Google uses a secret web tool called foo.bar to recruit new employees based on what they search for online. Specific searches relating to coding and software development prompt Google to ask the user if they are “up for a challenge” in a system which recently landed a college graduate a job at the company.
Three months ago, computer science graduate Max Rosett felt he wasn’t ready to apply for a job at Google and lacked the confidence to apply for a full-time software role. But when he searched for “python lambda function list comprehension” he was automatically enrolled on Google’s secret hiring process.
Called foo.bar, the system has been used by Google for at least a year and is triggered when a user enters certain search terms relating to coding languages like Python and Java. The search results page breaks open to reveal the message “You’re speaking our language. Up for a challenge?” to which the user can decline once, request the message isn’t shown again, or click “I want to play”.
From there Rosett – and anyone else fortunate to stumble across the right search term – was given a series of programming challenges to solve. He has 48 hours to solve the first problem, which “required a bit of knowledge about algorithms and gave him the option of using Java or Python. Rosett solved the problem in just “a couple of hours…Each time I submitted a solution, foo.bar tested my code against five hidden test cases.”
Rosett solved five more problems over the next two weeks and after a sixth and final puzzle was asked to give his contact details. “I typed in my phone number and email address, fully expecting that to be the end of things.” he said in an article for The Hustle. A recruiter then emailed Rosett a few days later, asking for his CV, and Google’s more traditional and well-documented recruitment process took over – which includes a full day of problem-solving on a whiteboard at the company’s California headquarters.