With organizations increasingly directing their efforts into building visionary engineering solutions and making great leaps in tech, a unique combination of a project and program manager is gaining prominence in the industry — Technical Program Manager (TPM). Despite being a relatively new job role, one that didn't exist until a few years ago, TPMs today have established unparalleled significance in driving technical excellence.
Almost every top tech company like Google, Amazon, and Facebook recruits TPMs and pays them top bucks to lead complex technical projects to execution. A Technical Program Manager at Google earns an average salary of $142,956 per year. TPMs at senior levels can earn up to $185k per year, not including stock options and bonuses. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow 10% by 2029.
Evidently, now is a good time as any to consider a career in technical project management. But how can you become a TPM at Google? What are the skills, role-related knowledge and experience levels required to nail a Google TPM interview? Let's find out.
TPM Role at Google - What is it?
Technical Program Managers carry out the distinct responsibilities of technical architects and program managers; as software architects, they oversee groups of projects or a "program" from initiation to execution, and as program managers, they facilitate coordination across cross-functional teams through effective schedules and actionable plans to ensure successful project delivery.
To be able to do so, a TPM requires in-depth technical knowledge to understand underlying software functionality. In addition to this, they should be aware of management methodologies and possess expert communication skills to effectively interact with disparate teams and motivate them towards common goals.
Here's understanding the responsibilities of a Technical Program Manager
- Technical program managers (TPMs) oversee the project development cycle right from ideation to launch and delivery.
- They devise strategies and plans to ensure successful and timely completion of projects within the allocated budget.
- They review and test codes to identify technical issues in a program, and provide proactive solutions to resolve them.
- They ensure optimal usage of company resources and keep various teams apprised of project developments.
- They conduct risk assessments and propose solutions to manage potential bottlenecks and quality concerns during the course of a program.
- They keep cross-functional teams motivated to achieve program goals through their leadership skills.
Technical program management is an extremely challenging role, to say the least, but it is also rewarding and progressive in the long run. For this reason, the evolution and growth of TPMs has been significant in recent years. Especially at companies like Google that have TPMs guiding ambitious projects like YouTube, Search, and Android, among others. As a result, very few software engineers succeed in landing a TPM role at Google.
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Google TPM Interview - Different Stages
There are three stages to a technical program manager interview at Google. This includes one phone interview with a recruiter, up to two phone interviews with Google TPMs, and finally, up to 5 onsite interviews with several Google TPMs.
The interview sessions are broadly classified to cover three primary skills:
- Program management skills
- Technical competence
- Leadership, behavioural and situational skills
Google TPM interviews are largely centered around role-related knowledge and experience to get insight into a candidate's technical abilities and program management sense. Questions are asked to evaluate your calibre in these key areas. This includes knowledge of data structures, system design and architecture, and algorithms, people-oriented skills, expertise in Agile methodologies and scrum management principles, among others.
For each of your answers, Google has a feedback form with the attributes they are looking for in a candidate. These include:
- GCA or General Cognitive Ability
- Role Related Competence/Knowledge
- Leadership track record and traits
- Googleyness (how good a fit you are for Google's environment)
All your answers are graded as per these standards, which eventually determine your success.