Google Product Manager Interview Questions & Reviews
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Senior Product Manager Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
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.
Enterprise Product Manager Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through college or university and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Google in April 2010.
Interview Details – Has initial phone interview with HR. Scheduled a phone interview with a product manager in the Google NY office. The interviewer asked me general questions about my background and about how I think Google makes money from ads. I was also asked why I want the PM role (as I have a technical background). I was asked why I want to work at Google and which Google products are my favorite. I mentioned that I like the Google search engine. Overall I got the impression that Google gets many applicants and they are really looking for candidates with MBAs and exceptional backgrounds for their PM roles.
Interview Question – Why don't you use Google Scholar for searching for publications? Answer Question
Reason for Declining – Personal reasons - did not want to relocate to NY.
Very Difficult Interview
Associate Product Manager Interview (Positive Experience; Very Difficult Interview)
The process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Google.
Interview Details – Overall, I thought that the HR department at Google was very helpful and easy to work with. However, it seems that for APM they are still using Fermi Questions. Overall, I was not happy with my performance on the interview, but much of that has to do with not knowing what to prepare in the first place. It didn't seem like going over technical skills helped at all. The first round was a Fermi Question (below) and other questions like
Interview Question – If scientists said that phone batteries could not get any better. What would you do to make a better phone experience? View Answers (2)
Product Manager Interview (Neutral Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Google in May 2014.
Interview Details – One guy was literally yawning all the time at around 11AM, which is very unprofessional. I was like, dude, doesn't Google serve coffee or sth?
I won't share specific interviews questions (I don't think they actually help much), but I will share some of my observations (which may not be 100% true):
1) Google seems to maintain a pool of interview questions. I was asked 2 of the same questions listed on glassdoor. But sometimes the interviewer just make up questions on the fly.
2) On-site consists of 5 rounds, 3 peer PMs + 1 PM director + 1 engineer, you'll have lunch w/ a lunch buddy after the first 3 peer PMs (food is actually so so). Meanwhile, your recruiter will gather quick feedback and make a snap judgement about whether to proceed w/ the PM director and engineer. If you don't make it to the after-lunch session, it is a ding for sure.
3) You need at least one 'strong hire' recommendation from the 5 rounds. It is not unusual for someone to get 5 'hire' recommendation but get dinged. So try very hard to really impress one interviewer.
Interview Question – Design app stuff. I was killed by 2 of those questions. Answer Question
Product Manager Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Google in September 2013.
Interview Details – Standard Process. A phone screen by recruiter followed by phone screen with a couple of product managers. After that got an invite to come onsite. Had 5 gruelling interviews ( 3 PMs, 1 behavioral with a Director of PM, 1 engineer ). They get you to lunch with one of the PMs and the lunch is fairly casual which gives you a glimpse of the famous 'free google food' Those candidates will succeed who practice and stick to an enterpreneurial mindset day in and day out. Its not something that you practice, prepare and acquire overnight or even in a few months. This was my second shot, I felt optimistic but unfortunately i did not make it.
1) concept to design - how would you build X for Y kind of people?
2) Strategic - what would you do if u were the CEO of X?What is the next big thing that you would design for XYZ company?
3) Sizing/estimation/consulting case type questions - if you build xyz product what is the market size like and how much? key here is to make assumptions, think details and incorporate them..
4) Puzzles - i got a couple of them....imagine u are on an island and....or u hav a billion numbers and...
5) behavioral - i did not encounter them when i interviewed at google a few years back...seems like Google is changing its approach towards a more rounded up interview process
6) engineering/CS - this does require a solid CS Foundation...didn't help that it came towards the end of a long and tiring day...last time around i also got Big( O ) estimation problems thrown at me..
