THE GOOGLE INTERVIEW
Looking to land a job at Google but don’t know what the process looks like?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Detailed in this post is a look at the timeline of the interview process, preparation guidelines, and what's different or unique about Google's interview process as opposed to other tech companies.
(Keep scrolling FOR A FULL WRITEUP with DETAILS)
THE GOOGLE INTERVIEW explained
Google has a unique and somewhat lengthy interview process.
Because Google receives so many resumes over the course of the year, it’s important that your resume stands out as they won’t spend much time looking at it.
What adds to the lengthy interview process is the fact that each interviewee must be considered by the hiring committee. They’ll grade you on a scale of 1-4 based on their four principles: cognitive ability, leadership, role-related knowledge, and Googleyness.
We’ll now go through the interview process, preparation tips, and a deeper dive into what makes Google’s hiring process unique.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
updating your RESUME
Your resume needs to catch the attention of a Google recruiter in six seconds or less, and understandably so, considering they receive a couple million resumes over the course of a year. One of the most common reasons applicants don’t get an interview is due to poorly crafted resumes, so take some time to reflect on past accomplishments, and focus on the deliverables.
So what can you do to stand out?
A good formula to follow is, “Accomplished X, as measured by Y, by doing Z”. By following this, you keep your resume concise, clear, and metrics-driven which is something Google cares about deeply. Example:
If your resume states, “Decreased server query response time.” you should rephrase it as, “Decreased server query response time by 15 percent by restructuring our API.” This is much more concrete and demonstrates how you made a positive change.
If your resume passes the test and a recruiter finds a match, they’ll schedule a call to learn more about your skills and experience. It will be about a week before you hear from the recruiter.
Here is our guide on how to prepare for the coding interview with a 12-week plan.
CHOOSING YOUR LANGUAGE
Google doesn’t require that you do your interview in a specific language, but they do prefer either C++, Java, Python, Go, or C. When choosing your language be mindful that you are expected to know APIs, Object Oriented Design, how to test your code, as well as come up with corner cases and edge cases. Finally, pick your language and stick to it.
prescreen with a GOOGLE EMPLOYEE
First of all, download Google Hangouts on your phone as this will most likely be the medium Google uses to conduct the interview.
This first call will last between 45 and 60 minutes and will be with one Google employee (potential co-worker or manager) who will provide you with a coding question related to data structures and algorithms. Be prepared to write clean, rich, robust code that is around 20-30 lines, and don’t forget to communicate your thought process as that’s really what the interviewer wants to see. It’s extremely important to know that you’ll write this code in a Google Doc which is shared between you and the interviewer. Here are some useful tips for writing code in a Google Doc
Helpful insights for your coding interview:
Expect an open ended question (or a couple)
Example: How would you optimize this further?
Make sure you consider corner cases and edge cases
If you finish before the time ends, look for ways to optimize, follow it up with test cases, and find any bugs
If you get nervous or stuck, write what comes to mind and optimize later. Many of the questions can be solved with brute force (a common algorithm used in programming) and though it may be the least efficient way to come up with a solution, you will be guaranteed one, which then you can improve upon later.
Regardless of how you thought the interview went you must ask what the next steps are. Be prepared to wait a week or two before hearing back.
You’ll meet with 4-6 Google employees for about 45 minutes each. In general, Google is looking for those who excel in four categories: Cognitive ability, Leadership, Role-related knowledge, and Googleyness
Your interviews will have a heavy emphasis on coding, featuring mostly data structures and algorithms. Here is a list of the top 15 coding questions asked in a Google interview.
Note: For higher level candidates (five or more years experience) you can expect questions on system design.
Depending on where your on-site interview is, you’ll either have to work out problems on a whiteboard or you’ll be provided a Chromebook. Ask the recruiter beforehand what’s available so you can practice.
Data structures you should know:
Arrays, Linked Lists, Stacks, Queues, Trees, Graphs, Heaps, Hash sets, Hash maps
Algorithms you should know:
Breadth first search, Depth first search, Binary search, Quicksort, Mergesort, A*, Dynamic programming, Divide and conquer
THE OFFER / NO offer
Your interviewers will score you on a scale of 1-4 where 3 is the threshold of hire or no-hire. Your interviewers will then send their feedback to a hiring committee who will determine whether you’re hired or not.
It will most likely be several weeks before Google reaches back out to you with their decision. It doesn’t hurt to reach out to them to give them a friendly nudge if you think too much time has passed.
In the event that you don’t receive an offer, it’s common that you’ll have to wait six months before re-applying; however, if you receive an offer you’ll discuss things like salary, start date, etc.
Avoid waiting another 6 months to apply by checking out our 12-week guide on preparing for the coding interview
Coding in Google doc
For your first interview, Google will ask you to write your code in a Google Doc. Be prepared for this and make sure to keep an eye on auto-correct. Here is a great article that shows you how to set up Google Docs for a technical interview.
Google relies on a hiring committee to review each applicant as a way to remove biases.
Graded on a scale of 1-4
Each interviewer will grade you on a scale of 1-4 on the criteria mentioned below.
The four google hiring criteria
Your ability to solve problems. How you think about a problem is very important, so don’t forget to discuss your solutions as you’re writing them.
Are you willing to tackle a difficult problem and mobilize a team to solve it.
Do you have the technical expertise to drive impact today, but just as important, do you have the knowledge to grow and scale as the company does?
Are you comfortable with ambiguity, do you have a bias for action, team player, etc.
HOW TO BEST PREPARE FOR YOUR INTERVIEW
In our experience, it’s best not to try to memorize specific questions. There are no silver bullets.
The questions that companies ask are always changing, because companies of this size are always trying to stay ahead of the curve and try new things. The questions you face will also depend on the team and the hiring manager.
Instead, it’s best to work your way through the fundamentals so you understand the underlying concepts and can answer even new types of interview questions with confidence.
Need help preparing for the interview?
Check out the Definitive Interview Prep Roadmap,
written and reviewed by real hiring managers.