Google Interview Questions

Updated Sep 14, 2014
Updated Sep 14, 2014
3,167 Interview Reviews

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  1. 133 people found this helpful  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  Mountain View, CA
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Mountain View, CA
    Application Details

    I applied through an employee referral. 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!
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  2. 157 people found this helpful  

    Associate Account Strategist Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    I applied through an employee referral. 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 Questions
    • 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.
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  3. 30 people found this helpful  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  New York, NY
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in New York, NY
    Application Details

    I applied online. The process took 4 weeks - interviewed at Google in August 2014.

    Interview Details

    My interview and hiring process was extremely tiring but satisfactory. I dropped out of college and cancelled my plans to study in an university because I wasn't learning anything there. I studied and mastered computer science alone at home within 2 months. Although I am just 19, I decided to apply for Google and I wouldn't care if I got rejected really. I applied online and quite suprisingly; they replied back the next day to set-up an phone interview. They asked a few question and then told me "Alright, we'll call you again next week." And when they did that the next week, they invited me for an on-site interview. I met some interesting people there, and most of them were amazed due to the fact that I dropped out of college but had the abilities and in-depth knowledge of a Harvard-graduate software engineer, also because I am just 19. Some guy named Paul came to me and asked me a brain-teasing question about algorithms and I gave him back a cheesy, but informative answer and he told me "You're probably going to get accepted."

    During the on-site interview, they asked me long questions and gave me difficult tests/tasks on:
    1. Recursions
    2. Dynamic Programming
    3. Graphs
    4. Data Structures
    5. Problem-solving query test
    6. Array and Tree
    7. Computer architecture (binary search, low level enhancement...etc)

    They gave me some stuff related to graphs and recursion to build over, it was mind-boggling like hell. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I like challenges, and Google managed to give me those....a LOT of those.

    The interviewer's name was Caleb, and he said that I fulfill the criteria of a Google software engineer, and thus; they hired me immediately. Caleb was a fun person, I enjoyed being interviewed by him. He also said that I am the YOUNGEST software engineer in the history of Google, I felt really proud at that time. He gave me lots of compliments after the interview like "You're an exceptional person" - Google interviewers are extremely nice and respectful, you don't need to be nervous around them.

    Interview Questions
    • You dropped out of college, and you're just 19. Do you think you can handle Google at this age?   View Answers (2)
    Negotiation Details
    Tiring but satisfactory. I negotiated a $190,000 per-year salary and an $5k starter bonus.
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
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  5. 8 people found this helpful  

    Technical Program Manager Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  Kirkland, WA
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Kirkland, WA
    Application Details

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 6 weeks - interviewed at Google in August 2014.

    Interview Details

    I was contacted via email from an in-house Google recruiter working out of Mountain View. He was very interested in my breadth of experience and felt I'd be a strong fit for a technical program manager role in their Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) group.

    This process took a LONG time. To save space I'll just outline the timeline:

    Day 0 - recruiter email, I reply same day giving my availability to talk

    Day 1 - I have a 20 minute chat and recruiter asks me some classic computer science trivia.

    Day 2 - I have another 20 minute call with a different recruiter who specializes in the program management space. This again was a solid conversation. He seemed really pleased that I could gives the pros/cons of agile, and could cite numerous real world examples for successful and failed projects (15 years of experience will see all kinds of projects). So this ended well and the next step was a series of "real" phone screens.

    Day 16 - I had 2 separate 45 minute calls scheduled with a 15 minute break between. The initial recruiter had sent me some study suggestions in advance, which was really nice of him. So for the 2 weeks leading up I practiced various academic programming exercises. Stuff like implementing Hashmaps from scratch in java, various sorting algorithms, traversing trees and other tedious stuff I hadn't done since college.

    Tech interview: linux system internals. The questions started with easy stuff like run levels, permissions and some file system stuff that was a bit harder. Then we got into low level CPU/arch stuff involving context switching etc. We concluded with a java coding exercise, that I didn't ace, but I did get working before the time was up. Overall I'd say I scored a 75% or so. Not awesome, but for a TPM role I thought this proved I had a clue and could interact with engineers well.

    TPM interview: I can't even remember all the questions, but I was able to address each question with a real world example. The guy absolutely loved my anecdotes. He was very quiet and spent a lot of time typing, so I wasn't sure how we was receiving me until the end.

