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Google Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Jul 17, 2014
All Interviews Received Offers

Getting an Interview  


Interview Experience  


Interview Difficulty  

Average Difficulty
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59 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Engineer Interview

Software Engineer
Mountain View, CA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 4 weeks - interviewed at Google in April 2014.

Interview Details – Direct onsite because I interviewed in the past and did well that time. From the time I sent my resume to interview day: 2 weeks. From interview day to offer over the phone: 2 weeks.

The syllabus for the interviews is very clear and simple:
1) Dynamic Programming
2) Super recursion (permutation, combination,...2^n, m^n, n!...etc. type of program. (NP hard, NP programs)
3) Probability related programs
4) Graphs: BFS/DFS are usually enough
5) All basic data structures from Arrays/Lists to circular queues, BSTs, Hash tables, B-Trees, and Red-Black trees, and all basic algorithms like sorting, binary search, median,...
6) Problem solving ability at a level similar to TopCoder Division 1, 250 points. If you can consistently solve these, then you are almost sure to get in with 2-weeks brush up.
7) Review all old interview questions in Glassdoor to get a feel. If you can solve 95% of them at home (including coding them up quickly and testing them out in a debugger + editor setup), you are in good shape.
8) Practice coding--write often and write a lot. If you can think of a solution, you should be able to code it easily...without much thought.
9) Very good to have for design interview: distributed systems knowledge and practical experience.
10) Good understanding of basic discrete math, computer architecture, basic math.
11) Coursera courses and assignments give a lot of what you need to know.
12) Note that all the above except the first 2 are useful in "real life" programming too!

Interview 1:
Graph related question and super recursion

Interview 2:
Design discussion involving a distributed system with writes/reads going on at different sites in parallel.

Interview 3:
Array and Tree related questions

Interview 4:
Designing a simple class to do something. Not hard, but not easy either. You need to know basic data structures very well to consider different designs and trade-offs.

Interview 5:
Dynamic programming,
Computer architecture and low level perf. enhancement question which requires knowledge of Trees, binary search, etc.

At the end, I wasn't tired and rather enjoyed the discussions. I think the key was long term preparation and time spent doing topcoder for several years (on and off as I enjoy solving the problems).

Conclusion: "It's not the best who win the race; it's the best prepared who win it."

Negotiation Details – You can and should negotiate politely. You are in a stronger position if you have another offer, but even otherwise, you should ask for more of every type of payment!

126 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Account Strategist Interview

Associate Account Strategist

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 5+ weeks - interviewed at Google in September 2013.

Interview Details – A little over 2 weeks after I submitted my application, I was contacted by a recruiter via e-mail. She asked if we could arrange a time to speak over the phone. We scheduled some time for later that week. During that initial phone screening we discussed my interest in the position, my current job, and established a deeper understanding of the role I was applying for.

After about 25 minutes, the recruiter said she'd like to arrange a time for me to speak with someone else who was actually in a similar position to the Associate Account Strategist role. A few days later, this call took place. There were a lot of situational questions.

- Tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge in the workplace
- How have you improved a certain process at work?
- Why Google?
- Tell me about a time when you spoke with a dissatisfied client and what did you do to appease them?
- Name 3 advantages of AdWords
- Have you ever improved the efficiency of a process/task at work?

Despite a lot of nerves, I got a call back and was asked to do an 'onsite' interview with 3 Googlers. I did this via a Google hangout since I was interviewing for a position in another country. Prior to the onsite interviews, the recruiter kindly walked me through how these interviews would be. She gave me lots of details including resources for how to prepare. They were right on point and helped to set a realistic expectation of what these interviews would entail.

The first interview was with the manager of the team. She asked questions about AdWords/Google products and my familiarity with role relevant skills like data analysis and client interaction. Example Questions:

-improvements you would make to your favourite Google product.
-Experence pulling and analysing data.

The second interview was with someone from another language team but in a similar role. She asked a lot of questions that started with, "Tell me about a time when..." or "Have you ever..." Example Questions:

- What accomplishment are you most proud of?
- A time when you took the initiative and led a project

Final interview was with someone else on the team I was applying for. He was friendly and asked situational questions as well as questions related to my personal interests. Example questions:

-What would you bring to the team?
-Why this particular position?
-How do you show creativity?

Overall, everyone I interviewed with was very professional and kind. I liked that everyone was polite, approachable but also to the point. I spent a lot of time preparing and used the following resources:

Glassdoor interview feedback
Google jobs website
Actual job posting description (read this many times so that I could have a firm understanding of the role)
Recruiter--Make sure to ask questions if you're unsure of anything. The lady I worked with was great about letting me know what to expect. It was incredibly helpful in planning on how to prepare.

