7 July, 2020
By Mike Simpson
Holy cow, right? (Yes I used that term in the early 90s, I admit it)
You know what makes that statistic even more intimidating; only about 0.2 percent of those applicants are hired. Now, that doesn’t mean you should panic. After all, 0.2 percent of 3 million is 6,000 people. That’s a ton of hiring. Plus, not every applicant is actually qualified. If you are, your odds are probably much better than that statistic shows.
Beating the odds isn’t something you’ll do by accident. You have to be ready to nail any interview question they throw at you. If you fail to impress, you’ll probably get passed by.
But you’re here, right? So, that means you don’t want to be complacent. You’re looking for an edge, and that’s a great thing. Without any further ado, come with us as we explore what it takes to stand out during your Google interview.
How to Answer Google Interview Questions
Before we dig into some examples, let’s take a moment to talk about how you should answer Google interview questions. After all, Google has a reputation for asking some strange ones, many of which felt more like brain teasers than real interview questions.
Do you feel adequately prepared to talk about how many golf balls it would take to fill up a school bus?
The mere idea of facing off against a question like that would rightfully leave any candidate nervous.
Now, some of the questions were deemed so difficult that the company eventually banned them (lucky for today’s candidates, we think). Plus, there is evidence that these bizarre hypotheticals don’t actually lead to better hiring, which may be why you don’t see as many of those tricks today.
So, that means you don’t have to worry, right? Well, no.
Even if you’re only going to face “normal” interview questions, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strategy. It’s also important to prepare, increasing the odds that you’ll impress during your Google interview.
Let’s start with the basics. If you want to stand out for all of the right reasons, research is your friend. Start by scouring over the Google job description. That way, you can learn the ins and outs of what the hiring manager needs to find, giving you all of the foundational tools you need to incorporate the right details into your answers.
Next, take it up a notch by reviewing the company’s mission and values statements. You’ll find out more about the organization’s mentality, priorities, perspective, and culture, and additional tidbits you can weave into your responses.
Finally, get on social media. Look at Google’s profiles for insights about recent accomplishments, and even do a quick news search for more details. If you can discuss a new achievement during an interview, there’s a decent chance you’ll impress.
Alright, now you have a ton of information, what do you do with it? Well, if you’re asked a straightforward interview question, it’s pretty easy. For example, if the hiring manager wants to know if you have a skill, start with a simple “yes” or “no.” With the former, add an overview of how you acquired or used the skill. With the latter, pivot by discussing your willingness to learn or any steps you’re taking to improve in that area. Done!
Okay, we know you’re wondering, how do you handle those tricky behavioral interview questions? Those don’t have “right” or “wrong” answers in most cases, so what do you do?
The key here is to adopt the right strategy. Take the STAR Method and then combine it with the Tailoring Method. Together, those let you create meaningful, engaging, relevant answers, increasing the odds that you’ll make a good impression during your interview.
Top 3 Google Interview Questions
Now, it’s important to note that the Google interview questions you face will vary depending on the position. They aren’t going to ask a software engineer the same set of questions they’ll use when hiring a recruiter.
However, certain questions are more common, applying to a range of niches. Here’s a look at the top three Google interview questions you may encounter:
1. What is your favorite Google product? What would you do to improve it?
This is a question that helps the hiring manager gauge your familiarity with Google’s offerings. Luckily, any Google product will do, as long as you can speak about it with enthusiasm and provide a relevant recommendation.
“My favorite Google product is YouTube. The platform itself is incredibly engaging, while also empowering for those who want to share their thoughts, talents, and tips. I’ve personally used it extensively to find answers to questions, gain new skills, or simply enjoy some entertainment.
As for how I would improve YouTube, I would create an option for refining what videos are recommended. For example, clicking on a single video on a new topic can cause a feed to get flooded, even if the person no longer has an interest in that topic. Implementing the ability to request that YouTube show a person less content that is similar to a particular video would potentially alleviate this problem.”
2. Who do you believe are Google’s main competitors? How does Google stand apart?
With this question, the hiring manager can determine whether you have a solid idea of which other companies dominate spaces where Google also sits. This can be especially relevant in product-oriented roles, including everything from product manager positions to software developer jobs, where finding opportunities to outshine other companies comes with the territory.
