How to Prepare for Your Google Engineering Manager Interview?

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. One of the most lucrative yet difficult positions to work for at this company is engineering manager. Therefore, you need to know exactly how to prepare for the challenging interview and absolutely nail it.

If you are preparing for a tech interview for the Google engineering manager position, check out our interview questions page and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready!  Also, read Google Engineering Manager Interview Questions and Preparation to practice common Engineering Manager questions asked at Google and take your prep to the next level.

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  • Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:
  • What Does a Google Engineering Manager Do?
  • What’s a Google Engineering Manager Interview Process Like?
  • Google Engineering Manager Interview — Key Concepts You Must Cover
  • Sample Questions to Prepare for Your Google Engineering Manager Interview
  • 4 Tips to Amp Up Your Google Engineering Manager Interview Prep
  • FAQs on Google Engineering Manager Role

What Does a Google Engineering Manager Do?

Some of the basic tasks of a Google engineering manager are listed below.

  • The work of a Google engineering manager is not restricted to Search. Besides possessing technical prowess to tackle and provide technical leadership, you will also need to manage a team of engineers.
  • You will also require handling project goals, contributing to product strategizing, and develop your team.
  • You will also work on massive scalability and storage solutions, large-scale applications, and brand-new platforms for developers worldwide. 
  • As an EM, you will work closely with the product management team to build the best possible products.
  • You will also have to review codes written by your team regularly. 

Recommended Reading:
Should You Be an Engineering Manager?
What Does a Google Engineering Manager Do?

What’s a Google Engineering Manager Interview Process Like?

A Google engineering manager interview typically consists of 2 to 3 rounds. At Google, the team-matching process takes place right after the interviews. As a result, this loop can go on for weeks and sometimes even months. The interview process kicks off with a telephonic round with the recruiter and is followed by a technical phone screen. After you pass this round, you will sit for 4-5 on-site interviews.

Here’s what you can expect during each round of the interview process.

Recruiter Phone Screen

The recruiter will call you and ensure your identity and if you are a mutual fit. They will assess this by asking few basic behavioral questions. The questions will cover the fundamentals of the role and will also shed light on the upcoming technical round.

Technical Phone Screen

This round covers data structures and algorithms. The questions are usually open-ended to test your eye for details. You will need to define the problem state and identify the requirements.

Remember to walk through the process and explain it algorithmically.

Google interviewers expect mistakes. Thus, you can optimize and test your code later. Jot down the corner and edge cases and brace for testing. Then, proceed to refine your code. Identify the bugs following the test cases and clean your code accordingly.

On-site

After clearing the technical round, you will need to sit for 4-5 rounds of on-site interviews. These cover various aspects, including coding, systems design, behavioral, culture fit, strategic, analytic and data, etc.

Recommended Reading:
An Inside Look Into Engineering Manager Interviews
Differences Between Engineering Manager and Individual Contributor Interviews

Google Engineering Manager Interview — Key Concepts You Must Cover

Engineering Managers direct, plan, and coordinate activities within a team. Therefore, engineering manager interviews focus more on gauging whether you have what it takes to lead a team. Here are some key concepts or categories you should focus on in your prep.

Product Design

Interviewers want to test your ability to relate to the customers and innovate accordingly. Therefore, these questions will assess your creativity level and if your approach to developing and designing new products is straightforward and clear.

Analytics and Data

Every Google product has a set of hero and secondary metrics which help the engineering manager to assess if a product is successful or not and whether to proceed with it. Hence, the interviewer will ask you a couple of questions about which metric to track in a given scenario. It may also be about how you would identify and investigate the changes in a given metric. 

Therefore, it is recommended that you prepare these types of questions beforehand if you know the product team you are interviewing for.

Strategy

As an engineering manager, you will also be a part of the product vision and its delivery path. As a result, Google interviewers gauge your versatility and ability to judge the dependent aspects while making product decisions through strategic questions. They also check your acumen to consider factors like competition, marketing, pricing, etc. and make the decision with a structured approach.

Culture Fit

Through cultural questions, Google interviewers aim to check your compatibility with the company culture and how well you can adapt to your working place. They also assess your ability to think differently through these questions.

Technical 

It is no mystery at this point that Google is partial towards technically strong candidates. Therefore, you should expect some technical questions that do not always involve intense coding. However, they do test your ability to understand specific technical concepts and if you can explain them simply.

