A Guide to Google Interview Questions: 20 Examples and Tips

Google Interview Questions
Created by CakeResume

Do you want to work at Google? It's a dream for many people, and with good reason.

Google is well known for being one of the most difficult places to interview. They're looking for the top 1% of candidates, which means that they're extremely selective. Google looks for candidates who are not only intelligent and able to solve complex problems, but also those who are able to work well with others and share Google's values. 

However, displaying technical skills and job-specific knowledge during a Google interview alone is hard enough because the technical questions may range from a wide range of topics and may be very specific about Google's culture and products.

In this article, we'll walk you through how to prepare for a Google interview. We'll cover coding and technical questions, common Google interview questions, behavioral questions and tips. Let's go!

Google Coding and Technical Interview Questions

Technical interview questions in a Google interview heavily focus on problem-solving skills. Some of the most prevalent topics are data structure, algorithms, recursions and dynamic programming. Be prepared to answer questions on all of these topics.

1. How would you approach a problem that you've never seen before?

Google is a leader in innovation, so they're always looking for candidates who are able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. The recruiter at Google might ask this question in a technical interview to find out how you think creatively.

2. What is your experience with data structures and algorithms?

This is another question that will likely come up during a Google technical interview for data scientists. Be prepared to talk about your experience with common data structures such as arrays, linked lists, trees and hash tables.

If you have experience with common algorithms such as quicksort, merge sort and binary search, be sure to mention that as well.

3. How do you find the distance between two nodes in a binary tree?

This is a technical question that tests your knowledge of tree data structures. Binary tree questions are common in Google interviews, so brush up on your tree algorithms.

4. How would you implement a queue?

Data structure is likely to be a huge part of Google's technical interview. Be prepared to talk about how you would implement a queue using an array, linked list or a stack. You should also be able to compare the performance tradeoffs between arrays, linked lists and a stack.

5. Given a string, reverse it without using any additional storage.

Code efficiency and storage optimization will likely be a big part of Google technical interview. This question tests your ability to solve problems in the most efficient way possible.

6. What is the maximum number of nodes that a binary tree can have?

This coding interview question tests your knowledge of tree data structures, a big part of algorithms. To prepare for this type of technical interview question, be sure to brush up on the key concepts of algorithms.

7. What is a hash table and how would you use it?

Hash tables are a data structure that is used to store key-value pairs and can hugely improve the efficiency of your code. For this Google coding interview question, you would want to highlight your experience implementing hash tables in your code and how much runtime it reduced as a result.

8. What is recursion, and how can it be used to solve problems?

Recursion is a powerful tool that can be used to solve problems. If you have coding projects that use recursion, highlight why you chose it as part of your solution and how it made your code more efficient.

If not, you could consider talking about the most popular applications of recursion, including Tower of Hanoi, Fibonacci series, and binary search to answer this technical question in a Google interview.

9.  How do you optimize an algorithm?

Unlike conceptual coding questions that assess your fundamental knowledge, this Google technical interview question tests your ability to think critically about your code and find ways to make it more efficient.

This is a great opportunity to talk about your experience with common optimization techniques, such as sorting arrays using insertion sort instead of quicksort, and a chance to bring up algorithm projects that you are proud of.

10. How would you design a search engine?

Google's search engine is one of the most popular websites in the world, so they are likely to ask this question in a technical interview during a Google system design interview.

This technical interview question tests your knowledge of how to build large-scale software projects. To answer it properly, you should demonstrate your knowledge of distributed systems, big data and indexing.

✏️ These are just a few examples of technical questions that may come up in a Google interview. We also recommend practicing as many coding questions on platforms like Leetcode as possible before your Google interview. The more practice you have, the better prepared you will be for your Google technical interview!

Common Google Interview Questions

Aside from coding and technical interview questions, Google also likes to ask general questions in their interviews. Here are a few common Google interview questions:

Question: What is your favorite Google product? Why?

Sample Answer: My favorite Google product has to be Google Workspace. Having worked in large corporate environments, I can appreciate the benefits of Google Workspace - easy communication, file sharing and collaboration. It's also incredibly intuitive so new team members can fit right into existing workflows. Google always puts their customers first, and for me Google Workspace is the perfect example of that. I cannot imagine working without it honestly.

Question: What do you know about Google's culture?

Sample Answer: Google is known for its unique culture, which is based on transparency, innovation and creativity. I was really inspired when I first read about how Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google - they wanted to create a company where people could work on their own terms and be creative. That's something that I really value and am passionate about, so if given the opportunity, I would love to experience Google's culture first hand.

Question: Are you working on any side projects in your free time?

Sample Answer: I am actually working on a few side projects in my free time. I have a personal project that I've been working on for a while, which is a to-do list app. I'm also helping out with a friend's startup and doing some volunteer work on the weekends. I think it's important to always be learning and keeping your skills sharp, so I try to make time for side projects no matter how busy I am.

Question: Why did you choose to become a backend developer?

Sample Answer: I became a software engineer because I enjoy solving problems and working on complex systems. I also like the challenge of learning new things and keeping up with the latest technology trends. As a software engineer, I have the opportunity to do all of those things, which is why I love my job. I hope to continue my journey with Google and make a difference in the world.

