Google Software Engineer Interview Questions

Updated Sep 14, 2014
Updated Sep 14, 2014
908 Interview Reviews

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141 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

Other Interview Reviews for Google

  1. 35 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 (3)
    Negotiation Details
    Tiring but satisfactory. I negotiated a $190,000 per-year salary and an $5k starter bonus.
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  2. 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 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.   View Answer
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview
  3. 10 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
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  5. 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
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    I applied online. The process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Google.

    Interview Details

    Applied online without referral. Recruiter reached out to me. I filled a questionnaire to indicate my interests. Got two phone interviews. They were not very hard. After the phone interviews, you learn in a few days if you have passed. Then, you are in a pool and wait for someone to be interested in you. If you know people at the company, definitely let them know so that they can inform their friends that you are looking for an intern host. If someone is interested, a host interview is set-up. This is usually non-technical and only to see if you are interested in the project. If no one comes up after some time, they defer your application to next internship season. Next time, you directly enter the pool without any additional interviews.

    Recruiter is also a key person. Sometimes, they look out for you, sometimes they don't care.

    Interview Questions
    • Nothing unexpected. Typical questions that you can find in "Cracking the coding interview" or "Programming interviews exposed".   Answer Question
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview
  7.  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    I applied through a recruiter - interviewed at Google.

    Interview Details

    Online coding exam. Not too hard if you know what you're doing. People were very friendly and allow you to take your time. After exam, if the out come is good, they would invite you over for second interview

    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview
  8.  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Interview Details

    Through website, set up phone interview. During phone interview, had basic questions about previous projects and then had to code in a google doc. If you review the material they give you going in and have a quick mind, you should do fine. If you haven't covered at least have of it though, you probably will have to reapply whenever you have learned it.

    Interview Questions
    • Cannot reveal because I signed a confidentiality statement.   Answer Question
    No Offer
  9.  

    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 4 weeks - interviewed at Google in September 2013.

    Interview Details

    I had 2 interviews on hang outs one day, and an extra interview a month later, on hang outs too.
    the first two were easy, I didn't do it super well though. The third and last one was really hard, my hardest interview ever. They asked me a lot of questions about design and coding, most of them really hard.

    Interview Questions
    • I was solving a problem with some design patterns, about a server receiving requests, and then the interviewer change the problem, now the server could have multiple requests at the same time, and instead of a design problem it was a concurrent programming problem.   View Answers (2)
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  10.  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Application Details

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Google.

    Interview Details

    Referred by an employee in MTV. HR called me soon, and scheduled two 45-miniute online interviews for me. The HR was very nice, for I was in Beijing and applied for an internship in MTV that time, in order to help me perform well in the interview, she scheduled the engineers from Canada to interview me, that helped me a lot, because the time zone of Canada office was better for me to take the interview on form.
    The interviews went well, and the interviewers were nice and patient. The coding problems they asked were mainly about algorithm and data structure, and some of my project experiences were asked in detail two.
    I think the most challenging thing in the interviews was that I should describe my thought in English to the interviewers, it is very important to have a good communication with interviewers.

    Interview Questions
    • There were no questions particularly difficult, but what I did not expect was that the second interviewer asked me a problem of segment tree.   Answer Question
    Reasons for Declining

    I was matched to a test post, but I did not like it.

    Declined Offer
    Average Interview

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