There isn’t a single person we know that wouldn't want to work for Google. I mean its Google! Most people don’t even get a chance to interview with them and now… you do. How do you even begin to prepare for one of the most important (if not the most important) interviews you will ever have in your lifetime?
We have determined the following findings based on the feedback of over 70 Google Product Managers and Product Manager candidates that have interviewed for a Product Manager role at Google. For your benefit, we have broken down our findings into 3 sections.
The first thing we recommend is reviewing tech blogs, such as Stratechery. This is something that you can do right now whether you have an interview scheduled with Google or not.
There are 6 major components to the Google Product Manager (PM) interview:
Google Product Managers put users first. Product Managers are obsessed with providing the best user experiences. Think about all of the Google Products you use and take for granted. Now imagine life without them. At Google, this process begins with customer empathy and a passion for products, down to the most acute details. A wireframe can be sketched just to convey an idea to a designer.
Google Product Managers are fluent in the language of numbers to define the right metrics. Google Product Managers make their point by communicating their analysis. They can decipher and make decisions from A/B test results, go so far as to writing SQL queries, and even running scripts to extract data from logs.
In essence, they don't mind getting their hands dirty and doing whatever is required to prove their point.
Prepare for estimation questions such as How many queries per second does Gmail get?
Get well-versed in product launch metrics and A/B testing, including interpretation of results.
Google Product Managers are business leaders. As a result, they must be familiar with business issues. It's not necessary for Google Product Managers to have business experience or formal business training. However, they do expect you to pick up business intuition and judgment quickly.
If you were Google's CEO, would you be concerned about Microsoft?
Should Google offer a StubHub competitor? That is, sell sports, concert, and theater tickets?
Use a framework to structure your strategy discussions If you're not familiar with strategy or frameworks, Porter's Five Forces is a good start.
Google Product Managers lead and influence effectively, have a bias for action, and get things done. Many Google Product Managers go on to become the CEOs of their own company, as well as other companies.
Having said that, being smart isn’t enough; YOU HAVE TO FIT IN WITH THIS CROWD. Google prides itself on their ability to get things done as an organization. This is one of the most difficult criteria to fulfill and one of the reasons why Google is so cool to work at. You are going to have to show that you are smart enough to hang with the best of the best and fit in with the rest. It's a balancing act, but absolutely necessary to weed out all the people that Google DOES NOT WANT.
Google Product Managers lead product development teams. Leading effectively means Product Managers have influence and credibility with engineers. At the final round (aka onsite) interview, a senior member of the engineering team will evaluate your technical competence Be prepared for whiteboard coding questions at the onsite interview.
Write an algorithm that detects meeting conflicts.
Coding questions are unlikely during the phone interviews, but if you are invited to an on-site interview, you must prepare for programming interviews. The technical interviewer does not expect your programming syntax to be perfect, but you should have sufficient mastery of technical concepts so that you can participate in technical discussions and help make technical trade-offs. I would recommend going over computer science fundamentals and practicing a couple coding questions.
One of my favorite resources is How to Ace the Software Engineering Interview Also be prepared to describe key technologies including search engines, machine learning, and MapReduce.
Be prepared for behavioral interview questions such as Tell me a time when you had to influence engineering to build a particular feature. Google Product Manager interviewers are relying more on behavioral interview questions in recent months.
Brain teasers, such as logic puzzles, are rarely used in today's Google Product Manager interviews. Google's HR department found a low correlation between job performance and a candidate's ability to solve brain teasers.
I roll two dice. What is the probability that the 2nd number is greater than the 1st?
What's 27 x 27 without using a calculator or paper?
However, hypothetical questions have not been banned at all. Hypothetical questions are imaginary situations that ARE related to the job. (This is in contrast with brain teasers, which ARE NOT related to the job.) Examples of hypothetical questions include How would you design an algorithm to source data from the USDA and display on Google nutrition?
The following are questions that may contain more than 1 of the 6 criteria that Google looks for. Be prepared to answer them, if you aim to work there. We wish good fortune on your journey to becoming a Product Manager with Google. If it was easy everybody would work there, which would defeat the purpose of you wanting to work at Google in the first place.
If you are interested in learning how to craft the best answers for these questions, please schedule a call with us here. We look forward to helping make the transition.
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