Behavioral 

Behavioral questions delve into your past experiences to assess how you can perform in the future. These questions test your knowledge, skills, and ability to deal with various workplace situations. Behavioral interview questions help measure your communication skills as well.

Technical Topics to Prepare for Your Google Engineering Manager Interview

  • Coding: You should possess in-depth knowledge and efficiency with at least one programming language, preferably one among Python, C++, Java, Go, or C. You should also know the fundamentals of APIs, object-oriented design and programming, testing codes, and coming up with corner and edge cases.
  • Algorithms: Google engineering managers should know the intricacies of algorithms and how to improve them. You should also know Big O notations and be able to discuss complex algorithms like A* and Dijkstra.
  • Sorting: Familiarity with common sorting methods is also necessary. You should also understand whether an input is efficient or not. Gauge the efficiency in terms of space used and runtime.
  • Data Structures: Research as many data structures as you can. You should possess an adequate grasp of arrays, stacks, hash maps, hash tables, hash-sets, queues, trees, binary trees, etc. It is also necessary to know which algorithm tends to go along with each of these data structures.  
  • Mathematics: Basic and discrete mathematical questions are more prevalent in Google than at other FAANG companies. Therefore, you must refresh your memory on counting problems, probability, etc., before sitting for a Google engineering manager interview.
  • Graphs: First off, familiarize yourself with the three basic ways to represent a graph in memory – adjacency list, objects and pointers, and matrix. Then, assess whether you can apply graph algorithms such as cycle detection, search, connectivity, etc. Therefore, you need to know basic graph traversal algorithms, breadth-first search, and depth-first search. Knowing about their computational complexity and trade-offs and implementing the same in a real code is also necessary.
  • Recursion: You should also be aware of recursive thinking to solve a coding problem and code a recursive solution. The ability to use recursion to develop more efficient solutions is a must for a successful Google engineering manager.

Sample Questions to Prepare for Your Google Engineering Manager Interview

We’ve listed some sample questions for each category to help you prepare for the interview.

Product Design

Some common Google interview questions you can expect in this round:

  1. Give one example of a product you love and one you hate, and why. Moreover, if you have the opportunity, what changes do you intend to make?
  2. What would you recommend for improving Gmail, Google Chrome, or Android?
  3. Can you suggest one way to improve non-Google products like Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon?
  4. Provide us a brief explanation along with the process for designing a product A for B customers. For instance, how would you design a Google Maps feature for visually impaired people?
  5. Design a bookshelf for kids.

How to Prepare for the Product Design Questions:

It is evident by now that you need to have in-depth knowledge about Google’s products to become a successful engineering manager at this FAANG company. Therefore, familiarize yourself with the products, deep dive and know the integrals, and thoroughly research the company fundamentals. Google Strategy Teardown by CB Insights is an ideal resource to start with.

Analytics and Data

Some common questions in this round are:

  1. Which metrics does Netflix measure and analyze daily for their products?
  2. How would you measure the success of Apple’s WWDC event?
  3. Considering you are the PM of YouTube Analytics, what would be the three most important metrics?
  4. Say, there is a 5% fall in YouTube’s traffic yesterday. How will you convey this to Larry Page?
  5. Walk us through your actions if you launch a new feed algorithm for Facebook, and then the average time per session goes down by 10%. 

How to Prepare for the Analytics and Data Questions:

Brushing up on the fundamentals is a strong recommendation to answer these questions. Digital Product Management by the University of Boston, Data-Driven Product Management: Choosing the Right Metrics for Your Product by productcoalition.com, etc., are free resources that can help start your interview preparation.

Strategy

We have listed some of the common questions for this round. Take a look.

  1. Why does Starbucks have an outlet on both sides of the road?
  2. Tell us about a competitive move by a company in the last six months, and your opinion about it.
  3. How would you solve homelessness in downtown Manhattan?
  4. Google has developed a new technology that allows you to travel 5x times faster and 5x cheaper. What would you do with it?

How to Prepare for Strategic Questions:

For starters, finalize the business objective adhering to the question. Then, proceed to generate a structured list of solutions to tackle the strategic problems. A discussion will then naturally follow on the priorities and trade-offs of the various options. You can then conclude the discussion by making the best possible recommendation.

