Product Management interviews at Google are very comprehensive — there are several rounds scheduled with various product management experts, and a wide range of topics are covered in these sessions.
You are essentially evaluated on your ability to lead a team with your communication and analytical skills, and role-related competency. However, product management interviews are no cakewalk. They are tough, gruelling and demand that you bring your 'A' game.
Preparing extensively for every type of interview is the best way to advance further in the hiring process and ultimately land your dream job.
To give you a feel of what a product management interview entails, we’ll take you through some of the toughest questions asked at Google in this article. Get ready to start practicing!
Skills Required for Product Management
Successful product managers have strong communication skills and the ability to lead others. They have also mastered role-related competencies, have a high emotional intelligence (EQ), and are an excellent company fit. Apart from delivering new products regularly and maintaining a productive collaboration between design and engineering teams, they also contribute meaningfully to the growth of a company.
Here's discussing the skills required to nail product management interviews at Google:
1. Product design skills
Product managers are expected to have a keen eye for detail in product design with a focus on enhancing customer experience.
For instance, you might be asked,
- "How would you improve Google Chrome?"
- "Tell me about your favorite product. What do you love/hate about it?"
- "How would you proceed to design a telephone for the deaf?"
- How would you go about improving Google Maps?
- Design a disaster management app for the Olympics
- Pick one non-technical product in this room. How would you turn it into a smart product?
- Imagine a piece of equipment that can detect information from the human body. What kind of application would you build based on it? What type of information would you gather?
- How would you design a new feature for Twitter that improves the new user experience?
- If you could introduce one new customer-facing feature to Android’s OS, what would it be?
- How would you design an app for an amusement park?
Interviewers seek candidates who have the ability to think out of the box and produce creative solutions to improve and scale products. So, you should be ready with compelling answers that reflect innovative thinking and creativity. You can illustrate your answers on a whiteboard using wireframes.
2. Business acumen/ strategic thinking skills
As product managers are at the forefront of business decisions, they should be familiar with the market, its price points, and possess marketing and monetizing skills to scale products. Most product managers develop business skills on the job, so interviewers aren't necessarily looking for professional experience or training certifications. They'll ask you questions to evaluate your strategic thinking skills when it comes to macro and micro product designs. Here are some questions you can expect:
- "If you were in charge of Google's Pixel phones, what would you do differently?"
- "As the CEO of X company, what kind of products would you launch and what would be your product launch strategy?"
- "What are your thoughts on Google's mapping technology?"
- "What is your strategy to eradicate poverty in underdeveloped countries?"
- "What is a competitive decision by a company that you found appreciable in the last six months?"
- "What do you think about Facebook's move to buy Oculus rift $2B+?"
- Redefine e-commerce on Youtube
- If you were the CPO of Quora, what would be your 10-year product strategy?
- Do you think Google should enter the ride-sharing business?
- If you were in Google and could acquire one company in the social space, which would it be and why?
To answer these questions, you need a structured approach. For instance, Porter’s Five Forces, SWOT Analysis, and 4Ps are a few effective frameworks.
3. Technical competence
Product managers work in close association with development teams to fulfill product goals. So, even though PMs aren't expected to possess in-depth knowledge of technical concepts involved in product development, they should be effective at holding technical discussions with engineers.
In fact, Google PMs are typically more technically competent as compared to product managers at other companies, given the roots of the company. Even so, coding questions usually aren't a component of product management interviews; you are expected to be familiar with the basic concepts, but it’s more important to know the underlying working of different components, and be able to explain this for computer systems, search engines, machine learning, data structures, and large-scale system design in simple terms.
Here are some of the toughest technical questions you can expect:
- "How would you explain "protocol" to a child? Use a "confectionary store" as an analogy. "
- "Define recursion in the simplest possible terms."
- "If you typed Google.com into a browser, what would happen?"
- "How would you detect conflicts in a meeting? Explain using an algorithm."
- "How would you estimate the page load time of a webpage full of images, on a desktop browser? How would this change on mobile?"
- What are the different performance scenarios for Instagram architecture.
- "What data structures would you use in designing a basic load balancer for Google.com?"
- What are the main factors to consider for designing a system with 99.999% availability
- “Explain Spotify’s even delivery system please”
Successful PMs are also able to leverage design and engineering collaboration tools to realize product vision.
4. Analytical skills
Product managers should be able to measure the success of their strategies to improve or enhance upon their products. This means leveraging qualitative and quantitative analytical tools to track progress metrics and taking data-driven strategies.