    Day 20 - Orig. recruiter contacts me and says TPM interview was "the best they had ever seen". Bad news was I didn't cut the mustard with the technical. However he said it wasn't fair to have asked me all those linux internal questions, and they would like to re-do the technical interview AGAIN with more of a traditional CS/programming focus. Well, I agreed because that was better than getting rejected outright.

    Day 34 - Technical phone interview part II. Audio quality was rough at first. Speaker phone in apparently an open environment, as I could overhear folks walking and talking. Interviewer had a strong eastern European accent, which I'm used to now, but it didn't help with the background noise, echos and other interference. I will say this interviewer was very encouraging and friendly. He never called me out for being a goof, he would say instead "is there a better way?".

    In hindsight my implementation was a little bit sloppy, but it functionally got the job done before the time was up. I felt I did better than the first time, so was content.

    Day 35 - Recruiter says he has sent all feedback to hiring manager(s) and will have feedback early next week.

    Day 38 - Recruiter calls me.

    I'm still the best technical program manager google has ever seen (tell that to by current boss), but even though I clearly know how to code and work through technical problems my coding is not of the rock star level they require. This is a little discouraging, as I'm interviewing for a role where I'm not programmer on a regular basis, though I would do design, architecture and code reviews.

    Then he dropped a weird suggestion - while I wasn't smart (my word), enough to work on the SRE team in Seattle, he suggested that there may be many other roles at the Mountain View, CA headquarters. Perhaps one of the various teams back at HQ had lower standards where I guy like me who didn't actually major in Computer Science would be accepted. I politely declined that, but asked to be contacted for future local positions.

    I realize this may sound like sour grapes (it could be a little), but I spent nearly 6 weeks JUST to get through the phone interview process. I also dislike the mixed messages along the way. I'm awesome, but there's a technical requirement that I absolutely must meet and that's there policy.

    Now I can empathize with excellent waitresses that don't get hired because they are attractive enough.

    Interview Questions
    • I had no brain teasers. No fluff like estimating the number of gas stations, round manhole covers, or grains of rice in China. They expect excellent CS fundamentals: algorithms, data structures and solid coding ability.   Answer Question
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview
  6. 6 people found this helpful  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  Mountain View, CA
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Mountain View, CA
    Application Details

    I applied through an employee referral - interviewed at Google in August 2014.

    Interview Details

    5 in-house technical interviews. 4 algo/coding and 1 design.

    - strtok implementation
    - given set of characters duplicates possible, and given dictionary (list of words). Find longest word from dictionary that can be made from given characters. How will you do it if '*' (matches one wild character) is also included?
    - Access card system design
    - Implement a stack with find_min api as well.
    - Given set of points, find line with max points on it.
    - utf-8 byte stream verification and character extraction.

    Interview Questions
    • Most difficult part is judging what interviewers want who don't talk that much and just keep on scrribling stuff down.   Answer Question
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    Visual Designer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  Mountain View, CA
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Mountain View, CA
    Application Details

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 3 months - interviewed at Google in June 2013.

    Interview Details

    A recruiter reached out to me in June to schedule a phone screening. A week or two went by and I had my first initial screening with the recruiter to determine if I had the basic necessary qualifications to handle the job. After i passed my screening I had to send in my portfolio to be screened by a committee. After another week, I was informed that I passed the portfolio screening and I was set up on a phone interview with a lead designer. After a week or so I was informed that I passed the phone interview, and the next step would be the design challenge. I was given a challenge that was limited to 3 hours of working time. I had to provide sketches, low-fidelity and high-fidelity mockups. I was told that a committee would review my work and the recruiter would get back with me on the results. After about 2 weeks the recruiter informed me that I had passed the review and would be coming onsite to interview. Score! It took about a week or so to set up the travel arrangements. My onsite interview consisted of a 1 hour panel interview, (4) 1-hour one-on-one interviews and 1 lunch interview. The people were very friendly and I received several compliments on my work. I thought I had it in the bag. The recruiter emailed me a few days after i returned home and told me I had scored high enough on the onsite interviews to have my things passed on the the hiring committee. If I am correct the hiring committee has never seen you, talked to you or viewed your work. The pass you on to the next committee based on your paper trail alone. About a week after the recruiter told me I would be getting reviewed by the hiring committee, she emailed me and said i didn't get the job. The recruiter was very vague on the reason. That's my google story...

    Interview Questions
    • How would you collect data (favorite authors, genres, etc) about book readers if it was their initial login to our google books app?   View Answer
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    I applied through a recruiter - interviewed at Google.