Culture Fit

Some common questions that you will come across in this round are:

  1. Describe to us the work culture that you are most comfortable with and also the most productive.
  2. Name some of the positive aspects of your previous work environment or the last position you held before sitting for this interview.
  3. When working with people, what is the relationship you maintain with them usually?
  4. Walk us through a decision you took that was primarily based on customer needs and input.
  5. How would your colleagues describe your work approach and contribution to the previous organization?

How to Prepare for the Culture Fit Questions:

To answer these questions, you need to be aware of the company culture, like its values, mission, and vision, etc. Learn about the work environment, communication preferences, etc., at Google. You can research these from the company website and other documents available on the internet.

Technical

We have listed below 4 Google engineering manager interview questions for this round.

  1. Explain the concept of protocol to a 6-year old kid using an ice-cream store analogy.
  2. How would you explain recursion to your grandfather?
  3. Describe a typical page load time distribution on mobile. What about on desktop?
  4. Design a load-balancer for Google.com. What data structures are you going to use?

How to Prepare for the Technical Questions:

Before you start, clarify what exactly the interviewer is looking for and understand the same clearly. Narrow down to the most important aspect of the answer, and explain the technical concept step by step. Then, summarize your explanation in brief, and answer any follow-up questions. Remember to admit that you do not know something if a situation of the sort arises.

Behavioral

Behavioral questions generally fall into three categories:

  • Motivation to work at Google as an EM
  • Experience, mainly in managing internal conflicts while working with a diverse group
  • Understanding of the roles and responsibilities of an EM

Few common Google interview questions in this round are:

  1. How do you run a product life cycle?
  2. Walk us through a time when you solved a difficult team conflict at your previous workplace.
  3. Describe a time when a team member did not agree with your approach. How did you deal with it?
  4. Tell us about a time when you missed a deadline.
  5. What is your most successful project to date as an engineering manager?

How to Prepare for the Behavioral Questions:

Prepare answers for these kinds of questions beforehand, and practice the stories thoroughly. Jot down even the smallest details, and be careful not to repeat the examples. Make sure to highlight the problem and the impact of your decision and, of course, its results.

Recommended Reading: Google Interview Questions

4 Tips to Amp Up Your Google Engineering Manager Interview Prep

Just knowing what to prepare is not enough. When preparing for tough tech interviews at a company like Google, your prep should be planned, and you must adopt a strategy that ensures you’ll be ready and comfortable during the interview. You should also be ready to adapt during the interview, so you can solve any problem that comes your way. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Practice coding on whiteboards: Naturally, you will not have access to a compiler or IED during the Google engineering manager interview. Therefore, practicing coding on paper or whiteboard is a tactical ploy to gain an edge in the interview. Do not fixate on syntactical errors like which substring to use, etc. Choose the one you are comfortable with, and let your interviewer know of it.
  2. Explain your approach to solving a problem: Explaining your thought process in the interview is paramount. Interviewers are not only trying to assess your technical prowess but also want to know your approach to combat the issues and the path to solving them.
  3. Clarify any doubts: Google engineering manager interview questions are also about getting an insight into the categories and information you prioritize while solving a puzzle. Interviewers want to identify how you engage with a problem and your primary approach to solving it. Do not shy back from asking any clarification you need.
  4. Improve your solutions: Strive to improve your solution without leaving any stone unturned. It is essential to think out loud about your initial steps to solve a problem. In fact, sometimes you will find that your first answer has scope to improve.

How Can IK Prepare You for Your Next Google Interview?

Interview Kickstart’s Engineering Manager Interview Masterclass is the best-in-class tech interview prep program for engineering managers. This program is tailored to help you crack the toughest engineering manager interviews. Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Comprehensive curriculum that is FAANG-focused
  • Mock interviews with tech leads and hiring managers from FAANG
  • 1x1 discussions and feedback to help you improve your interviewing skills
  • Resume building, career skills development, and salary negotiation assistance 

So, are you ready to nail your next Google interview? Join our FREE webinar.

FAQs on Google Engineering Manager Role

1. What is the salary of an engineering manager at Google?

The median salary of Google engineering managers stands at around $230,000. Salaries range between $100,000 and $1,200,000, depending on the position and experience.

2. What is the minimum experience necessary to apply for an engineering manager job at Google?

A minimum of 4 years of experience in a relevant field is mandatory for an engineering manager interview at Google. However, certain positions may require more experience, depending on the role.


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