Some of the toughest questions interviewers ask to evaluate your data analysis skills are:
- "Explain your launch strategy for Google Self-Driving Car."
- "What metrics should Netflix track on a regular basis?"
- "As the PM of Google Analytics, tell me about the top 3 metrics you would consider on a daily basis."
- "If YouTube experiences a 5% decline in traffic, what would your report to Larry Page say?"
- Explain your store launch strategy for Amazon.
Make sure you have sufficient knowledge of A/B testing methods, product launch metrics — interpreting results, investigating success criteria, etc.
5. Product estimation skills
Interviewers often ask these questions to gauge your ability to make effective product decisions. They expect PMs to provide close to accurate estimations using their comprehensive understanding of market sizes, customer base, revenue-generating potential, etc. It basically gives insight into how comfortable you are breaking down numbers and making calculative decisions.
Here are the toughest estimation questions you can expect:
- "What is the total revenue Facebook generates from ads in a year?"
- "What is the estimated market size of self driving cars in 2024?"
- "How much data is uploaded on YoutTube on a daily basis?"
- "What is the Internet bandwidth requirement of an average US university?"
Answering such questions is usually tricky. Do not hesitate to ask clarification questions, if any. Use a step by step approach to carry out calculations, and mentally sense-check your final estimate.
6. Leadership/behavioral skills
Leadership questions are designed to judge your performance in situations that demand strong interpersonal, conflict management, and collaboration skills. A strong leader is also expected to be a cultural fit which means you should possess similar values and visions as the company you are applying to.
It also determines that you can meaningfully contribute to the growth of an organisation. So, expect plenty of hypothetical, situation-based, value-based questions in this segment. The toughest of these include:
- "What according to you, are the traits of a good leader?"
- "Tell me about a project you worked on where goals were ambiguous and changing?"
- "If you find a very critical bug in software on the day before its scheduled release date, how would you handle this situation?"
- "Tell me about a time when you struggled to hit milestones or deliver a program?"
- "How do you ensure productive, long-standing partnerships or collaborations with clients or stakeholders?"
- "Tell me about a time you encountered conflict/disagreement in a team. How did you overcome it?"
- "How do you deal with difficult team members?"
- "How would you deal with a client who is hesitant about using a particular technical solution? How would you convince them?"
- "How do you deal with underperformance in your teams?"
- "Give us an example of when you faced a technical and a people challenge at the same time. How did you overcome it?"
- "How would you get through a tough delay?"
- "Describe a project where you worked with difficult clients and how did you overcome the challenges?"
A good PM should possess excellent communication skills to inspire teams and resolve conflicts. This also helps in building credibility with product development teams and effectively collaborating with peers, senior executives, and stakeholders.
10 Tips to Prepare for a Product Management Interview at Google
It's not without reason that Google's product management interviews have a reputation of being tough and demanding. The role is reserved for innovation-driven individuals who have the necessary business and management skills, and technical acumen to unite development and design teams to contribute to an organisation's common objective.
After acquiring the necessary skills and experience for the Product Management role at Google, you would need at least a month dedicated to preparing for the interview process.
These tips will help you ace the interview:
- Conduct in-depth research of Google, its values, culture, and career advancement opportunities.
- Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the product management interview process at Google.
- Rely on credible sources for information and check out reviews by product managers who have successfully interviewed with Google in the past.
- Practice whiteboard wireframing using a tool like Balsamiq or Excalidraw. It's a good idea to be well-versed with the most popular design patterns in web and design.
- You might want to polish your knowledge of data structures, system design, operating systems and OOP concepts, to name a few. More importantly, brush up product management fundamentals and concepts.
- Prepare answers for common interview questions in advance. List down your experiences that go with each question, so you know how best to demonstrate a particular skill in a situation.
- Be prepared for hypothetical, value-based questions, and those that gauge your planning and risk management abilities.
- Maintain a positive attitude throughout your interview. Show assertiveness and a willingness to take responsibility.
- Work on your voice and body language.
- Lastly, make a short list of questions you will ask your interviewers. This shows you have researched the company and are seriously interested in advancing further as part of the company.
Get hands-on interview practice
Once your preparation is complete, there's nothing for you to do but ace that interview. In the meantime, you can take up mock interviews to evaluate your performance and get valuable insight to stand out from the rest.
Prepfully has skilled Google Product Management experts with in-depth industry experience. Schedule a session with them to get real-world interview practice.
Furthermore, if you have any questions about Google's Product Management interview questions, let us know. We'd be happy to help!