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How to Display "Googleyness" at a Google Software Engineer Interview: Sample Questions and Tips Included!

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How To Nail Your Next Tech Interview

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Ryan Valles
Founder, Interview Kickstart
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How FAANG hiring process works
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“Googleyness” or “Googliness” is a quality that defines a Google employee or shows interviewers that you're the right candidate at a Google interview. To put it simply, Googliness is a set of personal attributes that, when combined with the right technical or hard skills, make software engineers the right fit for Google’s unique business culture.

Preparing for the Googlyness aspect is key to cracking Google software engineer interviews. If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! Also, read Google Interview Guide and Google Interview Questions for specific insights and guidance on Google tech interviews.

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In this article, we dive into the various aspects of Googleyness and its impact on your performance at a Google interview. We discuss some examples of Google interview questions for software engineers and how to answer them. We will also cover insightful Google interview preparation tips to help you showcase Googleyness at Google’s behavioral and leadership interviews.

We will cover:

  • The Importance of Googleyness at Google Interviews
  • Understanding Googleyness for Your Google Interview Preparation
  • What do Interviewers Look for in a Leadership and Googleyness Interview?
  • How to Answer Google Interview Questions that Assess Your Googleyness
  • Sample Google Software Engineer Leadership or Behavioral Interview Questions
  • FAQs on Google Interview Questions for a Software Engineer Googleyness Interview
  • Google Interview Preparation for the Googleyness Interview

The Importance of Googleyness at Google Interviews

Does “Googleyness” really matter at a technical interview for a role that predominantly requires hard technological and computer science skills? 

Yes! Googleyness matters — so much so that Google assesses candidates quite specifically based on their cultural fit with the company. At Google, preparing for a Googleyness and leadership interview is as important as preparing for any other aspect of their entire technical interview and hiring process.

Your technical skills can only take you so far at a Google interview. It’s not uncommon for candidates to be rejected solely because they are a poor cultural fit despite clearing various rounds of technical interviews.

Understanding Googleyness for Your Google Interview Preparation

On its website, Google outlines the kind of employees they look for during their hiring process. The company’s focus goes beyond just hiring a skilled candidate; they want to hire a “Googler.”

Google doesn’t just look for skilled employees; it looks for skilled employees with unique experiences, passions, and ideas. Google expects its employees to possess certain personality traits that they consider essential to having a successful, enduring career at the company.

What Do Interviewers Look for in a Googleyness and Leadership Interview?

Googleyness is derived from Google’s motto “Do the right thing” (which replaced Google’s former motto “Don’t be evil” following the company’s corporate restructuring).

Google interviews assess candidates on cultural fit and behavioral skills either as an ongoing part of their technical interviews or during a separate Leadership and Googleyness interview.

Read Understanding the Google Interview Process for more information on the various rounds at a Google software engineer interview.

Googleyness encompasses the following key traits:

  • Passion
  • Positivity
  • Out-of-the-box thinking
  • Amicability; courteousness
  • Being able to see the big picture; caring about important causes
  • Curiosity; a learning mindset
  • Commitment; focus
  • Conscientiousness
  • Desire to work on varied, intriguing projects
  • High emotional intelligence
  • Enthusiasm and energy; possessing a fun-loving nature; playfulness
  • Helpfulness; being a team-player
  • Humility
  • Individuality; uniqueness; the ability to stand out from the crowd
  • Integrity, strong ethics; transparency; possessing high standards
  • Proactiveness
  • Respect for self and others
  • Self-improvement; ability to learn from failure

How to Answer Google Interview Questions that Assess Your Googleyness

While you may not be explicitly asked questions on Googleyness traits, as a candidate at a Google interview, you will be expected to showcase these characteristics through:

  • Your answers
  • Your interactions with the interviewers and other Google employees

You will most likely be assessed through Google’s behavioral interview. Unlike technical interviews that focus on solving problems using tech skills like coding and system design, behavioral interview questions focus on interpersonal skills. 

