2 million. That's how many people apply to work at Google—every year. They have the luxury of being highly selective across all teams and roles, especially when applicants stem from other top technology companies like Tesla, Microsoft, and Facebook, as well as graduates from prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT.
But before you get too discouraged, we're taking the mystery out of Google's hiring process and showing you the journey from being one of the two million annual applicants to becoming a proud Google staffer. It's like finding the treasure map to Silicon Valley.
The specifics of Google's hiring process may vary depending on the role or team you're eyeing—whether it's a tech wizard, a marketing maestro, an intern on a mission, or even a future leader. Nevertheless, certain universal principles apply, much like the laws of physics, making it essential to understand what lies ahead.
1. Assessments: Once you've submitted your resume, be prepared to tackle a brief online assessment, including a coding quiz, to evaluate your skills further.
2. Short Virtual Chats: Before diving into more in-depth interviews, you'll typically engage in one or two shorter phone or video conversations. These initial chats usually involve a recruiter and discussions with the hiring manager or a team peer. They aim to assess essential skills related to the role.
3. Project Work: In certain cases, Google may request candidates to complete a small project before the in-depth interviews. This could involve preparing a case study or providing writing or code samples. Rest assured, Google won't spring this task on you without prior notice. These projects help Google gain insights into your problem-solving approach and thought process.
4. Interviews: Google places great importance on interviews because they believe their employees shape the company. While Google's interview process can be challenging, involving 3 to 4 interviews in one day (either over video or in person), it's also designed to be friendly and welcoming.
In Google's interviews, they follow these guiding principles:
Two million isn't a small number, and unfortunately, as we mentioned, that's how many people you'll be going against. We're going to show you how to maximize your chances of securing a position at Google. Yeah, we're even going to give you an insider's guide on interview questions, but first, let's talk about networking.
Your best shot at Google is often through a referral from someone in your network. Start by scanning your contacts, ideally on LinkedIn, where you can see their current and past employers. Identify those with current or previous connections to Google.
When reaching out to someone you haven't spoken to in a while, start with a small request or question, like seeking advice: "Hi [Name], I noticed you recently joined Google. Congratulations on your new role! I'm considering a job search myself. Do you have any insights or tips on catching Google's attention?"
Once you secure an interview with Google, preparation is key. Use the STAR system (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses to behavioral questions. Have four to five work scenarios ready that demonstrate your conflict resolution, ethical decision-making, teamwork, and more.
Take time to think about your answers during the interview, as a well-considered response is more valuable than a hasty one. Google values creativity, collaboration, and diverse perspectives, so be ready to showcase these qualities throughout the process.
What is your favorite Google product? What would you do to improve it?
Gmail, Pixel, FitBit, or any product will do. Just make sure to speak enthusiastically and provide specific reasons why it's your favorite. Google wants to make sure you're familiar with their products.
Who do you believe are Google's main competitors? How does Google stand apart?
No matter what industry you enter, it's important to be aware of your competition, especially if you're applying for a product-oriented role. This is your chance to prove that you've done your preparation and share your ideas.
Why do you want to work for Google?
Spoiler alert: "The pay is great" is not the answer they're looking for. Expand on your passion for Google's mission, such as organizing the world's information or making technology accessible to everyone. Mention specific Google products or initiatives that excite you and align with your career goals. Don't be afraid to sell yourself a bit; describe how your skills and experiences make you an ideal fit for Google's dynamic and innovative work culture.
Tell me what you know about Google's history.
Do you actually care about Google, or do you want to work for a major tech company? While their perks are major, it's important that Google feels like you align with their values. Highlight Google's corporate culture, including its commitment to employee well-being and innovation. Show that this wasn't just a spur-the-moment application—delve into Google's journey, mentioning key products like Google Search, AdWords, and Android and how they revolutionized their respective markets.
Should using legal names when setting up a Gmail account be mandatory?
Nothing's black and white, especially in the workplace. Google wants to make sure you're able to play devil's advocate. Start by discussing both the potential pros and cons of mandatory legal names, including privacy, security, and user experience. Then, end by finding a solution, such as enhancing identity verification without relying solely on legal names.
How do you think digital marketing will change in the next five years?
Don't worry; Google doesn't expect you to have some crystal ball, but they want to see that you're up-to-date with industry knowledge and can think strategically about the future. Provide specific examples of emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, or augmented reality that will impact digital marketing and consumer preferences and will shape the industry. Explain how Google's existing strengths can be leveraged to stay ahead in this evolving landscape.
Do you think Google should be charging for its productivity apps (Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc.)?
Google may ask this to evaluate your business insight, creativity, and understanding of software monetization. Explore various monetization strategies, such as freemium models, enterprise offerings, or partnerships. Highlight Google's unique position and how it can provide value to users and generate revenue simultaneously, and don't be afraid to mention the competitive landscape.
Tell me something about yourself that you didn't include on your resume.
Think of this question like a cover letter designed to help you learn more about your personality and interests beyond your professional qualifications. After all, recruiters don't just want someone who can do the job but someone people also enjoy working with. Share a personal anecdote that showcases a relevant soft skill or character trait, like adaptability, resilience, or creativity. Remember, this is still a job interview, so tie it back by explaining how this aspect of your personality positively influences your professional life.
How would you describe AdWords to someone unfamiliar with the product and online advertising?
For a company based on helping to provide answers, it makes sense that they assess your communication skills and ability to simplify complex concepts. Use simple language and relatable examples to illustrate how AdWords connects businesses with potential customers through online ads. Emphasize the benefits for advertisers, such as reaching a targeted audience and tracking ad performance.
If you were tasked with increasing Gmail's user base, what steps would you take to make that happen?
Like most companies, especially ones as large as Google, they want to make sure you are not only familiar with their product but also able to improve it. Use this answer as a way to show your problem-solving skills. Develop a comprehensive user acquisition strategy, considering channels like social media, email marketing, and partnerships. You can suggest product enhancements like improved user interface, integration with other Google services, or additional features and support those by
mentioning data-driven decision-making and A/B testing to refine your approach over time.
Tell me about three non-Google sites that you visit frequently. What do you like about them?
Interviewers aren't just curious about your search history; they want to look into your online habits, interests, and ability to analyze and appreciate different websites. When discussing the sites, explain what makes them compelling to you, whether content quality, user experience, or community engagement. Bonus points if you can connect your preferences to your skills or interests relevant to the position you're applying for.
What steps would you take to enhance YouTube's business model?
In a company where innovation is at the forefront, its employees must have those same skills. This is your chance to highlight your ability to think strategically and identify growth opportunities. Discuss ways to improve content discovery, user engagement, and creator support and share ideas for potential revenue streams, such as original content production, subscription services, or expanding advertising options.
Describe a time when you failed at something. How did you recover?
Most employers want to see that you're self-aware, especially Google
Share a specific example, including the context, your role, and the challenges you faced. Make sure to emphasize how you took responsibility for the failure, analyzed the root causes, and developed a plan to rectify the situation. Share your lessons and how they contributed to your personal and professional growth.
Cracking the Google interview code may seem challenging, but it's an achievable goal with the right approach. With preparation, perseverance, and a passion for Google's mission, you can increase your chances of joining the ranks of Googlers who shape the future of technology.