1. Use the whiteboard to articulate and frame your thoughts and go through the problem solving process...what you should be thinking of is to come up with a framework for the answer instead of jumping rightaway to a nice well rounded andswer..google wants to see your framework not your final answer....
also my big takeaway from the interview (even though i didnt get the job) was this framework building process could be used beyond this interview even in my day to day work with great results
2. Have a 'recursive approach' - which means when given a problem with which you are absolutely stumped, try to think of the simplest 'base' case...scale it slightly...observe the pattern and come up with an insight...if you have 7 bullets in a gun kinda problem try to think of it in terms of 1-2 bullets in a gun scale...figure out the pattern for the smaller problem and that is the key to the larger problem as well...
3. be creative, think about the status qou and whats wrong and what you would like to change..whether its google's products or a competitors...
4. Keep your calm...this is the most most important of all...remember to simply slow down since your heart rate will be 2x the normal...
At all times, Google's followup was very professional...u will learn of how you fared in 1 or 2 weeks and the recruiter was exceptionally considerate in reaching out to me at intervals and letting me know where the process was...a far cry from some of the other behemoths in the valley who do not even bother to acknowledge your onsite visit to them....
Product Manager Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through college or university - interviewed at Google in May 2013.
Interview Details – I initially applied online for an interview for a product manager position. my profile later got selected and I was asked to provide time for 2 phone interviews with senior. the process later included an onsite interview with a group panel.
Interview Question – Come up with a new product idea that is suitable and doable by google. Answer Question
Product Manager Interview (Neutral Experience)
Interviewed at Google
Interview Details – Recruiting was professional, and most of the interviewers were asking questions that were good at delving into one's competencies. Unfortunately, All it takes is to have one bad interviewer to screw up your job prospect.
Interview Question – How would you design a dictionary lookup for Scrabble? Answer Question
Product Manager Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Google.
Interview Details – Contacted by recruiter through LinkedIn. Phone screen scheduled with recruiter about a week later where we covered my work history, and discussed particular areas of Google that might be of interest. Scheduled a phone interview that occurred about 2 weeks later. During phone interview we covered my background and work history, then was asked two questions. First was estimating, second was brainstorming for NPD.
Interview Question – Estimate the required bandwidth for a college campus. Answer Question
Product Manager Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2+ weeks - interviewed at Google in April 2014.
Interview Details – Was introduced to a few positions through a friend that works at Google. Was contacted by HR to schedule a phone interview. Interviewer called a few minutes late and we started the interview right away. He was a PM from China, working at Google for 4 years already. He asked me what Google three google products do i like. When i said one of them was gmail, he asked me to say what i like about it. Then, when i said the free aspect and the large storage amount, he asked me how can i estimate the amount of gmail users in the world. Further questions were on which features would i add to gmail.
Interview Question – Nothing much, they just want to see how your way of thinking is Answer Question
Product Manager Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Google in March 2014.
Interview Details – This review is in regards to my second phone interview for the product manager position. I uploaded my review for the first phone interview on March 19, 2014 if you would like to see that one as well.
I was contacted by the recruiter saying my first interviewer thought I would be good for the role, but was unable to determine my level of product creativity. So we set up a second interview with another PM. It was not your typical Google interview. He only asked me two questions.
1. Tell me about a product/project you managed that you feel most represents your skill set as a PM.
2. If you were to come on as a PM at Google what would your process be for determining what lies ahead and needs to be accomplished (My answer focused on acquiring insights from my engineering team, having discussion with subject matter experts, and using Google's extensive amount of data to create actionable metrics).
I've been invited to Mountain View for the in person interviews in the upcoming weeks. I'll keep you posted on how those interviews are.
Interview Question – He led off the interview by asking me what questions I had for him. I was caught slightly off guard as I was expecting to be put through ringer. In my previous interview there had only been time for two of my questions, so I didn't have that many prepared. In this particular interview about 30-40 minutes of the hour long interview was devoted to questions I had for him, so I had to come up with a lot of them on the fly. I believe he was also assessing my Product Management knowledge based upon the kinds of questions I was asking. View Answer
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