“The most memorable part of being an engineering manager at Google was simply being at Google and experiencing all the things you’ve probably already read or heard about.”
This quote by a Google Engineering Manager is enough to capture the essence of working for the tech giant. You get the most competitive compensation and get to work in an extremely stimulating environment, not to mention the work-life balance and employee benefits. All this and more makes Google an attractive employer for engineers.
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In this article, we’ll focus on the engineering manager role. Having a solid understanding of what the role entails can help you set up your interview prep strategy. Here’s what we’ll cover
- Engineering Manager vs. Product Manager
- How Are Google Engineering Managers Different From Engineering Managers at Other Companies?
- What Are Google Engineering Managers Expected to Do?
- What Is It Like to Be an Engineering Manager at Google?
- What Does It Take to be an Engineering Manager at Google?
- Google Engineering Manager Interview Questions
- How Hard Is It to Crack the Google Engineering Manager Interview?
- Tips to be an Efficient Engineering Manager at Google
- How to Land an Engineering Manager Job at Google?
Engineering Manager vs. Product Manager
“Product managers should focus on building the right product, while engineering managers should focus on building the product right.”
That pretty much sums up the difference. Let’s look at what exactly this means:
Did you know? According to Glassdoor, 86% of engineering managers would recommend working at Google to a friend. 72% of them expressed their approval of Sundar Pichai as the CEO. Working at Google is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by engineering managers.
Everything That a Google Engineering Manager Is Expected to Do
The exact responsibilities of an EM might differ based on the team you work with — we can, however, summarize the duties as follows:
- Drive complex technical projects and provide leadership in a fast-paced environment.
- Own the planning, execution, and success of complex technical projects.
- Work closely with the Product Management team to build the best quality products.
- Provide technical expertise to the team throughout the product life cycle.
- Lead, train, and manage a team of software engineers and/or managers depending on the team and your seniority.
- Contribute to product strategy, drive architectural decisions, and design solutions across various cloud and open source tools to resolve cloud technology platform problems.
Engineering managers at Google can take up a wide variety of tasks according to their skill sets and interests. Some of these tasks could be:
- Technical Design (partner with tech leads)
- Production Design (partner with product managers)
- Overall Strategy (partner with senior management)
- Code Reviews
- Code Contribution
- Project Management (prioritization and timeline)
- Career Development
- Team Management
- Performance Management
What Does It Take to be an Engineering Manager at Google?
Following are the qualifications Google looks for while recruiting engineering managers:
- Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, related technical discipline, or equivalent practical experience.
- 10-15 years of relevant industry experience, with 4-5 years of hands-on experience in managing software developers.
- Experience in designing and implementing distributed systems.
- Experience in programming in one of these programming languages: Java, C++, Python, or C.
Tips to be an Efficient Engineering Manager at Google
Google spent more than a decade studying management techniques to determine the most common behaviors of effective bosses. Its Project Oxygen, launched in 2008, identified the top 10 behaviors of Google’s highest-performing managers. A good manager, according to Google:
- Is a good coach
- Empowers team and does not micromanage
- Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being
- Is productive and results-oriented
- Is a good communicator — listens and shares information
- Supports career development and discusses performance
- Has a clear vision and strategy for the team
- Has key technical skills to advise the team
- Collaborates across Google
- Is a strong decision-maker
Google Engineering Manager Interview Questions
Here, we’ve covered some sample questions to help you understand what to expect at a Google Engineering Manager interview. Typically, the questions fall under the following categories: Leadership, System Design, and Coding. We’ll cover sample questions for each of these.
Leadership Interview Questions (Behavioral)
- Why are you an effective Research and Development Leader?
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why Google?
Leadership Interview Questions (People Management)
- How do you deal with underperformers?
- How do you deal with high-performers?
- How do you handle conflicts?
- How do you handle people who are not team players?
Leadership Interview Questions (Project Management)
- Describe how you deal with change management.
- Describe a project that failed.
- How would you balance engineering limitations with customer requirements?
- As a manager, how do you handle trade-offs?
Read Google Leadership Principles Interview Questions for more.
System Design Interview Questions
Google managers need to be able to design systems that are highly scalable and performant. The questions in this interview are often open-ended.
- How would you design Google Docs?
- Design an in-memory cache for web pages.
- How would you design a ticketing platform?
- How would you design a system that counts the number of clicks on YouTube videos?
- How would you design Google’s database for web indexing?
- Design a boggle solver.
Related read: System Design Interview Preparation Tips
Coding Interview Questions
- Critical Connections Problem
- Binary Search Tree Problem
- Count Islands Problem
- Skyline Problem
- Lexicographical Order Problem
- Maximum Gap Problem
How to Land an Engineering Manager Job at Google
A solid prep plan is the only way to get ready for and crack any interview at Google. If you’re confused about where to start, let us help you do it the Interview Kickstart way!
At IK, you get the most comprehensive curriculum, unmatched teaching methods, FAANG+ instructors, and career coaching — we cover all ground to help you nail that interview.
Here’s what Zhuang Liang, an IK alum and Engineering Manager at Google, has to say about IK’s program: “I Got an Offer From Google After Completing Interview Kickstart.”