There are two types of interviews in our hiring process. Between each round, we gather feedback from your interviewers and determine next steps.
How it works
During phone or Google Hangout interviews, you’ll speak with a potential peer or manager.
For software engineering roles, your phone/Hangout discussion will last between 30 and 60 minutes. When answering coding questions, you’ll talk through your thought process while writing code in a Google Doc that you’ll share with your interviewer. We recommend using a hands-free headset or speakerphone so you can type freely.
For all other roles, your phone/Hangout discussion will last between 30 and 45 minutes. Be prepared for behavioral, hypothetical, or case-based questions that cover your role-related knowledge.
You'll usually meet with four Googlers—some potential teammates and some cross-functional—for about 30 to 45 minutes each.
For software engineering candidates, we want to understand your coding skills and technical areas of expertise, including tools or programming languages and general knowledge on topics like data structures and algorithms. There's generally some back and forth in these discussions, just like there is on the job, because we like to push each other's thinking and learn about different approaches. So be prepared to talk through your solutions in depth. Push your own boundaries and find the best answer—that’s probably how you work anyway.
For candidates outside of engineering, you’ll have the chance to highlight strengths in four different areas:
- General cognitive ability: We ask open-ended questions to learn how you approach and solve problems. And there’s no one right answer—your ability to explain your thought process and how you use data to inform decisions is what’s most important.
- Leadership: Be prepared to discuss how you have used your communication and decision-making skills to mobilize others. This might be by stepping up to a leadership role at work or with an organization, or by helping a team succeed even when you weren’t officially the leader.
- Role-related knowledge: We’re interested in how your individual strengths combine with your experience to drive impact. We don’t just look for how you can contribute today, but how you can grow into different roles—including ones that haven’t even been invented yet.
- Googleyness: Share how you work individually and on a team, how you help others, how you navigate ambiguity, and how you push yourself to grow outside of your comfort zone.
Throughout the interview process, feel free to ask your interviewers for clarification to make sure you fully understand their questions. And feel free to interview us, too. Ask questions—about the work, about the team, about the culture—that will help you decide whether the job will be right for you.
How to prepare
Interviews for all roles
Here’s advice straight from Laszlo Bock, our SVP of People Operations.
- Predict the future: You can anticipate 90% of the interview questions you’re going to get. “Why do you want this job?” “What’s a tough problem you’ve solved?” If you can’t think of any, Google “most common interview questions.” Write down the top 20 questions you think you’ll get.
- Plan: For every question on your list, write down your answer. That will help them stick in your brain, which is important because you want your answers to be automatic.
- Have a backup plan: Actually, for every question, write down THREE answers. Why three? You need to have a different, equally good answer for every question because the first interviewer might not like your story. You want the next interviewer to hear a different story and become your advocate.
- Be data-driven: Every question should be answered with a story that demonstrates you can do what you’re being asked about. “How do you lead?” should be answered with “I’m a collaborative/decisive/whatever leader. Let me tell you about the time I … ”
- Practice: Everyone gets better with practice. Practice your interview answers—out loud—until you can tell each story clearly and concisely.
Interviews for software engineering and technical roles
- Interview prep: A while back, two Google Pittsburgh engineers recorded a Hangout on Air on our technical interviews, including interview preparation, working through a sample question, and an example solution.
- Coding practice: You can find sample coding questions on sites like LeetCode, CodeLab, Quora, and Stack Overflow. The book “Cracking the Coding Interview” is also a good resource.
Almost ready? Here are a few last things you may want to know, based on what people often ask recruiters.
- What to wear: For most of our interviews, the dress code is casual, but your recruiter will let you know what’s most appropriate. When in doubt, be yourself and wear what makes you comfortable.
- How to structure your interview answers: When answering questions, it’s important to show how you arrive at a solution, so think out loud.
- Helpful questions to think about as you prepare: How do you work best, as an individual and as part of a team? What challenges have you faced at school or at work and how did you work through them? Which of your skills or experiences would be assets in the role and why?
- Ask your interviewers for clarification if you don’t understand a question and feel free to take the time you need with responses.