Getting a job as a Google technical program manager requires more than just solid fundamentals and directed practice, although those are essential. It also requires role-relevant expertise and excellent management skills. Technical program managers targeting a TPM role at Google need to have a robust tech interview prep to have a real shot at clearing Google interviews.
Though preparing for a Google interview might seem intimidating, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you have a successful and smooth interview. In this article, we make things a little easier for you by covering the following topics:
- What Does a Google Technical Program Manager Do?
- Difference Between a Google Technical Program Manager and a Program Manager
- Skills Required to be a Google Technical Program Manager
- Typical Google Technical Program Manager Interview Process Structure
- What to Expect in a Google Technical Program Manager Interview
- Key Topics for Google Technical Program Manager Interview
- Sample Google Technical Program Manager Interview Questions
- Google Technical Program Manager Interview Tips
- Google Technical Program Manager Career FAQs
What Does a Google Technical Program Manager Do?
A technical program manager at Google works at the cross-section between technical execution and business strategy. The responsibilities include driving impact and delivering measurable results while working on multi-disciplinary, complex projects.
It’s the TPM’s responsibility to drive their team towards effective and high-quality solutions while collaborating with cross-functional partners. Technical program managers are essentially responsible for designing and executing projects from start to finish.
Difference Between a Google Technical Program Manager and a Google Program Manager
Technical program managers tend to play a more hands-on role as compared to program managers. As the name suggests, technical program managers work from a more technical perspective than regular program managers. The program manager is a more functional role, while a technical program manager is a techno-functional role, requiring more tech skills.
TPMs focus more on analyzing organizational infrastructure and developing technical products as per user needs. Technical program management at Google is about guiding ideas and execution of ambitious and pioneering projects end to end, from conception to launch.
Skills Required to be a Google Technical Program Manager
The role of a TPM at Google is complex and requires a collection of both soft and hard skills in terms of technical expertise, leadership, communication, management, and strategy. A TPM may have several responsibilities while working with several teams. These are the typical qualifications and skills that interviewers look for while hiring for the role of TPM at Google:
- Bachelor’s degree in computer science, related engineering field, or equivalent practical experience
- Ability to lead cross-functional programs
- Ability to manage multiple stakeholders
- Ability to build and maintain relationships to facilitate effective information gathering, collaboration, and strategic decision-making
- Ability to manage a cross-functional team in a large, global organization
Typical Google Technical Program Manager Interview Process Structure
The interview process for the role “technical program manager, Google” is reasonably standard. You can expect:
- One recruiter phone screen (30 minutes): Here, the focus will be on behavioral, past experiences, and resume-related questions.
- One or two technical phone screens (45 minutes each): These will be with a current TPM at Google. Technical and leadership questions, along with program management questions, will be the focus of these interviews.
- An onsite interview with about five rounds (45-60 minutes each): There will be specific rounds for testing program management, technical, and leadership skills. Typically, the division looks like three product management rounds, one technical round, and one leadership round. Or there may be two technical and three product sense rounds.
For more information about this, check out our Google Technical Program Manager Interview Process page.
What to Expect in Google Technical Program Manager Interviews?
In a Google technical program manager interview, you can expect the following:
- The interview process will involve more technical questions than average. The interviews will test your system design, data structures, and algorithm skills.
- A lunch during your onsite, where you can ask questions to an interviewer.
- A follow-up interview after the onsite, if you’re close to getting the job, but they want to make sure you clear the bar in a particular area.
- About five to ten minutes at the end of onsite rounds for you to ask any questions you have.
- You’ll be scored on four key factors: general cognitive ability, role-related knowledge and experience, leadership, and “googleyness.”
Did you know? You Google Technical Program Managers earn anywhere between $166,000 to $367,000, depending on your years of experience.
Key Topics to Prepare for a Google Technical Program Manager Interview
While planning your Google TPM interview prep, be sure to include the following important topics:
- Product Sense: Handling situations related to budget, time, and other resource constraints.
- System Design: Designing different types of social media, search services, messaging services, payments systems, and reservation systems.
- Data Structures and Algorithms: Problems of medium difficulty. Be an expert in using and manipulating strings and arrays.
- Behavior and Leadership: Create a story bank of role-relevant and significant stories from your experiences related to challenges, failures, and successes. Have a clear answer for why you’re choosing Google, why you’re choosing the TPM role, and why you’re specifically choosing that particular TPM role at Google.
Sample Google Technical Program Manager Interview Questions
Here are some sample interview questions to get your prep started:
- Tell me about an experience where you managed a technical program end to end.
- How do you prefer to kickoff and sunset programs?
- How would you handle it if they added some requirements in the middle of a project?
- Design Facebook/Whatsapp/Google Drive/a web cache.
- Describe and differentiate between UDP and TCP.
- Describe threads and explain multi-threading.
- Write code to find if a given integer is a palindrome.
- Write a code to reverse a string.
- Write a code to implement a queue using an array.
- What do you think it takes to be a successful Technical Program Manager?
For more questions, go to our Google Technical Program Manager Interview Questions page.
Google Technical Program Manager Interview Tips
We have compiled the following tips to help you take your prep to the next level:
- Be clear on technical concepts and terms. They can ask you to define and describe specific terms/acronyms or compare and differentiate between two concepts.
- Brush up your technical skills and knowledge on system design, data structures, and algorithms.
- Be ready with your role-relevant experience stories in STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, and Result, mentioned in that order)
- Have an understanding of the systems development life cycle.
- Develop an ability to work well with metrics and trends.
- Show a passion for program execution and customer satisfaction.
- Be conscientious and have intellectual humility.
- Have a sense of humor and an ability to have fun.
- Know how to be comfortable with ambiguity.
- Project googleyness (Some of the qualities are friendliness, being a team player, exhibiting emotional intelligence, and more)
Google Technical Program Manager Career FAQs
Q. Where do I start my preparation for the role of technical program manager at Google?
You can start by visiting their careers page and going through the requirements for some of the TPM job opportunities you may find interesting. While you’re at it, you can also learn about their goals, values and check out Google’s official tech dev guide.
Q. How can IK help me ace the Google technical program manager interview?
If you need help with your prep, consider joining Interview Kickstart’s Technical Program Manager Masterclass — the first-of-its-kind, domain-specific tech interview prep program designed specifically for Data Engineers. Click here to learn more about the program.
Whether you’re a TPM, an engineering manager, a tech lead, or a software engineer hoping to crack your coding interviews, at Google: Interview Kickstart offers something specifically suited for you.
If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our interview questions page and salary negotiation ebook to get interview-ready! Also, read Google Engineering manager Interview and Preparation, Google Systems Design Interview Questions for Software Developers, Google Coding Interview Questions, and Google Interview Questions for specific insights and guidance on Google tech interviews.
Having trained over 6,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the toughest tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alumni 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!
IK is the gold standard in tech interview prep. Our programs include a comprehensive curriculum, unmatched teaching methods, FAANG+ instructors, and career coaching to help you nail your next tech interview.
Sign up for our FREE webinar to uplevel your career!