Question: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Sample Answer: I take pride in being a critical thinker and a problem solver. I am also very patient and have strong attention to detail. My weakness is my fear of public speaking. I am working on that and have taken a few public speaking classes, but it's still something that I struggle with.

Google Behavioral Interview Questions

Apart from technical questions, Google also likes to ask behavioral interview questions. These questions are designed to get to know you better as a person and see how you would fit in at Google. Some common Google behavioral interview questions include:

Behavioral Question on Teamwork 

Question: How have you worked with culturally diverse teams in the past? Were there any challenges?

Sample Answer: I'm fairly familiar with working in a cross-cultural workplace. In my previous job, I worked with a team of engineers from all over the world, including countries such as Korea, Nigeria, Egypt and Russia and we were often working across time zones. I think the biggest one was making sure that everyone felt heard and respected in meetings, especially when there were language barriers. Establishing a strong team culture from the start was the most important, so we could all work towards the same goal, and lots of happy hours and team bonding events helped with that. Overall, it was a really enriching experience for me.

Behavioral Question on Decision-Making

Question: Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision that affected the entire team.

Sample Answer: Once we received an inquiry from a big client, but they requested a lot of customization work that our team didn't have the bandwidth to do, since we were in the middle of pushing a major update. I had to make the tough call to turn down the client even though it meant losing out on a large project. I communicated with the team and explained the situation, and while it was a difficult decision to make, everyone understood why it was necessary and we were able to continue our work without further distractions.

Behavioral Question on Communication

Question: Has anyone ever made you feel resentful at work? How did you get over it?

Sample Answer: I've had a few difficult bosses over the years, and in one situation my boss was micromanaging me to the point where it made it difficult for me to do my job. As a full-stack engineer, I need a lot of autonomy to be productive, and the constant micromanaging was really frustrating. I eventually talked to my boss about it and explained how it was impacting my work. We were able to come to a better understanding and my boss backed off a bit, but it was definitely a challenging experience.

Behavioral Question on Leadership

Question: How would your teammates describe you as a leader?

Sample Answer: My team members told me "you're the type of leader that makes everyone feel comfortable and like they can speak up without feeling judged." I'm really proud of that, because I think it's really important for team members to feel comfortable being themselves and contributing their best work. It actually led to several breakthroughs where my team members challenged my idea with theirs, and it turned out to be great for the team as a whole.

Behavioral Question on Problem-Solving

Question: What do you do when you're stuck on a problem?

Sample Answer: When I'm stuck on a problem, I'll usually take some time to step back and brainstorm. Something that works really well for me is solving a Rubik's cube so I always keep one on my desk. I also talk to my team to gain fresh perspectives. By stepping away from the problem and coming back with a fresh perspective, I'm often able to find a solution.

Tips for Cracking Google Interviews

There may be up to 7 rounds of interviews at Google, some of which are done over the phone, while the final rounds are more likely to be on-site. Aside from preparing for common technical and behavioral Google interview questions, here are 5 tips that apply to phone, virtual and on-site interviews.

💡 Organize your idea.

Come up with a game plan before the Google interview. According to tips from Google Careers, Google highly values organization. Focus on data, preparing examples that best demonstrate your past experience, or even writing down your thoughts are all great ways to get your Google interview answers ready.

💡 Pay attention to the time.

Google interviews are designed to be difficult, and time limits are placed on many interview questions to further test your abilities. Precise answers to interview questions show that you are well-prepared and have done your research.

This is also a good indicator of how you would perform on the job so be sure to pay close attention to the time.

💡 Use breathing techniques to stay calm.

Google officially points out that "We want you clear and calm so you can really explore your experience, your desires, the position, and how we connect. " In order to show your best qualities, it's important to stay calm during the Google interview.

Deep breathing exercises can help you relax and focus on the questions at hand.

💡 Display "Googleyness".

Google looks for individuals that display "Googleyness,"  and some interview questions are designed for that. This includes qualities such as being passionate, fun-loving, comfortable with uncertainty, willing to learn new things, demonstrating leadership and creativity, being able to think outside the box, etc.

When preparing for your Google interview answers, try to think of how your experiences have shown these qualities and how you can connect them to Google.

💡 Search for others’ Google interview experience.

There are many resources out there that can help you prepare for your Google interview. Blog posts, YouTube and podcasts are good sources of information.

By reading and watching the experiences of others, you can get a glimpse into the Google interview process and learn more about what to expect. By doing your research ahead of time, you'll be able to feel more confident and prepared for the big day.

🔑 Key Takeaways:

So, there you have it! Our guide to cracking Google interviews. While this is not an exhaustive list of all the questions that could be asked in a Google interview, it should give you a good foundation and some tips on how to answer common Google interview questions. Remember, practice makes perfect so start drilling yourself on these coding and technical questions as well as behavioral interview questions today. 

CakeResume provides the best resume making tools & templates to help you create the perfect resume for your job hunt. Take your career journey to new heights - create a resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Candy Ho ---

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