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'Puzzles Are Fun. Search On': Google Cops to Secret Recruiting Tool Baked Inside Search

Google wants you to follow the white rabbit.

Mayer George / Shutterstock

How does the world’s best search engine recruit programming whizzes? Through search, naturally.

On Tuesday, Max Rosett, a new Google employee, blogged on The Hustle about how he landed his new job at Google. Rosett, a data scientist with the rental marketplace Apartment List, was working on a head-scratching coding problem. He turned to Google’s search box, typing in this query on the programming language: “python lambda function list comprehension.”

Up popped a box inside the search results that read: “You’re speaking our language. Up for a challenge?” It led to google.com/foobar — a programming test Google has used in the past to recruit engineers. It’s not the first time Google’s HR has deployed the nerdy trick. Users on Hacker News posted a similar tale last year.

The lure cast a spell on Rosett, who, after passing, went through Google’s routine, well-documented hiring process and was offered a job three months later.

“Foo.bar is a brilliant recruiting tactic,” he wrote. “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.

Google wouldn’t outright say it uses the test Rosett describes as a recruiting tool, preferring that we decode the process.

A Google spokeswoman sent this in response. And I quote:

\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

A source outside Google translated the code (hex, not python) for us (and Google confirmed the translation): “Puzzles are fun. Search on.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.