The Code Jam Google Methods Information Technology Essay

There are problems based on software programming in Code Jam every year. For instance, in 2004, contestants are asked to create a software application to calculate the shortest route through a maze. According to Jeff Huber, vice president of engineering at Google, things like thinking and finding the fastest way out of a maze is not that different from computing directions in Google maps. The tasks are not picked randomly, but are linked to problems that Google itself facing with its software applications. Tasks such as puzzle solving and three problems of escalating difficulty in Code Jam 2003 and 2005 respectively are somewhat related to tasks performed in jobs offered by the company. In addition, problems such as creating and testing software for unique web searches are also the challenges that a system programmer face in creating, building and testing the system infrastructure that powers the web search engine of the organization. Contestants who are able to solve the problems mean that they will also be able to complete the problem-solving tasks in the positions of Google.

Moreover, contents of the tournament such as designing and writing code, creating and testing software for unique web searches and programming are the duties of jobs in Google. For example, fluency in coding is also one of the qualifications of software engineer in Google. A system programmer also needs to design code for programming and building the software, computing platform and networking technologies that power all of Google’s services. It is true that Code Jam acts as a recruiting tool.

Job specification


Knowledge is factual or procedural information that is successfully performing tasks. Competitors are allowed to use the Java, C++, C# or VB.NET programming languages in Code Jam. It means that they must know the knowledge about the programming languages in order to solve the problems, design and write code, create and test software as well as programme software application. Positions including systems programmer and software engineer are qualified with fluency in one or more of C, C++ or Java. The winner and finalists must be very familiar with the programming languages are can therefore meet the requirement of the positions offered by the company.

Designing code and building software are also the knowledge in the engineering and technology field. In the tournament, contestants must have the knowledge of design so that they can design code for creating software for web searches. System programmer will have a chance to design code for building the system of the search engine of Google. The winner and finalists must have the knowledge of design and building, so they will be able to work as programmers in the organization.


Skill is the proficiency at performing tasks. Code Jam lets contestants design, write code and test software for web searches. The most proficient people with such coding and testing skills are welcome for positions such as system programmer and software engineer with the skills required.

In addition, complex task such as programming a war-based board game in the 2005 competition makes Google know the troubleshooting and programming skills of competitors and it can employ the right person to the right job.

Competitors will also be tested in problem solving. They need to identify the problems, gather information, organize information, synthesize, generate idea, evaluate idea, plan implementation and appraise the solution. Competitors with these skills can be ready to work as system programmer or software engineer in Google.


Ability is a more general and enduring capability that an individual possesses. Contestants of Code Jam need to have the abilities to sense the problems, think of and generate unique ideas to answer the questions about creating software for unique web searches, order the information and reason what they infer and induce. Competitors with the abilities of idea generation and reasoning are the talents Google look for and they can surely be able to handle the tasks when working in the company.

Quantitative abilities of contestants can also be measured in the tournament. Through the calculation to create software application for unique web searches, Google realizes the contestants with such abilities and can select them for the company. Their abilities are certainly helpful when performing the tasks required by the organization.

In the competition, contestants need to write code in order to create, programme and test software. Therefore, the memorization of different types of code is very important. The company can observe competitors with such ability and offer them the jobs with such abilities demanded.

A strong sense of accuracy and urgency are essential to positions such as system programmer and software engineer in Google. Since Code Jam is a contest and all the competitors are required to finish the tasks within a period of time, accuracy and speed can be tested and the company will know which contestants have the abilities to work effectively and efficiently. They will do the right things and do the things right when becoming a part of the organization.

The Benefits of Code Jam

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There are numerous grounds advocate using Code Jam as a Google selection method. It’s been a pleasure examining the benefits of Code Jam.

