How to Prepare for a Google Interview

Google Interview Preparation
Created by CakeResume

Google is the ultimate goal for many software engineers. Aside from driving innovation around the world, Google employees can expect to be treated well and given lots of room for growth and creativity. 

They get to work with some of the brightest minds in technology and execute their creative vision. Engineering at Google is an invaluable experience and the first step is preparing for the Google software engineer interview.

Google owes some of its success to being selective in their hiring process. They want smart people with relevant knowledge or experience, and the right attitude. Google is a fast paced and ever-growing company, and they need their candidates to be motivated and knowledgeable in addition to having specific skills. 

Google interview prep is a marathon and the interview itself can be stressful. The best way to prepare for the Google interview is to have a good plan and lots of practice.

What Is Google Looking for in a Candidate?

Before you dive into your Google interview prep, it helps to know which qualities the company looks for. 

Software engineers need to demonstrate advanced technical skills in coding. For this reason, Google technical interview prep is often the most time-consuming part. But Google also looks for soft interpersonal skills, since their candidates should have values and abilities that align with Google’s goals. 

Here are some of the qualities to review in your interview preparation for Google. 

💡 Googleyness

Google looks for candidates who they think will fit in with their company culture. They emphasize qualities like inclusiveness and creativity, and their goal is to enhance our daily lives. When preparing for a Google interview, review their company goals and their workplace culture. 

According to Laszlo Bock, the former vice president of people operations at Google, Googleyness qualities include fun-loving, intellectual humility, conscientiousness, being comfortable with ambiguity, and having made courageous and interesting life choices.

Further reading:  Learn all about Googleyness [+Interview questions samples]

💡 Technical skills

When you apply to work at Google, your preparation for the coding interview should be your biggest focus. Google looks for applicants with good technical skills, but also a strong conceptual understanding, so reviewing the coding theory is also crucial. 

💡 General cognitive skills

General cognitive ability is also an important Google quality. They look for people who are curious and critical thinkers. Good problem-solving, reasoning, abstract thinking, and a learning drive will go a long way in a Google interview. 

💡 Leadership skills

Google is big on cross-functionality, and they look for applicants who demonstrate they can approach problems when they are needed. If you’re preparing for a Google interview, think of how you can demonstrate effective communication and productivity. 

Google Interview Process

Preparing for a Google software engineer interview can be strenuous. There are multiple stages of a Google hiring process, which start with you demonstrating your technical skills and end with several in-person interviews to assess compatibility. Here are the steps to keep in mind while preparing for a Google interview:

✏️ Online assessments

When you start your Google software engineer preparation, the first step you’ll need to work on is Google's online assessment. This is a coding test for recent graduates and interns. The test is a coding sample you must complete within an hour and a half, and experienced candidates can bypass this step. 

✏️ Short virtual chats 

The next step is a brief virtual chat, typically over Google Meet. You’ll be given a few algorithm questions to solve on spot, but the interviewer will also ask questions about you. Don’t forget to review some basic interview questions like “Why did you apply to this position?” and “Tell me about yourself” during your interview preparation for Google.  

✏️ Project work

Sometimes, the Google hiring process will include a short project. When preparing for your Google software engineer interview, you might be asked to give coding samples or work on a case study. The information will be provided to applicants in advance and is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your problem-solving and coding skills. 

✏️ In-depth interviews

The best way to prepare for a Google interview is to focus on the in-depth interview portion. There are several interviews performed over the course of a day, and each interview covers specific topics, like technical or interpersonal skills. For this part of the process, coding theory and practice should be a major focus of your interview preparation for Google.   

✏️ Decision

Your interviewers will write recommendations after each interview and summarize your ability and their thoughts. The hiring committee will review these recommendations and make their decision before reaching out with an offer. If you’ve done adequate Google interview prep, then at this stage you can relax and be ready to celebrate!

How to Prepare for Google Interviews

Since the Google interview process is grueling, it’s important to be fully prepared for the questions and problems that will come up. Preparing for a Google software engineer interview is a big commitment. It’s hard to outdo other applicants in the Google interview without preparation. 

✅ Estimate Google interview prep time

Your first step in preparing for the Google software engineer interview is to estimate the time it will take to cover the material. Look at areas in which you might lack knowledge or strength and analyze how much time you will need each week to devote to improving or reviewing. Your Google interview prep could be daily or on weekends depending on how much ground you need to cover. 

