Each year, Google receives approximately 3 million job applications. For context, that's more than the combined population of Atlanta, Austin, and San Francisco - arguably the current top 3 US cities for Tech Jobs.
If landing a job at Google has been on your radar for any amount of time, you'll also have heard the statistic that less than 1% of those applicants get hired. The thing is, this doesn't mean you need to panic, nor do you need to be perfect. Even 0.4% of 3 million is 12 000 - which is a lot of job offers, and you only need 1 of them.
First off, it’s important to recognize that a lot of employees in top tech companies weren’t hired on their first try. In fact, it’s very common for it to take several attempts before getting hired at a FAANG or similar Big Tech business.
The other reality is that you won’t beat the odds by chance and charm alone. If you want to land one of the most sought after jobs in the world, you’ll need to take your preparation seriously.
“You can either try to get lucky and fail N times or prepare properly and breeze through the interview. I interviewed at Google 4 times, 3 times I didn’t prepare properly and got rejected, 4th time I prepared 4 months in advance 20 hr/week and I passed the interview.”
When examining the Google interview process it becomes clear that the overall structure is very similar to other Big Tech companies. You can expect an initial call with a recruiter, then one with a hiring manager, followed finally by a structured loop interview of 3-5 people that test you on various parts of the culture and role.
During the interviews you’ll be faced with three different types of questions: situational, behavioral, and technical (if relevant to the role you applied for).
Technical questions can vary greatly depending on the type of position you’re interviewing for. We previously took a deep dive into acing the technical portion of your Google interview. Top Carrus Coaches and experts on all things Google Phil and Robert provided an in depth look at both the Software Engineering and Product Management interview process.
Now, let’s take a closer look at how you can ace the rest of your Google interview questions.
Answering Google Interview Questions
Thankfully Google paid attention to the evidence, and moved away from using the obscure brainteaser type questions they were once famous for.
What this means, is that for each role, Google uses the same interview questions and assesses candidate answers using a uniform rubric. This enables them to make hiring decisions based on pre-determined criteria that is consistently applied to all applicants.
Top of mind when designing these interview questions are always Google’s four key attributes: GCA (General cognitive ability), Leadership, Googleyness, and Role-related knowledge. It then follows that planning your interview preparation around demonstrating these four attributes is a solid strategy.
You can of course expect to be faced with some ‘normal’ interview questions that you likely would be asked at almost any company.
- Why Google?
- Why do you want to take on this role?
- Why did you leave your last role?
- What would you say some of your biggest achievements have been?
- What do you feel makes you a great candidate for this role?
Even though these type of questions aren’t unique to Google, you should still invest in thorough preparation and research.
Go over the job description with a fine-tooth comb. This resource literally spells out what the hiring manager is looking for. i.e. what they’ll want you to evidence with your answers, examples, and stories you choose to tell.
Social media is one of your top interview preparation allies. Review all of Google’s profiles and channels for insights about recent accomplishments and advances. Do some additional research to arm yourself with a comprehensive understanding of the topic. If you can talk about a recent achievement or product development during an interview, there’s a good chance you’ll make a positive impression.
Answering Situational and Behavioral Interview Questions
More traditional questions aside, you’ll be expected to answer situational and behavioral questions.
Situational questions are typically job-specific – think along the lines of ‘what would you do if…’ and ‘how would you respond to..’.
These questions ask you to consider a proposed event or scenario and tell the interviewer what you’d do in the given instance.
Google interview question example: You roll out a new policy, but your team opposes the idea. How would you handle this?
Behavioral questions place a spotlight on your prior experience and often look for you to demonstrate sound storytelling skills.
Google interview question example: Tell me about a time where you found yourself in conflict with your manager. How did you settle the problem?
Answering behavioral interview questions can be very tricky but the secret to approaching your answers from the right angle is using the STAR Method.
Top Google Interview Questions
As we touched on previously, the Google interview questions you’ll face will differ depending on the role you applied for. A product manager isn’t going to be asked the same questions as a human resource manager.
