t.
When you have a brain like his, you can never tell whether the manager fears that you will steal their job.
Yes, even if the manager is a genius himself, yes, even if they shouldn’t, yes, even if it’s Google.
Google is populated by humans, not by Oompa Loompa.

Luca Mastella

When your guest doesn’t provide you with any picture so you have to steal one from Facebook.

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