No regional restriction

Every body in different region, different country also can participate, there is no limitation in region. Internet becomes more popularized; traffic and national boundaries are no more a regional restriction, so Code Jam definitely can benefit from it. Google needs the most brilliant coder, the ubiquity and reach-ability of Code Jam gets selection out of restriction. It makes the selection no longer a must about holding in a particular place. The 14000 aspirants are not necessarily to get a ticket, take few couples’s hours flight (at least), get a visa and stay there, the contest city, about months to participate that competition.

Close to the reality working condition

Code Jam imitates the real situation what a coder will face daily, so completes the game equal to complete the tasks what a coder come across. The game simulates actual job environment, the participants will win a wide recognition in the field of coder’ work. Also after going through seven-stage process, the top 50 certainly can gain a deeper understanding and draw a down-to-earth working experience. Indeed, the game is rather a training program than a competition, as in other words, it provides an all-round training, for a to-be trainee coder at an early date.

Engage the most suitable person in the shortest time

The game is a timeless testing tool for gaining the most suitable person. Suitable is the best that’s why Google have to find a suitable person but not a best person, as he/she may be not the best person to the position. Comparing to traditions selection, Code Jam can find the one who hands in glove with the job, but traditions may be affected by the umpire or other man-made factors, such as educational background of candidates. Besides, the liquidness of Code Jam, avoids the contest a deviation from the usual routine. Using a game as a selection method can gain a commercial action attracting utmost attention in the shortest period; the biggest benefit is no need to appointing photographer and preparing advertisement, that’s why Code Jam attracts about 14000 aspirants. The more the people, the rate of hitting the target will be higher, hence the game ends, and the person appears.

To economize

The contest can minimize the resources used and maximize the return gained. Code Jam can achieve the goal in effective and efficient way.

Labor-saving, after finished the game setting, different Google center can use the same method/program to select the brilliant coder. Contrasting to ordinarily contest, Code Jam no need to share or distribute extra manpower to monitor or select or observe the process going. It save more hands rather than consume hands.

Money-saving, Code Jam can be used to be a selection method on five (even longer) successive years, and except the charges of traditions selection. Comparing to traditions selection, Code Jam avoids a greater part expenses of complex interview or selection process, like administration expense.

To simplify

Code Jam simplifies the recruitment procedure. It can get rid of the interview steps, including posting applicants’ CV, first/ second round interview, etc., and each of them can hold for even half month. Also the individual interview, group interview or other different kind of trials also make the candidates so confused and even lost interest to continuous, eventually diminishing the attracting index of the recruitment, it is unnecessary and redundant, Code Jam remove all the procedures above, draw back the complex contest in a funny simple but effective and efficient way.

The KASOs of Google’s programmer not evaluated by Code Jam

The following information is the job specifications of Google’s computer programmer at online recruitment advertisement:

|Expert level of knowledge of ASP.Net and the .NET framework using either C# or |

|Experience with VBScript, WSH, WSF, ADSI and WMI. |

|Experience with PHP and Javascript. |

|Experience with Apache and IIS. |

|Knowledge of Windows System Administration and Unix Administration. |

|2+ years experience with developing Web Services and XML years. |

|2+ experience with developing custom reports based on MS SQL and MySQL. |

|1+ Years experience coding against Active Directory or LDAP. |

|Strong quality assurance background a must. |

|Attention to detail and creativity. |

|Strong written and verbal communication skills. |

|Plus: |

|Experience with Python. |

|Experience with Ruby. |

|Experience with Microsoft SMS 2003. |

|Experience with Windows System Administration. |

|VB.NET. |

Compared with the 7-stage process of Code Jam as following:

1. Problem solving

2. Designing and Writing Code

3. Testing peer-written work

4. Create software for unique Web searches

5. Test software for unique Web searches

6. Get from point A to Bin a city with a minimum number of turns

7. Programming a war-board game

After candidates go through the Code Jam’s 7-stage process, Google can assess their KASOs. These KASOs may meet Google’s requirement and some requirements are not evaluated. Let me elaborate on what KASOs of Google’s programmer can evaluated by Code Jam and what can not evaluated.


