Google
4.2 of 5 2,282 reviews
www.google.com Mountain View, CA 5000+ Employees

Google Senior Software Engineer Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Jun 24, 2014
All Interviews Received Offers

Getting the Interview 

54%
34%
10%

Interview Experience 

47%
22%
29%

Interview Difficulty 

Average Difficulty
46 candidate interviews Back to all interview questions
Relevance Date Difficulty
in

No Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer
Boulder, CO

I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Google in May 2010.

Interview Details – I submitted a resume online to Google/Sketchup Boulder office on Pearl Street. I did an initial phone screening discussing past work history and some development and programming questions that were somewhat perfunctory.
I came for in in person interview. The office is a very stylish loft above retail on Pearl Street, basically the startup with too much money dream-office. Huge double monitors, fast workstations, slack dress code, unused foosball table etc... Lunch was catered in daily apparently from a posh catering company and the food was excellent.
I interviewed with one of the sketchup founders who clearly thought very highly of himself.
The position was for implementing extensions to the javascript interpreter scripting engine for sketchup.

Interview Question – Given a large data set that essentially consumes all working memory, what kind of sort would one implement.
Now add the condition that the elements are alphanumeric and same length.
  View Answer

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response

No Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer
Mountain View, CA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Google in January 2014.

Interview Details – I was contacted through linkedin by a recruiter and after giving them a few references from friends who work at google, i was able to bypass phone screen. My friends said they received a form that they filled out. But even than, I was passed around to at least 4 different recruiters by the time I was actually onsite. I was interviewed by 6 people, plus the lunch person that had no say on the process. 3 of the interviewers asked me to code on a white board, and 3 did not. I thought that was odd, I had expected all of them to ask me to code. I made a mistake of making google my first interview in 7 years so I made silly errors. Overall it wasn't as dreadful as others described it.

Interview Question – Nothing unexpected, the recruiters sent materials to review. Definitely go through sample problems from CTCI book and Elements of Programming Interviews. C++ and Java works best for these questions. Actually, C++ works the best since Java can be very verbose at times.   Answer Question

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer
Mountain View, CA

I applied through an employee referral and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Google.

Interview Details – Was very quick as I already had another competing offer from Microsoft.
Interview was scheduled as soon as I sent my resume through employee referral. And got the offer letter very fast.

Interview Question – Log structured file system synchronization design.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – Did not negotiate

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response

No Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer
Cambridge, MA

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

Interview Details – In one word, long. Had just resent resume when I was contacted by them from a resume sent three years prior. After going through three different HR people, was finally put in touch with local HR person who setup a phone screen, including a virtual white board. At some point along the way was told of an six week period before an offer was made if everything went smoothly. After making it through phone screen, attending an in-house interview coaching session, and getting past the first round of in-person interviews, I was then told the six week period started. I didn't have the luxury of waiting that long, if an offer was even to be forthcoming. And, I wasn't even interviewing for a specific job.

Interview Questions

  • How would you go about checking if a grid of letters had Boggle-style words in there via connected letters, length, etc.   View Answer
  • Given a series of heights describing building start and end points, how would you draw the horizon.   Answer Question

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response

1 person found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer

I applied online and the process took 6+ months - interviewed at Google in January 2014.

Interview Details – Applied online and 7 months later received a phone call from recruiter.
Phone screen appointment was setup for the following week.
At phone screen, recruiter first described position then setup a coaching prep appointment.
Recruiter asked questions then attacked my answers with accusations I wasn't a team player and being too excited.
2 weeks later, hiring manager called and yelled the questions at me which I answered
coolly and competently. 1 week later, recruiter feedback was that my answers were all correct but too detailed since this was not an on site interview. Recruiter also laughed at how I answered manager's questions.
Most demeaning and insulting interview of my life.
PS: I caught the hiring manager making a technical mistake about databases.
Based on this incident and their buggy Android platform,
their engineers are NOT superior to Silicon Valley engineers in general.
It is all theater for the stock holders.

Interview Question – How many ants can you count living inside an ant hill?   View Answer

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response

3 people found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer
San Jose, CA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Google in November 2013.

Interview Details – My recruiter called me to have an interview in next week and did not call me back first time. At second time, she said she can arrange an interview in next week, I was so afraid to loose the opportunity and agreed to take it even I did not have enough time to prepare for it. I think google's interview needs intensive preparation.

Interview Question – Write a probability formula to tell how many bits will be changed when 1 is added to a 32 bit binary number.   View Answers (4)

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response

8 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer
New York, NY

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Google in October 2013.

Interview Details – After initial contact last year that did not lead to an offer, I was again contacted by Google.

I went to the New York office for the full day / 6 part interview. I will not (as I agreed and signed for) disclose the specific questions asked. However, these should not be a mystery or secret for anyone, they are about algorithms, mathematics, sorting, hashes, system design, multi-processor, multi-site problems, etc. If you rehash your Uni material, read all the recommended basic Algo and practice material, none of these questions should come as a surprise.

One thing I will say tho is that not all interviewers are equally as enthusiastic. I do not know if this is by design or not, but out of the 6 interviews I had, 1 guy seemed outright disinterested, while another guy was courteous enough to give proper questions, but didn't seem to have his heart into it. I do understand to some extent as the interview process is grueling and you WILL be worn down at the end of the day, I assume it is equally an effort for the interviewers, especially if they have to do multiple interviews (and reject the majority). Make SURE you are RESTED the day before. Anyways, do realize that you can not afford any clear negative review, the hiring committee will allow one negative if you have great reviews from the other interviewers, but two negatives will kill any hopes, regardless how smart or good you are. Make sure not to antagonize any deadbeat interviewer you might run into. And DO practice whiteboard design and coding. It is THAT important.

