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How to Get Software Engineering Jobs at Google

Posted on 
March 9, 2021
Ashmita Roy

As a software engineer, bagging a job with Google is the ultimate dream for many! Unparalleled career growth, a competitive salary, and the golden opportunity to work with the latest tools of the trade are only some of the reasons why Google stands out amongst the coveted FAANG companies. Fantastic company culture in an environment that nurtures and rewards innovation is the icing on the cake that makes Google software engineer jobs cut above the rest. 

But cracking the interview is no cakewalk. It is the ultimate litmus test of your technical mastery. Moreover, Google receives about three million applications per year but has an acceptance rate of a meager 0.2% only!  

If you are a software developer who can't wait to be part of that cohort, here's some good news. With a plan in place and adequate 'Googleyness,' you too can be a Googler. Let's dive into the interview process at Google and look at some handy tips that will make it easier for you to nail the interview.

This article will cover:

  1. How to apply at Google?
  2. What is Google looking for in a software developer candidate?
  3. How to make sure that your resume stands out?
  4. What is the typical interview process when you apply?
  5. What are the different levels of software engineering jobs at Google?
  6. What is the average salary of a software engineer at Google, and how to negotiate salary?
  7. How to prepare yourself to get hired as a software engineer at Google?
  8. What to do if you fail?

How to apply at Google?

The first task to check off your to-do list once you have made up your mind to apply to Google is introspection. Google wants you to reflect deeply on your life and various experiences because—your passions and perspective are as important as your skills to get hired at Google. 

Once you have a better idea about yourself, check out the Google careers page. To find job openings at Google, use the career search tool and enter what kind of work you want to do in the search bar. You can also apply filters such as location, degrees, skills, and qualifications. Once you find listings that are suitable for your profile, you can apply directly from the dashboard. However, bear in mind that you can only apply for a maximum of three jobs every 30 days. If the hiring managers feel that you fit the profile, you will enter the hiring process.

What is Google looking for in a software developer candidate?

FAANG companies are looking for exceptional software engineers and software developers. As a result, you need to be a master of coding and problem-solving. But Google is also looking for a Googler—someone who is skilled and brings on board distinct experiences, perspectives, and a genuine passion for technology. 

Minimum qualifications to apply for any role as a software engineer or software developer are:

  • Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, related technical field, or equivalent practical experience. Even if you are not an engineering graduate from top-tier schools such as MIT or Stanford, you can still apply. Google values your performance and skills over which school you attended. 
  • Software development experience with one or more general programming languages (e.g., Java, C/C++, C#, Objective C, Python, JavaScript, and/or Go).

How to make sure that your resume stands out 

As a coding engineer, it can be challenging for your resume to stand out amongst others. That's why Google recommends you create a customized resume for each position.

An important yet often overlooked aspect of a technical interview is a technical resume. For a successful technical resume, an ex-Googler recommends the use of active verbs. It is also essential to be specific about your accomplishments instead of providing a general overview. Follow the "accomplished [X] as measured by [Y], by doing [Z]." formula to illustrate your work experience section. 

Here are some tips on drafting your resume when applying to Google for a job as a software developer:

  • Mention relevant tech skills as a software developer that apply to the job description.
  • Highlight leadership experience, if any. 
  • Keep the resume short and avoid the temptation of presenting a multiple-page CV. Be selective about the accomplishments you want to highlight as a software engineer.
  •  Don't stuff your resume with unrelated keywords.
  •  In case you have recently completed software engineering or any other type of engineering and do not have sufficient work experience to showcase, don't forget to include school-related projects or coursework that can demonstrate the necessary skills. 

What is the typical interview process when you apply?

If you are applying to Google to pursue a career as a software engineer, the first step after you submit the resume usually involves an online coding assignment. Before the in-depth technical interview, you may also have a couple of virtual conversations via phone or video with a recruiter for a preliminary screening. The interview process at Google can last for 6-8 weeks on average. So be prepared for a long journey ahead. 

Moving on to the rigorous, in-depth interviews, Google follows a holistic approach and conducts both technical and behavioral interviews. This shows that Google not only expects technical proficiency but places significant weightage on teamwork too. But Google doesn't rely on obscure brainteasers to assess whether you are a match for the role. Instead, Google uses open-ended questions and a structured interviewing pattern to evaluate your problem-solving skills and strengths. 