Google’s programmer need to write programs, so they need to have knowledge on programming language, official Microsoft, window system administration, unix administration, IT and computers and electronic. If the programmers haven’t these knowledge, they cannot write programs. As one of Code Jam’s stage is designing and writing code, so Code jam can evaluated on these IT knowledge of google’s programmer need.

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On the other hand, Google need programmer grasp verbal communication, which cannot be evaluated by Code Jam.


Google requires the programmer to be detail minded and creative. Google requires its staff to have glare sensitivity, hearing sensitivity and originality. If the programmer does not concentrate, they will not perform the tasks in detail. Code Jam requires the contestants to write code and create software, therefore, Code Jam can detect programmer’s glare sensitivity, hearing sensitivity and originality, but the ability of detail minded cannot be observed through Code Jam since the competition is too short.

We have already introduced that Google needs its staff to have strong ability of verbal communication. However, Code Jam cannot detect contestants’ speech clarity and oral expression

In addition, Google wants programmer to have strong written ability, so they can detect the ability of arm-hand steadiness, manual dexterity, finger dexterity and written expression of the competitors through Code Jam. Google also requires programmer to have strong assurance to work with good qualities, but Code Jam do not. Also, we can see that Google cannot detect competitors’ control precision in the contest.


Programming is very important for programmers. As you know, we can see communication skills, strong written skills and creativity are very important requirements of the positions such as system programmer in Google. However, communication skills cannot be tested through Code Jam. The other requirement of Google programmer is experiences in IT and software for 1 or 2 years above, but Code Jam can not evaluate this through the 7-stage processes. In the aspects of operation and control, Google requires programmers to have strong qualification background, so Google will know how well its employees to operate and control the software.

Other characteristic:

In an application letter and CV, you need to give personal details to the company. It means the education background and work experience can be known by the company. However, Code Jam does not need these information when the competition is in process. In addition, moral, work ethic, conscientiousness and honesty and integrity cannot be detected through Code Jam.

Validity and Reliability of Code Jam as selection method for Google programmer

Level of validity:

A valid selection method means a selection device is related to job and measures what it’s purposed to measure. In other words, the performance on the contest is reflected the performance on the job. Higher test score represents the higher performance on the job.

Compared with the programmer’s job specification, more than half of KASOs in the job specification of the programmer are evaluated by Code Jam, which reflects that Code Jam’s 7 tasks is closely related to the job of a programmer. Who win this contest can represent whose job performance is the best.

Also, Google want to find the the most brilliant programmer through the Code Jam and offer a job to him. This purpose can be achieved by Code Jam. For example, Jon McAlister, as the winner of U.S. Code Jam 2001, joined into Google’s staff family in 2004 even though he didn’t sign up in 2001.

Therefore, the level of validity of Code Jam is high.

Level of reliability:

A reliable selection method means a selection device measures the same thing consistently. For example, if a test is reliable, any individual’s score should remain fairly stable over time, assuming that the characteristics it is measuring are also stable.

How can prove the Code Jam is reliable or not selection method for Google programmer?

Leak out of question

According 2005 Google Code Jam information

All participants compete online to solve the same problems under the same time constraints.

We can base on this information which helps us to discover one problem.

Only person who can meet the application requirement, she/he can join code jam. So they have the chance to know the question. And all candidate are answered a same set of question but not at the same time. The problem is leak out the question. In this situation, easily occur candidate A can co-operate with candidate B. Then Candidate B maybe due to candidate A leak out the question to B, B win the contest. Thus the leak out question will affect the level of reliable of Code Jam.

Gain Knowledge

When Candidate who join the contest every year (E.g. 2004, 2005, 2006).They can compare their performance in the Code Jam Every year and increase their proficiency to answer the question from each time after join the contest. The definition of reliable is a selection device measures the same thing consistently. However Code Jam can’t fulfill the definition consistently. Every the candidate is not get the same marks due to after they gain the knowledge from each time join the contest. It is not consistently.

