29 JAN 2014

Michelle Wong

Regional Recruiter under People Operations, APAC

As interviewed by Samuel Wong


EVER SINCE “The Internship” hit cinemas, the world caught a glimpse of what it would be like to work for a multinational corporation giant such as Google. If you’ve seen the film, you would know that Google is a place filled with the greatest minds on the planet. This company is known to specially handpick their staff personnel for their unique skill set, so valedictorians or dean’s list students may not necessarily qualify for the job - you either happen to be a missing part of Google’s equation or you’re really lucky to be chosen for the job. 

Michelle, 29, is one of the fortunate few to be picked to work with Google in the Singapore branch. We have the privilege of her sharing her life at Google Singapore.

Did you ever expect to land a job here in this company?

I've always hoped to work at Google. I had tried writing in cold before - got myself a coffee-chat with a recruiter but didn't get in the first time round. I believed it was timing and hence when Google came back to me, I had to take it.  I was at a boutique recruitment firm prior to this and was headhunted by Google.

What do you say to those who envy your job and are bitter about it?

I don't think I've friends who are envious till they're bitter about it, more like they’re just happy for me. But if they are bitter, I don't say anything usually - I'm not sorry about getting my job!

What were some of your expectations?

I was looking forward to the vibrant culture and the many things about my role that I would learn. I was also definitely looking forward to the free food provided for breakfast and lunch! When I came in, Google met my expectations - and beyond! When you just thought you had your head around something, Google is one company where it'll hit you unexpectedly and you got to try to find your feet again. It was always an exciting challenge at any project I did.

Describe a typical day in the life of a “Googler”.

The typical Singaporean foodie in me would usually head to office early to catch the breakfast menu, which is usually a good spread of dim sum, waffles, cheese and other occasional changes of oats or nasi lemak. I would then grab a coffee from our coffee machine - the old school way like how the people at Starbucks do it. I'll then head to my desk and there're always meetings with internal folks over our GVC - Google Video Conference, which is also known as Hangout. 

Then comes lunch, which is usually a spread of Asian and Continental food - yes, I can't complain.

The afternoon activities are usually dependent on what your role consists. As a recruiter, I'm always on the phone with candidates and scheduling interviews. For others, it's back in the grind, which sometimes lasts through the night like in a typical role that works with the European and American times zones. Should I need a little perk in the later afternoon, I could go to our micro-kitchen to grab a toast, yogurt or even some noodles and head straight back to my desk. If you're referring to the other facilities within Google, we've got our pool table, table tennis, basketball hoops for people to let loose and release some steam.

Has this job changed you?

It hasn't changed me - it has definitely made me more skilled in my scope of work and optimized my strengths. In Google, I've been exposed to a culture that embraces diversity, encourages innovation and liberates ideas. It's an environment that I love and relish in.

In the movie The Internship, interns were encouraged to achieve “Googleyness” (the company's idea of balancing knowledge and skills together with teamwork). Have you developed any of that since you started work there?

We don't 'develop' that trait - it's either we have it or we don't. I believe everyone hired here has a good level of Googleyness to work with each other - it's what gels the company together.

What are five things you’ll miss if you leave Google?

1) My awesome team

2) The awesome food

3) Facilities

4) First-hand knowledge/experience of cool products/gadgets

5) Working for a branded company

Don't know what the The Internship is all about? Watch the trailer below:


FACT OR MYTH?

We get Michelle to kindly address the certain things about Google in The Internship - do employees really feast on buffet spreads, and has any potential candidate bust an artery attempting to answer a brain teaser? 

1. Their own recreation centre

spa_fact.jpg

"We have something similar in the office too! But unfortunately due to legal issues, I can’t show pictures of those. There is also a games room (above) for anyone who wants to unwind or take five at anytime of the day."

2. Free coffee and meals

  Vince Vaughn’s character in “The Internship” is surprised to find that all meals at Google are completely free of charge!

Vince Vaughn’s character in “The Internship” is surprised to find that all meals at Google are completely free of charge!

"Fact! Believe it or not, whatever you see at the pantry is yours for the taking. Whether it’s waffles with ice cream or Leg of Lamb. There is free lunch in this world after all!"

3. Great camaraderie at the workplace

camadarie.jpg

"People here in Google are very like-minded and we all have our ways of doing things but yet striving for the same goal. Individual minds working in a team is integral in our every day work. Everyone in Google comes from different walks of life and when working together in an environment that elicits and seizes the synergy produced, amazing results occur and sometimes even surprises us. It is truly a great place to work."

4. Brain teasers as interview questions

 During the interview for the internship at Google, Billy (Vince Vaughn, left) and Nick (Owen Wilson) were tested with the following scenario:  You’re shrunken down to the size of nickels and dropped down into the bottom of a blender. What do you do?

During the interview for the internship at Google, Billy (Vince Vaughn, left) and Nick (Owen Wilson) were tested with the following scenario: You’re shrunken down to the size of nickels and dropped down into the bottom of a blender. What do you do?

(laughs) "No, no – we no longer use all those brain teasers in interviews anymore. We have a structured list of behavioural questions, which is a “consistent rubric of how you assess people” – an article by our Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock in this article. They were formally used to make the interviewer feel smart but are totally a waste of time and does not predict anything."