“Google has several main competitors, including Microsoft, Facebook, Netflix, Waze, and several others, depending on the specific space. One of the main differentiators is Google’s ability to integrate its services, creating a cohesive cross-platform experience. Additionally, Google has such a wide range of offerings. It promotes a degree of familiarity you don’t necessarily get with some of the competitors, making using the products and platforms feel like a natural part of daily life.”
3. How do you make sure that you are your colleagues remain accountable?
Accountability is critical in the eyes of every employer. Google wants to know that you’ll handle your tasks and hold yourself to a reasonable standard. Additionally, the hiring manager may favor candidates who can also help team members stay accountable, especially if group projects are the norm.
“For me, accountability is always a priority. One of the key steps I take is to track all of my deliverables and associated due dates. A list allows me to create notifications and block out time on my calendar as necessary, ensuring I can focus on the task and finish on time.
When a project is larger, I also use the mini-milestone approach. This creates an opportunity for me to examine each step along the way, making it easier to chart a course.
As far as when I’m working with my colleagues, I find that follow up is often effective. At times, this many involve scheduling team meetings to discuss our progress or transition work between coworkers, or simply reaching out to see if they are on target or if I can offer assistance.”
27 More Google Interview Questions
As mentioned above, Google hires professionals for a variety of departments. Not everyone is going to face the same questions, as some only make sense for specific roles.
Here are 27 more Google interview questions you might face, depending on the job you’re trying to land:
- Why do you want to work for Google?
- Tell me what you know about Google’s history.
- Do you think that using legal names when setting up a Gmail account should be mandatory?
- How do you think digital marketing will change in the next five years?
- If you needed to find a given integer in a circularly sorted array of integers, how would you go about it?
- Do you think Google should be charging for its productivity apps (Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc.)? Why or why not?
- Tell me something about yourself that you didn’t include on your resume.
- If an extremist video makes its way onto YouTube, how do you think it should be handled?
- Tell me about a time where you and a manager were in conflict. How did you ultimately resolve the problem?
- What is multithreaded programming?
- How would you describe Adwords to someone completely unfamiliar with the product and online advertising?
- If you were tasked with increasing Gmail’s user base, what steps would you take to make that happen?
- Describe a technical issue you once encountered. How did you solve it?
- Tell me about three non-Google sites that you visit frequently. What do you like about them?
- How do cookies pass along in HTTP protocol?
- Explain the function of congestion control in TCP protocol.
- If an advertiser wasn’t seeing the benefit of Adwords due to poor conversions, how would you convince them to stay on board?
- Pick an app on your phone’s home screen. What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it?
- What steps would you take to enhance YouTube’s business model?
- Describe a time where you failed at something. How did you recover?
- Why do you think that the Google search page is so mainly blank?
- How would you describe a balance sheet to someone who isn’t familiar with accounting principles?
- If you were working with a client who suddenly became hesitant about transitioning to a cloud solution, what steps would you take to put their minds at ease?
- What is the biggest threat Google faces today?
- If there was an autosuggest issue for searches in a developing country, what steps would you take to resolve it?
- Tell me about an area where you believe Google is underinvested.
- Describe a time when a project was being overwhelmed by scope creep. What steps did you take to get it back on target?
5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of a Google Interview
When you are finished answering Google interview questions, you typically get to ask a few yourself. This is a crucial opportunity. Not only will it ensure you can get details that may not have been covered, but it also lets you gauge whether the job is actually right for you.
If you don’t know what to ask, here are five good questions for the end of any Google interview:
- Is there anything about working for Google that surprised you when you first started?
- What is the biggest challenge that Google faces today? How does this role help address that challenge?
- What does a typical day look like in this role?
- How would you define success for this job?
- What do the most successful people in this position have in common?
Putting It All Together
Ultimately, it’s normal to be a bit nervous when you head into your Google interview. But if you use the tips above, you can arrive prepared. Then, your chances of shining go up dramatically.
Remember, you’re a great candidate. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have been invited in for an interview. So, take a deep breath, relax, and show the hiring manager that you are the best person for the job.
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Check out our other articles in our Company Specific Interview Series:
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