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Other aspect to determine whether Code Jam is reliable or not

In another aspect every year the questions in the contest are different. How Google can base on different questions to compare different year of Code Jam which is reliable or not? Google cannot determine/know every year is consistently or not.

Whether advise Google to use a similar selection method to other positions

Code Jam is a contest, which use questions to test the aptitude of the candidate. The similar method might be an examination, test , game or contest. And we had already found this selection method brings many advantage. Do we advise it to other positions? This question has several considerations. Apart from the validity and reliability of the test, it has to base on which positions. And usually a supplementary method is required with the contest or test to make the assessment more comprehensive.

we advise to use tests on one position which job requirement focus on explicit knowledge and hard skills An accountant of Google is a good example. Its KASOs is general required as following:

• Knowledge in full set of accounts

• Knowledge in Oracle or other similar financial systems

• Ability to speak and write English and Chinese fluently

• Skills on financial management and analysis

• Confidence to work independently and responsive to team environment

• Honesty and Integrity

It’s obvious to find that an accountant’s requirement focuses on full set of accounts and the finance systems, which are examples of explicit knowledge and the hard skills. These can be evaluated by tests. Nowadays, CPA, LCC&I, ACCA and etc are every common tests used to evaluate an accountant’s aptitude accurately. And an easy business case-study can evaluate a candidate’s aptitude on language presentation and knowledge in finance and ability on problem analysis and solving. A candidate’s character and disposition also can be evaluated by personality tests. As most of KASOs required to an accountant are evaluated by test, it’s reasonless for us to give up these methods to select these candidates.

However, even if the test is valid and reliable, one or more tests to assess a most suitable employee are not enough. Especially on evaluating soft skills, such as communication, cooperation or work independently, it’s necessary to use supplementary methods such as interview, group discussion, and background investigations and so on. In other words, a comprehensive assessment system is more accurate to find the most suitable staff.

On the other hand, when some positions focus on a high weight of the soft skills, we don’t suggest tests or other similar methods to use in these positions.

We select Public Relation Manager (PR manager) as an example for use similar method to select this position employee. Firstly we find the Google PR manager job specification. Then we use Google RP job specification compare with some KASO can evaluate from contest. Finally we can get the answer about would advise to using similar methods for PR manager or not.

|Public Relations Manager |

|Job specification |

|Major Skill and Competencies: |

|10 years of professional experience leading public relations |

|Good team player, self-motivated and strong organization skill |

|The ability to effectively motivate other departments within the organization |

|all to meet corporate objectives. |

|Good attitude & PC skill |

|A powerful work ethic, creativity, and sound business judgment. |

|Good spoken and written in English |

|Minimum Job Requirements |

|A bachelor’s degree in communications, PR or related field. |

Google are looking for the candidate who are unafraid to voice their opinions, willing to challenge the conventional wisdom (with better ideas), and able to inspire the Google community. And a senior level communications professional with proven experience in managing international teams, developing global programs and building strong cross-functional relationships

Google need people who can design and implement a product launch, develop a creative consumer campaign, and create an innovative program to educate the public on a complex issue.

So we can summary the Google’s PR manager needs have some characteristic to help he/she to fulfill him/her job description. The mainly characteristic is personal character Requirements (active, outgoing, aggressive), verbal abilities including the oral and written, academic requirement, interpersonal skill and PC skills.

If Google through contest method to select PR manager, it only can know the candidate reading ability, PC skill and communication knowledge. So the contest is not enough to meet that find the right person who can meet the Google’s PR manager Job specification.

On the other hand, communication is important for PR manager. People who has communication knowledge that does not mean he/she can be effective to use these knowledge in daily life. Thus the contest can test the candidate’s communication knowledge is meaningless because they may not effective to use the communication knowledge in their job.

To sum up we not recommend Google to use similar method for select PR manager. Because this method not suitable to help Google to employ most right person with the right skill(PR manager).

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