Google is indisputably a trend-setter in the technology space. The tech giant looks for the same attribute in its candidates during interviews. Google interviews are considered to be extremely difficult, but the right preparation strategy can help you land the job of your dreams.
Google is one of the most sought-after employers in the technology space, given the employee benefit programs they have adopted. In the financial year 2020, Google hired 20,000 people for different job roles. One of the most coveted roles at Google is that of a Product Manager (PM). The PM develops new products and features that impact millions of users daily.
If you are planning to apply for the role of Product Manager at Google, you must first understand the interview process at Google. The Google PM hiring process can be classified into different stages. They are:
- Resume screening
- Phone screens (one to two interviews)
- On-site interviews (four to six interviews)
- Hiring committee recommendation
- Senior leader review
- Compensation committee recommendation
- Senior executive review
- You get an offer
While steps 4 to 7 happen behind the scenes, what you do from steps 1 to 3 will determine the outcome. We have compiled this guide to help you crack Google Product Manager Interview. We’ll answer all your questions, including:
- What are the qualifications required for a PM role at Google?
- What are the responsibilities of a PM at Google?
- How do I make my application stand out?
- What is the PM interview process at Google?
- What topics should I cover while preparing for a Google PM interview?
- What type of questions can I expect at a Google PM interview?
What Are the Qualifications Required for a PM Role at Google?
Based on our research, the following are the qualifications required to apply for a product manager role at Google.
- Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, related technical field, or equivalent practical experience.
- A minimum of 6 years’ experience in product design or product management, with experience managing a team and developing internet or media products and technologies.
- End-to-end product management experience with software/web technologies (e.g., on mobile).
- Experience in software development.
- Knowledge of the internet, search engines, and online advertising spaces.
- Knowledge of multiple functional areas, such as product management, engineering, UX/UI, sales, customer support, finance, or marketing.
- Understanding of user experience (UX) and business/commercial challenges.
- Understanding of go-to-market commerce enablers (e.g., payments, subscriptions, etc.)
What Are the Responsibilities of a PM at Google?
Over the years, Google has introduced several revolutionary products. Every successful product is a result of a product manager driving it — from idea to execution. The product managers at Google define and manage tasks required to run products, improve products, and keep new ideas coming. Therefore, PM’s responsibilities include:
- Launching solutions that solve customer challenges. Launching new products and features, testing their performance, and iterating constantly and quickly.
- Defining, leading, and executing holistic strategies to work towards strategic business goals
- Identifying opportunities and defining product vision and strategy.
- Engaging closely with engineering teams to determine the best technical implementation methods as well as a reasonable execution schedule.
- Synthesizing and driving product strategy from interactions with customers, business stakeholders, Legal, and Policy teams.
- Collaborating across regions, product areas, and functions.
Making Your Resume and Cover Letter Stand Out
As the cliché goes, “first impression is the last impression.” This is especially true when it comes to job applications, and the cover letter and resume are your tools to make a great first impression. An employer, in all probabilities, does not know you, your experience, qualifications, etc. A well-drafted resume provides them a sneak peek into what your capabilities are.
For a Product Manager role, the most important thing that an employer will look for in your resume is your skills. A product manager should possess the ability to prioritize and delegate tasks, lead a team, and apply both soft and hard skills to achieve success.
To highlight these in your resume, you need to follow a step-wise approach:
1. Choose an appropriate template
2. Highlight your skills with quantifiable examples in the summary
3. Provide examples of your skills while listing experience
4. Mention references and their contact details
A cover letter provides details on how your skill sets align with the role offered, what value addition you can bring to the team, and why you are applying for this position. It allows recruiters to understand your career goals and whether they align with the position.
Here are a few tips for writing a good cover letter:
- Focus on your most relevant experience, qualifications, and skills
- Quantify your accomplishments with facts and data
- Avoid repeating bullet points from your resume
- Close by thanking the employer for their time and consideration
What Is the PM Interview Process at Google?
It is important to understand the different stages of a product manager interview before you start preparing for it. Once your resume is shortlisted, it is followed by a phone screen interview with the recruiter (one interview). The next step is a phone screen with product managers (one to two interviews). If everything goes well, you will be called for an on-site interview, which typically consists of three to four rounds. (During Covid restrictions, the on-sites are being conducted over Google Hangouts)
- Phone screens generally last for about 30 minutes
- Phone screens are carried out by the recruiter and the product managers separately
- It is to check if you meet the basic requirements for the job
- Recruiters mostly ask behavioral and resume-based questions
- Product managers ask more job-profile-related questions about product design, estimation, and strategy
- Each on-site interview lasts for about 45 minutes
- Interviews are placed back-to-back with a 15-minute break between two rounds
- Usually carried out by the product managers, but sometimes, engineers also participate to understand your ability to communicate with the developers
After the on-site, interviewers evaluate and file a detailed report to the hiring committee, who then pass on your profile to senior leaders for review. If deemed fit, the senior leader(s) documents it for the compensation committee recommendation. Finally, a senior executive reviews the application, and the offer is made.
Topics to Prepare for a PM Interview at Google
The first and foremost thing to do while preparing for a PM interview is to prepare for industry-specific questions. You must also be ready for technical questions. You should be aware of:
- Computer science basics: Fundamentals of computer science, how the internet works, fundamentals of programming languages, etc.
- Data structure and algorithms: Arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, search algorithms, sorting algorithms, etc.
