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Tom, I don't know. Perhaps my answers were not detailed enough.
Hmm ... it's pretty discouraging that even after you felt you did well in the interview they did not end up giving you a hire. One thing I certainly saw with my Google interviews is that almost all questions tend to be very open-ended. The theoretically best or fastest solutions to a lot of the questions I had been asked are impossible to code in the space of an interview and sometimes even the subject of a PhD thesis, but finding a correct solution, for example by brute force, is relatively simple. It's usually exactly in that area, where you point out possible improvements, maybe theoretical bounds, and go a little beyond that you can score in Google interviews, IMHO.
For example, take the problem of finding the lowest common ancestor in a tree. It's not too difficult to solve in the space of an interview, but when one reads up on this particular problem a little more, it is amazing to realize that it can be solved in O(1), given a one-time preparation step of O(n) and pointing out how its solution can be related to the range minimum query might be worthwhile, too.
Sometimes, even when you think you have solved a problem perfectly, you might have forgotten to ask a question whose answer might have put a certain slant on the question - such as in inquiring whether an online or offline version of the algorithm is needed. Or you solved the problem exactly as it was intended, but but not confirming certain aspects you left them assumed, instead of making them explicit.
Okay ... I'm rambling on - sorry. What I'm trying to say is that the questions I was asked could not really be solved in the space of an interview. They were so open ended that one could have discussed the problem for hours, so maybe finding that tie-in to open a broader discussion is what was missing.
Then of course there is always the dreaded "cultural fit" ... I am calling it dreaded, because it is such a nebulous term to me that it sometimes seems to be used as a catch-all for any miscellaneous reasons why someone is not getting a hire.
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Peter Krumins' blog about programming, hacking, software reuse, software ideas, computer security, browserling, google and technology.
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I love to read science books. They make my day and I get ideas for awesome blog posts, such as Busy Beaver, On Functors, Recursive Regular Expressions and many others.
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