Google Interview Questions & Process

Technical, sales and product manager questions.

Google Overview

Website: www.google.com
Size: 10,000+ employees
Revenue: £5 to £10 billion (GBP) per year
Headquarters: Mountain View, CA, United States
Founded: 1998
Industry: Information Technology
Competitors: Microsoft, Apple, Facebook

Company Overall Rating: 4.4/5
Recommend to a friend: 91%
Benefits: 4.2/5

Google Interview

Interview Experience
Positive: 58%
Neutral: 24%
Negative: 16%

Getting an Interview
Applied Online: 36%
Employee Referral: 25%
Recruiter: 24%

Interview Difficulty
3.4/5 (Average)

Interview Questions

Technical

  1. What is your favourite programming language and what you don’t like about it?
  2. What percentage of a day do you spend programming
  3. What kind of software are you interested in developing
  4. What was the hardest bug to solve in a project that you’ve worked on?
  5. What is the derivative of 1/x?
  6. Describe how Dijkstra’s algorithm works
  7. How would you build a product like YouTube?
  8. Give an approximation of 2 power 26
  9. Tell me everything you know about hash-tables.
  10. What is the use of the hashCode() method in Java?
  11. Explain Linux virtual memory
  12. Imagine you were creating a search engine for events, how would you go about it?
  13. How would you create an algorithm to verify whether a number is prime or not
  14. How would you reverse just the vowels in a string?
  15. How does the Traceroute network diagnostic tool work?
  16. What is the kernel call to get the inode information of a file?
  17. How would you implement a thread-safe LRU cache?
  18. How would you go about generating a random sequence of numbers for the lottery?
  19. How could an internet client/server structure work?
  20. How would you find the longest substring which contains only two unique characters

Sales / Product Manager

  1. Why are you applying to Google?
  2. What’s your biggest achievement to date
  3. How would you describe yourself
  4. What do you know about the role?
  5. Why are you interested in leaving your current role?
  6. What is an exciting product you worked on recently
  7. What is your favourite Google Product, and how would you improve it?
  8. Estimate how many cities there in Europe?
  9. How many calories are in your local grocery store?
  10. Roughly how many spoken languages exist in the world?
  11. How many people are connected to the internet right now?
  12. Explain AdWords to a 4 year old child
  13. Explain how Google fits into Alphabet
  14. Tell me of a time when you dealt with a difficult customer?
  15. Why would you pick Google over Microsoft or Apple?
  16. What would you do if your co-worker was constantly rude to their client over the phone?
  17. Describe a tough situation you had with a client or colleague
  18. What would happen if we charged everyone to use Google Maps?
  19. What is your favourite app and why? How would you improve or monetize it?
  20. Are you willing to spend 2 months in another country being trained?

These interview questions were asked in real job interviews. Make sure you can answer the majority of these questions before your interview. (Note: questions taken from Glassdoor)

How the Interview Process Works

Phone/Hangout interviews

For software engineering roles, your phone/Hangout discussion will last between 30 and 60 minutes. When answering coding questions, you’ll talk through your thought process while writing code in a Google Doc that you’ll share with your interviewer. Google recommend using a hands-free headset or speakerphone so you can type freely.

For all other roles, your phone/Hangout discussion will last between 30 and 45 minutes. Be prepared for behavioural, hypothetical, or case-based questions that cover your role-related knowledge.

Onsite Interviews

You’ll usually meet with four Googlers – some potential teammates and some cross-functional. You will meet each for about 30 to 45 minutes.

For software engineering candidates, Google want to understand your coding skills and technical areas of expertise, including tools or programming languages and general knowledge on topics like data structures and algorithms. There’s generally some back and forth in these discussions, just like there is on the job, because Google like to push each other’s thinking and learn about different approaches. So be prepared to talk through your solutions in depth. Push your own boundaries and find the best answer—that’s probably how you work anyway.

For candidates outside of engineering, you’ll have the chance to highlight strengths in four different areas:

  • General cognitive ability: Google ask open-ended questions to learn how you approach and solve problems. And there’s no one right answer – your ability to explain your thought process and how you use data to inform decisions is what’s most important.
  • Leadership: Be prepared to discuss how you have used your communication and decision-making skills to mobilise others. This might be by stepping up to a leadership role at work or with an organisation, or by helping a team succeed even when you weren’t officially the leader.
  • Role-related knowledge: Google are interested in how your individual strengths combine with your experience to drive impact. Google don’t just look for how you can contribute today, but how you can grow into different roles—including ones that haven’t even been invented yet.
  • Googleyness: Share how you work individually and on a team, how you help others, how you navigate ambiguity, and how you push yourself to grow outside of your comfort zone.

Throughout the interview process, feel free to ask your interviewers for clarification to make sure you fully understand their questions. Ask questions – about the work, about the team, about the culture – that will help you decide whether the job will be right for you. Read this article ‘From a Googler: the interview process‘ for an honest opinion of the Google recruitment process.

How to Prepare

Interviews for all Roles

  • Predict the future: You can anticipate 90% of the interview questions you’re going to get. “Why do you want this job?” “What’s a tough problem you’ve solved?” If you can’t think of any, Google “most common interview questions.” Write down the top 20 questions you think you’ll get.
  • Plan: For every question on your list, write down your answer. That will help them stick in your brain, which is important because you want your answers to be automatic.
  • Have a backup plan: Actually, for every question, write down THREE answers. Why three? You need to have a different, equally good answer for every question because the first interviewer might not like your story. You want the next interviewer to hear a different story and become your advocate.
  • Be data-driven: Every question should be answered with a story that demonstrates you can do what you’re being asked about. “How do you lead?” should be answered with “I’m a collaborative/decisive/whatever leader. Let me tell you about the time I … ”
  • Practice: Everyone gets better with practice. Practice your interview answers – out loud – until you can tell each story clearly and concisely.

Few last things you will want to know

  • What to wear: For most Google interviews, the dress code is casual, but your recruiter will let you know what’s most appropriate. When in doubt, be yourself and wear what makes you comfortable.
  • How to structure your interview answers: When answering questions, it’s important to show how you arrive at a solution, so think out loud.
  • Helpful questions to think about as you prepare: How do you work best, as an individual and as part of a team? What challenges have you faced at school or at work and how did you work through them? Which of your skills or experiences would be assets in the role and why?
  • Ask your interviewers for clarification if you don’t understand a question and feel free to take the time you need with responses.

Additional Material

Further Google Interview Questions

  • Careercup – mostly technical questions with several hundred to look through
  • MIT – programming interview questions
  • Glassdoor – thousands of questions to review, for all types of job