Nonetheless, some questions (and variations on the theme they explore) come up more frequently across all job categories.
Let’s take a look at some of the top Google interview questions you can expect to be asked. We’ll also explore what the interviewer is looking for and what a sample answer could look like.
#1 What is your favorite Google product? What would you change about it?
This question is the one you’re most likely to encounter. It aims to assess how well you know Google’s products. It’s also a great way for you to demonstrate how creative and innovative you can be. You don’t need to get complicated with this one – you can use any Google product as your example. The key is to talk about it enthusiastically and to offer appropriate suggestions.
"My number one Google product would have to be YouTube. I can easily understand why the service is so wildly popular. It's exceptionally engaging, providing people with access to entertainment and educational content to suit all tastes and backgrounds. Of even greater value is how empowering the platform is. It allows people to easily share their talents, insights, and useful ideas. Personally,I've spent many happy hours on YouTube learning new skills, discovering answers to questions I had, watching live event recording, and for pure entertainment.
If I could make an improvement to YouTube, I would make it easier for creators to get feedback from their audience on what content they would like to see. For example, I would make it possible for creators to display a poll for users to vote on topics they’d like the Channel to cover next."
If you need more ideas on which Google product you’d talk about, reflect on Google’s top 10 products for some inspiration.
#2 What makes you Googley?
This is fundamentally a cultural fit question. The interviewer is giving you the opportunity to demonstrate that you deeply understand Googleyness– one of the 4 attributes Google looks for.
They want to see that you can relate to the attributes on a personal level – so you’ll need to let your storytelling shine here. Pick an example from your past experience that demonstrates your ability to be proactive while putting your ego aside and maintaining a comfort with ambiguity.
#3 Who would you say Google’s main competitors are?
When asking this question, the interviewer is assessing how well you understand the marketplace that Google occupies. Which other businesses stand out in the same spaces that Google does? If you’re applying for a product-focused role such as product manager, where identifying growth opportunities is par for the course, this question can be particularly significant.
An answer to this question that makes you stand out will require a few components. Of course you’ll need to list the relevant Google competitors specific to the space you’re focusing on. Talking about what makes Google stand out from these competitors though will show that you get what makes Google services unique, what gives Google the edge. For example, you could talk about how Google’s capacity to integrate its offerings makes for a seamless cross-platform experience. This creates a feeling of ease and comfort using the services as part of your day to day life that competitors may not offer.
Google Interview Program: Get Interview Coaching from Former Googlers.
Take the guesswork out of interview preparation with the help of former Google hiring managers.
Over multiple hires and thousands of interviews, we’ve developed a program that has been shown to be effective in preparing you for interviews and increasing your chances of getting a job at Google. The content we’ve created gives you a huge advantage over other interviewees, but the real power comes from coaching. You are paired with a trained coach who has a background working directly with Google, and who can tailor the program to you and maximize your chances of success.
The bulk of the program is structured around helping you create, clarify and practice articulating your past experiences that will help you demonstrate your fit at Google and your suitability for the role based on the 4 hiring attributes: General cognitive ability,Leadership, Googleyness and Role-related knowledge.
- Google Careers
- More Google Interview Questions
- Alphabet’s Next Billion-Dollar Business: 12 Industries To Watch
- Google’s org and culture breakdown
- The Google hiring committee (rework)
- In the Plex – How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy
- How Google Works by Eric Schmidt, ex-Google CEO
Other Google related reads on Carrus:
- How to land an interview at Google
- The Google Interview Process
- Interview Insights from an ex-Google Software Engineer
- Top Tips on Nailing the Technical Interview from ex-Amazon & ex-Google Engineers
- How to Ace your Google Product Manager Interview from a PM Interview expert
- Insider Advice on Crafting Your Resume to Catch the Attention of Hiring Managers at Google, Apple, & Amazon
- The Pros & Cons of Being a Temp or Contractor at Google