- Systems design: Redundancy, replication, load balancing, caching, etc.
- Product knowledge: Design, improvement, growth, launch, pricing, etc.
Types of Questions to Expect at a Google PM Interview
Google interviews are challenging. The questions are primarily Google-specific and cover a wide range of topics. We have gathered information related to types of questions from different trustworthy resources and collated it here for you to understand and know the types of questions to expect in your Google PM interview.
Here’s what you can expect:
Design Questions (34%)
As a product manager, you will be designing new products and product features and improve the existing ones. This is why questions related to design make up the majority of the PM interview questions. These questions are used to analyze your creativity and ability to use a structured approach to design new products.
We have listed a few design-related questions asked at the Google PM interview:
1. How would you re-design a newsreader for Google?
2. A product that you love/hate and why? How would you improve it?
3. How would you improve Google products like Chrome/Maps/Android/etc.?
4. How would you design a certain product for people with specific needs?
Strategy Questions (18%)
A product manager is responsible for setting the product vision and the roadmap to deliver it. Interviewers expect deep discussions on such questions as they try to assess your decision-making ability related to the product. This may include questions on the competition, pricing, marketing, and time to market.
Here are some strategy questions asked by Google at PM interviews:
1. How would you solve homelessness in downtown San Francisco?
2. Why does Starbucks sometimes have coffee shops on both sides of the road?
3. Google has invented a technology that makes air travel 4x cheaper and 4x faster. What do you do with it?
4. You are the CEO of company X. What new products would you launch and why?
5. Tell me about a competitive move by a company in the past six months, and what you think about it.
Estimation Questions (15%)
One of the primary job responsibilities of the PM are estimating market sizes, revenue potential, number of customers, etc. Estimation questions judge a candidate’s ability to work with numbers following the scope of work.
Here are a few estimation-relates questions asked at Google PM interviews:
1. How much money is spent on gas in the US every year?
2. What is the market size for driverless cars in 2025?
3. How much storage space is required for all the images in Google Street view?
4. How much does it cost to run YouTube for a day? What is its revenue in a day?
5. What Internet bandwidth is required for an average US college campus?
Behavioral Questions (14%)
Like most interviews, behavioral questions are also asked by interviewers at Google. The questions are mostly based on the candidate’s motivation to work at Google, experience in managing conflicts, and the dos and don’ts for a good PM.
Following are examples of behavioral questions asked at Google:
1. What does it take to be an effective product manager? What are the skills?
2. How much technical knowledge should a product manager have about a product?
3. Tell me about the best product manager you’ve worked with.
Technical Questions (13%)
Google has a tradition of hiring technical candidates. This applies to product managers too. Consequently, you will be required to answer one or two technical questions. These questions will not be based on coding but simple technical concepts to know whether you understand and can explain them. The aim is to gauge whether you’re technical enough to lead and interact with technical engineering teams.
Examples of technical questions include:
1. How does the Internet work?
2. Explain the concept of recursion.
3. How would you design a simple load balancer for the Google website, and what data structures would you use?
4. Explain an API to someone who has no coding background.
5. Write an algorithm to do X.
Data Analysis Questions (8%)
Google products employ secondary metrics, which PMs use to evaluate if their product is successful or not. This further helps them to decide what their team should work on next. The interviewer will ask one or two questions based on this. Here are some data analytics questions asked by Google:
1. What are the things Netflix should measure and analyze on a daily basis?
2. You are the PM for YouTube analytics. What are your three most important metrics?
3. You launch a newsfeed algorithm for Facebook and the average time per session goes down by 20%. What do you do?
Tips for the Google PM Interview
The preparation for the project manager interview has to be focused and consistent. We’ve compiled a few best practices that will help you come up with a comprehensive prep plan.
Study Extensively About the Product/Organization
It’s a no-brainer — to be able to crack a PM interview at Google, you need to be aware of the company and its products. It is best advised to do a good amount of homework before you go for the interview. Here is an extensive guide to the common Google Interview Questions. You may also like to read How hard is it to get a job at Google?
You may also register yourself on various forums like Glassdoor and Quora to connect and interact with people having similar career goals. This will help you in finding the right answers to your questions.
Work on Product Fundamentals
Entry-level candidates are advised to spend some time brushing up on the basics of product management concepts. Product management is not just about managing teams. Concepts such as customer experience, user segmentation, Net Promoter Score (NPS), feature adoption, feedback, road mapping, and product operations are key to product management.
Consistency Is the Key
Practice makes perfect. Through your practice, you must come up with a clear, well-chalked-out plan for the interview. You must prepare yourself for different categories of questions. This will help you to build strong interview habits. These habits would ultimately reduce stress on the day of the interview for a great impression.
Practice With Peers or Experienced PM Interviewers
Practicing with peers or experienced PM interviewers will give you an extra edge. You will find yourself more confident and focused, and it will help you correct your early mistakes.
Practicing with experienced PM interviewers will give you a real insight into what goes on with a PM interview. You will have the most accurate bunch of information from them.
Programs at Interview Kickstart include mock interviews with industry experts and hiring managers at Google. Sign up for our free webinar to learn more.
Ready to Nail the Google Product Manager Interview?
The Ultimate Guide to Google Product Manager Interview has covered all important aspects of nailing the Google PM interview. Are you still confused about how to practically apply this? Don’t worry; we are here to help!
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