Interview Question – If Google decided to charge g-mail users, how would you recommend implementing this? Would it be sustainable and what would be the advantages and disadvantages?   View Answers (4)

Negotiation Details – Their offer was firm, no negotiations.

23 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Engineer Interview

Software Engineer
Mountain View, CA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4 months - interviewed at Google in March 2014.

Interview Details – I was not looking to switch jobs, but I was contacted out of the blue by a recruiter on LinkedIn. I was happy with my job that I held with the same company since college graduation (10 years). However, I decided to give Google a shot. If anything it would probably teach me something about myself.

The recruiter set up a phone interview for roughly 1 month later. I apparently did well as the recruiter contacted me about 2 hours after the interview to say I passed. I was forwarded off to a recruiter in Mountain View that set up an on-site interview for about 1.5 months later. I'm sure the time frames here could have been quicker, but for each step I wanted time to study.

During the on-site interview, I met with 5 different engineers (4 where feedback was taken and 1 lunch interview). Each interview lasted between 45 minutes and 1 hour. I interviewed with members from 2 specific teams, the potential ones I would be joining if offered a position. Despite the fact the lunch interview was not supposed to count, I was told that the lunch interviewer was instrumental in getting me hired.

It took quite a long time after the on-site interview until I received an offer. It took 2 weeks to collect interview feedback and 1 week to get the go-ahead to put me through the hiring committee. It took 2 weeks to go through the hiring committee and an additional week to go through the executive committee. At that point I had an offer, but it took another day or two to negotiate the details. I initially wanted to decline the offer since I was leery of moving my family, but the recruiter gave me the weekend to think about it.

I verbally accepted after the weekend. It took another two days to choose a relocation package and 1 more day to receive a formal offer letter which I electronically signed.

I hope I made the right choice! I am worried that I took a step or two down in responsibility, but the compensation was a little bit better than what I was making even cost-of-living adjusted. If anything I'll have an interesting experience to talk about and Google on my resume.

Interview Question – However, I received 2 different dynamic programming problems which I didn't expect and I found to be quite difficult. 3 of the interviewers had me do whiteboard work but only 1 of them actually had me do any coding, which was a basic singly linked list type problem.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – I negotiated an additional $8K in base salary and an additional $5K signing bonus. Google would not budge on the RSU, though.

6 people found this helpful

Declined Offer

Positive Experience

Easy Interview

Software Engineer Interview

Software Engineer
Mountain View, CA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 6+ weeks - interviewed at Google in May 2014.

Interview Details – Timeline:
* Reached out to recruiter: day 0
* Call with recruiter: day 2
* In-person interview: day 15
* Calls with managers: days 28 - 32
* Three offer revisions: days 33 - 43

In-Person Interview:
A pretty standard affair with 5 45-minute inreviews and a lunch after the first 2. Most of the people seemed genuinly interested in the interview (save 1 person who seemed annoyed at having to do such a menial task) and were a lot of fun to talk to. I can't go into too much detail on the questions themselves (covered by NDA), but it's standard fare and if you know your stuff, you won't have any trouble.

How to Prepare:
Just brush up on your algorithm design (iterative/recursive algs, big-o, etc). It might be helpful to just read up on some really clever algorithms from your academic days since the thought processes for those can have a lot in common with algorithms you might be asked to design.

The people who interviewed me seemed intelligent and very happy to be working at Google. One surprising factor for me was that every single person answered "what's you favorite part of working at Google?" the same way: "the people".

Reason for Declining – I had a better offer from a competing company that was also a better culture fit for me. I took it.

5 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Software Engineer Interview

Software Engineer
San Francisco, CA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Google in June 2014.

Interview Details – I had three rounds of interview with Google within one mouth. I got the information 1 mouth before the interview, so I found some open judge website to solve some algorithm problem which I might encounter during the interview

Interview Questions

  • We took the interview through Google Hangouts and coded in a Google docs. In the first round of interview, the interviewer asked me: given a set of points in the plane, output all the set of points which are collineation.   View Answer
  • Given a array of numbers, output the array like this: a1 <= a2 >= a3 <= a4 >= a5...   View Answers (2)

Negotiation Details – The most important thing is communicating. Keep talking about what you are thinking.

3 people found this helpful

Declined Offer

Negative Experience

Average Interview

Senior Product Manager Interview

Senior Product Manager
Mountain View, CA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Google.

Interview Details – My interviews consisted of a phone screen and in person interview at the Googleplex

My phone screen consisted of a product design / brainstorming question which was a lot of fun. The interviewer was a new PM and very respectful.

I met with five PMs on campus. My reaction of the interview process is negative.

The good: Coordination was good. Recruiter was in touch throughout the process. The lunch interview was the highlight of my day.

The bad: The interview panel was not very diverse - in fact was largely white/male, former CS or Management Consulting background. Google's penchant for the tricksy interview questions is alive and well.