Behavioral questions tend to be based on situations and your response to different circumstances. These questions usually follow the “Tell about a time when…” or “Describe a situation…” format.

Ensure you showcase how your personality and values align with Google’s cultural aspects through your answers. In addition to answering direct questions, you can also showcase desired Googleyness qualities indirectly during other Google interviews. 

Showcasing Googlyness While Answering Coding Interview Questions

During the Google coding interview, when asked to solve a problem, you can display traits such as:

  • Positivity: Maintain a positive attitude by not getting frustrated and displaying a can-do attitude, especially if the questions asked are tough or challenging. Avoid negative words, phrases, and connotations in your answers. For example, instead of challenges, talk about experiments and instead of errors, talk about areas of improvement.
  • Curiosity: Display curiosity by asking clarifying questions and finding out all you can about the problem to develop a solution.
  • Out-of-the-box thinking: Showcase your ability to approach a problem from different angles. Go beyond mediocre, standardized solutions to come up with novel solutions or a novel approach to the solution.
  • Ethics, transparency, and integrity: If an interviewer poses a question you have already encountered and have a solution to, own up to it. Showcase your belief in your abilities to apply your skills to unseen problems.
  • Enthusiasm: Showcase an energetic personality; maintain an upbeat manner while delivering your answers and in your body language; display interest in the problem at hand and your enthusiasm for problem-solving.
  • Humility: During your interview, portray your skills without being boastful or overbearing. Showcasing expertise should be tempered with intellectual modesty.

Other Opportunities to Googlyness During a Google Interview

The hiring process at Google usually includes an informal lunch with your potential manager or team members. During this lunch, you will be observed to ascertain your behavior in natural settings. It also presents you with the opportunity to showcase interpersonal aspects that make you Googley. For example:

  • Courteousness and respect: This is highlighted not only in your interactions with the interviewers but also in your interactions with other employees of the company. This includes how you talk to and interact with cafeteria staff, front-office staff, receptionists, recruiters, potential team members, supervisors, etc. 
  • Communication and listening: While interviews are primarily about showcasing your skills and experience, they are also meant for garnering relevant information. Showcase your ability for two-way communication and listening to learn about Google as a company, its people, teams, and culture.
  • Individuality: Be genuine; showcase your personality and unique traits about yourself instead of portraying a mediocre version of yourself in an effort to fit in. Google expects employees to stand out. Talk about interesting life experiences that helped you grow or enabled you to view issues from different perspectives.
  • Playfulness: Don’t be afraid to show the more light-hearted aspects of your personality. Crack a joke, indulge in light-hearted, informal conversation to connect with interviewers and potential team members. Google loves fun-loving, self-motivated employees. 

In your effort to showcase your personality and impress interviewers, avoid overstepping and crossing tacit boundaries:

  • Remain gender-neutral: Don’t default to male references when discussing positions or generalizing situations. For example, don’t refer to positions of influence with male-only terms such as “he” or HR roles with female-only terms such as “she.” Google is big on gender inclusivity.
  • Remain politically neutral: Google is a liberal company, and strong political views will make you appear biased. At Google, employees work with cross-functional teams on various projects, and employees are expected to be open and accepting of all people.

Google Interview Questions on Leadership and Behavior and How to Answer Them

Below are some sample behavioral questions you can expect to be asked at a Google interview and how to answer them to showcase Googleyness.

Q1. Tell us about a time when you failed to achieve a goal or desired result.

When answering this question, showcase failures as opportunities for learning. Further, talk about how you applied your learnings to achieve a successful outcome. 

Q2. Describe a situation where you did not get along with your manager and how you resolved it.

Highlight key traits of emotional intelligence and conflict resolution in answering this question. Explain how you arrived at a resolution to ensure the success of the team or project beyond your own personal success. 

Q3. Describe your favorite project and how you executed it successfully.