Let's look at the technical interview first. It consists of two stages: technical phone interview and on-site interview.

The in-depth technical interview starts with a short virtual chat with a Google recruiter. During these chats, the recruiter reviews your profile to assess your critical skills. This helps the recruiter to understand whether you are fit for the role you have applied for. The shortlisted candidates are invited to complete an online survey form to pick suitable interview dates and the programming language they would like to use for coding during the interview. 

The recruiter confirms the interview date by email to the candidate and sends helpful technical interview preparation resources. Usually, the resources include:

  • Coding practice
  • How to Prepare for a Technical Interview at Google
  •  See Yourself at Google
  • Example of a Coding Interview at Google 
  • Project Euler

The technical phone interview is a remote coding interview consisting of two rounds. Each phone interview session lasts for 30-45 minutes. The interview's primary focus is to assess the engineers' knowledge of various computer science principles, data structures, and algorithms. 

As part of the first phone interview, you may be given coding challenges to test your developer skills. These challenges are relatively straightforward. You can expect to write 20-30 lines of code. If your performance is satisfactory during this round, you are shortlisted for the on-site technical interview. Otherwise, you need to appear for the second phone interview. The coding problems are more challenging during this round. The primary expectation from software engineers and developers during this round is efficient coding to provide an optimized solution within the prescribed time limit without using an integrated development environment (IDE). 

If you qualify for this round, you move on to the next round, the on-site technical interview. You can select the interview location and time slot. The on-site interview consists of 5 rounds:

  • Two rounds of technical interviews 
  • Lunch interview
  • Two rounds of technical interviews 
  • A behavioral interview

Each round is about 45 minutes long. The technical interviews focus on coding, data structure, algorithms, frontend languages such as CSS, HTML, Javascript, APIs, and design patterns. The questions during the on-site round are more situational to assess the candidate's ability to handle real-life problems that every software engineer working at Google usually faces. While you are free to choose any programming language for solving these problems, you won't be allowed to work in an IDE. 

Next up is the behavioral interview, which is a critical component of the overall interview process. This round evaluates whether you are the right fit for the culture at Google. 

But don't expect run-of-the-mill questions, such as 'Why did you leave the previous job?.' All questions in this round are tailored to understand your approach to work and get valuable insights about your personality to predict how you are likely to behave in a workplace like Google. For example, you may be asked to talk about a time when you resolved a conflict at work or an achievement you're proud of. 

Typical, the behavioral round consists of the following types of questions:

  • Questions based on your past experiences
  • Hypothetical questions
  • Values-based questions

And here lies the challenge—while you can pass or fail the coding rounds, there are no right or wrong answers to such questions as the only objective is to get a sense of who you are as a person. That's why preparing for Google's behavioral interview questions can be extremely challenging, and without the right guidance, you may feel completely overwhelmed. The best way to handle behavioral questions is by explaining your thought process behind your answer. When you are preparing for behavioral questions, always have at least three versions of answers for each question, giving you enough room to make your responses interesting. Some of the common behavioral questions include:

  • If you join, how will you impact your team?
  • What do you want me to know about you that we haven't discussed?
  • What is your favorite Google tool, and how would you improve it?

 After the on-site round, some candidates may have a follow-up round with team managers. This helps both the candidate and the managers to see whether they are a good fit for each other. However, getting through to this stage doesn't guarantee you a job at Google. Several candidates have been rejected after the interview with team managers.

If you clear this round, you can expect the final offer. Once you accept the offer, the onboarding team briefs you about the compensation and benefits. 

What are different levels of software engineering jobs at Google?

Based on work experience, Google has designated several software development job titles. These include:

  1. Software Engineer II (L3): a fresh engineering graduate with 0 - 1 years of experience
  2. Software Engineer III (L4): More than two years of experience
  3. Senior Software Engineer (L5)
  4. Staff Software Engineer (L6)
  5. Senior Staff Software Engineer (L7)
  6. Principal Engineer (L8)
  7. Distinguished Engineer (L9)
  8. Google Fellow (L10)
  9. Senior Google Fellow (L11)

Most hirings happen at the L3 or L4 level. Usually, most Googlers find it difficult to get promoted beyond the L5 level. 