Most of my interviewers were arrogant (with two notable exceptions). However what gave me pause was the uniform response from all of the PMs on the panel that "PMs only focus on execution", "Engineers hold the power here at Google", "Engineers need PMs only when they need to launch products", "Engineers look down on PMs that only focus on the front-end". This was very unexpected from my (external) perception of Google.

Apart from the "pirates on a deserted island" set of questions, the rest of the questions were Product Design or Product Analytics focused. These were fun but I got the sense that they were going down a checklist without probing too deep. In fact, it almost seemed like they had made up their mind to reject anyone who doesn't fit a certain mold. I walked away very underwhelmed.

1. Engineers have come to you with a cool new feature. What ideas can you come up with that incorporate this feature?
2. Design an app around your interest. How will you take it to market? How will you evaluate success?
3. How will you launch Android Wear?
4. Brainstorm some unique ideas for a vending machine
5. Estimate the bandwidth needs for You Tube for one year

There were no technical or coding questions on my panel. Not sure if this means that Google has done away with the coding questions.

Interview Question – "On a scale of one to ten, how difficult was this question? "   Answer Question

Reason for Declining – Google's process is geared at identifying very junior PMs.

PMs on my panel seemed arrogant. The tidbit about being engineering led and only focusing on execution was very unexpected. There was also a candid observation shared that successful PMs at Google optimize for the short term rather than the long term. One of the PMs very arrogantly contrasted his startup experience and mentioned that he had never ever worked at a company where everyone was of a really high caliber - which is usually true of large companies.

Finally, given the makeup of the interview panel, I am not sure I would be very comfortable in a PM culture that is not diverse nor values different perspectives. I also did not walk away with a sense that they were particularly engaged or happy at Google.

1 person found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Engineer Interview

Software Engineer
Mountain View, CA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 6 weeks - interviewed at Google in June 2014.

Interview Details – Contacted by the recruiter, interview was scheduled around 3 weeks later. I had 2 back-to-back interviews, each for ~50 mins. I will not disclose the questions because I respect the NDA, but generally the Google interviewers like to start with a question and make it more and more difficult as the interview proceeds.
The first interviewer was not as friendly. In fact he was a little intimidating. The question that he asked, I hadn't even heard of it despite the fact that I always over-prepare, and in the first 2 mins I really thought I am gonna screw this up since I had no clue where to start from, but I anyways started and was surprised by my own performance. They are not looking for people who have crammed the code line by line and just write it perfectly. They are looking for people who can think and implement on the fly.
The second interviewer was pretty cool and when he asked the question, it was a piece of cake, but I was amazed to see how difficult he made it as the interview proceeded. At a couple of points, he even told me that he just expected a verbal solution since there was not much time left to write the code, but I told him I will write the code instead, which I did. Needless to say, he was very impressed by my enthusiasm all throughout the interview.
I was contacted by the recruiter in less than 4 business days that I qualified for the 2nd round, and after 3 weeks I had a host-matching interview with a team. I took the offer.
The best tip I ever got - Always review your code before you say 'I am done'. Walk through code, see that you have covered all the edge cases and say you are done when you are done.

Interview Question – None were easy, but won't disclose any because of the NDA.   Answer Question

Declined Offer

Neutral Experience

Legal Counsel Interview

Legal Counsel

I applied through other source and interviewed at Google.

Interview Details – Interview was very casual, based on contacts from working opposite each other on a transaction. I was negotiating against Google and was later invited to speak to Google about working there by the lead Google attorney on the transaction. When i was next in Palo Alto we met briefly at the Googleplex and then went to lunch in Palo Alto.

Interview Question – Nothing particularly tricky or unexpected, perhaps because the I was being recruited by the company.   Answer Question

Reason for Declining – At the time, the position available was not sufficiently senior.

Declined Offer

Neutral Experience

Software Development Engineer Interview

Software Development Engineer

Interviewed at Google

Interview Details – 1 Phone call screening interview to assist initial capabilities
1 Phone call screening interview to assist initial capabilitirs
1 Phone call screening interview to assist initial capabilitirs
2 Technical Interviews
1 HR recruiter
1 Managment

Interview Question – WHAT"S Kernal SOM algorith   View Answer

Reason for Declining – salary

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Software Engineer Interview

Software Engineer
Mountain View, CA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Google in October 2012.

Interview Details – I had my interview in late 2012. The first round was a 45 minutes phone interview. Then I was brought onsite to meet 5 interviewers. The questions consist of whiteboard coding, algorithms and design questions. The interviewers are all nice and professional. Some people care about bug-free coding. Got my offer about one week later.

Interview Question – some algorithm questions can be very hard, due to NDA I won't be able to share.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – I had offers from other companies (fb). Google beat their offers.

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