That said, I had a lot of fun with most of the interviewers. The most important aspect is that they want to see if you ARE what I understand to be 'googly'. This means smart, inquisitive, investigative, curious, a problem solver, etc. You will get challenged. How you approach a problem or question or how you proceed with each monkey wrench they throw at you is more important than getting the 'perfect answer'. There were no questions about how many elves you can fit in a coke can, etc. I had very interesting and fun interactions with the interviewers talking about the topics they asked me, and also wandering off-topic on other computer and non computer interests.

One surprising thing is that I found out that Google actually contacted most of the professional references I provided. (Which I didn't mind, as I have very good backgrounds and well respected references who would vouch for me any day). Please make sure to put in your best references, make sure to reference the people who have good experiences with you and can vouch for your work and qualities.

Negotiation Details – The offer procedure was pretty straight forward. Google made me a very generous offer, my current employer announced a counter offer, Google modifier there offer, and once I was comfortable enough with the conditions, timeline and notice for my own job, I did sign.

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response

3 people found this helpful

No Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer
Seattle, WA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Google.

Interview Details – I was contacted via LinkedIn originally for a position in Mt. View. When I made it clear that I wouldn't relocate, they referred me to the Seattle office -- which turns out to be the 3rd largest Google office after Mt View and New York. Seattle recruiter was very friendly and stayed in touch up until I was handed off. After initial phone I was set up for the standard tech screen phone interview. I hit it off well with the phone tech guy and managed to work through the question. After review by hiring committee I was handed off to another recruiter and setup for onsite interview in Seattle office. One comment, although I emphasized at every turn that I felt that the Kirkland office would be an easier drive for me, I was consistently sent to the Seattle office which I found a little odd.

I arrived on time for my 6 hour interview at the office in Seattle. Apparently this office is growing rapidly, they are taking over another building already. Parking is a little strange, if you can find their parking garage I believe they will validate your parking. If you park on the street you'd better have some cash -- I think it was $10 for the day and I didn't get reimbursed for that. It's an exciting and scenic location right on the water in the Fremont area. My first interviewer was running late and he seemed a bit rushed in general, I guess he was in the process of moving to Calif for a month. I had interviews in three different conference rooms and two different buildings, 5 tech interview and one friendly interview who told me that he does not report anything so I can ask him anything I want -- its good to be prepared with your off the record type questions to ask your lunch companion. Generally the interviewers were pretty friendly and diverse in style and personality. They were very open about the process, I found out that decisions are made by a hiring committee, not by the interviewers -- very different from Amazon for example. They have categories of questions that must be covered. Almost everyone asked me a fairly typical coding question, I was also asked questions about how I would design and test larger projects. For example, one question was to design a suggestion list for the Google Search engine.

One nice thing about Google was that they provided me with a chromebook and I was given the option to write my code on the chromebook. I was also given the option to use the Whiteboard. I tended to use both -- the whiteboard for working out algorithms and drawing diagrams, the chromebook for serious coding. This was a little awkward since the big screen didn't seem to be working right so they had to huddle around me while I was typing.

Overall I felt good about the onsite interview, I was very curious to see the Google facility, experience their vibe and meet some actual Googlers so in that regard I was very happy. I had mixed feelings about taking the job since it would be a long commute for me, so I wasn't terribly disappointed or surprised when the hiring committee declined to make me an offer. The recruiter did make a point of giving me that news on the phone and she also went out of her way to say that I had received much positive feedback and the door is always open if I want to try again. She couldn't give me any detailed feedback unfortunately, against policy, and she did apologize for the lack of transparency in that regard.

Personally I think Google is probably the best of the big tech companies in terms of how they treat people and interesting projects. They encourage people to move around from project to project which I like quite a bit, and they provide lots of fun benefits. When compared to my Amazon experience I have to say that Google wins on every level.

Interview Question – Given a series of words written using a scrambled alphabet, figure out what order the letters of the alphabet are in.   View Answers (6)

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response

1 person found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer
San Jose, CA

I applied through a recruiter and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Google in April 2013.

Interview Details – Phone screen was 100% technical, with coding via Google Docs, and was told I did *VERY* well.

4 one-on-one onsite interviews - coding on a white board, systems design. I thought I did very well.

Was asked to travel back for a final onsite, but declined due to existing offers on the table... and if you can't look at my resume, see my successes and figure me out after 5 interviews, don't expect me to jump through hoops for you... other companies are willing to make quicker, informed decisions.

Interview Question – Would you like to come back for another onsite?   View Answer

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response

1 person found this helpful

No Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Senior Software Engineer Interview

Senior Software Engineer
San Bruno, CA

I applied online and the process took 4 weeks - interviewed at Google in October 2012.

Interview Details – Applied Online . and got a call from recruiter the very next day.
She was very good she spoke about my resume , skillset and willing to locate to SanBruno ,CA . They sent a detailed list of things to be prepared for interview.(It looked like my data structure syllabus ) .

Interview Question – 1.How to find the nearest parent of any two nodes in a given tree. Tree has mother and father nodes.   View Answers (2)

Was this interview helpful?  
Yes | No
Flag Interview  |  Add Employer Response
RSS Feed Embed
Interviews for Top Jobs at Google

Worked for Google? Contribute to the Community!

The difficulty rating is the average interview difficulty rating across all interview candidates.

The interview experience is the percentage of all interview candidates that said their interview experience was positive, neutral, or negative.

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.

Glassdoor is your free inside look at Google Senior Software Engineer interview questions and advice. All 46 interview reviews posted anonymously by Google employees and interview candidates.