    Interview Details

    Contacted by HR at early July, asking whether I can have an phone interview in 3 weeks. Replied "not available until August". Contacted again in late July and scheduled a phone interview in late August.

    During the interview, I was asked to talk about my resume, including project and research experiences. Then asked to write a class to define a deck of cards, and write shuffle function for the cards.

    Interview Questions
    • was asked to write a class to define a deck of cards, and write shuffle function for the cards.   Answer Question
    No Offer
  9. 8 people found this helpful  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  Mountain View, CA
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Mountain View, CA
    Application Details

    I applied online. The process took 8+ weeks - interviewed at Google in July 2014.

    Interview Details

    Day 0 — I apply to seven different Software Engineer positions in the Bay Area simultaneously via their website.
    Day 0 — 38 minutes later, I receive an email from a Recruiter (call him R1), who's also an Engineering Manager (?). He asks when we can talk over the phone about "matching me up with the right opportunities at Google." I send a timestamp back.
    Day 2 — Phone call with R1, about ten minutes. He asks to tell him about myself, what my background is, what I'm interested in, why I want to work for Google, etc. He ends by telling me we'll set up a phone interview, which I intentionally schedule for a couple weeks later. (R1 asks me to choose a programming language for the interview, and mentions that he'll be sending me a syllabus to prepare.) Recruiting Coordinator 1 (RC1) emails me the details of the phone interview, which we confirm.
    Day 9 — Still no syllabus. I email R1. He sends me a verbatim excerpt from the Steve Yegge blog post you've already read.
    Day 15 — Phone interview day. 25 minutes into the schedule time slot, no call. I email RC1. Auto-reply: that account no longer exists. Great. I wait a bit longer. I give R1 a call; no answer, leave a voicemail. He replies within the hour, says he's sorry, asks for availability to reschedule. I reply.
    Day 23 — Phone interview finally rescheduled for day 28, by new Recruiting Coordinator (RC2).
    Day 28 — Phone interview, take two. Interviewer (a Software Engineer) asks me a little about myself, then moves on to the questions (I won't go into details, due to the NDA). About twenty minutes of basic Q&A about my language of choice (nothing remotely advanced). Then he asks me to describe (just out loud) the 'find' method of a common data structure. Then he modifies the problem definition slightly, and asks me how I would change the 'find' method. This seems fairly straightforward to me. He asks me to implement it in Java in a shared Google Doc. I do. I step through it with some examples. That's about it. I hang up: I think I nailed it.
    Day 36 — I email RC2 to check for any feedback. She defers to R1, who within minutes invites me on site to interview. I send my availabilities. I receive confirmation of my interview from RC2. I confirm, and send back two filled out forms (application + NDA; travel form).
    Day 37 — I make my travel arrangements through their travel agency. They pay for my flight, lodging for the night before and night after, rental car for the duration, transportation to the airport, and food for the duration. (I easily add two more days at my own expense.)
    Day 37 — R1 emails me to tell me he's leaving Google. R1 introduces R2 (not an engineer, this one).
    Day 38 — R2 emails introductions and asks when we can talk by phone.
    Day 42 — Introductory email from RC3, with two documents which are, again, verbatim excerpts of Steve Yegge's famous blog article.
    Day 43 — Phone call with R2, describes the on-site interview; nothing I didn't already know, except (fairly useless) one-line bios of my four interviewers. Eventually I start wondering why I'm seeing and hearing "Google/YouTube" when it used to be "Google," so I ask. I find out I'm apparently applying for YouTube now and no one bothered to tell me. R2 also tells me she won't be able to make it to greet me on the day of my interviews, so R3 (also not an engineer) will be replacing her.
    Day 54 — On-site interviews. I show up to the wrong lobby, having assumed there was only one. (Pro-tip: check your email from the Recruiting Coordinator for the exact building and address.) Luckily, I was early enough to make it to the right building on time. Interview, interview, lunch, interview, interview. No breaks at all between interviews. Interviewers either give you a blank expression with no feedback as you talk or else hold your hand all the way to the solution. No middle ground. Half the interviewers didn't seem to want to be there. Thought I did kind of okayish in three, badly in one. Very hard to tell over all, but I was pretty sure I wasn't getting an offer.
    Day 57 — Within three minutes of each other, emails from both R2 and R3, asking to talk over the phone. I sort out the disorganization, get a call from R3, and am informed I will not be moving on. The only feedback I can get is that my "coding" is lacking, which doesn't make much sense to me.
    Day 58 — On to other companies.
    (Day 73 — Still no reimbursement of expenses...)