This question gives you the opportunity to display your passion for tech, especially new and interesting fields. Highlight how you proactively identified and developed a solution to a problem. Explain instances where you engaged in cross-functional work and how much you enjoyed working on the project. 

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Q4. Why do you want to work at Google?

Zero in on those skills and traits that closely align with Google’s cultural values. Use this opportunity to showcase your knowledge about Google’s products and services and your desire to work on new and exciting projects. 

Q5. How would your colleagues describe you?

When answering this question, highlight your capabilities as a team player, instances when colleagues relied on your help, and other unique attributes that make you stand out.

Check out these Google Interview Questions to find more leadership and behavioral questions.

Utilize every opportunity to showcase as many culturally relevant personality traits as possible. Once you’ve understood what Googliness is all about, work these qualities into your answers to all Google interview questions and all interactions during the hiring process.

However, don’t force answers to avoid sounding inauthentic. Google interviewers are adept at spotting disingenuous candidates, which is completely opposed to the concept of Googleyness.

All the best!

FAQs on Google Interview Questions for a Software Engineer: Googleyness Interview

Q1. What kind of Google interview questions do interviewers ask in a Leadership and Googleyness Interview?

Google interview questions used to assess your behavioral and leadership skills follow a situational approach. You will be asked to describe real-life examples or situations and your responses or behaviors in each case. Google interviewers will assess you for certain personality traits based on your answers to these questions. Unlike Google technical interviews, there are no fixed solutions to these questions.

Q2. How hard are Google behavioral interview questions for software engineers?

The aim of a Googleyness interview is to assess your personality and whether you are a cultural fit. With the right preparation, all behavioral and leadership interview questions at Google can be answered effectively to showcase the right skills and personality traits. Depending on your role as a Google software engineer, you may have a dedicated leadership interview.

Q3. What is the best way to showcase Googleyness at Google interviews?

Googleyness is a set of personality traits and attributes that make you the right cultural fit as a Googler (Google employee). The best way to show Googleyness is by understanding what Googleyness is and exhibiting these characteristics throughout the Google interview and hiring process. Drawing on personal experiences to substantiate your answers is the most effective way to showcase your values and personality.

Q4. What Googliness questions can a Google senior software engineer expect?

A Google senior software engineering role will require strong interpersonal and leadership skills. At Google, interview questions for software engineers vary depending on the position you apply for. At a higher level, you can expect a dedicated leadership interview. You will be closely assessed on Googleyness traits such as passion, positivity, uniqueness, respect, self-motivation, communication, out-of-the-box thinking, kindness, etc.

Q5. Are Google interviews based on Googleyness rubrics to assess cultural fit?

While assessing cultural fit can be subjective depending on the interviewer, there are certain essential parameters that Google may score you on. This will include key cultural criteria based on the role you are applying for. For example, at Google, being able to deal with ambiguity is important. You’re likely to receive a higher score if you showcase this trait.

Ready for Your Google Tech Interview?

Knowing how to prepare effectively for a Google interview requires a thorough understanding of Google’s interview and hiring processes.  

At Interview Kickstart, we have trained thousands of software engineers to crack the most challenging FAANG interviews. Our team of instructors comprises hiring managers and tech leads from FAANG and leading tech companies.

With Interview Kickstart, you can gain access to insightful, insider knowledge on how Google interviews are conducted and how to showcase Googleyness. 

Along with a multitude of technical interview preparation courses, we also offer career development guidance through mock interviews. Mock interviews are one of the most effective ways to develop the right interviewing skills to showcase interpersonal and behavioral traits.

Access live feedback on your interview performance and how you can better your software engineering interview preparation to crack interviews at Google and other FAANG and top tech companies.

Register for our free webinar to learn all about our courses and how to uplevel your career.


How To Nail Your Next Tech Interview

Hosted By
Ryan Valles
Founder, Interview Kickstart
Our tried & tested strategy for cracking interviews
How FAANG hiring process works
The 4 areas you must prepare for
How you can accelerate your learnings

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