✅ Prepare a roadmap

Without a proper plan or good habits, it’s easy to forget or procrastinate and slack off in your interview preparation for Google. You, thus, need a carefully devised plan–your roadmap–, which will vary depending on how much time you have before the interview. 

  • Prepare for Google interviews in 6 months

It’s less punishing to prepare for a Google interview in 6 months or more, as you can afford to spend some extra time studying theory more broadly and doing coding and interview practice. 

Once you are closer to the interview date, you can do mock interviews and rehearse answers to the most common questions. 

  • Prepare for Google interviews in 3 months

If you need to prepare for your Google interview in 3 months, you should narrow your focus to a few key books or resources. 

Schedule time during weekends or off days to review material and study your chosen coding language. Increase the time you spend preparing for a Google interview as the date gets closer. 

  • Prepare for Google interviews in 1 month

If you need to prepare for a Google interview in 1 month, your roadmap should set aside time every day to solve coding problems, using your days off to study theory. 

Pick a few books in your coding language and do some mock interviews in the final week before your date.  

✅ Practice coding and system design

The best way to prepare for a Google interview is to practice. There are many resources available and even some Google interview prep guides. Look for books, courses, videos, and online tools to help you study theory and practice coding. 

If you’ve applied to Google, the coding interview preparation will take the most time.

5 online coding platforms to practice coding and help with your Google technical interview prep:

  • Coderbyte: In addition to coding challenges, they have tutorials and videos to help with theory for your Google interview prep. 
  • TopCoder: As one of the first programming platforms, they offer weekly coding challenges.
  • LeetCode: This platform has a mock interview section, great for preparing for a Google interview. 
  • Codewars: You can see a discussion and solution for each coding challenge.
  • CodeChef: This platform lets you enter coding contests with other users. 

Although practicing coding challenges is the best way to prepare for a Google interview, you should review theory and coding languages as well.

5 more resources to help you in your interview preparation for Google: 

In addition to coding challenges, you’ll need to review system design to properly prepare for a Google software engineer interview. System design concepts and problem-solving will be a big part of your Google SRE interview prep. 

5 resources to help you practice system design and enhance your interview preparation for Google: 

  • HiredInTech: This is a course for practicing system design interview questions.
  • Tech Dummies: This YouTuber has multiple system design videos.
  • Grokking the System Design Interview: This is both a book and an online course. 
  • Info Q:  This is a series of online presentations covering system design topics, perfect for Google SRE interview prep.
  • The System Design Primer: This GitHub course covers fundamentals and is useful for Google interview prep.

✅ Prepare for behavioral questions

People focus heavily on the coding interview preparation when they apply for jobs at Google because it’s technically challenging and time-consuming. 

But there will also be interviews focusing on your soft skills with behavioral questions. General cognitive ability is a Google quality, and some questions will assess your soft skills to determine your intellect and fitness for the company. These questions will be more general, so when you’re preparing for a Google interview, think about your goals and experiences. 

There will be team-centered questions, like “Do you prefer larger teams?” or “How do you approach a teammate who is hard to deal with?” Some questions will be about your leadership skills and some, about product management. 

The best way to prepare for Google interview behavioural questions is to think of specific situations where you have demonstrated a skill Google is looking for. For example, a time you successfully led a team or approached a problem.

💡Tip: During your Google interview prep, rehearse your explanation of the situation and emphasize how your skills made an impact. 

✅ Do mock interviews

A mock interview will go a long way to help you prepare for a Google software engineer interview. 

Some people prefer to film themselves as they practice, in order to review their pace, body language and overall delivery of their answers. 

Prepare a list of questions you think will come up and rehearse your answers. Play back the video and look for things you can improve on. 

This practice will help you answer those questions with confidence when the time comes and enhance your interview preparation for Google. 

🔑 Key Takeaways:

  • Google software engineering jobs are excellent opportunities with fierce competition. The only way to prepare for a Google software engineer interview is to commit time and effort. 
  • Study coding theory and practice challenges in the months and weeks leading up to the interview. There are a number of resources online that can give your Google interview prep a boost. 
  • Don’t forget to review some behavioral interview questions and try doing some mock interviews before the date. 
  • Your best chance at nailing the Google software engineer interview is preparation and dedication.  

With CakeResume’s resume builder tool, resume templates and resume examples, you could showcase your best qualifications to land your dream job. Try making a resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Tiffany Quinn ---

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