    Interview Questions
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview
  10. 5 people found this helpful  

    Product Manager Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    I applied through a recruiter - interviewed at Google.

    Interview Details

    Phone Screen for Google Product Manager -

    The questions were:
    * Why Google?
    * Tell me about the most exciting project you've worked on in the past, and why it was the most exciting for you.
    * Design scenario: The alarm clock industry is really waning as of late. What could you do to curb this trend?

    Interview Questions
    • Design scenario: Let's say you have a tv remote with 3 buttons, mute, vol up, vol down. What would you expect to happen if a user hits vol up button when its muted? Talk through the scenarios and what the user is trying to do. What would you expect to happen if you hit vol down button when it's muted?   View Answer
    Accepted Offer
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Logistics Associate Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  Mountain View, CA
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Mountain View, CA
    Application Details

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 7+ weeks - interviewed at Google in July 2014.

    Interview Details

    I applied at the beginning of July 2014 specifically looking for a "startup" team within Google, and the entire process from submitting to signing took approximately 2 months. The process went smoothly from step to step, but it was quite a long and exhausting process compared to other interview processes I was going through, and I definitely considered accepting other offers since Google was moving relatively slowly compared to other smaller startups. I’m glad I held out in the end, as Google was my top choice. Looking back at the interview process timeline, Google recruiting was prompt in their communication with me about my status, often getting back to me within the same day that I’d made it on to the next step. However, between steps and scheduling next steps was where the time seemed to add up and cause the process to drag out. The salary the offered me was competitive, and I negotiated a bit just to see what would happen, and successfully increased both my base and stock options.

    App Submission: July 1st
    Conversation with Recruiter #1: July 2nd
    Recruiter #1 referral to Recruiter #2: July 7th
    Conversation with Recruiter #2: July 10th
    Phone Screen: July 14th
    Video Conference: July 15th
    Onsite: July 29th
    Hearing back about Onsite: August 5th
    Hiring Committee Submission: August 15th
    Offer: August 21st
    Signing: August 22nd

    All three parts of the interview- phone screen, video conference and onsite- involved hypothetical case situations, and I was definitely taken by surprise to have a case during the phone screen, so be prepared for that. My onsite consisted of three interviewers- the head of the group, a manager within the group, and a manager from another team- and they were a mix of hypothetical case questions, behavioral questions and questions about how I work with others in a team setting. Overall, most of the interviewers had a fairly warm interviewing style, but one person had a totally cold, poker-faced interviewing style, and it threw me off a ton, since I'm the kind of person that needs at least some facial feedback.

    The hiring committee step of the process was confusing to me- all hiring at Google goes through a centralized hiring committee, with hiring for each role category decided by a dedicated hiring committee. One is not officially extended an offer until the hiring committee approves the application, so even though the team I interviewed with verbally stated that they wanted me, I didn’t have an offer until 2.5 weeks later when the hiring committee approved me. After approval from the hiring committee, salary and compensation are then decided by a separate committee.

    Overall, I had a very positive interviewing experience and thought my recruiter did a great job keeping me in the loop and preparing me for each step of the interview process. It was unquestionably a long and exhausting process, and felt like jumping through repeated hoops, and I know it would have been pretty crushing for it to not work out after having been put through so much, but luckily it did for me.

    Interview Questions
    • I had hypothetical case questions in all three stages of my interview, and the questions were very tied to the actual content of the role. I wasn't expecting a case question in my phone screen, as I assumed it'd be entirely behavioral, so that caught me off guard. Otherwise, as others have mentioned, they seem to care more about how you think, rather than whether the answer is right the first time around. For example, during one of my onsite interviews, I was asked to come up with the requirements to automate a particular process, and the initial metric I based the requirements off of was not entirely accurate. The interviewer guided me by asking me different situations to get me to test the metric until I revised my thinking to a metric that more accurately measured the process. Through this experience, I got the impression that the interviewers wanted to see how agile I was in my thinking, and were constantly prodding me to see what sorts of answers I would produce.   Answer Question
    Negotiation Details
    I was able to negotiate- I just asked whether a relocation package was available, and ended up getting a higher base and more stocks in lieu of a relocation package, which worked out better for me in the end. I was advised by other Googlers that it's relatively difficult to negotiate base, but that there is more room to negotiate on stock options, but luckily I was able to adjust both.
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

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