What is the average salary of a software engineer at Google, and how to negotiate salary?

Salaries at Google are decided using a tier-based system to maintain pay parity. There are three components of the salary package:

  • Base compensation
  • Annual bonuses
  • Stock options 

In some cases, Google may also throw in a sign-on bonus to make the offer more lucrative. All Google employees also receive a host of benefits, including transportation, health, wellness, and insurance. 

The salary varies depending on your location. Currently, an L3 software engineer's average salary in the US is $179,000 and $43,000 in India. Salary package can be improved through negotiation, especially if you have a unique specialty. For example, a software developer who is an expert at Machine Learning may have more room for negotiation than a regular developer. 

What's the best time to negotiate a salary? It is advisable to do this once you receive the job offer. Usually, Google is not very keen on negotiating the base salary. Yet, industry experts advise negotiating for a higher base salary. While your base salary may often remain as is, Google may offer you a better sign-on bonus or improve the stock component.

How to prepare yourself to get hired as a software engineer at Google?

  • Learn about Google's culture: Many candidates skip this step and start working on their resume straight away. However, researching a company before you apply helps you to understand the company culture and evaluate if it is the right fit for you. Start by reading the mission statement and values of Google. Check if you have sufficient Googley traits such as striving for excellence, being proactive, being humble, never losing sight of the big picture, valuing your colleagues, and above all, having a sense of humor. 

Remember that Google recommends you should tailor your resume to the role you are applying for. Doing the groundwork can help you achieve just that. 

  • Practice code a lot: This is a no-brainer. You need to know how to code inside out to get through the technical rounds. Use online resources to develop a solid understanding of data structures and algorithms. You can also sign up for coding challenges and boot camps to level up your problem-solving skills and learn about the latest trends in the world of programming. Once you learn how to code within specified time limits, you will find the actual on-site interviews less daunting. 
  • Practice with peers: During the on-site interviews, you will need to explain your code to the interviewer just as you would do while working in a team. To get comfortable with "thinking out loud" while coding, it is advisable to practice coding with a peer who can be the interviewer during the session. This exercise will help you become more confident about facing the actual interviewer. 
  • Work on some personal projects: Use your coding knowledge to create something in real life. For example, if you are interested in trading stocks, create a mock trading platform that simplifies investment. You can talk about such projects during your behavioral interview too. 
  • Join online technical interview preparation courses: If you are keen to bring your A-game and crack the Google interview questions, consider signing up for a course dedicated to helping you prepare for technical interviews. These courses offer a structured way to prepare for interviews even when you are working full-time. 
  • Have a couple of mock interviews: Want to simulate the on-site technical interviews at Google? Schedule mock interviews with hiring managers from FAANG companies. Mock interviews help you identify your weak areas and allow you to review your mistakes. You can also learn effective interview strategies to perform better during the actual interview. While practicing with peers is a good idea, you need the right feedback on improvement areas. That's why scheduling interview sessions with hiring managers can be helpful if you want to receive actionable feedback.
  • Solve the interview questions asked at Google interviews: Google's interview is undoubtedly one of the most challenging interviews to crack. Simply mugging up answers to previous questions will not serve any purpose. You must use the right strategies while solving such problems. The best way to do that? Pick up the technical and behavioral questions asked by Google and start solving them on your own. While you can never accurately predict the questions you will be asked, solving previously asked questions can instill confidence in you and train your mind in the right direction. 

What to do if you fail?

The interview prep can be overly trying, and getting rejected can adversely impact your morale. But that's no reason to give up. Rome wasn't built in a day—it is okay if you need a couple of more chances to crack the interview. 

Ideally, you should wait for 90 days before re-applying for the same role. However, Google advises that it is best to re-apply for technical positions after adding 1-1.5 years more work experience to your resume. 

And if you need some extra help, you can always count on Interview Kickstart. Our masterclasses cover an exhaustive curriculum to prepare you for both technical and behavioral interviews. Data structures, systems design, product design, algorithms—everything you need to master to crack the interview will be covered in the masterclass.

You also get to attend mock interviews with FAANG hiring managers and receive guidance about negotiation offers at Google. Several of our successful alums were able to crack Google interview questions after earlier failed attempts, thanks to our structured training program. 

If you are keen to know more, don't forget to enroll in our webinar today!

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