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How to Prepare for a Google Software Engineer Interview?

Most engineers dream of working with Google at some point in their life. But preparing for the Google software engineer interview takes dedicated and consistent effort. Do you also want to know what it takes to join Google as a Software Engineer? Do you want to work for your dream company? Read on to know what it takes to prepare for and crack the Google Software Engineer Interview.

If you want to start preparing for the Google software engineer interview, be sure to check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! Also, read How Hard is it to Get a Job at Google and Google Interview Guide for specific insights and guidance on Google tech interviews.

Having trained over 9,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the toughest tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have been landing lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $933,000!

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Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  • Software Engineer vs. Software Developer
  • What Does a Google Software Engineer Do?
  • Software Engineer Interview Process at Google
  • How to Prepare for Google Software Engineer Interview
  • Tips to Crack the Google Software Engineer Interview
  • Google Software Engineer Interview FAQs

Software Engineer vs. Software Developer

These two terminologies are often used interchangeably. Though there are some similarities, there are some things that make these roles different from each other. Let’s look at them in detail:

Now that you know what a software engineer is, let's see what a software engineer at Google does.

What Does a Google Software Engineer Do?

Working at Google is more difficult than its interviews. Preparing for the Google software engineer interview is hard too, given that the concepts to cover are vast and the competition is stiff. As a software engineer, you’ll have much more responsibilities, and you’ll work on, not limiting to, the following things:

  • Write code
  • Write unit-tests
  • Build the code
  • Run Tests and debug failures
  • Review peer’s code changes
  • Read and write bug reports
  • Debug the problems which arise in production
  • Read and write design documents

Software Engineer Interview Process at Google

The Google Software Engineer interview consists of 2 main rounds of interviews:

1. Initial Phone Screen 

These are initial screening rounds where the interviewer will assess you based on your ability to solve simple coding problems with the help of programming fundamentals.

1.1. Phone Screen with Recruiter

This is the first discussion you’ll have with the recruiter. The Recruiter will go over your work history and test your technical skills. Most candidates get eliminated in this round, so take this round seriously and give your best.

1.2. Technical Phone Screen by an Engineer

In this round, for around 45 minutes, the interviewer will ask you basic coding questions about the projects you’ve worked on. You might also be asked to solve the problem using Google Docs.

1.3. Interview With an Engineer

In the final screening process, you’ll have a 45-minute discussion with one of the engineers, where you’ll be asked some technical questions.

2. Onsite Interviews

The Onsite Interview comprises 3-5 rounds of coding and technical skill assessments, each 45 mins long. In onsite interviews, the interviewer will test your data structures, algorithms, and system design skills. Additionally, you’ll also have an informal lunch interview.

Refer to Google Interview Guide for more information on preparing for the Google software engineer interview.

How to Prepare for Google Software Engineer Interview

Knowing what concepts to cover for the Google software engineering interview and dedicated practice are key to preparing for Google’s software engineering interview. Here’s what you must cover:

  • Be familiar with at least one programming language and object-oriented programming concepts.
  • Understand how different algorithms work and their complexities.
  • Solve popular problems on hashmap, stack, queues, linked list, etc.
  • Learn simple and discrete math problems like probability and statistics.
  • Understand the concurrency, processes, and threads related to operating systems.
  • System design questions that help you to showcase your problem-solving skills in real-world problems

Head over to the Learn and Problem pages to brush up on your basics and practice popular coding problems.

Google Software Engineer Sample Interview Questions

Once you know what to cover, practice as many problems as you can while preparing for the Google software engineer interview. However, do make it a point to come up with an “approach” to solving problems. During the interview, you will probably face a question or problem you haven't faced before. Therefore, while practicing, focus not only on arriving at the solution but also on “how” you solve it.

Here are a few examples of Google Software Engineer Technical Interview Questions to start you off:

  1. Given a Singly Linked List “K,” write a code to select a particular “random” node from the list. 
  2. Explain the process to implement BFS and DFS in a given graph.
  3. Given a Binary Tree, write code to print the bottom view of the tree from left to right. 
  4. Explain some Greedy Algorithms and their use cases.
  5. Design a platform like Instagram.
  6. Design a typeahead prediction feature keyboard.
  7. Given a string “S,” write a function to compute the longest substring’s length with only distinct characters. 
  8. Given a string “K,” write a function to eliminate duplicates from the string.
  9. Design a chatbot.
  10. Given two sorted Linked Lists, “A” and “B,” write a code to merge the two Linked Lists.

Behavioral questions are used to gauge your interest in the work, your soft skills, and whether you are a good fit for the company’s culture. While preparing for the Google software engineer behavioral interview, answering these questions, be genuine, and always back your answers with examples. Here are a few Google Software Engineer Behavioral Interview Questions:

  1. How do you deal with an uncooperative person at your workplace?
  2. How do you deal with failures while working as a team?
  3. How do you maintain a work-life balance?
  4. How do you handle stress at work?
  5. Tell us about a time when you had to convince your manager to change the course of a project.
  6. Tell us about a time your contribution was overlooked, and somebody else took the credit for it. How did you deal with it?
  7. Explain how you’ll create an impact on the team after you join.
  8. How do you build effective relationships with your team?
  9. How often do you think employees need vacations?
  10. How important is mental health, according to you?

Read Google Interview Questions and Google Coding Interview Questions for more.

Tips to Crack the Google Software Engineer Interview

Here’s a list of tips you can use while preparing for the Google software engineer interview.

  • Learn the fundamentals - Get good with Data Structures and Algorithms. Also brush-up on the fundamentals of systems design. 
  • Practice solving coding problems using pencil and blank paper or a whiteboard and markers. You could be asked to write code on a whiteboard at the Google on-site interview. 
  • Create a study list of technical topics to cover. IK’s Tech Interview Checklist will help you with that.
  • Begin your prep at least 8 weeks before your interview. This will give you adequate time to cover the important concepts in coding and design. 

Recommended Reading:

Google Software Engineer Interview FAQs

Q. How long are Google Software Engineer interviews?

A. The duration of each interview round can be 30-45 minutes long, depending on the round. From application to offer, the overall duration of the hiring process can range from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the seniority of the role.

Q. Will the candidate be asked only coding questions in all the interviews?

A. No. Candidates will be asked questions on various domains like technical, system design, and behavioral to test whether the candidate is a good fit in the Google workspace. 

(All information is based on research at the time of writing. Please speak to your recruiter for more clarity.)

Land Your Dream Job as a Software Engineer at Google

Interview Kickstart can help you in preparing for the Google software engineer interview! With IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from and engage with FAANG tech leads and hiring managers. Our comprehensive curriculum and unmatched teaching methodologies will help you become a better engineer and nail the most challenging tech interviews.

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